Engine Break In for Altima's & Other Nissan Performance Vehicles
Really now a days, with newer engines, newer refinement methods, and micro finished engine components, an elaborate engine break-in isn’t really necessary, all that is really needed is a moderate engine break-in, which is all about wearing in key car components into proper placement, most importantly the piston rings within the combustion chamber. This guide will explain the best way to gain the most performance and longevity from your engine. There has been many theories of how to break-in your engine, whether hard or gently, I have been doing a lot of internet research to see which method would best to apply to my new ’09 Nissan Altima 3.5, the conclusion I came to is one of my own, neither Gentle or Hard break-in, they both pose a threat to the engine, which I’ll explain below.
The problem with the two is that when it comes to the Hard break-in, people take it too literal and are a little too hard on their engines in the beginning, excessive high revs & redlining, creating unnecessary early wear to engine components and other vehicle parts, they also cut their break-in periods too short, and when it comes to an Easy break-in, people take it way too easy on the engine, not creating enough pressure with-in the combustion chamber for the seals to be forced out and seat in place, which in turn creates improper sealing, which leads to excess oil consumption, and power loss.
Now if you typically drive your car slow, then by all means break-in your engine gently, it would be best for your style, but if you are a driver like me that likes to feel the power from the engine, and is concerned about performance, then breaking in the engine gently is the worst method possible, think of the break-in as a training stage, if you are planning on hard driving after the break-in , then you should focus on training your engine on how you drive, by driving in a bit more aggressive manner when the engine is new, using the acceleration shot process and gradually running up the RPM ranges, at different distances before 1000kms, the engine parts will be able to expand more accordingly for performance due to the amount of heat generated from the harder driving, which will allow the pistons and other engine parts to seat quicker & more properly. The engine will better handle hard acceleration thru quicker responses, due to the more performance intensive break-in training, and your engine will be able to last longer, by being able to deal with more stress, thanks to the better seated engine parts, but in order for this method to work without overstressing the engine or causing premature wear, the engine needs to be driven with WOT aggressively applied from the first 32kms, but not hard, and the engine needs to be aggressively ran thru ALL the RPM ranges before the first 1000 kms, by using a gradual 10 shot RPM increase methode. Now compare gentle break-in’s, which consist of babying the engine, never driving over 3 rpm, increasing rpm ceiling after the first oil change, all of this happens after the engine has already set, in the end the engine will end up being use to light loads, medium or weak acceleration, and will probably have a improper seal fitting, since WOT wasn’t applied to the engine until after the 1000km mark, so in short the engine has set and has gone 1000kms without any real use of the RPM band, and from that you expect to have an engine that can perform. Now imagine you flooring an engine that was broken-in gently, it won’t perform as well, cause it isn’t use to high RPM’s & rapid acceleration, the easy break-in requires easy driving during the first 100 kms, but the first 100 kms is the most important, it can create a performance engine or create a cruiser engine, this is when the engine is structurally expanding, due to heat, and is seating engine components. For me, the easy break-in will create more problems in the long run, with the engine not being able to handle stressful driving as well, especially if you’re a heavy footed driver. The break-in method mentioned below is best, it won’t overload or under load your engine. What you really need to do to achieve the perfect engine break-in is to find a middle ground, don’t be too hard on the engine, but on the other hand don’t baby the engine either. No redlining the engine and no steady RPM, concentrate on driving at different RPM’s, this will help help set the piston rings, and other components of the engine. I personally believe, that an engine break-in, all starts from the driver, how long an engine last, depends on the break-in style and driving style, if they match, you’ll have a engine that performs better and that last longer. I have explained more on my method of aggressive break-in further down.
Understand that heat is a essential part to the engine break-in process, when WOT (Wide Open Throttle) is applied to a new engine, the heat created will be significantly higher than in a gentle break-in, remember that metal expands in heat, that’s why it is best to perform WOT (Wide Open Throttle) within the first 32 kilometers of the cars drive, this is when the engine is newly expanding allowing components to wear & set, WOT will help heat up the engine and create the pressures responsible for forcing the seals to set. When the engine is operating, a force known as Break Mean Effective Pressure or B.M.E.P is generated within the combustion chamber. B.M.E.P. is the resultant force produced from the controlled burning of the fuel air mixture that the engine runs on. The higher the RPM is running at, the higher the B.M.E.P. is and conversely as the RPM is lowered the B.M.E.P. becomes less. B.M.E.P is an important part of the break in process. When the engine is running, B.M.E.P. is present in the cylinder behind the piston rings and it's force pushes the piston ring outward against the coarse honed cylinder wall. The higher the B.M.E.P, the harder the piston ring is pushed against the wall. The surface temperature at the piston ring face and cylinder wall interface will be greater with high B.M.E.P. than with low B.M.E.P. This is because we are pushing the ring harder against the rough cylinder wall surface causing high amounts of friction and thus heat. So the first 32 kilometers are the most important, because this is all the mileage required for a new engine to seat the piston rings, by performing WOT, it will create the maximum temperature and pressures for the engine and components to fully expand to their maximum size, so they can wear and seat in properly. But keep in mind, too much heat buildup, resulting from Full Throttle or Full Acceleration during the first 32 kilometers, will cause glazing or heat welding between parts in the engine, resulting in loss of performance. The engine should not be floored until everything within the engine has set, and the engine has been run thru its paces, gradually running thru the whole RPM range, preferably rite after 1000kms, it is best to floor the car, just after the 1st oil change, to finally break the engine in completely.
The Guide below will show you how to perform WOT during the first 32 kms of leaving the Dealership.
(Cannot Miss or Skip This Step, It is very Crucial to your engines Performance and Longevity.)
Here is how to seat piston rings, just after leaving the dealership in your brand new car:
Start the engine, the engine naturally will idle between 900 rpm – 1500 rpm, these high idle rpms is for the engine to transfer oil to other parts of the engine, once complete the engine will automatically reduce to 600 rpm. After the rpm reduction, which will be a total of 10 -20 secs, you can now drive your car, REPEAT never let your engine run idle, not even for a minute, it is the worst thing for an NEW engine, once your car is ready to drive, just go. Once driving, check your temp gauge, your car engine should still be cold, so avoid heavy acceleration, keep them lite, and stay below 2,000 rpm, until the operational engine temp is reached.
Once the optimal engine temp is reached, begin driving real easy for about 10 km, to allow fluids to mix, varying your engine speed below 2,500 rpms, after 10 kms, increase speed and increase engine speed to 3,000 rpms, begin to drive as if your car was already broken in, without exceeding 3,000rpm, to constantly vary your engines speed by speeding up and slowing down for another 10 kms. After the second run of 10 kms, try to find a place to continue the remaining 12kms, proceed to a safe area on the highway, where you can put your car in 2nd or 3rd gear, preferably 2nd gear for the first 4 runs, then 3rd gear for the next 4 runs.
While in 2nd gear, accelerate at WOT (Wide Open Throttle) from 1500-4000rpms, then decelerate by engine braking (allow the engine to slow the car, do not press the brakes), repeat 4 times acceleration from 1,500-4000rpms, decelerate 4000-1500rpms via engine braking. When complete in 2nd gear, do the same for 3rd gear.
Doing that 8 times will seat piston rings, under WOT the rings are forced out into the cylinder walls and the rings will take on the shape of the cylinder wall so that you have a good seal, while decelerating, the ring tension will release and pull engine oil up around them to allow lubrication and prevent overheating.
After performing the WOT procedure, continue driving the engine, try to place as much load as possible on the engine, between the rpms of 1500 -3500, and allow downshifting if possible, until you reach the 32 km mark. After reaching the 32km mark, continue driving but reduce rpms or baby the engine to allow the pistons to cool. Drive up to 50 kms, and after that find a place to park and turn off your engine, let it rest for a bit, best to lift the engine hood for maximum cooling.
If all the steps are done correctly, then you don't have to worry about seating in your piston rings anymore.
After resting the engine, you can re-commence driving, from this period on you can drive the car, as if it is already broken in, but still refrain from flooring the engine, and stay within the 3000 rpm limit. Don’t be hesitant to give some good throttle to the engine within the 3,000 limit, vary the engine speed as much as possible.
Follow the guidelines below, on order to properly run the engine thru it’s paces, slowly allowing you to drive up the RPM range, within given distances. 50 kms before end of the set kilometers, perform a 10 shot RPM increase, use engine downshifting to return to ceiling RPM.
(You can use engine downshifting in manual mode, this will also help break-in the auto-clutch for the CVT.)
0-200 kms: Keep under 3,000 RPM. Give it about 10 1st gear shots to 4,000 RPM, use engine downshift to return to 3,000rpm.
200-400 kms: Raise rev ceiling to 4,000 RPM with 10 1st & 2nd gear shots to 4,500 RPM, use engine downshift to return to 4,000rpm.
400-700 kms: Raise rev ceiling to 4,500 RPM with 10 shots to 5,000 RPM thru 3rd gear, use engine downshift to return to 4,500rpm.
700-1000 kms: Raise rev ceiling to 5,500 RPM with 10 shots to 6,000 RPM thru 3rd gear, use engine downshift to return to 5,500rpm.
1000-1200 kms: Raise rev ceiling to 6,000 RPM with 10 shots to 6,500 RPM thru 3rd gear, use engine downshift to return to 6,000rpm.
(Optional: To further improve the performance of your engine, by removing break-in oil after 100kms, and getting new oil placed, this will limit radical particles bonding with or contaminating other important engine parts after time.)
The Final Break-In
Most dealerships will recommend that you bring your car in for a free oil change at 1,000 kms, to remove deposits formed from the break-in period.
Just before this oil change, you should have completed the 5,500 rpm rev ceiling, 10 shot rpm increase to 6,000.
As the final break-in, after your oil change, drive for about 100kms, varying engine speed from 1500-6000 rpms, while doing this perform the 10 shot rpm increase to 6,500, then accelerate the car upto 160 kmh, shift to manual mode and start engine braking from 6th gear to 1st gear. After the 100 kms, take your car out to the nearest, longest, police less highway, shift your car into manual mode, gradually floor the engine.
Do this about 10 times, the first 5 times, gradually build up thru the RPM range smoothly, till you reach 6,500rpm, and let the computer shift, do this from 1st gear to 6th gear. After the 5th time, drive the car normally, doing minimal revs for a few minutes to allow the pistons to cool.
After the pistons cool, switch the car into D, open the throttle full, floor the car as far as you can go, now as a proper final break-in it is necessary you go full RPM and full speed, to break-in all last remaining parts that require a full speed break in. Complete this 5 times if possible.
Congrats after 1,200kms, your car is finally broke-in, ready to run, and be driven hard.
__________________ . Toyota
Last edited by ammoh25; 08-31-2008 at 01:50 AM.
Reason: Added some new sections, better explanations
thanx for the replies, no it is not official, i wish the dealer would give us a sheet telling us that, it would make our lives much easier when breaking in, my info is all put together by myself, i have reviewed many theories to come to my own theory, a complete Break-In answer, some of the break-in techniques within the guide, i have learnt from other websites, but i made some slight changes to the numbers, for improved performance in the engines... i have to mention i slightly agree with motoman's theory, in running the engine hard during break in, but at the same time their theories have glitches, so i made my own full theroy, that i have tested on my own car, with great results. i got tried of getting half assed info online, so I made this thread, for anyone who needed a full real answer.
In short, Motoman's theory is good, check out his site [Only Registered Users Can See LinksClick Here To Register], but it really applies to much smaller engines, such as bike engines, not really car engines, thats why he insist so much on trashing the engine, understand bike engines get rebuilt after a mere 30,000 kms, while cars are meant to last upto 250,000kms, with cars you have to have a MID ground, not too hard and not too easy. What i realize is either people just have a common ground when it comes to engine break-ins.
So what should I do for my 600 miles new 2008 Nissan Altima? I just like to press the accelerator in emergencies, and lane change. Does that make me a gentle driver? I just don't like the idea of racing on highway and causing inconvenience to other drivers or even accident. Closed track's more of my style~(Doesn't mean I am a experienced racer though) Can someone help me on my car?
sheeplvl1... what exactly do u need help on?... seems like ur a safe/reliable driver... at 600 miles you've basically broken in the car more or less... like manicsquirrel said... new cars dont need that much of a break in... just continue driving the way you normally drive... n be safe
manic squirrel, i agree with you! you really don't need a dramatic break-in, but the break-in gives a sense to the owner that he is not screwing is engine from the start. Simply break-in how you want, just not to hard, much props on the write up, it is mainly pointing out how to break-in for more performance, while not destroying the engine. This break-in isn't for everyone, just the ones who are performance and racing enthusiast.
Sorry about the lack of info last time. What I need help on is that I drove for 400 miles on the highway out of the 600 miles in one long trip. I was constantly accelerating and releasing the paddle since a constant speed is not recommended by Nissan manual. My uncle also told me not to drive the car over 55 MPH on highway during break-in. As a result, I was constantly accelerating and decelerating around the speed of 55 MPH for 8 hrs(My Garmin told me that). Was my uncle right about the 55 MPH limit during break-in? Was I right on having a constant acceleration and deceleration during a long trip? Comments are appreciated!
hey sheeplvl1, no you did nothing wrong, it's not a big problem driving a long distance, eventhough it's not recommended, the real problem is staying at a constant RPM for the duration of the drive, but you did the right thing constantly accelerating and decelerating, changing your RPM range while driving. Speed of 55mph has nothing to do with breaking in a new engine @ 200 miles, it's really all about RPM's, the new tranny's now a days can do 80 mph while remaining under 3,000 rpm.
manic squirrel, yeah ur rite, ultra high performance motors dont need to be broken in, they just need hard driving. I would classify Nissan VQ engines as high performance engines, so a moderatly aggressive break-in would suit the engines performance status.... would you agree?
I'm pretty sure the car knows how you want to drive. The computer reads how your driving at a given moment and ajusts to you. So if your crusing it will realize it, and if your racing or accelerating fast it will adjust to maximize performance.
Lets not apply raceing tech to the street environment. Do you have any idea how much wear COULD occure by "breaking in" your engine this way? This oil is the origional factory fill and all kinds of assembly byproducts are in it. This is not the time for high RPM's since you don't know whats in the oil. BTW hi performance motors are broken in at the factory so you don't ruin your new Porsche motor with a special secrete you read about on the internet.
well mine has 145 miles on the odometer and i wont be driving it till December.the wife put the 145 miles on the freeway coming from the dealer we got it from.What kind of break in should i do.those 145 are on freeway going 65-80 mph.
2010 Altima 3.5 SR Sedan White
2007 Accord 2.4 EX Coupe Graphite Pearl