Extreme temperatures and lots of red lights


I’ve never gave much thought to the job of test engineer for a heavy truck manufacturer.

I just figured they pretty much drive around test tracks to learn how new vehicle components and systems, as well as new vehicle models, function and perform.

I learned there is a lot more to the job than that, including the tedious job of wiring trucks with all kinds of sensors and electronic gear to monitor and measure all facets of component and total vehicle operation and performance characteristics.


Ride and drive event

During a recent Kenworth Truck Company ride and drive event for select members of the truck trade press held at the Paccar Technical Center in Mount Vernon, WA, I had a chance to visit with some of Paccar’s  test engineers.

A Paccar company, Kenworth manufacturers heavy and medium duty trucks. Paccar produces light, medium and heavy duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates, plus manufactures diesel engines.


Shift and shift and shift

One test engineer told me about a test that takes place in a major city that involves driving a rig with an 18-speed transmission over a nearly 4-mile-long course. This route has 91 traffic lights and it is run about four times each day.

The engineer said that on average per day he shifts about 9,000, and that does not include splits.

I’d hate to go up against him in an arm wrestling contest.


Extreme weather

Another engineer talked about testing in weather extremes – from the freezing cold in the far northern climates to the intense hot and dry weather in Death Valley.

He boasted that his test engineer team set an internal Paccar record with a test temperature range of 167 degrees over a 6-month period. Think about that.