DUNTON, UK - Ford named its new test facility in the Dunton Engineering Center in a straightforward way - The Squeak and Rattle Centre.
Ford said the $8.3 million research lab, opened in September, is the most sophisticated facility of its kind in Europe.
Engineers will chase the petty annoyances in everything from dashboards to complete vehicles during the product development process, said Neil Ressler, Ford's vice president for advanced vehicle technology. Squeaks and rattles figure strongly in customer satisfaction surveys.
'It significantly enhances our ability to improve the overall quality of our products and helps keep our customers even more content with their Ford vehicles,' said Ressler.
The facility features three independent computer-controlled test chambers lined with stainless steel and sound absorption material.
They are equipped with advanced sound measurement and analysis equipment designed to provide an accurate simulation of real-world in-car conditions.
Temperatures can be set from -40 degrees to +90 degrees Centigrade. Humidity is controlled to match temperature changes, and banks of lamps simulate radiant sunlight.
The largest chamber houses a road simulator which can be adjusted to accommodate any vehicle from a Ka to a Transit van.
In the second chamber a multi-axis shaker table can test components by simulating customer actions like opening and closing gloveboxes.
The third chamber has a single-axis electro-dynamic shaker for further component testing.