Ford is known for building tough trucks and this week it’s telling us just how rigorously it tests trucks in the cold weather department. We’re talking extreme cold weather testing in sub-freezing temps, that, ironically, takes places in the sunshine state of Florida of all places.
The testing takes place at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in the panhandle of Florida. It’s a military laboratory that can re-create nearly every weather condition on earth, and can drop temps as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 hours.
While the lab mainly serves as a testing area for the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense aircraft, Ford brings out 75 of its global prototypes to this facility each year along with a team of 54 engineers and technical experts. Over just three weeks in the middle of summer, and the middle of Ford’s product development cycle, the team collects data, analyzes results, and implements changes to fine tune the vehicles.
This extreme testing is key to making sure that Ford trucks meet the needs of drivers in all types of temperatures across the world. The automaker gives the example of drivers in the oil fields of Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay who need a truck that not only serves as transportation, but also as a safe haven from the cold. With this in mind, rigorous testing is done to make sure that engines can start up briskly, as well as idle for weeks on end safely, in sub-freezing conditions.
The 6.7-liter four valve Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel engine that is currently used in the F-Series Super Duty was perfected in this facility. It was in this freezing Florida lab that Ford engineers discovered that by replacing metallic plugs with ceramic gold plugs on the engine allowed it to heat up faster and provide a more robust start.
The 2016 Super Duty starts at $32,385. It offers two engines with the standard being a 6.2-liter V8 and the other being the 6.7-liter diesel option. It offers a whopping maximum towing capacity of 31,200 pounds on the F-450 that comes standard with the diesel engine.
Photo Credit: Ford