Automotive Testing Services

The Value of Innovative Automotive Testing

An increasingly competitive automotive industry requires constant innovation in reliability, durability and quality. Systems and components must function properly and safely for the entire vehicle life cycle. 

Although automotive testing has been around for over a hundred years, the automotive testing environment changes every year. Engineers require more advanced test applications and innovative approaches for new high-performance equipment. 

This high rate of innovation means that test professionals must react faster to market changes, launch new designs more quickly, offer more cost-effective testing and also adapt to  advances in technology and regulatory changes. Complex requirements for testing technology require the highest reliability and efficiency, from research and development to assembly. Success often depends upon being the first to market with new designs taken from concept to customer faster than other manufacturers and suppliers.

The high volumes in automotive components and systems, and increasing risk of costly warranty issues underscore the importance of effective testing during research, development and manufacturing. 

Design Validation and Process Verification (DV/PV) Testing

  • Development of New Prototypes and Designs – Testing can help evaluate alternative designs including material selection, weight reduction and  functional performance. It can also assist in the assessment of trade-offs in manufacturing processes, such as heat treating and machining methods. 
  • Correlation and Validation of Models – Automotive engineers are becoming increasingly reliant on computer design, modeling and analysis tools. Physical testing is critical for developing and validating these models so that high-confidence decisions can be made.
  • Endurance and Key Life Testing – Customers expect vehicles to last more than 100,000 miles without any significant issues, so durability and endurance testing has become increasingly important. Testing a subsystem (such as a climate control system) with several components installed and functioning in their actual vehicle  configuration provides a more accurate test environment, reveals issues that arise from interactions between components and is less expensive than running several separate component tests, 
  • Testing Multiple Parts – Testing multiple parts simultaneously can save money and  reveal issues related to variation in materials or processes. 
  • Competitor Benchmarking – Testing a competitor’s product can provide a wealth of information. Determining your product’s superiority can also boost your competitive advantage. 
  • Confirming the Benefits of Life Extending Processes

Qualification and First Article Testing (QUAL / FAT)

Aerospace and Defense products require extensive testing to assure function, reliability and adherence to regulations. Test programs typically consist of a wide spectrum of different tests intended to simulate the full range of conditions that the component or system will be exposed to in service. These tests are conducted with the sample operating while performance characteristics are being carefully monitored. These programs are often subject to government regulations and witnessing, with special requirements to assure samples and test data are secure. NTS Detroit provides full service Qualification and FAT programs including development of test plans and procedures, special equipment design and fabrication, performance of testing and detailed reporting of results. 

Environmental Standards

Extreme environmental conditions such as heat, cold, dampness and wind, can have a dramatic impact on how automotive components function. 

Environmental testing can verify the fitness for use of any automotive components. Testing centers should be able to simulate a single condition, even multiple environmental conditions  simultaneously. Climatic chambers may test wide fluctuations in temperature, altitude and humidity as well as examine the impact of blown sand, dust and salt spray. 

Other environments to consider include solar radiation, operating at angles, fungus, moist environments and and . Environmental stress screening can also expose products to stresses, such as thermal cycling and vibration to force latent defects. 

Lifecycle testing can assess the reliability of your vehicles and vehicle components, pinpointing weaknesses that may require redesign. 

Dynamics Standards

Automotive components are subjected to vibration, shock stress and strain in vehicles operating on rough roads and from rotation of the engine and driveline.  Products must be designed to withstand these forces and physical testing is essential in validating designs and verifying production processes. Fasteners can loosen, adhesives can fail, structural elements can fatigue and moving parts can wear as a result of these mechanical forces. When components fail it can result in costly warranty, or even product safety issues.

Testing facilities provide dynamics testing and analysis services to assure that components will survive for the expected life of the vehicle, and perform as expected in collisions. Samples can be vibrated and subjected to mechanical shock that duplicate the actual levels in the vehicle, or exceed those levels to accelerate test programs to bring new products to market faster. Vibration analysis can evaluate designs to determine if a component is sensitive to a critical speed or vibration frequency (resonance) that could rapidly deteriorate it’s performance. 

Dynamic testing is often combined with environmental exposure to assure that the product will function as expected over the full range of conditions it will experience in it’s service life. 

Meeting Standards

Automobile manufacturers strive to meet government safety standards while offering cars that outperform competitor vehicles. Quality measurements help refine vehicles to reduce noise and vibration while increasing fuel efficiency, quality and overall value for the consumer. Automotive testing makes it possible to offer better performance, safety and comfort under the most extreme conditions.

How Can NTS Help With Your Automotive Testing Needs?

For over 50 years, NTS has offered a broad range of testing, certifications and supply chain management solutions. We offer the expertise needed to build reliable, high-performance vehicles that meet the most stringent safety standards. With the largest network of test facilities in North America, we can meet any of your automotive testing needs, ensuring safety and reliability and offering improved longevity, durability and functionality.

Our NTS Detroit Dynamometer laboratory offers the automation of test profiles and data acquisition, speed up to 17,500 rpm and 25-600 horsepower. Our engineers offer expertise with transmissions, hybrids and EVs, rear axles, U-joints, half-shafts and transfer cases. 

Dynamometer Testing

Dynamometer testing provides the automotive industry with the means to gauge the performance and durability of  rotating components in a vehicle. With our advanced engineering expertise in the automotive, aerospace and defense industries, we can provide the most accurate and cost-effective dyno testing and data acquisition.

The NTS Dynamometer laboratory is a 65,000 square foot facility offering more than 20 dynos from 5HP to 600HP.. Our dyno systems can deliver or absorb power, returning excess power to the grid to save on energy use. We can also design and create unique test fixtures to meet customer specifications.

The expertise of NTS specialists covers all aspects of a vehicle’s drive train including the transmission, transaxles, rear axles, half-shafts, U-joints and transfer cases. We also specialize in electric motors, generators and alternators, including powerplants for electric and hybrid vehicles. Our on-stand conditioning replicates hot, cold and other special environments to examine the impact on a rotating component. We also test bearings, driveshafts and joints by exposing them to hot, cold, salt, sand, slurry, torque and speed while monitoring performance with infrared cameras. Other drive components can be exposed to high rpms, hot, cold, salt, and can be performed simultaneously with performance testing.

Our dynamometers include the following features:

  • Automated control, monitoring and data acquisition with torque/speed profile, as well as backdrive and shift capability for PTUs, axles, driveshafts, gearboxes and transmissions.
  • Environmental exposure to rotating components including slurry, temperature and salt spray on motors, U-joints, bearings and alternators.
  • Monitoring and absorbing speeds up to 15,000 RPM and torque  over 6000 ft-lbs.
  • Simultaneous application of dynamic axial and radial loading for rotating components on geared hubs, CV joints and spindles using hydraulic systems combines with dynos. 
  • Our engineering experts can implement back-to-back high-speed testing protocols to evaluate endurance by thermal cycling EV and HEV motors.

Stress, Mechanical and Endurance Testing

Our NTS dynamometer laboratory is equipped to provide mechanical stress testing for vehicle power train, structural and electrical system components. Our facility can provide mechanical and fluid dynamics testing and analyses, using linear and rotary servo-hydraulic actuators for fatigue and structural analysis and with the precision measurement of flow, pressure, strain and force. We also customize test equipment and design fixtures to simulate vehicle installation and configuration for a test that is truly representative of the vehicle conditions.

Electronic Testing

NTS provides electronics measurement and testing. NTS laboratories contain power supplies, load banks and instrumentation for precision management of current, resistance, capacitance, voltage and dielectric strength. Our power supplies feature 1,000 amps and 600 volts as well as load bank capability. Our engineers can also design automated systems for the measurement and operation of complex electrical systems subjected to environmental and dynamic testing. We have large battery simulators that can absorb or deliver power to components with rapid transitions that are typical for modern electric hybrid and electric vehicle components. 

Environmental Testing

Our NTS laboratory also comes equipped with 30 environmental chambers to expose vehicles and components to temperatures from -100°C to 1000°C. Environmental chambers also examine the impact of thermal shock, thermal cycling, humidity, corrosion, water and dust, autoclave, atmospheric pressure changes and vacuum simulation. Our experts can customize environmental conditions to meet client requirements.

Gravelometer Testing

NTS offers Gravelometer testing to evaluate the resistance of vehicle surface coatings to shipping caused by impact with gravel and other flying objects, to meet SAE and ASTM standards. Our experts will simulate the impact of gravel and other debris on automotive parts.

Pressure Impulse Testing

Pressure impulse testing helps predict the lifespan of hoses and other components of the hydraulic system of critical importance. This can help determine service intervals while reducing liability for parts that wear down too quickly. By testing hoses and flex components at pressures beyond typical loads, our specialists can identify design flaws. Repeated pressure ensures hydraulic systems withstand the kinds of stress experienced by on and off-road vehicles in addition to heavy equipment.

Our testing process for servo-hydraulic equipment can involve flowing pressurized hydraulic fluid through a test sample while providing a specific vibration load. This is a specialized form of testing offered at very few commercial laboratories in North America on automotive and aircraft components. 

Our pressure testing setup includes linear and rotary servo-hydraulic actuators, which we can configure to perform very accurate application and measurement of forces applied to components. We can provide dynamic pressure testing up to 6000 psi , as well as static testing up to 30,000 psi. Our servo-hydraulic vibration systems come equipped with environmental chambers and offer customer site instrumentation and data acquisition as well as a 22000 pound force capability, 

Following ISO 17025 standards, our specialists can offer complete turnkey solutions for all of your pressure needs, in addition to hydraulic cleaning and repair, mechanical and fluid dynamics, leak detection and torque cycling. 

Testing Services for Hybrids and Electronic Vehicles

The NTS Dynamometer laboratory offers fluid conditioning systems, control systems, regenerative power supplies and high speed dynamometers to test hybrid and electric vehicle systems. Our experienced engineers will test the performance, durability of e-motors, power electronics, charging systems and cables for EV/HEV applications.

NTS: A Forward-Thinking Company

NTS offers professional automotive and commercial vehicle services to help manufacturers set their products apart from the competition. We offer opportunities for customization and personalized builds to meet your unique needs. 

Thanks to the most highly-trained specialists in the defense, aerospace, electronics, communications and automotive industries, NTS can offer customers a commitment to innovation and unparalleled quality. Our focus on keeping abreast of the latest technologies makes us an ideal partner to address future challenges and opportunities.

Contact NTS for Your Automotive Testing Needs

Please contact us today to find out more about our many automotive testing solutions. We can help design a cost-effective approach to assessing all of your automotive products.