Ford Shares Videos of Interior Quality Control Tests

Video series showcases scent, durability and stain resistance tests used by Ford.

A vehicle’s interior takes a lot of abuse over its lifetime.

Passengers are frequently sliding into and out of seats with dyed jeans, leaning on arm rests and sometimes spilling their coffee. Adding a few kids into the mix multiples the number of potential stains and material damage exponentially.

These and other activities lead to some serious wear and tear on the upholstery: stains, scratches and stretched material. For those of us renting or leasing vehicles, accidental interior damage means additional fees upon return. Resale value is also seriously affected.

What are automotive engineers doing to address this issue?

Ford recently answered this question with the release of a series of videos explaining their quality inspection process for their vehicle interiors.

SNIFF: A Story about Car Smells

Believe it or not, Ford actually pays people to smell their cars.

The video above argues that not every consumer enjoys the smell of leather and even for those of us who do, too much of a good thing can quickly become a bad thing.

To control the intensity of the scent in their cars, Ford has a team of analysts or “odor assessors” smell-test the 100 plus materials that go into a Ford vehicle’s interior.

Material samples are isolated in a glass jar and subjected to artificial climates replicating a hot or humid days to see the effects on the material’s scent.

We should salute the men and women who sacrifice their nostrils to guarantee us that oh-so-satisfying, new car smell that we’ve come to take for granted.

SNAG: A Story about Mighty Materials

Ever had a ring snag on the fabric of your car seat? Ever accidently scratch into the hard trim plastic on the interior of your car door? Have your seat covers started to stretch out?

Ford has a series of material tests to help prevent all of these from happening.

The Five-Finger Scratch Test uses 5 metal “fingers” with pointed tips to scratch at materials typically found in Ford cars. The fingers apply various amounts pressure for different testing stages to determine material durability.

Resistance to dye transfer is assessed using the Martindale Resistance Test, a form of abrasion resistance testing. Materials like denim are rubbed against sample materials of what may be found in a Ford vehicle to establish how easily the dye of pants could rub off on a seat.

The Mace Snagging Test employs miniature spiked ball-and-chain tools, akin to a medieval weapon called a morning-star.

This tool is dragged along fabrics sleeved on rollers, which rotate up to 600 times to test their durability against sharp objects, like car keys.

A bit extreme, but who wouldn’t want their car to be able to handle the worst they could (accidently) throw at it?

SPLASH: A Story about Surprise Spills

Lastly, Ford tests for stain durability and ease of cleaning.

For the Soil and Cleanability Test, Ford engineers splash different substances (like coffee, sweat or grease) on seat fabrics to gauge how easily they can be cleaned afterward. The test also assesses stain resistance.

And before I forget, please don’t try these experiments at home. Your dealership or rental agency will thank you.

For more interesting videos by Ford, visit their Youtube page here.