The automobile is arguably one of the most stringently tested products available. Automobiles are tested as whole vehicles for fuel consumption, crash safety, solar heat load and driving performance.
IP/DP Box for testing automotive interior materials. Image Credit: ATLAS Material Testing Technology
Their exterior components and coatings are routinely affected by weather, snow, salt, stone chipping and bird droppings. The vehicle’s interior may become extremely hot, prompting its inner materials to delaminate, fade or emit volatile organic compounds.
There is also a risk of electronic components such as displays and sensors failing. Appropriate testing methods must be developed to account for all these scenarios.
Weathering Test Methods for Automotive Vehicles
There are many different industry standards and OEM specifications in use to test vehicles’ capacity to withstand weathering. These can be divided into three primary applications:
- The automotive exterior, for example, the coatings on metals, plastics, glazing, or other components
- The vehicle interior and its materials and components
- Whole cars
Widely recognized and established examples of industry standards include ISO 105-B06, SAE J2412, VDA 75202, and JASO M346 for interior applications, ISO 16474-2, ASTM D7869, and SAE J2527 for exterior applications, and DIN 75220 for large-scale component testing.
Both outdoor and laboratory test methods are available to accommodate exterior and interior applications. Benchmark outdoor climate locations and solar environmental chambers may be used to test vehicles and components such as airbags, instrument panels, or wheels.
Atlas Ci5000 -The largest and most widely used xenon instrument for car paints. Image Credit: ATLAS Material Testing Technology
Contemporary automobiles feature a broad and diverse array of components and materials, including multi-layer paints on metal and plastic substrates, glass and transparent polymers, electronics, cables, sensors, displays, lamp assemblies, airbags, batteries, technical textiles, leather, wood, plastics, foils, foams and more.
Testing Programs and Strategies
Automotive OEM test specifications are required to systematically differentiate between different ‘zones’ outside and inside the vehicle. For example, dashboards will be subjected to more sunlight than floor mats.
Different car manufacturers will also adhere to different testing and approval philosophies.
Table 1. Selection of important weathering methods for automotive applications. Source: ATLAS Material Testing Technology
It is necessary to integrate components, materials and complete vehicle testing for new and known materials into comprehensive test programs. These programs will also feature a series of non-weathering tests to examine the impact of factors such as corrosion, exhaust emissions, stone chipping or windshield de-icing.
Weathering tests typically take the most time to yield actionable results of all these tests.
Many different test standards are used in the automotive industry. To minimize failure at market launch, the overall testing strategy should accommodate these standards while also supporting the average three to four-year development cycle for a new car.
A typical automotive weathering testing strategy (ATCAE Oxford, 2008). Image Credit: ATLAS Material Testing Technology
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Atlas Material Testing Technology LLC.
For more information on this source, please visit Atlas Material Testing Technology LLC.