Engine Tech: How To Break-in your High-Performance Street or Racing Engine

Engine Tech: How To Break-in your High-Performance Street or Racing Engine


Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to drive 500-2000 miles before your engine is “broken-in”. Imagine having to drive your Hot-Rod or road racer from Los Angeles to San Francisco or worse yet Manila to Baguio! I know of individuals that have done this same type of ride to break in the engine…. Imagine with a serious street-race engine it will be worn out by the time you get to Baguio!

Make sure once you have warmed up your engine and “burp” the cooling systems, check the oil levels and make sure all is good and tight.

Here are some tips for you to consider to protect your investment:
If you have a High-Lift Camshaft, Start and bring the engine to Racing Temperature (160 degrees at least). Then let it cool down on its own and re-start the process again “half a dozen times or more”. If you have the patience to do this. The reason is for your “NEW” valve springs to be slowly “heat conditioned to its stressed environment”!

I have been guilty of this when I was still trying to figure it out, I would immediately go to the track with my new springs, and engine. After I have gone through my checklist and go “Banzai”!! I trusted my engine and the damm thing rev all the way to 8600+ RPMs on the first several runs..

After several more runs my engine slowly lost its revving potential and the valve springs are gone! The reason I- Heat (thermal) Shock the springs and never gave it a chance to be conditioned in a new environment as it was manufactured, wound and placed in a box..

Just like the valve springs, Engine blocks have to be Thermally introduced, “Slowly” where they will take a permanent set as you hope it stays True and Round on its cylinder walls. The whole block you hope will not shift and take a different set. Imagine if you fire up and check everything and go all out!!! You and I have seen this and you know this engine is living on borrowed time and horsepower is compromised…

Once you have gone through your heat/cool cycle, Go out and slowly accelerate your engine to mid-RPMs and immediately let go of the gas and let it “Engine Brake” with out forcing it too much. Next go out to a faster speeds and let-off the gas and down-shift without forcing it from 4th to 3rd to 2nd and finally to 1st!

DO THIS ABOUT 6-12 TIMES AFTER YOUR HEAT CYCLING HAS BEEN DONE. AND IF YOU DO A “LEAK DOWN” CHECK – THE ENGINE RINGS WILL BE SEALED!
(This Engine ritual takes about 15 minutes and 4-8 miles)
NOW YOU ARE READY TO RACE!!! RINGS ARE BROKEN-IN….

As a side note, some people say the bearings need to be broken in. This is untrue as the clearances you have set, should not change as the oil cushions the surfaces and prevents direct contact between the bearing material and the crank.

I also believe these rituals even performed on a stock/mild engine will also be beneficial… I have been asked several times why i go “all out” the first time with a brand new engine. They did not realize i did my break-in at my shop….

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