Secrets Behind Ford Cold Weather Tests

By Tori T.

Brrrrrr! Imagine your job as a Ford engineer is to test vehicles and powertrains for durability and endurance. Wait – did we mention that you’re responsible for doing so in extreme temperatures and that might mean hanging out in a test room at the Ford Dearborn Proving Ground where temps can dip as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit?

This kind of cold work includes putting the hotly popular EcoBoost® engine through the paces. “Customers buying the 2.0-liter I-4 EcoBoost will expect torque of a V-6 with the economy of a smaller, more efficient engine,” explained Dan Badger, Ford Powertrain Integration Supervisor. “Our testing helps ensure that they won’t see a noticeable difference in performance in even the coldest weather.” It also means Ford engines and transmissions are designed to withstand years of wear and a wide range of operating temperatures typical of freezing winter mornings and cook-an-egg-on-the-ground summer afternoons.

Want the scoop on secret testing? One is called "Deep Thermal Shock”; an engine is cooled to -22 degrees for fifteen minutes, then started and idled for one minute. It is then accelerated to horsepower peak speed for 14 minutes so the manifold heats to the point of glowing cherry red. The engine is then shut off and cooled back down to -22 degrees. This cycle is repeated for 100 to 200 hours.

And more secrets: “We test in Bemidji, Minnesota, or Yellowknife in the Canadian Northwest Territories, where it’s painfully cold. You take a glove off and in five seconds you can’t feel your fingers,” Dan explained. “Testing in extreme conditions helps the calibration team answer vital questions such as, ‘Are we getting the cold start times correct? Is the throttle body icing? Are we going through blizzards and seeing snow ingestion that we didn’t get in wind tunnel testing?’ We want protect customers in a worse-case scenario and deliver the best experience possible when they step on the accelerator pedal.”

Another example of advanced technology that is ready to take on the thermostat is the Focus Electric. Extreme temperatures can affect battery performance and reduce the range of electric vehicles. The range will not be impacted as much with a liquid-heated system compared to an air system. The Ford active liquid-cooling and heating system regulates the temperature of the lithium-ion battery packs, which are designed to operate under a range of ambient conditions. The battery is able to provide additional power and longer range, and is preconditioned after charging, in all cold temperatures. “A liquid-heated battery can accept a charge faster from the regenerative braking that recaptures kinetic energy and sends it back to the battery, essentially providing longer range for the customer in real world cold weather conditions,” said Sherif Marakby, Ford Director of Electrification Programs and Engineering. “Additionally, since acceleration in an electric vehicle comes from the power available in the battery, the customer will have more power available if the battery is warmer.”

“The 2.0L EcoBoost was previously tested in Europe when it was launched in the Mondeo. They had initial feedback and we made design changes to the throttle body,” Dan noted. “We had a lot of learning by the time we got to the Explorer and the Edge testing here. The One Ford philosophy really promotes continuous improvement. Our team here applied what was learned in Europe to our new products, then turned around and shared what we learned. And it keeps going.”
Ricky 01/23/2012
Hey Ford, remember when you built the 351 Cleveland engiens back in the 1970's? well guess what, 1976 Ford F-100 with the three in the tree and 351 Cleveland motor still running strong after all of this time and rolling the odometer over 3 times, I love you Ford, always have and always will, thanks for all of the great Vheicles over the years!.
The new 4 cylinder ecoboost sounds exciting! I jus hope they offer the motor paired up with a sweet little 6 speed manual transmission in a THAT would be fun!!
John Sharp 01/23/2012
Write the COE down there. Don't be ugly. Just be stern and sincere.
Ross Dow 01/22/2012
i live in -40 or colder weather and every winter is a challenge. but we drive a 93 F-150xl and a 98 taurus. take care of them and they will take care of you. even if the heaters are not hot enough at -44 when you are driving 55mph.
Darrell Yochim 01/22/2012
Have driven fords since 1955. Fords today are much better cars. Love my 2011 Mustang convertible with the new V6 engine. Good power and great gas mileage.
Jaine V B Sanchez 01/22/2012
wish I had a new-Ford- car.....
Ryan Hunter 01/22/2012
83 mustang gt best thing ford ever did! Besides highboys.
AB 01/22/2012
Yellowknife or Bemidji ? Come on Dan, I know Fairbanks and another Canadian location is used fequently.
Paula Lauzon 01/22/2012
My Fusion is Awesome in this New England Weather!
Zaid Qolaghasi 01/22/2012
WOW !!!!!
Glenda White 01/22/2012
My 2012 Fusion is awesome, I was able to avoid an accident because of the great handling & responsiveness!
Victor Mackinley 01/22/2012
my ol' crown vic never left me in the cold even at minus 47 degrees below! too bad ya dnt make em anymore
Barry King 01/22/2012
Mark LaFlamme's part time job. Now we know why he was streaking at -4 degrees. He was just "ensuring peak performance", LOL.
Dan Hasenauer 01/22/2012
Great, but, have they figured out how to make coil springs that don't fail catastrophically here in the Salt Belt? Not all of us in the Working Class can afford a new vehicle every 3 years...
Dave Klovsdtad 01/22/2012
02 f350 with 380000 miles and all i do is change the oil and breaks man i love my beast
Kay Hendry 01/22/2012
love my ford truck even if it is a 2002 she still running good
Paul Langridge 01/22/2012
it used to be very hot in the basildon radiator plant dunno what its like in czech
Mitch Sulkess 01/22/2012
Google Ecoboost F150 torture Test
Nick Molnar 01/22/2012
we own three A 2011 Fiesta, 2010 Mustang and A 2003 Escape it has A hundread + miles still runs like new
Danny Breland 01/22/2012
Ford is the best vehicle on the road love my Ford.
Stacy Montes 01/22/2012
I own a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport. I love my truck!!!! She is just like her momma, the older she gets the better she gets!!!!! I just can't seem to trade her in yet...I tried and I keep looking out the window at the Ford Dealership and I couldn't do it. I have had since 2003 and she is still running like a champ!!! Thank You for building dependability!!!!!
Carol Wilson Reimann 01/22/2012
Ford! They didn't take a bailout, they didn't screw their stockholders out of their retirement, and they appear to be doing it right here too!
Mike Smith 01/22/2012
Have not read the story, but my guess is that there done in the cold...
Ensuring peak performance, even in extreme temperatures
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