Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sometimes Life Gets a Little Messy

A busy life means that it is not uncommon for me to eat and drink (hello coffee) in the car. Couple that with a toddler that loves her snacks (thank you goldfish and cheerios) as well as potty training and messes are going to happen. Thankfully those designing our cars understand and anticipate these "Oops" moments.

My friends at Ford gave me the chance to interview Linda Schmalz, a body interior and appearance materials engineer, to find out a little more about how the fabrics and materials are tested before making it into vehicles like the Edge I test drove last fall. It is amazing how much goes into selecting the interiors, and here is what Linda told me about the process.

Those little feet can make a mess

Fabrics and leathers are tested for both staining and clean-ability. They know that we may not be able to get to a spill right away, so they look at how hard it is to clean spills after both an hour and 24 hours. They also simulate snagging from things such as jewelry and Velcro. If the material doesn't stand up, then it doesn't make the cut.

Engineers also keep an eye on fashion trends to make sure that our clothes don't leave their mark. Dark jeans may look great on you, but stains don't look great on seats. The same goes for bling on the pockets of some pants.

They also test to see what happens when you bring the outdoors inside. Fabrics are smudged with dirt to test how well they clean. Things like sunscreen and bug spray are also tested. (Hopefully there is a sweat test, because my seats see a lot of that.)

Linda also shared some pro tips for keeping your interior looking good. First, a little cleaning goes a long way. We clean our houses on a regular basis, so why not do the same for our cars. Second, take a look at the owners manual when trying to clean a stain. You should find tips to help you clean without damaging your interior. Another fun tip is that coffee with a splash of milk or cream will stain less than black coffee. (Another excuse to add a bit of cream to my coffee, because it is sure to get spilled.)

Ford arranged for the interview, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.