Ford will continue to ensure the toughness and durability of the suspension systems on all its cars and vans, despite confirmation from the Government that extra funding will be made available to fix Britain's roads.
Ford continues its pothole testing and development processes for chassis and suspension systems carried with Ford engineers at Dunton Technical Centre and Lommel Proving Ground, Belgium. Tests include running real-world road simulations, high-tech data acquisition and thousands of miles of surface testing.
Ford's new vehicles have been subjected to highly demanding road surfaces for 40 years, with the Lommel Proving Ground having 50 miles of test tracks, including some areas designed specifically to test suspension systems to their maximum. It even includes exact copies of road sections from around the World, including Lower Dunton Road, a particularly testing section of road located near the Ford Dunton technical Centre, Essex!
Simon Mooney, test engineer, Dunton Technical Centre, said: "The challenge for the suspension system comes when it exits the pothole - it can be like hitting a kerbstone. We test all the wheel and tyre sizes that are fitted to the production cars so we know they can cope."
Ford uses high-tech equipment to record the load and strain placed upon suspension components. This equipment is fitted 'Road Load Data Acquisition' vehicles which cost up to £250,000 per corner, and combines with the sophisticated data recording and processing equipment inside the car to make such vehicles worth more than £1.5 million.
Mooney continued: "We use specially instrumented wheels on the car which measure the load in three directions. On some vehicles there are various sensors totalling some 200 extra channels through which to get the data."
Ford engineers use virtual testing facilities before real road testing to ensure suspension systems can cope with different road surfaces. This process takes place before vehicle prototypes are produced.
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