Chryslers’ Dynamometer – Ultimate Vehicle Stress Test

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Anyone who is an engine fanatic knows what a dynamometer is. Those in the know call it a “dyno” – let’s face it…….it sounds cooler. Often times you read about a mobile “dyno” for motorcycles. It is the same principle of what Chrysler has built but on a much smaller scale and no cool weather simulations.

No matter what you call it or how you are exposed to it Chrysler has one that they spent $2.5 Million dollars on. With a price tag like that you can rest assured that it has some pretty impressive bells and whistles.

That ain’t no chump change. In fact, it just may be the biggest most expensive facility of its kind in North America.

Typically, you may think of hot rods and muscle cars when you hear about a “dyno tuned engine”. We have seen some Chryslers in Miami, Florida take advantage of suped up custom engines thanks to “dynos” but they are not just for hot rods.

The process for “dyno” enthusiasts is a fairly simple process. You car will be put on a dyno, and hooked to a laptop via the ODB port under the steering wheel. They will make a few passes with the stock car to get a baseline reading.

After that the tuner can adjust the air/fuel ratio, advance the timing, remove rev limiters etc. They will adjust many things while making dyno runs in between changes to find the very best combo for your motor. But the Chryslers facility goes way beyond this.

So, what is it and why does Chrysler invest so much money into it?

In short a “dyno” is a device for measuring force, moment of force (torque), or power. For example, the power produced by an engine, motor or other rotating ‘thingie’ can be calculated by simultaneously measuring torque and rotational speed (rpm). Seriously, dyno’s measure power and can help tune an engine to optimal performance. This is why Chrysler vehicles are some of the biggest horsepower powerplants.

Chrysler’s new “dyno” is located deep within the Chrysler Technology Center in their headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI. The facility is all things Chrysler Tech and the “dyno” is one of their pride and joys.

Think of it as a “rolling road” of sorts. An elaborate treadmill for Chryslers. In this way, the facility is like a “high tech” gym for Chrysler vehicles. It is the ultimate vehicle “stress test”.

Once the vehicle is loaded onto the rollers of the “dyno” the vehicle is put through its passes. The machine simulates hours and hours of road driving without ever leaving the facility. It even incorporates a giant wind tunnel to simulate the effect of the wind on the vehicle when traveling at 60 miles per hour.

We will mention this later in this post but think about getting a “stress test” from a cardiologist. The process the Chrysler engineers use while testing their vehicles is very similar and it is a great analogy.

The $2.5 million dollar machine is also a weather machine that any comic book villain would be proud to own. Imagine the ability to create floods, hurricanes, blizzards, downpours, and any combination of the above. Chrysler can simulate the harshest weather scenarios.

The “dyno” is designed to test cars in extreme weather conditions. The Chrysler engineers can adjust the temperature from -40 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, or make it extraordinarily dry or humid.

They can even make it rain, adjusting everything from the amount of precipitation to the size of the raindrops. They can make it snow, from a light dusting to a full-on blizzard. It simulates everything that a Chrysler may have to endure during its lifespan.

 

How does the dynamometer work?

While the technical schematics on how exactly a $2.5 Million dollar machine works might be a little adventurous to take on in an online blog post lets attempt to go through the process of “dyno” testing.

When a vehicle is scheduled for “dyno” testing it is driven into a ‘climatic test cell’. That is a fancy term for “giant garage with lots of technical stuff”. The vehicle is driven onto rollers that will spin the tires up to 650 horsepower.

Testing can be done independently of the front or rear axles. In other words, the front or rear can be stressed at different levels. This is giving more specific data to the engineers.

A critical component to the new “dyno” equipment at the Chrysler test facility is the extreme weather simulations. Traditional “dyno” systems concentrate on the overall performance of the internal parts.

Tuning of the engine and how the axels respond to extreme road use are typical standard operation procedure. The new Chrysler test facility adds the weather element to stress, measure and analyze the external conditions that Chrysler vehicles may go through.

Imagine you are at the doctors office and you are going through a “stress test”. The “dyno” process if very similar. At the Doctors office, you will be asked to run on a treadmill as data is being given back to your doctor. Stats are measured, recorded, analyzed and recommendations on how to improve your performance are made. The same principle is being applied to the new test facility at Chryslers testing headquarters.

Now imagine this stress test being done in extreme weather conditions. Say, a blizzard, heat wave, or extreme hurricane. The new “dyno” engineers can make it rain, adjusting everything from the amount of precipitation to the size of the raindrops.

They can make it snow, from a light dusting to a full-on blizzard. In the doctors’ office you may be stressed beyond your limits but when a Chrysler engineer stresses a Chrysler beyond it’s limits they can make adjustments on how to make the new models safer, tougher, and overall better in all extremes.

The engineers at Chrysler can now do that testing in any kind of weather conditions they like, so they make sure when you take your new 4×4 can handle a New England blizzard or a major hurricane in Miami. They hope that this kind of testing will ensure that you will get to where you are going in a Chrysler regardless of the weather conditions.

Why is this testing so important?

In recent years, Chrysler has made a commitment to increasing the overall quality and lifespan of their vehicles. Ensuring a Chrysler can handle all the weather extremes it may face during the course of its existence is a key component to their future growth and commitment to maintaining fine vehicles.

By investing in “high tech” testing gear and facilities Chrysler believes they can easily sail past their competition. It looks like they are not taking this commitment lying down. No other maker can claim to have such an extreme weather dyno testing facility.

The engineers at Chrysler now have a major tool to use in understanding how to keep improving on their designs. At approx 5.4 million square feet of space, this facility is the second largest headquarters of any sort on the North American continent. The only headquarters that is larger is the Pentagon.

While Chrysler realizes that most drivers are not driving their vehicles in such extreme conditions the ability to test their models is imperative
in understanding just how far their engineers can go to maintain safety and function.

Be looking for more innovations coming from Chrysler.

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