How new cars are tested

Lord  Banks By Lord Banks, 12th Jul 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Transport>Cars

A insight into how new cars are actually tested before you buy them.

How new cars are tested.

How new cars are tested?

I have worked in the Motor Trade most of my adult life until recently, there are things the average person does not know about the Motor Trade? I will try in this short article to give an example of how new models are tested prior to launch by a major car manufacturer?

I was at the time a ‘Workshop Foreman’ in a leading Volvo dealership in Golders Green London. I had worked my way up the ladder from an apprentice Motor Mechanic to Workshop Foreman. I guess in other terms it’s the equivalent of a Sergeant in the forces. I was responsible for keeping the Mechanics on time with their work and the quality of their work.

Our garage had won awards in the Volvo network for outstanding diagnostic work and quality. If I am being honest this had something to do with my influence but boasting is not in my character. Me and a Service Manager (Clive) designed the layout of the workshop right down to where the ramps and lifts would be positioned to maximise the amount of cars that the workshop could work on at any given time.

After two years of trading my friend and Service Manager Clive applied for and got a job with the manufacturer directly at an import facility. I was sorry to see him go but I was glad he was advancing in his career. We kept in contact for a while via phone calls (There were no texts or internet at the time).

The story fast forwards for maybe nine months. I lived in Hertfordshire with my first wife, the door knocked and I opened it and there stood my old friend Clive my service manager! His visit was not expected but welcomed he asked my wife if he could borrow me for a couple of hours? She said yes. We walked into the car park at the rear of our apartment block and there was a black car that I had never seen before! Clive told me it was a prototype Volvo! And I should drive it!

The doors opened with an inbuilt remote key and I sat in the driving seat. The car did not look like a Volvo I was familiar with as in Volvo 340, 240, 260, 740.760,or 480.
I must say at this point the car had no badges on it I.e. Volvo or its designated number .The car was just black and slightly sporty looking. I looked at the dashboard prior to turning the ignition key and noticed and extra information gauge on the dash saying Turbo!

I turned the key and we were off, I drove safely until I familiarised myself with the handing of the car. I could tell it was front wheel drive and with an engine of 1.5 Lt cc to 2.0Lt cc. The car was easy to drive with power steering and all controls being light and easy to use. I then put my foot down and wow! The turbo gauge hit the max level and the 440 Turbo was off! I found out what it was to be called later.

I was happy with the handling of the car and certainly happy with the performance. After a few miles my friend Clive asked me had I noticed any faults or things I thought could be improved? I replied that the car had a lot of Torque Steer (A fast front wheel drive car will try to take its own path under heavy acceleration I.e. the steering wheel will have to be fought with as the car will steer violently left or right) I also mentioned a ‘Jangling noise’ from the Turbo area?

I got a slap on the back and was told,

“That is why I drove 120 miles to get your opinion!” Clive had come to the same conclusions apart from he did not know where the jangling noise came from. We drove to a pub and had a couple of drinks and caught up on the Motor Trade gossip and friends news. I was dropped off two hours later and told not to mention the new (Then) Volvo 440 Turbo. The Turbo exhaust shielding was modified and counter balance weights were added to the drive shafts to counter the torque steer.

One always thinks of road test being carried out under laboratory conditions and to an extent they are. However at the time Volvo’s were built in Sweden (Not anymore) and their roads and driving abilities and or habits are different to the British. So covertly all manufacturers that are serious about selling cars in the UK will release a few prototypes for testing in everyday British roads and drivers.

So when your son or daughter says,

“Daddy what car is that next to us?”

If you do not recognise it maybe a prototype driven by a Mechanic?

Lord Banks


Cars, Mechanics, New Cars, No Badges, Roads, Tested

Meet the author

author avatar Lord Banks
I am 46 years old. I was born in London and have lived in various counties around the UK. I presently live in Yorkshire. By trade I am a qualified Vehicle Engineer. I have been writing since my school days. I specialise in WWII aircraft. My blog pag...(more)

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