Pre-production trucks get the shakedown outside assembly plant

The time between a vehicle’s debut and its arrival in showrooms hosts several important parts in its development. It’s during this time that bugs are worked out, nit-picky flaws are ironed out, and initial concerns are addressed. For the 2017 Ford Super Duty, that means a barrage of testing with Ford’s pair of mobile testing labs.

The labs, basically 18-wheeler trailers with built-in equipment and expandable walls, give engineers the ability to test the pre-production Super Duty trucks as they roll off the line. The two test rigs, called the TEFP and TIPSTER, short for Transportable Environmental four poster and Transportable Instrument panel sound testing Evaluation Rig, torture-test the trucks looking for squeaks and rattles.

The TEFP is a hellish place for the truck. Not only does it shake the truck like its traveling down a dirt road, it can recreate temperatures from -20 degrees to +120 degrees Fahrenheit. As for the TIPSTER, engineers use it to test full instrument panels for squeaks and rattles. After all, there are few things more annoying than a squeaking dashboard.

“Both the TEFP and TIPSTER allow us to test and identify the root causes of squeaks and rattles in a controlled environment, whether its in the hot sun of Arizona or the frigid temperatures in Canada,” says Dave Massengill, Ford’s PVT Squeak and Rattle Engineer at the Kentucky Truck Plant.

Ford is obviously putting a lot of effort into the upcoming Super Duty – something that’s not hard to believe since it, along with the F-150, make up Ford’s best selling products. The F-Series trucks have also dominated the full-size truck segment in terms of sales, going on nearly 40 years. Ford literally can’t afford to make mistakes with these trucks.

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Why It Matters

As I mentioned before, Ford has a lot riding on this new generation of Super Duty. Its aluminum body and F-150-like interior are far-and-away different than anything seen on The Blue Oval’s heavy-duty trucks. More in-dash technology, a more luxurious instrument panel design, and an all-new body has engineers testing overtime. That’s likely why Ford is waiting to make powertrain upgrades till later into the fourth generation’s life cycle. Then again, both the 6.2-liter gasoline V-8 and 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel are competitive in their class, though Ram’s Cummins turbodiesel has the Power Stroke outmatched in torque.

Rest assured Ford will not let the Super Duty grow stale. Ford generally runs a two- to five-year life cycle on the Super Duty, with a mid-cycle refresh somewhere in between. You can bet Ford has its eye planted on Ram’s current title of towing king, thanks to its Ram 3500’s ability to lug 31,210 pounds on its bed-mounted, fifth-wheel hitch. The 2016 F-350 is “only” able to tow 26,500 pounds on its fifth-wheel hitch. Then again, that’s only the F-350. If you include the F-450, towing jumps to 31,200 – only 10 pounds shy of Ram’s title. Mopar guys will argue, however, that the F-450 is technically a medium-duty truck not comparable to the Ram 3500-series truck.

Regardless, the Ford Super Duty is getting ready for its showroom debut scheduled for sometime if the Fall of 2016.

2017 Ford Super Duty

2017 Ford Super Duty - image 648443

Read our full review on the 2017 Ford Super Duty here.

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