The Treadwell Testing Methodology

By: Discount Tire

This Q&A is the second part of our interview series with Dr. John Baldwin, one of the creators of Treadwell and its testing methodology. Check out part one here.

Where is the Treadwell test track?

"We do all of our driver testing down at Cooper’s test track in Pearsall, Texas."

How did we get involved with Cooper in this capacity?

"Early on, years and years ago, we started working with Cooper to develop some private brand and exclusive products, so we were already familiar with how they did business and they were kind enough to let us on the track. We’re a very good customer."

Do we do any Treadwell testing in winter or wet weather conditions?

"For wet condition testing we do that down at Cooper’s track as well. They have a wet pad that provide metered standing water conditions that we test wet handling in, as well as a stopping lane that we can test wet stopping distances."

"For winter testing, there are two answers. For Treadwell, all tires get tested at Smithers which is in the Sault Ste Marie area of the upper peninsula of Michigan. They do what’s called a ‘sled test’ where put the tire contact patch on a kind of sled and drag it around on the snow and ice and measure a lot of the different inputs to it. But now we’re also starting to do winter testing where take an actual vehicle up to the Upper Peninsula where our driver evaluates winter tires for stopping and handling. That’ll be coming to an iteration of Treadwell soon."

How many tests do we do at the track in a day?

"The way it works is over a 3-day period we’ll test seven sets of tires with controls. So if you can imagine, a test sequence includes temperature changes and other factors to build a constant over time. Maybe a part of the morning will be highway handling and noise, and then the afternoon is wet handling."

What are the specific vehicles we use in our testing?

"We use a bunch of vehicles. Depending on the type of tire and the size we’ll use BMW 3 Series (that seems to be our driver’s favorite) Toyota Camrys, Honda Accords, F-150s, F-250s, Chevy Equinox, Chevy Suburban, it really depends on the size and range of the tires we’re using. If they’re real world we don’t do anything special to the vehicle other than go rent it and make sure it’s in alignment."

What are some of the instruments and technologies we use in-vehicle in a test?

"The main instrument is a "V-Box" which is a GPS-based control box that our driver uses to either time a route in a geofenced area that automatically counts lap times and calculates exact stopping distances, speed and the deceleration rate."

How many times do we test the same tire?

"When we get a new set of tires when they launch, we’ll get one set and the driver will evaluate that set. Depending on the test he’ll have a couple different runs, but as time goes by we will occasionally go grab that same set of tires a year later just to see if anything has changed from a handling perspective."

"We’ve already been getting their mileage over time from our store information, and we’ll send them to get tested at the winter facility as well."

How far out from a new tire launch do we test a tire?

"Usually it’s about three months before the launch."