Early and reliable damage location is a key element for the quality and quantity of the data that can be acquired from a fatigue test on automotive components and from mechanical components subjected to road-simulated endurance testing. This paper describes an acousto-ultrasonic methodology for monitoring structures or mechanical components. The technique has been developed gradually by applying it first to simple elements, such as spot-welded steel panels, sections, etc., then to individual body nodes, and finally to a complete car body. The results of a road simulated endurance test carried out on a car body are presented. This technique makes it possible to reduce to the minimum, or eliminate altogether, visual checks, and to identify fatigue cracks at their earliest initiation stages and spot weld failure, without having to wait until a defect grows to the point of modifying the overall mechanical properties of the element being tested.
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