Common Sense In Scarcity? Torturous Testing On Bentley’s W12

By Karl Peskett | on March 1, 2017

Peanut bars with a warning about peanuts and the countless hours of torturous testing on Bentley’s W12 – Karl manages to address all this and more in this month’s column.  

There’s been a steep increase in cases of anaphylaxis over the past few decades. Schools are now nut-free, people carry epi-pens and foods contain warnings. Case in point: a few years ago I was on a stopover in Singapore. I picked up a Whittaker’s Peanut Slab, which is basically a whole pile of peanuts encased in some chocolate. For those with a sweet-tooth, it’s a great snack. But on the wrapper was a statement in bold lettering: “May contain traces of nuts.”

Is this what the world is coming to? What next – warning labels on knives because we could cut ourselves? Or maybe a caution sticker on superglue letting us know it’s not a good idea to glue your fingers together?

It reminded me of the recall Lamborghini put out recently, warning that if the fuel tank was overfilled, if a “non-approved” aftermarket exhaust was fitted and certain handling conditions were not met, there was a risk of a fire.

Recalls are necessary, especially when they’re life threatening. In the Takata airbag fiasco, the recall was crucial. By contrast, recalls to do with Dieselgate weren’t going to prevent anyone from dying. Some recalls are to ensure safety issues – for instance, the Toyota Prado I house in my garage was recalled for some bolts that could shear on the tow hitch. If a trailer breaks off the car, a potential disaster could unfold. These sort of things need to be sorted.

But if some moron with more money than sense puts too much fuel in their car, then they should expect consequences. Likewise, fitting an aftermarket exhaust that doesn’t dissipate the heat can produce its own issues. Manufacturers spend countless hours in R&D ensuring the longevity of their products with factory fittings. For example, the testing of Bentley’s W12 is torturous.

The engine is put through prolonged thermal shock cycling, which involves getting the engine to temperature then draining the coolant. It’s replaced by ice-cold fluid to create the quickest possible temperature difference, and then it’s heated to maximum temperature again.

Another test sees the engine switched on and immediately revved to 100rpm past the redline and left there, continuing to run at 6200rpm for 100 hours. Then the motor is hammered by being cycled through acceleration, deceleration and steady state running at all points in the rev range for 500 hours non-stop. That’s a few hours short of three weeks of continuous running, 24 hours a day.

Tests like these mean that any issues are usually discovered and sorted. But when you introduce customers into the equation who start changing things that haven’t gone through the same rigorous testing, then problems can ensue. Or those who don’t follow conventional norms, like filling a tank properly.

Sure, if you own the car you can do what you like, but that’s like saying if you own an apartment you’re allowed to jump off the balcony. You can, but is it really a good idea?

Recalls are definitely necessary, and we need to keep drivers safe, but there’s a limit to how much stupidity we can account for. If a peanut bar needs to have a warning about peanuts, something is seriously wrong with the world.

Tags: Auto Magazine

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