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Safety & Security

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Justin Pritchard

inter’s here- and even in her frigid, subzero depths, drivers expect nothing other than business as usual from their cars, trucks and SUV’s. For a look at how carmakers ensure flawless performance from their products in even the nastiest winter conditions, Justin Pritchard spoke with Chrysler’s Aero-Thermal Development Team (ATDT) to get the scoop on cold weather testing. 20

The Driver Magazine

Jan - Feb 2009

JP: Where is cold weather testing performed? Is it possible to measure the effects of extreme cold on car parts in a controlled indoor facility? ATDT: Cold test sites include Bemidji, Cass Lake and International Falls in Minnesota as well as Thompson, Manitoba; Inuvik, Northwest Territories; various sites in Alaska.

It is not only possible but desirable to test in a controlled indoor facility. If performance issues are discovered, they can be accurately reproduced to test “fixes” as they are developed, rather than having to hope for the identical conditions to be provided by Mother Nature. We’ve never had a moose run out in front of a vehicle in our test chamber, a distinct advantage

of testing indoors! JP: Are some vehicle components more sensitive to extreme cold than others?

ATDT: Batteries are quite sensitive to extreme cold and can lose a significant portion of their capacity when exposed. Adhesives and plastics have their limits too. One engineer recalls a cold trip where it reached -50F overnight. In the morning, all of the body side rub strips were laying on the parking lot because the adhesive had failed. JP: How does the cold affect a vehicle’s fuel mileage?

ATDT: During the initial start up of an engine in extreme cold, fluids are

The Driver Magazine January 2009  

The Driver Magazine features automotive based articles that cover reviews, news, lifestyle, education and trends.

The Driver Magazine January 2009  

The Driver Magazine features automotive based articles that cover reviews, news, lifestyle, education and trends.

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