28 June 2018

New Ford Focus limits impact of potholes

Potholed roads not only make journeys uncomfortable but harsh impacts with severe potholes can also cause damage to a vehicle’s wheels, tyres and suspension systems resulting in hefty repair bills for car owners, writes Trish Whelan.

Ford is helping limit the impact of damaged roads for drivers of its new Focus by introducing innovative pothole detection technology. The system senses when a wheel is falling into a pothole and adjusts the suspension so that the wheel doesn’t fall as far into it.

Because the tyre and wheel don’t drop as far, they don’t strike the opposite side of the pothole as harshly. The rear suspension can respond even faster than the front with a signal from the front wheel providing a pre-warning to the rear wheel before it reaches the pothole. This all happens in a split second.

The new Focus pothole detection system is a feature of the car’s optional Continuously Controlled Damping technology which every 2 milliseconds monitors suspension, body, steering and braking inputs, and adjusts the vehicle’s suspension responses for the smoothest ride quality.

Ford develops its suspension systems using a specially created road at the company’s test facility in Belgium which consists of precise replicas of some of the worst potholes and road hazards from around the world. 

Engineers further refine the systems with hundreds of hours of testing on a diverse range of European public roads, monitoring loads and strains with equipment similar to that used by seismologists to study earthquakes.