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The automotive industry has come a long way since its heydays of analog spokes wheels and smoke-filled chimney stacks strapped to the back of a cart. We’ve added better features, more efficient systems, and optimized tech. We’ve transformed what was once a rolling death trap into ultra-safe, highly comfortable sleek rides. And part of that transformation is due to Federal regulations and automotive product testing — we owe a lot of what we have right now on the market thanks to the sacrifice of those unsung heroes, the Crash Test Dummies.
What are automotive electronics?
Automotive electronics refer to the use of electronics in automobiles. The first automotive application of electronics for a jalopy was for car radios in the 1930s. That was the very first time we made the leap from mechanical to analog. One small little feature that took the industry by storm. Still, it was not until the 1960s that car manufacturers began to use them as standard equipment. It took companies over 30 years to incorporate something as simple as radio into all their models.
Today, it’s a whole different ball game. Today we’ve not only incorporated electronics into our cars, but we’ve flipped the switch — from analog to digital. Long gone are dials and transistors, now we’re talking about chips, apps, motherboards, and cloud computing. The main function of automotive electronics is to control and monitor vehicle functions from a central computer, such as engine management, transmission control, anti-lock braking systems, airbags, and other safety systems.
Automotive product testing — 101
The automotive industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world. Why? Because of that old axiom, “you’re more likely to die on the ride to the airport than on the flight.” Approximately, according to the World Health Organization, 1.3 million people die yearly as a result of a car — a huge amount of them are due to traffic accidents or collisions, nevertheless, a vast percentage can be attributed to a faulty product. This is the primary reason why most countries are adamant about automotive product testing — and that obsession has worked in their favor. Thanks to strict regulation, fatal injuries that are a result of shoddy manufacturing have decreased exponentially during the last decade. Automobiles have never been safer than they are today.
Automotive product testing is a process by which manufacturers check if their products are up to standards and if they are safe for use. In an automotive product test, the manufacturer will subject their cars to a series of tests that simulate real-world driving conditions. These tests are designed to ensure that the car performs as expected and does not have any defects or malfunctions.
Automotive product testing is conducted through a variety of processes, including:
- Functional Testing: This process simulates real-world driving conditions and consists of 30 to 40 random test cycles to ensure the car performs as expected. This test will also check for defects such as abnormal noise or vibration.
- Environmental Testing: The manufacturer will either create their own test environment or use special labs to test the car for vibration, noise, and temperature. They will also determine how long the car can stay in a particular environment without malfunctioning.
- Safety Testing: The manufacturer will test their product to ensure it meets all safety standards. This includes testing for brakes, steering, and suspension.
- Crash testing: When a manufacturer is concerned that a defect may exist in the car, they may decide to send one or more cars to an independent testing agency. The vehicle is put through a series of crash tests and analyses. For example, a car might be subjected to 50 mph frontal crashes at different angles and impacts.
- Automotive Electronic product testing: all electronics within the automobile are put through the wringer. Not only checking if they work properly but checking how they affect the driver and passengers.
Automotive Electronics testing — most widely used procedures
Different test procedures are required for automotive electronics, depending on the type of component. Let’s summarize some of the most widely used test procedures.
Component Test Procedure
The component test procedure is the process of testing individual components of a car.
The component test procedure includes the following steps:
- Inspecting the component for any obvious defects and then inspecting it for internal defects using an ohmmeter or an oscilloscope.
- Disassembling the component and checking it against specifications to ensure that it meets quality standards.
- Reassembling the component and testing its performance in a controlled environment.
- If necessary, conduct a second round of tests on the component to ensure that it continues to meet quality standards.
Engine Control Unit – ECU
A functional safety test is often conducted to diagnose any potential errors in the ECU. This may involve checking for faults in the ECU’s circuits and software, or checking that it reacts correctly to inputs from sensors such as fuel injectors and throttle position sensors. The functional safety tests are usually carried out with a special diagnostic tester connected to the ECU via an electronic data link or by using a laptop computer with appropriate software installed.
Powertrain Control Module — PCM
The PCM is tested using a dynamometer that simulates driving conditions and a computer. The computer is connected to the vehicle and the dynamometer. Each manufacturer uses different ranges in their testing. For example, what Mazda might consider okay might differ from Honda’s.
Why is automotive electronics testing essential?
The automotive industry is one of the largest industries in the world. It is also one of the most competitive. Automotive electronics testing plays a significant role in the quality and safety of vehicles.
Testing ensures that safety standards are met. That you are creating the most reliable car given today’s current tools and procedures.
Saving time and money
Testing also mitigates costs. It not only helps edit out company-wide liabilities but also helps in creating a guideline on what principles and tools to use. Over time, this adds up, and safe teams money and time.
Protect your customers
The main reason why testing is so important is that it is there to protect consumers. To give them the most stable and safe ride they can buy.
Minimize the risk of component failures
Testing makes sure cars come out of the assembly line in pitch-perfect shape — it minimizes the risk of a car getting recalled due to a technical issue.
Meeting country regulations
Each country has its regulations when it comes to car electronics – EU Low Voltage, EMC Directives, etc. Manufacturers need to meet those standards to launch their products in a certain market or region.
The future of automotive product testing
The automotive industry has been an important part of the global economy for over a century. The future of the automotive industry is being determined by several factors, including the rapid development of new technologies and the rise in customer expectations. Each innovation in a product will entail new testing and new safety requirements. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what cars can evolve into. Today, automotive product testing can be done in-house or contracted out to third-party providers who have experience in this field.
Today, Automotive product testing can be done in-house or contracted out to third-party providers who have experience in this field. Fortunately, there are plenty of services to find a suitable lab. Using testxchange.com, you can find a reliable partner, get quotes and get your project on the road quickly.