For many reasons the necessity of armoring small vehicles, small defined as light weight, is now a reality. The question has been asked; is there one light weight vehicles that is more suitable for armoring than another? When armoring small vehicles there are many factors that come into play, but a major issue when armoring any vehicle, lightweight or not, is how much additional weight can the vehicle absorb before it degrades the performance? Armoring a lightweight vehicle that concern is amplified.
To answer the question a good place to start is the vehicles “payload numbers.” The vehicles payload is the combined, maximum allowable weight of cargo, occupants and optional equipment that the vehicle is designed to carry. The payload numbers for a typical “small vehicle” – a Ford Fusion. The Fusion is designed to carry no more than 385 Kilos or 849 Pounds. If the vehicle normally carries two passengers each weighing 90 Kilos –or 200 pounds, there would be 295 Kilos (385 – 90), and if measuring in Pounds there would be 649 Pounds (849 – 200) available for armor. Hence for a Ford Fusion, if the armor weighs more than 295 Kilos or 649 Pounds, there will be degradation in the vehicles performance, and a decrease in the vehicles life cycle.
Some issues you may want to address with the armored car manufacturer:
- If the combined weight of armor and passengers exceeds the vehicles payload ask the supplier what steps are taken to mitigate the problem.
- Once a vehicle is armored the tire load ratings, printed on the side of the tire, are usually not adequate, ensure that the tires have been changed to handle the additional weight.
- Installing stiffer shocks and springs to compensate for the additional weight makes for a harsh ride. A harsh riding vehicle moving on pot holed and rough pavements makes for a very rough ride. Enlighten the end user to this change in the vehicles characteristics.
- Ask if the glass has been tested for visual acuity. A simple acuity test is to sit in the driver’s seat and put your hand on the outside of the windshield and look for distortion, especially at the corners. You can also use a pad of lined paper instead of your hand.
- Is there overlapping armor at the seams formed by the vehicles pillars (support columns from the roof to the body), the roof rails and windshields headers along with any other “armor to armor” seam on lateral and horizontal panels? These seams must be overlapped by a minimum of 1 inch of additional armor to withstand the energy. This is an absolute must.