The ability to predict something before it happens is something most of us wish we had in our arsenal. Weather forecasters think they have this ability, but we all know better. While it may be nice to know the answers to some questions ahead of time, it is essential for car manufacturers to be aware of any possible design roadblocks as early as possible in the development process. Virtual thermal analysis is a process used during vehicle development to determine whether components in close contact with hot surfaces - such as the engine or exhaust - exceed recommended temperatures. Possessing this knowledge is vital as it allows engineers the opportunity to preserve functionality and prevent accelerated aging in these components. Running a full virtual thermal analysis is ideal because it provides the most accurate results, but it is a method that because of time and cost can ideally only be run once, and at the end of development for validation only. Of course, by that point in the process it is too late in the game (or too expensive) to make major changes. After a recent review of their virtual thermal analysis process, the thermodynamics computational fluid dynamics (CFD) team at global automobile manufacturer Volvo found that Siemens PLM Software’s STAR-CCM+® software allowed them to run full vehicle thermal models at earlier stages than possible with competitors’ software.