Come Hell Or High Water: All-New Ranger Achieves Best-In-Class Water-Wading Capability (With Video)

What would you say to running a fully-loaded (by weight) Ford Ranger through enough water to stall the engine? Ford engineers thought it was a good idea — and proceeded to load up the new (not long for the U.S.) compact truck to make it ride at its lowest possible height and run it through some high very levels of water. What they came away with was an impressive 31.5 inches (800 mm) of water-wading prowess — a segment best.

At first, the engineers started out with 2 inches of water and ran the Ranger through at 19, 31, and 40 MPH. Not satisfied with the results, the engineers kept adding H20 until the water stood at 31.5 inches. At that point, the Ranger went through at a speed of 4 MPH.

To achieve the impressive results, the fine folks at The Blue Oval raised the air intake and alternator of the Ranger Hi-Rider to a point where the two would remain above the water line; they also water proofed other components such as fuel tanks and parking sensors — both crucial to successful water wading in testing and in real life conditions.

Installed a year ago, the newly-built water-wading facility at the You Yangs providing ground gives Ford the ability to conduct the same tests in Australia as those administered by Ford engineers in Europe and in the U.S. Man do us Yanks wish this truck was going to be available in the States!


All-New Ford Ranger Gets Into Deep Water

Ranger can go deeper than any other pickups in its segment with a best-in-class water-wading capability of up to 800 mm

The 4×4 and 4×2 Hi-Rider models can wade through deep water even while carrying a full load
Engineers found strategic locations for key electrical components and air inlets to deliver the class-leading attribute

Melbourne, Australia, 04 Apr., 2011 – Come flood or high water, all-new Ford Ranger confidently takes it all in its durable stride, buoyed by its best-in-class water-wading capability of 800 mm. The 4×4 and 4×2 Hi-Rider models can wade through deep water even while carrying a full load.

During the extensive water testing, Ford’s latest global compact pickup was loaded to gross vehicle mass –as heavy as it possibly could be – so that Ranger was riding at the lowest possible height. Most customers would not be carrying so much weight when fording rivers or floods but Ranger’s ability to do so provides additional peace of mind.

Engineers tested Ranger over a variety of water depths and speeds. For example, they drove Ranger through 50 mm of water at 30 km/h, 50 km/h and 65 km/h to simulate going through big long puddles on the ground. They then increased the depth at 50-mm intervals until they got to 800 mm, at which the engineers were driving through the water bath at 7 km/h, or approximately walking pace.

The water bath is 50 m long and has angled sides to replicate the bow wave that forms at the front of the vehicle as it pushes through the water. This closely simulates what happens in real life when Ranger has to wade through deep water.

“When we go through the water bath, we’re looking out for every possible functional failure in the vehicle. The most critical one would be if water was sucked through the air intake into the engine, resulting in hydro-lock, which can bend the piston’s connecting rods and potentially destroy the entire engine,” said Tom Dohrmann, the development engineer in charge of Ranger’s water management.

“We have to protect against such failures so that our customers can go deeper without causing catastrophic damage to their engines.”

Achieving 800 mm
To deliver a very capable Ranger that can go deeper than any of its competitors, the engineers concentrated on finding strategic positions for key components, especially the air intake. They finally positioned it above the water line in the right fender above the wheel arch liner. The transmission breather hoses were also placed above the water line.

In the early stages of Ranger’s development, the engineers found that the alternator was too low in the Duratorq diesel engine for the 800-mm water-wading capability target. They proposed moving the alternator up high, as it would also be good for the component’s durability since dust or stones are less likely to get thrown at it during offroad driving. The change was made for Ranger and ended up in other Ford vehicles programmes too because the Duratorq diesel engine is a global Ford engine.

For components that had to be below the water line, such as fuel tanks and rear parking sensors, they had to be suitably waterproofed to ensure they would do their job even when wet. Considering the height of the water line changes depending on whether the vehicle is moving or stationary – the water line starts higher at the front and slopes down towards the rear of the pickup when it’s moving due to changing pressure of the water – the biggest challenge for the engineers was in finding a place for all the components.

“We did it in the end, and we’re very proud of how deep the Ranger can go,” said Dohrmann. “When faced with a water crossing, you’ll be able to drive it into the water deeper than the competition can, through the water, out of the water and onto safe ground.”


Motrolix Founder with a passion for global automotive business strategy.

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