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Old 03-04-2008, 09:56 AM
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Your thoughts on the "break-in period"?

You are all aware of the break-in period stated on page 248 of the manual (as pasted below) however, I often hear differring opinions on this issue. Most agree that "stomping" on the brakes during break-in can score the pads and result in... yada-yada. The disagreement I hear is what real damage "full throttle starts" and "rapid accelleration" can cause in newer gen engines and trannys. My long time independent mechanic thinks it can do little harm since he took the VIP tour of Marysville where he saw them test the engines at high-revs and "dyno" them prior to install. He believes in doing a synthetic oil change at 3,500 - 4,000 miles and then every 5,000. What do all you "gurus" out there think about this issue?

Break-in Period
Help assure your vehicle's future reliability and performance by paying extra attention to how you drive during the first 600 miles (1,000 km) During this period:

*Avoid full throttle starts and rapid acceleration.
*Avoid hard braking for the first 200 miles (300 km).
*Do not change the oil until the scheduled maintenance time.
*Do not tow a trailer.
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Old 03-04-2008, 10:09 AM
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I think the biggest thing is to vary the RPM's. Shift a lot and go through the rev range and gears. Don't lug or over rev the motor. Simple and easy to do. The more complicated they make it the more likely it wont get followed.
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Old 03-04-2008, 10:22 AM
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I drove my 08 i4 coupe hard and fast. Took it to ~ 500-1000rpms less than redline manytimes during the first 1000 miles. Got 3500 miles on it, no problems or weird behaviors.
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Old 03-04-2008, 12:09 PM
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A somewhat lengthy post follows. It probably doesn't matter appreciably, but I followed this regimen on my '07 and it seemed to have no ill effects (admittedly at all of 10,000 miles). The only thing I did not follow was the oil change recommendation. Honda seems somewhat anal about keeping factory fill in until MM says its time to change. Then I switched to M1 synthetic. Currently 5W-20, will probably go to 0W-20. As I said, this procedure is probably overkill, but it appealed technically to the engineer in me, and it was sorta fun, especially because of the outrage it provoked in my favorite copilot. . . .

The Theory

The primary goals of engine break-in are: 1) achieving a good seal between the piston rings and cylinder walls, and 2) allowing the engine to operate correctly throughout its RPM range. The major enemy during the break-in period is localized heat buildup, mainly in bearing surfaces (most notably the crankshaft bearings).

Initial state: When the engine is machined at the factory, many wearing surfaces (places where parts rub against each other – cylinder walls, bearings, etc) are purposely machined more roughly than they could be. The reason for this is that it allows the engine to complete the machining/polishing as it operates, thus allowing for the individual variations inherent in any manufacturing process. This wearing process, when complete, produces parts which will fit together with very tight tolerances. However, the process also involves a great deal of friction, which in turn means a great deal of heat. As metal parts heat, they expand slightly. If the expansion goes beyond a certain point, the parts will tend to bind with and/or score each other. This must be avoided.

[To put this in plain english, the parts which rub against each other are left a bit rough, and as the engine runs the parts will scrape against each other until they wear down a bit and have a proper fit. While they're still in the process of scraping, they can get very hot; if they get too hot, they will damage each other in a permanent way.]

Since this sort of heat buildup is very localized, it will not show up on the engine temperature gauge. Therefore, it is important to operate the engine in such a way that the heat buildup will not reach a dangerous level. More on this later.

Stress and Variation: Although the engine parts are metal and, as a rule, quite rigid, they are still subject to slight deformation when stress is applied. The largest stress in a piston engine is that produced by reciprocating parts. The forces involved increase with the square of the RPM. Any deformation will necessarily involve a change in some tolerances inside the engine. Thus, in order for the engine to operate properly over a range of RPMs, it is important that it be exercised over this range during the break-in process so that the wearing parts will experience the range of tolerances they will be subjected to during normal (post-break-in) operation. Further, for the wearing surfaces of reciprocating parts (most notably the piston ring/ cylinder wall interface) operation at a single RPM for an extended period of time will cause the machining process to progress significantly further within the confines of the part's range of travel without progressing at the point just outside that range, thus building up a small ridge of metal just above the point of maximum excursion.

[In order for your engine to run well from 1000 to redline, you need to operate it at all those rpms while it is breaking in. If you don't, the parts won't be used to working at the rpms you neglected, and they won't work as well at those speeds]

Piston Ring Sealing: The seal between the piston ring and the cylinder wall is crucial to getting good economy and performance from the engine. A bad seal will allow more blow-by, reducing the amount of power the engine can produce with each power stroke and thus reducing both its horsepower and fuel economy, as well as allowing combustion gasses to get into the crankcase and contaminate the oil AND allowing oil to get into the combustion chamber and be burned, producing the characteristic blue-smoke-from-the-tailpipe syndrome (note that oil can also get into the combustion chamber via the valve stem guides, but that's not something we can do much about during break-in). The key to getting a good piston ring seal is high combustion chamber pressures. High combustion chamber pressure is produced under hard acceleration; also, the lower the RPM the longer that pressure is maintained during each power stroke. SO - to get a good piston ring seal, hard acceleration at low RPMs will give the best results. Since hard acceleration also produces more heat and more stress (leading to friction and still MORE heat), it should only be used in brief bursts, followed by a couple of minutes of "normal" low-stress operation to allow the heated parts to cool down.

Localized Heat Buildup: As previously mentioned, wearing parts will produce inordinate amounts of heat as they polish each other. This produces local points of intense heat inside the engine, with temperatures far higher than
the engine as a whole (which shows up on the temperature gauge) or even of the surrounding parts. The most susceptable points in an engine for this kind of heat buildup are the crankshaft bearings, which must withstand enormous stress and pressure. If the bearings are allowed to get too hot, they will expand to the point of scoring each other or (*gulp*) binding, producing a spun bearing. During the initial stages of engine break-in, there is no satisfactory way of keeping these bearings cool during even mild engine operation except to turn the engine off after every 10-15 minutes of operation and allow the bearings to cool down.

The theory I have outlined about should now be sufficient to explain the "practice" section of the break-in instructions. For the first 100 miles, keep the rpms low and the trips short to minimize the stresses and heat buildup in the bearings, and use short full-throttle bursts to seal the piston rings. From 100-500 miles, gradually increase the RPMs to allow the wearing surfaces to correctly mate, and continue using full-throttle bursts to ensure ring sealing. Use cooling periods (the 1-minute rule) to minimize the heat buildup produced by the high RPM operation and the full throttle bursts. At 500 miles, change the oil to flush out all the metal particles produced by the wearing process.


The Practice

For the first 100 miles, only take short trips of <15 minutes. Do not rev above about 3500 rpm. Use full throttle in short (2-3 second) bursts at low rpms (say 2500) - 5th gear on the freeway is ideal for this. Do not do more than one full-throttle burst in the same 2-minute period. Avoid driving for more than 2-3 minutes at the same rpm - if you are on the freeway, vary your speed and alternate between 5th and 4th gears.

From 100-500 miles, increase the peak RPM you reach by 200 rpm each time you drive the car (but don't go higher than redline). Do not rev to your new peak under heavy throttle; instead, let the engine drift up to the rpm under light load. For instance, pulling away from a stoplight, leave the engine in first and accelerate lightly until you reach the desired RPM, then shift. Continue the full-throttle-burst procedure. Do not rev the engine high under full throttle, and do not do either the peak-revving or the full-throttle procedure more often than once a minute. Avoid driving for more than 5 minutes at any one rpm - again, alternating between two adjacent gears and varying your speed will work.

You will notice that each time you reach a new peak rpm, the engine will be quite loud at that rpm, but after a few runs up it will quiet down. This is a sign that the break-in is proceeding well. You will want to have revved the engine to 6500(5500) rpm a few times by the time you reach 500 miles. At that point I recommend you change the oil, as most of the metal wear and contaminants from break-in are released in the first 500 miles.

From 500-3000 miles (the extended break-in) you can operate your engine fairly normally. Most of the work is done. You should still run the engine at higher RPMs on a regular basis (assuming you don't in the normal course of driving ;-) ) and you should avoid prolonged high-speed/high-stress operation, like racing or cruising at 110 mph. I personally change the oil after 1500 miles since it will be dirtier at that point that it would be after 3000 miles of post-break-in operation, but it isn't critical. Be sure to change it at 3000 miles, however. Although there is some difference of opinion on what KIND of oil to use during break-in, the general consensus is to use normal (non-synthetic) oil of the recommended weight (5- or 10-30).

From 3000 miles onward, your engine is considered broken in. It will probably continue to "loosen up" a bit over the next 3000-6000 miles, so look for a small increase in gas mileage. Other than that, your engine is now ready for a long and productive life. Enjoy!
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Old 03-04-2008, 12:37 PM
Tom R Tom R is offline
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I am at 4,000 miles and have kept revs low...except for a couple of missed shifts . I also have followed the Honda service advise and not yet changed the oil.

I have heard the "theory" of driving in the upper RPM range early to "wear" the parts correctly but am not convinced...one way OR the other.

In any case...at this point I think I will follow your gentle but persistant increasing of the rev band...probably will still be pretty moderate as my "ear" does not like the high RPM range...I think my dad convinced me it would ruin the engine .

Thoughts? BTW...the MM still says 70%...I plan on changing sometime betweem 4,000 and 5,000 miles.

As an aside...when I called the dealer service dept...he claimed Honda does an engine test routine and then changes the initial oil prior to shipping???

Not sure I buy that...Thanks...Tom R
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Old 03-04-2008, 01:04 PM
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No idea about the factory procedures, but this is not the first time I've heard of factory testing at WOT.

Also, I didn't say that my earlier sermonette is not my work (I'm good, but not THAT good), but came from another forum somewhere (perhaps BMW) and probably via a link from this forum. I like the theory - sounds plausible - but wouldn't want to steal, or be accused of stealing, someone else's work. Next thing you know, I'd have to become a Democrat and run for President. (It's a JOKE!!!).
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When everyone's home:

2007 SE I4 5AT, Cool Blue, 52k
2007 Civic EX-Navi, Galaxy Gray, 96k
2011 Acura TSX 6MT-Navi, 22 k
2004 EX I4 5MT, Desert Mist, 134k

Gone but not forgotten:
2001 Accord EX I4 5MT, Satin Silver, oil slick at 86K
1999 EX-LV, Heather Mist, sold at 146,567
1994 Accord LX I4 5 MT ABS, Malachite Green, traded at 285k
1993 Volvo 940 Turbo Wagon, Blue Green, 229.5k
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:33 AM
WisAccord WisAccord is offline
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My break in procedure consists of driving the vehicle as I would normally do. I don't beat the thing but I don't lug it either. I don't use the cruise control for the first few hundred miles so that rpm's will vary.

I changed my factory fill at 4,000 miles, then changed the oil again at about 10k(when the MM indicator displayed). Now it's got M1 5w-20 and I'll change it per the maintenance minder from here on out.

It's a Honda; built to last.
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Old 03-05-2008, 11:23 AM
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I love how this is debated on every single forum I've ever been on.

Basically any way you drive it, it'll all end up being fine and you'll get great performance and fuel economy from it.
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Old 12-25-2008, 09:32 AM
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I just retired as a fac rep for BMW after 17 years. All I did was break in cars...we got new ones every 6000 miles...So we had a set procedure given to us by the engineers on how to break in. They said:

"never hold the same speed for the 1st 1000 miles for more than a few minutes - vary it up"

Pretty technical huh? That was it....seriously....
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Old 12-25-2008, 11:25 AM
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From the beginning I've let mine rip a couple times a week. The day I picked it up, I took it out to redline and chirped third. I've been following the MM the whole time changing my oil the first time at 15% (~8500 miles) and then putting in M1 full syn. Mileage has continued to increase (29 is my best). It's also seemed like it has gotten stronger. I can spin fourth (man, this thing needs a LSD) better than my old car would spin second gear (and no, I'm not "board shifting" or anything like that). I've had no problems at all and I'm somewhere over 10k miles.
I don't know how true it is, but I've heard to just drive them like you normally would during break in just don't get too crazy. Baby it all the time though, and it will always be a baby.
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