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Introducing a new car to the road

By raccars Published

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If you've bought a brand new car, do you know how to run it in gently?

It's incredibly exciting to get behind the wheel of a brand new car, fresh with that distinctive new car smell and with mileage in single or double digits showing on the clock. Don't be tempted, however, to pull out of the dealership with your foot to the floor, leaving some of that fresh rubber on the forecourt and the salesperson choking on your dust. New cars need to be broken in gently.

Follow manufacturer instructions

A car is built of thousands of separate components, most of which are metal. Some of these parts move against each other and are subject to significant stress during their working life. While an enormous degree of precision goes into building modern cars, it's inevitable that some of these components might not fit entirely perfectly with some of the others, but over time they can bed in and learn to work with each other; a process known in engineering circles as developing tolerance.

However this process needs to be accomplished gently. Your owner's manual will advise as to how best to introduce your new car to the road, usually suggesting taking it easy for the first 1,000 miles of driving and keeping below a certain RPM figure. If you are in doubt, ask at your dealership how best to run in your new car.

Put your new car through its paces, but gently

You can help the process along by introducing varied loads on the engine, so rather than spending long distances in top gear on the motorway, run sensibly through a number of different driving behaviours. Use a little more accelerator and keep in a lower gear than you usually would while working up to cruising speed, then change gear regularly and vary your cruising speed, rotating through the top few gears rather than just sitting in fifth or sixth - or whatever your car's top gear may be.

Make sure you do this without labouring the engine, so don't linger in a higher gear if your car is struggling. Hanging around in fifth when you are driving at 25mph isn't advisable, for example. Also ensure that the engine has reached its running temperature before you begin these manoeuvres. For most cars this will see the temperature gauge settle at about halfway.

Treat the car with respect

Car manufacture has changed over the years and some advice given in the past is now outdated. Race cars tend to be driven in quite brutally but this is not appropriate for road cars and a lighter touch is needed. Be aware that leaving the car idling for a while before setting off doesn't help it warm up - you need to drive it with gentle acceleration until the running temperature is reached to encourage it to warm up without causing unnecessary wear and tear.

Manufacturers also tend to advise avoiding overloading the car with cargo in the early days. Components such as brake pads can take a little while to bed in so avoid over-stressing them with a heavy trailer load. You may find that your car mechanic gives you this same advice whenever you have your car serviced.

The running in process these days is shorter than it used to be but is still worth following for the long term health of your vehicle. Modern cars are reassuringly reliable and usually come with good warranties but that doesn't mean that nothing will ever go wrong. If you suspect that there is a problem with your new engine or some other component on the car, advise your dealership as quickly as possible.

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