When you take delivery of a new car like the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette, the temptation to put the pedal to the floor straight off the dealership lot is mighty powerful. But that can be disastrous for a factory-fresh engine.
No worries if that new car is a C8-generation Corvette — GM has a slick way to make sure you obey the engine break-in procedure.
The C8 comes with a V8 developing a healthy 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, but you can’t use all of that at first. As the Detroit Free Press reports, for the first 500 miles you’re limited to 330 lb-ft in first and second gears. The rev limit is also reduced to 4,000 rpm.
In earlier times, a buyer would read the owner’s manual and understand the need to take it easy for a certain number of miles. It was very important back then to let all the moving parts get familiar with one another before pushing for peak power.
Mike Kociba, assistant chief engineer of GM’s small-block engines, agrees. From the Free Press:
People were really rolling the dice when they opened up the engine too soon 10 or 20 years ago
And while improved technology and materials mean engines are more durable today, you still shouldn’t leave the dealership lot with the engine banging off of the rev limiter. So the Corvette has software that limits engine output until you reach 500 miles on the odometer. Ford’s powertrain engineering manager, Joel Beltramo, thinks these electronic controls will protect owners, preventing damage caused by having too much fun too soon. From the Freep:
The manufacturing and tolerances of our engines are now so good, and the software controls that monitor for temperature increases are so effective that even if you briefly had to go wide-open throttle 10 minutes after leaving a dealer, the engine will protect itself through cooling so you won’t hurt the engine’s life.
Should you do that all the time before the engine is fully broken in? No. That’s why we recommend owners refer to the owner’s manual in their vehicle.
Once owners cross that 500-mile threshold, all they have to do is restart the car to unlock the vehicle’s full power and the 6,600 rpm rev ceiling.
While the Corvette has this nifty fail-safe, owners are still encouraged to read their manuals. Corvette Blogger published the Corvette’s full break-in procedure straight from the owner’s manual.
So far, the Corvette is the only vehicle in GM’s lineup with this technology. Honestly, I think most cars with a specific break-in procedure should have something like this. I wonder how many issues a proper break-in prevents in modern cars.