Of course, new cars go through a series of tests and trials. During production, for example, their watertightness is also checked. The Czech carmaker Škoda describes exactly how this process works.
At the same time, it has been using the watertightness test room since 1982. Recently, however, it has modernized it and, according to Jaroslav Kasl, head of the Škoda Quality Management Department, has also doubled its capacity.
The way the test room works with water is already interesting. All water used for watertightness tests is recycled. Ten cubic meters of water from the sump circulates in a closed circuit of the test room, up to 375 liters are recycled per minute, and up to one million liters per month during intensive operation.
During cleaning, the water passes through coarse and fine filters and is disinfected with UV radiation every night. The water in the circuit is also changed once a month, and the cleaned water then drains into the sewer.
And how does the testing itself work? The basic test is the simulation of rain. “Normally, the test takes tens of minutes, but we also perform long-term tests that last several hours,” says Jakub Vochvest, a specialist at the Watertightness Testing Laboratory.
The carmaker describes that the basic artificial rain has a water flow of 25 liters per square meter per minute. However, the test room can also develop double the power with which it simulates a monsoon downpour.
It will probably not surprise you that the next part is the pressure washing simulation, which verifies the readiness of the car for car washes or manual pressure washing. The test room actually reminds of an automatic washing line, because the test is provided by a pressure frame on the carriage. Depending on the type of test, the pressure in the nozzles ranges from 60 to 90 bar.
After the modernization of the Škoda testing laboratory, it also tests the watertightness of tilted vehicles. This is a test that is one of the latest corporate regulations. “We were not able to do it without the new technology,” says Petr Kořínek, coordinator of the Quality Management department. The tilt of the car simulates a situation where a customer parks the car, for example on a hill.
If the watertightness test reveals the ingress of water into the car, a detailed analysis follows, the aim of which is not only to find out where the water has gone from, but of course to find out why this happened. “In the case of pre-production cars, we cooperate with Technical Development on the design solution of the problem; we solve defects from serial production mainly with colleagues from production,” explains Kořínek.
Of course, watertightness is monitored not only during production, but also during the development of new models.
The new RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, which they are currently developing in the testing laboratory and which could subsequently be used by the entire Volkswagen Group, could also help Škoda detect the presence of water in the interior.
It is a method of contactless detection using a digital system that uses small sensors that respond to the presence of moisture. These are integrated into the car’s interior. During the test, a reading frame then passes over the car, which reads the data from the sensors and finds out if they have been exposed to water.