Torque Shop

I drive a 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI. The manufacturer's recommendation is a 1,500km run-in period and first oil change at the end of the first year. For cars I have owned in the past, which were all Japanese, the manufacturers recommended oil change at the end of the run-in period. Should I change the engine oil now that my car has hit 1,500km?

The running-in protocol for cars varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. There are a number of reasons for this.

Most significantly, the technical parameters on which the engine design is based are not necessarily the same throughout the world. Car manufacturers apply their own rules that are not governed by legislature or international standards.

While it is true that modern cars are built with a higher precision of tolerance than in the past, it is still important to observe a "running-in" period. The engine needs to go through a process where the moving parts are honed in. Surfaces between moving and stationary parts will eventually fit perfectly.

Stick to the recommended running-in period, first service and subsequent service intervals. The car manufacturer may have used a special running-in oil that accelerates running-in, but has a short lifespan.

On the other hand, if your car's first service is specified at 15,000km, there is no need to do an oil change earlier.

On the subject of running-in, you do not need to drive like a tortoise. Just refrain from high revs or vigorous acceleration - especially from a standstill.

Try not to rev beyond 3,000rpm in the first 1,000km. Thereafter, increase the maximum revs occasionally over the next 2,000km. Avoid long periods of idling (not more than 30 seconds).

A long cruise at a constant speed (like a drive to Kuala Lumpur) is also to be avoided with a new car. A new engine needs to experience varying speeds, acceleration and deceleration.

Shreejit Changaroth

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2018, with the headline 'Torque Shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe