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Running-in a new car

Life with a brand new car

It used to be essential driving practice to follow rigorous running-in procedures to get maximum life and driving performance out of a new vehicle. Older drivers will perhaps remember the sight of a new car driving slowly in the nearside lane of a motorway with a 'running-in, please pass' sign on the vehicle’s rear window!

While vehicle design improvements and oil quality mean that modern cars are much less dependent on these careful driving techniques, motorists are still recommended to take a little extra care with a new car, particularly if they plan on driving it for a long time.  The vehicle’s reliability, oil and fuel consumption can all benefit from a considered driving approach.

When collecting the car, motorists should ask the car dealer for driving advice and also check the vehicle handbook.  Many still include pointers on 'running-in' the car.

A car’s first thousand miles

  • Motorists should begin with gentle town driving so the car’s major components can bed in.
  • New tyres have a thin oily coating, until this wears off, vehicle handling will feel different, especially when driving in wet weather.
  • Motorists should avoid harsh acceleration and heavy braking when driving a new car
  • Motorists driving a new diesel car shouldn’t let the vehicle’s engine speed exceed 3000 rpm however should make sure the revs regularly reach this limit
  • Motorists driving a new petrol engine should stick to a 3000 rpm limit for the first 500-600 miles and then increase the upper limit to around 4000 rpm. Again, revs should regularly reach this limit.
  • Motorists driving a new vehicle should avoid labouring the car’s engine – by changing up too early for example
  • Motorists driving a new vehicle should check the car’s oil and coolant levels (Click here to view our ‘AA Rescue Guide to checking your coolant’) at least once a week as they don't know how much oil it will use. 
  • Motorists driving a new car should note that oil consumption can be high for the first 6000 miles or so but should slow, particularly if the car's been treated gently in the early days.

After the first 1000 miles, motorists can gradually use more of the car's performance.