Piston Slap: Tight Focus on Engine Break-In Procedure?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap tight focus on engine break in procedure
Patrick writes:Sajeev,Thanks for the column and the sage advice, but mostly for the generosity as lemons perp. (FYI Piston Slap queries don’t count as bribes – SM)Recently purchased a Focus ST, and though I have rebuilt/broken in conventional engines in the past, new car recommendations of oil changes at 5,000 miles plus and no mention of an engine break-in procedure leave me nervous. Especially with the new breed of HO turbo motors. I know better than to push the motor for the initial 500 – 1,000 miles. Reading forums and interwebs, a number recommend an initial oil change at 1,000 to clear out the initial break in filings, then adhere to a 5k oil change schedule with synthetic fluids.What say you? Running the initial fluids to 10k sounds like an introduction to premature wear to me.Sajeev answers:Engine break-in procedures are pretty simple: RTFM, always keep the tach in the black, and vary your RPMs while cruising. The Focus’ owner’s manual will likely say the same, anything extra is ritualistic practice from a concerned owner. Modern engines have fantastically tight tolerances, etc. so don’t sweat it.Oil changes as per owner’s manual are always recommended, going a bit overboard isn’t a bad idea on a higher performance, turbocharged mill…especially if you get the ECU tuning bug.I’d do the 1k mile oil change if it’ll make you feel better (or if RTFM demands it). I did that when my 2011 Ranger hit the magic 4-digit number because the dealer gave me a free oil change voucher, at 5k I switched to a full synthetic. From there I went to 8-9k change intervals and never looked back. But a Duratec Ranger isn’t exactly a Focus ST.Odds are you’ll be more than fine with the 5k interval: do an engine oil analysis to learn if you can extend the interval, or ensure you don’t fall prey to the sludge monsters of recent memory.[Image: Michael/ Flickr ( CC BY 2.0)]Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.
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  • Jalop1991 Jalop1991 on Oct 12, 2018

    I'm amazed at all the voodoo. GTI: use oil that meets VW's specifications. Check it regularly to make sure you have enough. Change it at VW's recommendations. They don't use anything like what Honda does; it's a simple 10K/1 year, whichever comes first, alert. And the proof is in the used oil analysis. If you're using voodoo to determine short oil change intervals because you're "scared", you need to put on your big girl panties and get a used oil analysis. Trust me: 10K changes using VW spec oil on a modern factory spec GTI is, in fact, plenty.

  • OE Supplier Veteran OE Supplier Veteran on Oct 15, 2018

    I have had a 2013 Focus ST since new and followed no unusual procedures re: break in. It's been too long (six years) but if the manual called for first change at 5k kms, I probably did that. I change oil per the vehicle information system, which seems to be at 15,000 km intervals. The car now has 235,000 km, uses no (or negligible amounts of) oil, and overall functions flawlessly. I have only ever used full synthetic.

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.