Baby, you can weigh my car: load cells in the driving seat

Published On: June 29 2021

The automotive industry has long used load cells to both test and monitor vehicles during construction, testing and on the road. So where might you find load cells in today’s high tech cars and trucks? Pretty much where they have always been – to measure, monitor and weigh.

You’ll find load cells all over the car that’s sitting on your driveway, or the truck that just delivered your latest online purchase. Load cells will be strategically located to perform roles such as:

  • Measuring pedal force
  • Monitoring systems and components
  • Monitoring tyre friction
  • Dynamometer torque monitoring
  • Checking there’s someone sitting in the driving seat!

Load cells are also used extensively in structural component testing, including bodywork, suspension, crumple zones and seating. Crash test dummies are loaded with load cells to assess the forces exerted on the human frame on impact, especially the head, neck and torso. (


How long can a Formula 1 tyre last?

A specialist motorsport company has just produced a dedicated wheel force transducer for motorsports that “accurately measures forces and moments acting on the wheel”. The important aspect of the new kit is that it measures forces exerted on the wheel itself, which can be used to monitor the load on the tyre and the estimated wear. As the sales director Jim Vaughan says:

“With this data, motorsports teams are able to develop a reliable tire (tyre) model and assess the tire’s dynamic behavior. They can use the WFT data to run accurate real-time driver-in-the-loop simulations and to validate tire performance and degradation models.”

It’s a neat system that features a built-in encoder to keep the unit aerodynamic as well as durable at high speeds and extended use.


A smooth ride with load cells

Formula 1 and other high speed motorsport races can be won or lost in the blink of an eye. If a car’s suspension isn’t properly tuned, it could hand the competition a millisecond advantage – and that can be enough. During development and testing of new racing vehicles, load cells are used to measure suspension loads, and that data informs the resulting design of both the suspension and the chassis.


How heavy is that load?

On board weighing of loads in heavy goods vehicles is crucial to ensure the vehicle is within its maximum capacity and therefore safe to drive without damaging the axles. Equally, if the load is too light, the vehicle may be under-loaded, resulting in an inefficient load and journey.

These overload protection systems rely on load cells positioned at strategic points on the vehicle chassis. It’s not just goods that need to be weighed either; on-board weighing is important for skip collection lorries, front loaders, forklifts, waste trucks and even those massive monsters the size of houses trundling up and down quarries.

On-board weighing is both cost-effective and efficient, ensuring profitable loads and improved safety for driver/s and loads. Consistent monitoring of loads will also reduce wear and tear on vehicles, extending their working life and reducing their impact on on infrastructure such as roads and bridges. It also saves time at depots, as loads can be sighted and put onto the vehicle at the same time.


Trying to find cost-effective load cells driving you crazy?

Relax – we’ve got you covered! Our high quality load cells are designed and manufactured here in the UK. So there’s no long wait for imports, or worries over them being stuck in a canal in Egypt…

If our online land cell shop doesn’t stop what you need, just give us a call. We have created custom load cells and solutions for specialist industries, high tech R&D and university researchers alike. Contact us with your requirements – we love a challenge!