Hot Testing Detroit™ Engines to Ensure Peak Performance

George Ferro

Every Detroit engine has to pass a series of rigorous tests before it is deemed worthy of the road. The Performance Hot Test, which is actually a series of tests, is performed while the engine is running and is the only truly effective way to verify horsepower, pressures, temperatures, turbo speed and vibration as well as the performance of the air, oil and coolant systems.

When an engine comes off the assembly line, our testing team needs to make sure it performs to the specifications set forth by engineering. Detroit’s Performance Hot Test Department has 26 dyno test cells: 20 for the DD13®, DD15® and DD16® and 6 for the Series 60® engines. A dyno (or dynamometer) is a device that measures the torque, or power, produced by an engine. Each engine series has a different test time. The DD13, DD15 and DD16 run a 16 min test while the S60 runs a 23 to 28 min test. Last but not least, our S60 Marines oftentimes undergo over 2 hours of testing.

Our Hot Test checks all major attributes of the engine. For example, the DD13 and DD15 horsepower must be verified at 410 to 560, DD16 600 horsepower the S60 at 435 to 525, and the S60 Marine at 460 up to 825. The basic testing process is pretty straightforward. An operator hooks the engine up to the test cell, fills it with fuel, oil and coolant and begins the test. The engine is run at four different points: idle speed, intimidate speed, rated (slightly higher rpms), and peak torque (full power). Data is taken at all four points. The engine is then ramped back down to idle, the Jake brakes are tested and data is taken one last time. During these timelines, the operator checks the engine for leaks of any type. Validating performance before the engine leaves the facility ensures that we are providing the customer with the highest level of durability, reliability and performance. 

The test cell strategies, along with the operator, determine if an engine has passed and is therefore ready for the road. If the engine fails for any reason, it is sent back for repair, is fixed and then re-tested. We are proud to say that our First Time Through (FTT) Rate is currently at 96.4%. 

Still, passing all these tests is not the end of the line. Once an engine has been given the thumbs up, it goes to Final Process, where it is drained of oil, washed and prepped for paint.  The engines are painted by two robots with a clearcoat enamel to protect against rust and then sent through an oven to be dried.  Once dried, there are some finishing assembly touches before the engine is put on a skid and quality checked one last time. Assuming everything is up to par, the engine is now ready to ship.

As you can see, every Detroit engine that makes it onto the road has been painstakingly tested by a team of trained experts. It has met our extremely high standards and is guaranteed to provide you with years and years of peak performance.

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