After having installed a new set of tyres on your vehicle, it’s inevitable for you to expect better performance out of them almost immediately. That’s not going to be the case though until you ‘run-in’ or ‘break-in’ those fresh-out-of-the-factory tyres, properly.
Just like an engine, a brand new tyre is also required to be used under light load conditions during the initial phase so as to ensure its optimal performance. However, while most of the people tend to neglect this part in tyre ownership completely, others are often oblivious about this procedure in the first place.
A tyre comprises multiple layers and combinations of rubber, steel, chemical compounds etc. At the time of manufacturing, rubber goes through a number of chemical and physical changes as it inches closer to become a tyre. During the final manufacturing process (tyre moulding) though, a releasing agent or lubricant treatment is given to the tyre so as to prevent it from sticking to the mould during the curing process. So, when a new tyre is fitted to a vehicle, it still has traces of the releasing lubricant on its surface. Also the reason why new tyres shine so much.
While this lubricant is practically invisible, it forms an additional layer between the rubber contact patch and the road, meaning it will have much lesser grip levels than even your old and worn out tyres. As a result, it’s recommended to go light on new tyres once they are fitted. After a few hundred kilometers (300-500km, ideally) the lubricant layer on the tyre tends to wear off the surface completely, allowing for a proper road-contact and adequate grip levels.
Besides the aforementioned reason, the break-in period of a tyre will also help it undergo a specific functional change before it’s being pushed for the limits or put under extreme load conditions. Easy driving conditions (gradual acceleration or braking and slow-speed cornering) will make different components of a tyre to start performing together in a more effective way to deliver optimal performance and smooth ride quality. This is because these components will also ‘settle down’ more effectively if they are being run-in gently for the first few hundred kilometers.