New Car Testing
Keys to Toyota Success
One of the keys to Toyota success in quality, durability and reliability is in our testing methods and criteria.
Toyota builds parts up and then tears them down again.
In order to test the quality of assembly line welding, riveting and bolting, Toyota sub-assemblies like suspensions, fuel tanks and body parts are randomly selected to be torn apart with an air chisel. This process checks the strength of welded parts, the security of bolted components and the integrity of riveted steel. If the air chisel doesn’t reveal a weakness, then years of driving shouldn’t, either.
Engine parts are spot-checked for a tight fit.
As engine components move down the assembly line, certain parts will be randomly pulled off the line and measured for variations in size. In some cases, Toyota is checking for variations that are much smaller than the diameter of a human hair. This quality control procedure helps to ensure that critical engine parts are machined to very strict specifications. If the selected part is slightly smaller or larger than the one that came before it, the entire batch of parts is purged from the line and the machine that makes them is adjusted for accuracy.
Toyota engines must survive 200,000 trips to the red line.
One of Toyota’s most rigorous engine tests takes randomly selected engines and revs them from idle to 6000 rpm 200,000 times. A car would have to make 50,000 full-throttle runs up a freeway on-ramp or spend 10 years at the hands of a taxi driver to repeat such a torturous process. Although most drivers would never subject their own car to such stress, Toyota knows that a tough engine is a more reliable engine.
Toyota puts the pedal-to-the-metal when testing engines
Toyota randomly selects completed engines and subjects them to 180 hours of full-throttle operation. This test is equivalent to driving a vehicle at maximum speed for 7.5 days-non-stop. The test checks the strength and durability of parts like the crankshaft, bearings, connecting rods, pistons, valves and camshafts. If the engine can survive 180 hours of high-rpm abuse, then years of commuting will seem like a walk in the park.
Toyota pistons are X-rayed for accuracy.
The pistons in a Toyota engine are covered with an anti-friction coating that helps them glide up and down smoothly inside the cylinder. However, this coating must be evenly applied to help ensure longer engine life and smoother performance. That’s why Toyota randomly checks pistons to make sure they have a precise layer of the protective covering. And the method for checking the uniform thickness of the low-friction coating? A close inspection with an X-ray machine.
Toyota dashboards can take the heat.
Toyota dashboards are put through a 230-degree durability test to make sure they can handle the blazing summer sun. Prototype dashboards are precisely measured and then placed in a heat chamber that simulates extended direct summer sun exposure. The dashboards are then carefully monitored for distortion, cracks and shrinkage. If the dashboard coordinates change due to the heat, the dashboard is modified for better heat resistance.
Toyota interior evaluations run hot and cold.
Toyota interior components are tested at extremely high temperatures. The components are also tested at very low temperatures. If the parts and materials survive the hot and cold testing, they are then subjected to eight continuous days of temperature swings from -20 to +120 degrees. If the parts don’t shrink, swell, warp or crack, then they are finally approved for use in a new Toyota vehicle.
Toyota interiors have to survive the big chill.
Cold weather is just as tough on an interior as hot weather, so Toyota tests interior parts like door panels, arm rests and dash components at temperatures below -20 degrees. The parts are checked for cracking, shrinkage and the ability to remain durable and flexible in extremely cold weather. Some plastics become brittle in cold temperatures and Toyota wants to make sure that these materials don’t show up in their cars.
Toyota is waging a war on rust.
During the two-year period when a vehicle is being prepared for production, metal prototype parts are placed in a special chamber and sprayed with salt water. The salt chamber is a haven for rust, and engineers can evaluate the metal part’s ability to resist corrosion over an extended period. If a component succumbs to rust in this intense environment, then it is redesigned or re-coated to be more durable.
Toyota fuel tanks are double-tested to guard against leaks.
Few people think about the quality of their vehicle’s fuel tank, but a leaking tank can be a safety issue and a repair headache. To help avoid these potential problems, Toyota fuel tanks are submerged in liquid to test for leaks. The test confirms the quality of the welding and the strength of the seals. Next, the tank is coated with rust-inhibiting PVC. For the final check, the tank is re-submerged in liquid and double-checked for leaks. It’s a lengthy procedure, but a great hedge against leaks.
Toyota shock absorbers hit millions of potholes.
The shock absorbers and struts used in Toyota vehicles are put through a shocking test that includes up to 10 million virtual potholes. To make the test even tougher, the load on the shocks is increased and decreased and the temperature in the test facility is raised and lowered to copy extreme weather conditions. After the test, the shocks and struts are cut apart and evaluated to make sure they can handle the ups and downs of daily driving.
Toyota seats have to take a 750,000-step test.
Before a new seat is approved for use in a Toyota, the design and materials have to pass a complex 750,000-cycle wear test that pushes, pulls, pounds and twists the seat surfaces. The test simulates years and years of heavy-duty use. If the seat survives without premature wear and the materials don’t rip, fray, crack or crumble, then they are considered strong and supportive enough for a new Toyota.
Power windows must pass a “10-year” test to make the grade for Toyota.
Power windows are run up and down thousands of times to test their durability. To make the test harder, a solution of dirty water is periodically sprayed on the windows so that real-world grit and grime are added to the equation. Toyota power window mechanisms can handle endless daily use because they have already been tested to withstand 10 years of abuse.
It takes 1.5 million swipes to be a Toyota windshield wiper.
Not only are Toyota windshield wiper systems required to survive 1.5 million cycles, but some of those cycles include semi-dry wipes that put more strain on the motor. This kind of testing means it might take decades of rainy weather and dirty glass to tire a Toyota windshield wiper system.