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Torture Testing the F-150

Ford has performed extreme testing on the new aluminum bodied F-150 trucks to ensure the durability of the trucks over long term, rugged use. These tests range from acid baths to slamming its doors and tailgates to towing trailers over mountain passes. “We wanted to build the toughest, most capable F-150, while making it as much as 700 pounds lighter,” said Pete Reyes, Ford F-150 chief engineer. “We challenged the team to torture the truck harder than any F-150 before it.”

Before the first 2015 F-150 rolls off the assembly line at the end of the year, it will have been subjected to 10 million miles of combined real-world and simulated durability testing. A few of the torture tests performed are presented below.

Torture Tests: Seven Channel

Ford built a special torture rack that violently twists and shakes the truck seven ways – simultaneously – for five days, simulating the equivalent of 225,000 miles. This testing isn’t random. After running a fully instrumented truck through durability courses, engineers recorded the forces the road surface put on various vehicle components. Those forces are replicated in seven channels – four up and down, two side to side and one lengthwise down the center. The frame and body are stressed to see how well the truck performs in situations that might bend the frame.

Torture Tests: Drum Drop

Ford engineers dropped 55-gallon drums into the bed of the truck on an angle, making sure all of the force came down on the sharp rim of the drum. Engineers in Dearborn, Michigan, then measure the impact and make adjustments until the cargo box floor is suitably tough.

Torture Tests: Corrosion Bath

An advantage aluminum has over steel is that it doesn’t produce red rust. So Ford had to go beyond the usual tests that include driving vehicles through countless salt baths and soaking them in high-humidity chambers. The company developed a modified corrosion test using an acidified spray to be more aggressive on the high-strength, aluminum alloy. After simulating 10 years of exposure, the aluminum material showed virtually no signs of degradation.

More information on the torture tests performed, along with videos can be found on Ford’s media website.

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