The importance of vibration testing

The comfort of a firm, stable, and road-smoothing ride is essential to guarantee comfort of a vehicle. Automotive companies and OEMs understand the importance of a quiet and comfortable ride to build customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. As such, one very important type of test included in automotive testing is vibration testing. 

Mechanical shock and vibration testing subjects vehicles and its components to vibration to determine the performance and service life. Everything from instrumental panels and rear-view mirrors inside the car, to air-bag sensors and fuel injection pumps are tested to a range of different real-world vibration patterns and levels using different types of vibration testing tracks. 

An automotive vibration test can help determine if components or complete structure will fail to perform under actual road conditions. It also helps identify noise-making mechanisms responsible for squeaks, rattles, and other annoyances. 

Types of vibration endurance test tracks

There are generally two different types of endurance tests in the automobile industry: using shakers in a controlled laboratory environment, and vibration testing tracks. In this article we’ll discuss and explore the latter.

There are numerous types of different automotive vibration test tracks to observe the performance and life cycle of a vehicle and its different components. They are all pretty similar, but excel at different things, and have different layouts to simulate different real-world environments. Some examples include: 

  • FSTT – Frequency sweep test track: The aim of the FSTT is to create an environment where you in a controlled an repetitive manner can excite vehicles at different frequencies to identify and evaluate acoustic problems such as squeaks and rattle, as well as see what effect the vibration might have. The track consists of a flat surface with several “ribs” lining it to imitate driving over road irregularities. 
  • Cobblestone track: Achieving a similar result as the FSTT, we have the cobblestone track. It tests pretty much the exact same thing, just at a random variable force instead of a controlled frequency sweep. 
  • Pothole track: Driving over potholes subjects a vehicle to sudden and intense shocks and jolts, as well as heavy vibration. It’s very important to test vehicles on a pothole track to ensure it can handle the sudden and heavy shocks, jolts, and vibrations.
  • Stair track: The stair track uses the same basic concept as the FSTT, and tests vehicles for the same things by exposing them to different frequencies of force. The difference between these two vibration endurance test tracks is that the frequencies are achieved by driving along the track at different speeds, rather than getting the full interval whilst maintaining a constant speed.

Note that these are just a few of the many different vibration endurance test tracks available to carry out vibration testing of vehicles. There are loads more, simulating different road-conditions and environments to help test the capabilities of your vehicles.