Ford uses climatic wind tunnel to make sure vehicles can withstand harsh winter conditions

Article by Andrew Christian, on November 24, 2015

Winter is coming and Ford vehicles are all ready to challenge the cold and the snow it brings. This is primarily because Ford had its vehicles tested for readiness and reliability during blizzard-like conditions at its climatic wind tunnel at its Allen Park facility in Michigan.

Thanks to the climatic wind tunnel, Ford does not have to wait for the winter season to set in just to test its vehicles for the cold snowy weather.

Whether it’s spring, summer or fall, Ford could conduct testing for harsh winter conditions, subjecting its vehicles like the Focus and the F-150 to the worst things drivers might expect when a blizzard is underway.

In fact, the tunnel’s wind testing conditions could simulate hurricanes at speeds of up to 125 mph while blowing snow to simulate a blizzard. During testing, engineers continuously monitor the vehicle’s air intake, as snow can choke its engine.

Engineers continuously monitor whether shift linkages freeze up. They also check where the snow accumulates on the vehicle. But winter is not all that Ford’s climatic wind tunnel could simulate. Just like what its name indicates, the wind tunnel could simulate any climate, even desert conditions wherein temperatures could spike to unbearable levels.

Ford’s climatic wind tunnel could be as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit. But for the tests to become more realistic when simulating worst-case scenarios, Ford vehicles are made to carry a full load of passengers and cargo.

Some vehicles are even made to tow heavy loads during testing. Once Ford vehicles complete their four-hour test in the climatic wind tunnel, they will undergo two days of snow-related testing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Of course, Ford has made it a point to get its vehicles ready for the winter season by equipping them with special features.

For instance, the Ford Explorer could come with heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel, as well as front and rear camera washers. Additionally, the Explorer is fitted with an intelligent four-wheel drive mechanism with Terrain Management System that evaluates conditions around 20 times faster than the blink of an eye to ensure precise handling and traction.

A driver just needs to adjust a dial on the center console to select from four terrain management modes – normal, sand, mud and, of course, snow. Based in Dearborn, Mich., Ford Motor Company is a global auto group that manufactures or distributes Ford and Lincoln-branded vehicles across six continents.

It also provides financial services through its Ford Motor Credit Company unit. The carmaker employs about 197,000 people and operates 67 plants around the world.

Press Release

FORD USES ALLEN PARK CLIMATIC WIND TUNNEL TO PREPARE VEHICLES FOR WINTER

With Old Man Winter on his way, Ford vehicles are ready to meet the harsh demands of extreme cold and heavy snow. That, in large part, is thanks to the company’s climatic wind tunnel, which tests the winter-readiness and reliability of Ford vehicles in blizzard-like conditions. Ford moved snow testing to the Allen Park, Michigan facility in 2006.

Engineers bring the outdoors in
The climatic wind tunnel allows Ford to take cold weather testing off the roads and conduct it inside, where engineers can replicate wintry conditions year-round. At the facility, all Ford vehicles – from F-150 to Fiesta – are subjected to worst-case winter scenarios so they are prepared to navigate snowstorms.

Engineers simulate conditions from extreme freezing to blistering desert temperatures, from as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Wind testing conditions can reach hurricane-like speeds of up to 125 mph, blowing snow at the front of the vehicle to simulate a blizzard.

To simulate worst-case scenarios, Ford vehicles are required to carry a full load of passengers and cargo. Some are made to tow heavy loads in these conditions.

Since snow can choke a vehicle’s engine, engineers continuously monitor air intake. The team also checks whether shift linkages freeze up, and where on the vehicle snow accumulates.

Besides a four-hour test in the climatic wind tunnel, Ford vehicles also undergo two days of snow-related testing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near Sault Ste. Marie.

Equipped for slip
Ford prepares its vehicles to conquer winter with a stellar set of features, including a heated steering wheel, and heated front and rear seats available for Ford Explorer, as well as front and rear camera washers.

What’s more, Explorer’s intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System™ reassesses conditions about 20 times faster than the blink of an eye, providing precise handling and traction. The driver uses a dial on the center console to shift on the fly, selecting among four terrain management modes – normal, sand, mud and, of course, snow.

Ultimately, these features, along with the performance and endurance tests all Ford vehicles undergo, help ensure each one will perform safely and reliably – no matter the weather.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 197,000 employees and 67 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit www.corporate.ford.com.

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