At Ford, ensuring materials and upholstery are up to the mark is crucial for everything from the first impression all the way down the line to the perception of the vehicle after considerable use – and thus resale value and reputation. We knew about Ikea’s kitchen drawer tests, now Ford are shedding a little light on their processes for testing and selecting fabrics and materials.
- Ford engineers scratch, snag and stretch all the different materials that go inside a vehicle to help ensure their durability and suitability to long-term customer use
- Fabrics that are used inside Ford vehicles are stained with everyday substances like hot coffee, soda and dirt to evaluate how well they can be cleaned afterward, testing their overall stain resistance
- A team of examiners smell various samples of materials used inside Ford vehicles and rank them to help the engineers achieve interiors with a perceptible but not disturbing odour
Throughout a vehicle’s lifetime, it’s inevitable that the materials inside a car show signs of wear and tear. Wear occurs in all contact areas from sitting on car seats, leaning on arm rests, gripping the steering wheel through to fiddling with the instruments.
So what does Ford do to ensure interiors will hold up?
To help guarantee the durability of these fabrics, leathers and plastics, Ford engineers subject every material used inside Ford vehicles to a series of meticulous and unrelenting tests where they are stretched, scratched, snagged, sniffed and even splashed with the likes of grease, dirt and hot coffee, to see how they will stand up against the test of time.
These tests are done to help ensure it takes a lot more than a spilled cup of coffee, the graze of a sharp edge or any accidental scrapes and scuffs to break down these materials. Some of the unusual ordeals Ford materials need to go through include:
- The Five-Finger Scratch Test, which is used to scratch samples of different plastics to see how much abuse they can take
- The Soil and ‘Cleanability’ Test, which splashes different substances on seat fabrics to evaluate how well they can be cleaned afterwards, testing their overall stain resistance
- The Resistance to Dye Transfer Test, which rubs materials of different colors (i.e. those dreaded new blue jeans, long-term destroyer of white leather sofas around the world) against the leather used for car seats to see if any stains are left behind
- The Mace Snagging Test, which spins seat fabrics on rotating rollers roughly 600 times while they’re repeatedly struck by a spikey iron ball to test how strong they are
In addition to the poking, prodding and scratching, a team of examiners smell various samples of materials used inside Ford vehicles and rank them to help the engineers achieve interiors that are free of disturbing odours.
The purpose of these tests is to create and maintain a level of quality in Ford vehicles that can be expected to last through the vast majority of scenarios of car usage for years to come.