• 2021

Toughness Defined!

DURABILITY & RELIABILITY EXERCISES PUT VEHICLES TO THE TEST

Vehicle durability tests are designed to compress a typical vehicle life into a short period of time. These include tests to measure structural durability — stress to vehicle systems from road inputs — as well as powertrain durability — stress to the engine and transmission. While durability testing can’t cover everything a vehicle may face in its lifetime, they help engineers design vehicles to resist common stresses or forces and to perform its required functions in a variety of settings appropriate to intended use by a customer.

OVAL & OFF OVAL TESTING

In oval testing, engineers drive a vehicle around a circuit a number of times and at varying speeds or other variable factors, measuring and testing performance based on a vehicle’s intended purpose. Understandably, a Dodge Charger RT would be tested differently than a Ram 2500 with a trailer. Off-oval testing includes testing done “off the oval” — i.e., on other test roads including gravel, grades, roads with sharp turns, and conditions similar to bumpy, pothole-filled, off-road, and more.

ROUND & ROUND 

Running a vehicle around an oval may sound like a taxing exercise. And it is for both driver and vehicle. But this exercise helps simulate the stresses and forces an engine, transmission and other vehicle systems will face as it is driven. The seemingly endless laps provide many data points for engineers on how to make sure vehicles are performing their best.

UPS & DOWNS 

Driving a vehicle up a grade is of course harder work for an engine and transmission. But this exercise helps push vehicles in a way that driving them on a flat surface won’t. So engineers put in a lot of hours behind the wheel and to develop the right tests for each vehicle correlated to real customer use. This data and the analysis become an important part of making sure vehicles can meet customer demands.

BRINGING IT WITH YOU 

Towing a trailer behind vehicles equipped to do so adds a layer of complexity to vehicle testing exercises. Basic physics play a key role here, of course, as the added weight behind a vehicle and trailer frontal area will affect its performance over a variety of tests. As such, engineers test several kinds of vehicles with several kinds of towing scenarios to ensure safety and efficiency.

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