This study has developed a novel finite element named interfacial element which simulates the contact between microscale asperities at contact surfaces of bolted joints. In this element, the contact is assumed to be the Hertzian contact of elastic asperities whose peak heights obey the Gaussian distribution. Based on this assumption, the stiffness of the interfacial element is derived from the compressive stress and the surface texture of the interfaces. On the other hand, it is necessary for large-scale simulations that target the entire vehicle body to reduce the number of nodes and elements in the finite element models. This study has further proposed simple modeling for stiffness evaluation of bolted joints using the interfacial element. Finite element simulations by simplified models in which heads, axes and holes of bolts were ignored were conducted and compared with detailed models and hammering tests. The results revealed that the mean value of the natural frequency of the simplified models had good agreement with that of the detailed models and the hammering tests though the calculation accuracy of the simplified models were lower than the detailed models. The bolt heads and the nuts could be ignored by increasing the density of the bolt axes to be equal to the total weight.
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