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I live in Central America. Driving is different than in 'Western' countries. Roads are often in bad shape, and it is very common to encounter people / cows / carts / painfully slow cars on the 'highways'. Consequently, one never drives fast here. My driving pattern is:

0-60 km/h: 85% of the time 60-90 km/h: 12% of the time

On very rare occasions I am on a very well maintained, straight road with no other traffic where I can safely go more of less fast. "Instinct" tells me it would be a good idea to reach some top speeds (nothing crazy, say 120-130 km/h) so that my engine also 'feels' these speeds at times and gets some practice in those speeds.

Does this make ANY sense? Should I top my speed (again, nothing extreme or dangerous) whenever I can, for the benefit of the engine??

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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

tl;dr: No, I don't think that a higher linear speed is terribly critical in your situation.

Here are some points that I would suggest you keep your eyes on instead:

  1. Engine temperature: are the engine oil and coolant getting up to operating temperature? Yes, I know that Central America tends to be warm - it's worth asking the question for consumption by future readers. You say that you are focused on fairly low speeds (60 kph ~= 37 mph). If you lived up here and were only driving very short trips, I would be a little concerned. However, down south, it may be less of an issue.

  2. Lugging the engine: are you giving the engine some time to explore it's whole rev range? Driving at slow speeds in a high gear under load (e.g., up a grade) isn't the best for your engine (for reference, see Rory's comments about deposits).

  3. Transmission wear: at relatively low speeds, your transmission is likely getting plenty of exercise. You should definitely keep a close eye on the transmission fluid and / or gear oil, especially if you have multiple differentials. Those may require more frequent changes for optimum lifespan.

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Generally car engines are designed so that driving in the middle of the rev range will get fuel is burning well, the temperature at the right point - not too hot or cold, and oil circulating well.

Driving at very low speeds all the time (but much lower than you describe) could lead to a build up of deposits which just aren't being burned, but I can't think of any direct benefits of trying to reach that top speed - especially when, as you say, there are bad roads and traffic which includes cows.

Of much more importance is ensuring it is maintained well - ensure the correct oil level, tuning, clean spark plugs etc etc. This will have a much bigger effect on the engine's longevity.

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