Repetitive and Physical: 90 Years of Durability Testing
In 18 months, the durability team at General Motors’ Milford Proving Ground can put a vehicle through an entire lifecycle. Durability tests are long, repetitive and physically demanding.
“In 90 years, what hasn’t changed is that durability testing is physical,” said Stephen Jenkins, director, Global Proving Ground Operations, Test Labs and Vehicle Material Engineering. “We can mathematically calculate how well a part should hold up under certain conditions, but it isn’t until we get a driver in the product and test over and over again that we can be sure.
Here are some of the benchmarks a vehicle must endure before the Milford durability team will release it for production.
100,000 miles of customer use – the team drives a test vehicle up to 25,000 miles, though it is in such extreme conditions that it represents 100,000 miles of customer use
Extreme tests – Belgian Block Loop, pothole drives, chatter bumps, twist ditches, speed bumps and more are driven for entire days testing various parts of the vehicle
Humidity chambers – Built in the late 1960s with new ones added in the 1980s, every car is soaked in humidity chambers. On numerous occasions cars will go in these corrosion booths for hours at a time and endure high temperatures and humidity
“We are always pushing ourselves to test even the smallest part of a vehicle to ensure that the entire product from the engine down to the screws and bolts are tough enough to handle the driving our customers need,” Jenkins said.