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??


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.


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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