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How (Not) To Break In A New Car

How to break in a new car-Saturn in Monument Valley, Utah

You probably don’t read this blog to get automotive advice. And if you do, this must all be very disappointing… So just this once, I’m going to give you this great advice, just in case you’re in the market for a new car. Because learning how to break in a new car will ensure you enjoy many happy miles from your expensive purchase. So read on!

Right about now I should insert a bit of a disclaimer. I am, by no means, a professional automotive information provider, so everything you read from here on out should be taken with a healthy grain of salt. And if you’re on a sodium restricted diet, best not to read any further. ‘Nuf said!

Oh so many years ago, before the latest millennium, Heather bought a new car. She had been driving a beat up old Toyota she named Beaker. I think her license plate started with BKR, hence the name. Nothing to do with Beaker from the Muppets.

Beaker the Muppet, not the car.

Heather’s new car was a 1999 Saturn three door coupe. It was a pretty cool car back then, with a sunroof and a nifty third door on the driver’s side, that could only be opened if the driver’s door was opened.

How to break in a new car
Saturn 3 door coupe.

Queen Heather

The day we picked up our new car, the dealership treated us like royalty. The car sat in the centre of the showroom, shiny and polished. Its colour, “Blackberry”, a metallic black with deep purple highlights in the sun. A very cool colour.

The entire team, from the sales staff to the technicians and owners, all gathered around and applauded as they presented us with the keys. They took Heather’s picture, standing proudly beside her new, shiny Saturn. It was a pretty special moment. I mean, why wouldn’t they treat you like royalty? You’ve just spent many thousands of dollars!

When we picked up the car from the dealership, the wonderful staff walked us through all the little details about the vehicle. And one of the things they mentioned was the importance of the “break-in period”. Being a brand new vehicle that had less than a dozen kilometers on it, you can understand the need to give the car a chance to acclimatize before taking it out to the racetrack or rally circuit.

Nowadays some car manufacturers say a break-in period isn’t as necessary. Others still expect a bit of a break in period. But for a new car in 1999, its first thousand kilometers were to be driven with kid gloves. No hard starting, sudden braking, and no extended periods of driving the same speed. Sounds pretty boring, right?

How To Break In A New Car, Frazzledad Style

So, in the spirit of following the rules, we decided to break in our new car by driving it to LA for a few days. You know, a short, 2,000 kilometer sprint down the I-5, followed by about two hours of high-speed LA freeway rally driving. Kid gloves, right!?

And then, after 4 days in Southern California, we drove across Canada. A three and a half week road trip all the way to Prince Edward Island, with several stops in between. Basically, in the first eight weeks or so of owning our car, we put close to 30,000 kilometers on it! And, according to Heather, by the time she was back at work in September, the car had 47,000 kilometers on it. (see comments below!) That’s how to break in a new car, Frazzledad Style!

So why am I telling you all this? Well, over the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing about that epic road trip across Canada. Consider these upcoming posts a little look into the lives of Heather and I, before children (BC)!

You already know how much I love road trips, and Heather shared that love with me. I mean, why else would she agree to race to LA for what amounted to a long weekend? Followed by nearly a month on the road across this great country? Surely not for my good looks, although I have no doubt that played a part…

Stay tuned for more!

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[…] that we had our new car, and it was partially broken in, it was time to put it through its paces. What better way than an epic, 15,000 kilometer road trip […]

Heather Trawick
Heather Trawick
6 months ago

Because I am a math person…
We bought the car on May 19, 1999 and by the time school started in September she had 47 000km on her.

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