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July 5, 2018

Chevrolet Trailblazer, Colorado Goes Through Extreme Water Test to Ensure Flood, Typhoon Capability

The rainy season has officially begun, according to the state weather bureau PAGASA, and that will likely lead to a higher risk of road traffic accidents. Torrential rain, especially when caused by typhoons, can present unique challenges to drivers that can catch them off-guard, including reduced visibility, slippery surfaces, unseen obstacles and flash floods.

With high stance, traction control and stability systems, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Colorado offer a distinct advantage over smaller cars, because they can wade through water as deep as 800 millimeters without losing power. Other functions such as auto rain sensors and automatic headlights also allow the driver to focus on driving and paying attention to surrounding situations.

Before the premium SUV and iconic American pickup truck contended with actual monsoon conditions, validation engineers at General Motors subjected the vehicles to extreme water intrusion tests using dunk tanks, water spray booths and flooded trenches.

“Truck and SUV customers around the world expect to get to their destination no matter what’s happening outside the vehicle – be it a flooded road, river crossing or storm,” said Mr. Chatchawan Chantaket, General Director of Product Engineering, GM Southeast Asia. “When you think of all the sensitive equipment on vehicles these days it is critical to ensure that Colorado and Trailblazer customers will never have to worry about how their vehicle will perform in extreme conditions.”

GM’s dunk tank simulates static water fording, like when customers are idling in deep water during flood conditions like those that frequently occur during this region’s rainy season. Water floods into the dunk tank up to the truck’s rocker panel, allowing engineers to examine the effect on underbody and chassis components, such as electrical wires and venting systems. The dunk tank test was inspired in part by the kind of severe flooding that occurs in Southeast Asia every year, impacting millions of motorists.

GM’s universal water test booth helps determine long-term reliability by using 330 nozzles to spray 3,123 liters per minute for eight minutes from the bottom, sides and top. This test the robustness of a vehicle’s door and window seals to ensure no water leaks into the cabin during a severe rainstorm or other wet conditions. The test also helps ensure that water doesn’t interfere with powertrain venting systems and other underbody components.

The universal water test booth also enables a test that simulates the kind of misty conditions found in places like the Baguio. A fine mist can creep into areas of a vehicle that larger drops of water do not, potentially creating a leak by having water wick through weather strips with low compression.

GM’s 15-meter outdoor deep fording trough is designed for slow treks through water, like a stream crossing during a camping trip when water intrusion can compromise transmission fluids and powertrain components like the rear exhaust.

GM engineers also use high-pressure sprayers (7,584 kPa or around 1,100 PSI) to test charge ports, powertrain vent and fuel system vent systems as well as vehicle air induction systems behind grille openings to ensure that consumers who do the same won’t damage components.

“Hopefully, most of our truck customers will never have to deal with extreme water conditions, but in case they do they can take solace in the fact that we’ve designed our vehicle components to handle it,” Chatchawan said.

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