Leak Detection on Automotive Parts

The automotive industry might be the most important industry when it comes to leak testing. This is due the fact that numerous components of a car need to be leak checked in order to secure environmental guidelines, safety and function:

picture: What parts in a car are leak tested?
What parts in a car are leak tested?

Powertrain & Chassis:

  • Engine Block & Head
  • Drive Axles
  • Transmission
  • Shock Absorber
  • Wheels
  • Electronic controls
  • Lights

Fuel System & Battery:

  • Fuel Tank & Lines
  • Fuel Vapor Mgmt System/Components
  • Tank Filler Cap
  • Fuel Pump & Filters
  • Injection Systems
  • (Lithium Ion) Battery

Cooling & Safety:

  • Brake Lines & Fluid Reservoir
  • AC Hoses & Compressors
  • AC Condensers
  • Radiators & Heat Exchangers
  • Airbag Ignitors & Generators

Final Assembly:

  • Air Conditioning Systems
  • Fuel System
  • Powertrain Oil Circuit
  • Powertrain Water Circuit
  • Engine Water Circuits
  • Cooling Circuit E-Battery

With the variety of parts that need to be tested within a car comes also a huge range of leak rate requirements. While engine blocks have quite basic demands in regards to leak tightness, safety components as air bag ignitors have very high requirements in regards to leak testing. Due to the more and more strict regulations in regards to emission, fuel components also need to be leak checked with higher sensitivities.

table: Leak rate requirements

Due to this wide range of applications, different leak testing technologies are used within this industry. This starts by basic methods as bubble bath test and goes till high sensitivity and high speed automated helium leak testing.

A majority of parts in the past were tested with pressure decay methods. But nowadays the more strict regulations bring pressure decay to its limits for many components so that more and more parts are tested with helium leak testing. A possible alternative to avoid a tracer gas such as helium can also be Pfeiffer Vacuum’s micro-flow technology which enables higher sensitivity and lower influence of environmental effects like temperature.

Requirements for the testing process

  • Short measurement times
  • High reliability
  • High reproducibility

Key challenges
Beside of the already mentioned challenges in regards to sensitivity, the automotive industry is driven by economical needs. Test time and cost play an important role. Furthermore, the automotive industry shows very high requirements in regards to quality standards. Therefore reliable and repeatable test methods are needed.

  • High cost pressure – need for cost efficient test methods
  • Large volume production with 100 % testing – need for fast cycle times
  • High quality standards – need for reliable and repeatable test methods

Pfeiffer Vacuum solutions
All those requirements are met by our Pfeiffer Vacuum leak testing technologies. Our micro-flow solutions can be used for leak rate requirements reaching up to 10-4 mbar · l/s respectively 0.05 cm3/min. This technology offers fast and reliable leak testing with air with reduced temperature sensitivity compared to other air testing technologies as pressure decay.

For higher leak rate requirements like fuel tank and air bag ignitor testing our tracer gas products for helium and hydrogen leak testing are the perfect solutions.

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