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I'm the proud owner of a brand new Acura MDX. Love the SUV. Love the room. Love the towing capacity with the new upgraded engine.

But speaking of the engine, I was told to "break in the engine". I didn't think break-in periods for engines existed any more. What is the reason behind this?

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Yes Steve, engine break-in still exists and it is important that you follow the manufacturers' recommendations as outlined in the unused little book in your glove compartment - the owner's manual.

I would like to add an exclamation to this last statement: Honda Motor Company Limited is the world's largest builder of engines. It produces engines for weed trimmers to marine engines to power equipment engines to jet engines (joint venture of General Electric and Honda Aero Inc.). With this consideration, if Honda/Acura says there is a break-in period, believe it - these guys are engine experts.

As it turns out, I'm test driving the new Honda Crosstour and the owner's manual is explicit with engine break-in procedures. To quote:

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

  • Avoid full-throttle starts and rapid acceleration.
  • Do not change the oil until the scheduled maintenance time.
  • Avoid hard braking for the 300 km (200 miles).
  • Do not tow a trailer.

You should also follow these recommendations with an overhauled or exchanged engine, or when the brakes are replaced."

Steve, you need to pay particular attention to the last bullet.

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I thought the second bullet was interesting so I did a little checking. During the build process, Honda installs a break-in additive in its automotive engines that contains special detergents and an agent that aids in the collection of small particulate matter inside the oil filter. It wants this additive to remain in the sump as long as possible to do the job of assembly clean-up.

There you have it, Steve. Although you may have heard that engine break-in is a thing of the past, engines are still made out of iron, aluminum and such. Metals don't change and neither does wear - follow your owner's manual. Your new MDX and Honda/Acura will love you for it.

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About the Author
Globe Drive columnist

As associate dean of Motive Power programs at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Rob MacGregor has nearly three decades' experience in training the province's automotive technicians. He has written extensively on car mechanics, appears regularly on television and is a member of the Autotmobile Journalists Association of Canada. More

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