How Do You Break In A New Car Properly - Capitol Toyota Service

Just like your favorite armchair or comfiest pair of shoes, a brand-new Toyota model doesn't achieve its full potential until it's broken in. When it's brand-new, the vehicle's moving parts are just getting to know each other. As the engine begins its life, the oil starts to protect and lubricate while parts begin to set against one another properly. The brake pads begin to mate with the rotors for smooth, quiet braking. And the vehicle's various seals and gaskets are kept soft and supple by the flow of oil.

When your Toyota vehicle is brand new, you want this wearing in process to take place correctly. There are a few guidelines from your owner's manual that can help. We'll explain these guidelines below, and tell you a little bit about why they're important, so you can get the most out of your new Toyota vehicle.

The brake pad shown here has properly bedded in with the rotor for smooth, quiet stopping power

5. Avoid Hard Braking For The First 186 Miles

If you've got a brand-new 2020 Toyota Corolla vehicle, here's some "braking" news: the break-in period for your brakes is 186 miles (or 300 kilometers). This is true for most every 2020 Toyota model.

The friction material on your brake pads is the softest when the brake pads are new. As you begin driving, that soft layer of braking material will begin to wear onto the rotors, giving way to the harder material beneath. Under very hard braking, this material can come off in uneven patches across the surface of the rotors, leading to rotor warping and brake system damage. You may need new pads and rotors much sooner than otherwise necessary.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should still hit the brakes as hard as you can to avoid a collision if necessary. But, whenever possible, go easy on your brakes for the first 186 miles. This will help your brake pads and rotors bed in properly.

With this cutaway image, we can see many of this engine's complex moving parts, which all need to mate together properly during the break-in period

4. Avoid Towing For The First 500 Miles

According to the owner's manual for the 2018 Toyota Highlander, you should avoid towing a trailer for the first 500 miles (or 800 kilometers) you own the vehicle.

This is because you want your vehicle to wear in while experiencing typical driving conditions you're likely to face during your daily commute. When towing a trailer, strain on the vehicle's chassis and suspension is increased and the engine will have to work harder to provide the same acceleration and speed. This can cause a fresh engine to break in poorly. And since the brakes will have to work a whole lot harder to stop both your vehicle and your trailer, it can prevent the bedding process from taking place correctly. We recommend waiting until your Toyota has at least 500 miles under its belt before hauling that camper or boat.

3. Avoid High RPMs For The First 621 Miles

The Toyota owner's manual only suggests avoiding high speeds and sudden acceleration, which can put added momentary strain on an engine. We have a slightly more specific guideline you can follow from the Capitol Toyota service department: Don't let the engine exceed 4,000 RPMs. Higher RPMs mean higher loads and greater strain on internal engine components. Once the engine parts have worn in and mate perfectly with each other, you can push that tachometer all the way to the redline -- but for the first 620 miles or so, drive with a lighter touch. This will help ensure the engine is ready for higher speeds when the time comes.

You should always avoid the red area on your vehicle's tachometer, and keep the RPMs below 4,000 when your vehicle is in its break-in period

2. Vary Engine Speeds For The First 621 Miles

In addition to avoiding high engine loads, you want to avoid a consistent load for long periods of time during the break-in period. In order to break the engine in properly, it needs to be subjected to a wide range of speeds and loads, just like you'd experience during a day of ordinary suburban driving. So, if you're traveling down a long, straight road and the engine has been sitting at the same RPMs for some time, consider upshifting your manual transmission or adjusting your speed if you've got an automatic. This will help the engine experience a variety of conditions for the best possible break-in.

1. Do Not Use Cruise Control For The First 621 Miles

Because you want to vary the engine RPMs, the new Toyota owner's manual recommends not using cruise control for the first 621 miles (or 1,000 kilometers). On a long, flat, straight road, cruise control lets you maintain a set speed without fussing with the accelerator pedal, but will probably mean the engine stays at the same RPMs the whole time. This isn't ideal. Driving without cruise control will naturally introduce a little variation, even on long highway journeys.

Most 2018 and newer Toyota models now come with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, part of Toyota Safety Sense™. Dynamic Radar Cruise Control can modulate your speed up and down to match the flow of traffic, which means it can be used during the break-in period without negatively affecting the engine. Just make sure to adjust your speed from time to time if the system doesn't do so on its own.

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