4 Steps for Breaking In a Brand-New Subaru | Break-in Period Guidelines from Carlsen Subaru

Things to Know About Breaking in a Brand New Vehicle

A freshly-built engine is a thing of remarkable beauty and craftsmanship - especially to gearheads. We could wax poetic about how great a sparkling-clean engine block looks, but a car is for driving, not just looking at. And if you've got a performance-tuned Subaru like a WRX, you're probably itching to put it through its paces. But not so fast! A modern engine will last longer and perform at its peak for years to come only if it's properly broken in early in its life.

For the first 1,000 miles, Subaru recommends all 2019 Subaru models be driven somewhat gently and carefully. We'll go over on this page all you need to know about breaking in a new engine, and why it's important not to push the engine too hard too soon.

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Step 1: Extra! Extra! Read All About It

The first step to breaking in a new car's engine is to consult the owner's manual. It'll tell you exactly what the manufacturer recommends for breaking in your vehicle. On a 2019 Subaru for example, it indicates that the engine should be driven with a moderate, varying load for the first 1,000 miles of service and not exceed 4,000 RPMs. Read the recommendation in your owner's manual to get the guidelines for your specific vehicle.

This is important to allow the piston rings to form a good seal in the combustion cylinders. The fresh metal cylinder bore is quite smooth, but a subtle grain pattern from the machining process needs to be worn in for a perfect seal. As the engine runs, rubber piston rings expand and press against the cylinder walls and form a seal. This prevents oil from seeping past the piston rings and burning in the engine, and also prevents blowback which robs your engine of power.

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Running the engine too fast and hot will prevent a good seal from forming by heating the piston rings too much too early. By contrast, babying the engine too much can prevent the piston rings from expanding enough to form a solid seal! So, try to push the engine up to (but not too far over) 4,000 RPMs occasionally. A varying, moderate load for its first 1,000 miles will help your engine form long-lasting seals.

Step 2: Avoid Cruise Control

Cruise control is designed to maintain a set speed. Naturally, this means - unless you're going up and down a bunch of steep hills - the engine will rotate at a pretty constant speed. When breaking in a vehicle, this is not ideal. The engine needs to experience a wide band of heat and pressure levels so that the piston rings seal properly. Be sure to manually operate your car during the break-in period, and be sure to vary the engine rotation speed (RPMs) indicated by the tachometer. This prepares your engine for the intense temperature changes of high-performance driving.

Step 3: Don't Put the Pedal to the Metal (Yet)

During the break-in period, you not only want to watch your RPMs closely; you'll also want to avoid wide-open throttle altogether. Once the engine has been broken in, you'll be able to ask the engine for maximum power as often as you like (within the legal limits of your local jurisdiction, of course!) - but when breaking in the engine, leave some power in reserve. Don't put the gas pedal all the way to the floor unless it's absolutely necessary for an emergency maneuver. This helps keep your engine from experiencing too much stress too early in its life.

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Step 4: Get Your First Oil Change Early

This one isn't recommended by the owner's manual, but we still think it's a good idea here at the Carlsen Subaru service center. After the break-in period ends, and before you finally unleash 100% of the engine's power, it's not a bad idea to get an oil change.

When an engine is new and recently machined, it'll give off more particles like metal shavings and other fragments. These naturally collect in your engine oil. In an engine that's already been broken in, most of the debris that was going to come off already has. However, a newer engine still has fresh angles and rough edges that can give off flakes of metal as moving parts slide against them for the first time. Changing the oil early gets rid of that debris sooner, so that it's not hanging around in your oil system and potentially causing damage.

Just follow these four steps for the first 1,000 miles of owning your Subaru for best results. And when you at long last open up the throttle for the first time at mile 1,001, you'll be glad you did.

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Carlsen Subaru

480 Veterans Blvd
Directions Redwood City, CA 94063

  • Sales: 650-365-6390
  • Service : 650-365-6390
  • Parts: 650-365-6390
  1. Carlsen Subaru

    480 Veterans Blvd
    Redwood City, CA 94063

    • Sales: (888) 520-5916

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