When you get a brand new generator, whether it be a portable one or one permanently attached to the building, you can’t simply attach it and expect it to work. Just like any other machine or device you need to break it in so everything has a chance to warm up and get going. This step allows for the oil, lubricant, and fuel to get into the unit; which is crucial if you want your generator to last. It could easily add thousands of hours to the lifespan of your generator. With that being said, how do you properly break in your generator? Here’s what you need to know:

Breaking In Your Generator: What You Need To Know 1

What exactly does it mean to “break it in?”

Basically, it’s a control run for the machine. It gets everything lubricated and allows the cylinder walls to grind down to the perfect level they need to be. It also flushes away any metal from that grinding.

Why is it so important?

Without the proper lubrication, the engine could have a “dry start” which could cause a lot of damage. It might also cause the engine to settle incorrectly allowing carbon to build up over time. This will result in a leak from poorly sealed areas or the pistons not working being cause of low pressure. In addition to that, the metal bits that came from the cylinder grinding down could get into the engine causing a lot of damage.

How do you break in a generator?

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The first thing to do is to read the manual from the manufacturer. They will have specific instructions for the model you have. They may even have their own version of how to break the generator in. This is a generic how-to guide, so make sure you follow the instructions from the manufacturer.


You’re going to need manufacturer brands of:

  • Oil
  • Fuel
  • Oil Conditioner

1. Step One: Take the spark plug out, add a few drops of oil into it, and slowly pull the starter cord about five to ten times. Don’t pull hard enough to start the engine though. This method is purely to get the pistons lubricated. Put the spark plug back afterward.

2. Step Two: In the crankcase, add the oil conditioner and then the oil. You’ll have to consult with the manual on how much to add each.

3. Step Three: Add the fuel according to the manual.

Note: The first time using the generator, the manual will probably tell you to fill both the oil and the gas to maximum levels. This will make sure everything in the generator is properly lubricated and ready to go. Do not overfill either one though.

4. Step Four: During the first run, have the generator on for an hour with nothing attached to it. Just let the generator do what it needs to do to fully break in. Once the time is up, drain out all of the oil and refill it again. The oil that drains out will be dirty because it helped clean out everything in the generator.

5. Step Five: (Optional) Do a second run. This step isn’t always needed, but some manufacturers recommend it. If the manual specifically says to do a second run, do it.

6. Step Six: Run the generator with a 500-watt load.