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Electronics & Test

Tin Whiskers Again Cited as Potential Problem for Toyotas

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averagejoe72677
User Rank
Gold
Tin Whisker Headaches
averagejoe72677   7/26/2012 10:17:16 AM
Seems to me the EU in it's quest to eliminate lead as a pollution source has signed the death warrant of untold millions of electronic devices around the world. It isn't just automobile electronics that will suffer a premature death, it is just about all devices we buy and use everyday, washers, dryers, TV's cell phomes etc. There have been numerous post placed here over the last few years about tin whiskers causing electronic failures in all types of electronics. If indeed electronic throttle controls on cars are susceptable to this same fate as other electronic devices, then there should be a loud outcry worldwide to suspend ROHS compliance until a workable solution is found.

Chuck_IAG
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Upside to the on-going debate
Chuck_IAG   7/26/2012 10:29:03 AM
To Mr Weaver: with all due respect, it appears your comparison of the relative ease of servicing different brands of cars was comparing a standard transmission with an automatic.  Manual transmissions will always have a threaded (and inconvenient) plug to check the lubrication level, rather than a dipstick as do automatics; the fluids have different purposes and viscosities.  The same is true with Toyota stick shifts.  Having had a number of BMWs as well as a number of Toyotas (and 2 Lexuses), I know the engineering levels vary.  However, the downfall of the German engineering is their electronics, not their mechanics. My 1984 BMW 635CSi drive train was darn-near bulletproof and still cranked out well in excess of 130 MPH before I got too scared to push my luck, and traded it off last year (for, oddly, an older Toyota MR2).  I fear Toyota, "German cars," and any other manufacturer in the spotlight can be found "guilty" of cost/benefit tradeoffs.  My wife (the Lexus driver) calls it a witch hunt.

ttemple
User Rank
Platinum
Re: More information
ttemple   7/26/2012 10:36:43 AM

"In fact, NHTSA only knows of four occurrences of tin whiskers in a population of 1.7 million Camry vehicles. None of those occurrences involved any crashes or injuries and in each case, the vehicle entered a form of fail-safe operation that was so noticeable that the consumer quickly brought the vehicle in for repair."

 

What kind of rubbish is that?  It implies that they inspected 1.7 million vehicles.  How many did they actually look at? four? four thousand? forty thousand?  Certainly wasn't 1.7 million.

 

ttemple
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Upside to the on-going debate
ttemple   7/26/2012 10:46:30 AM
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Amen to that naperlou.

I have a 2006 Malibu, over 100k miles on it, virtually no problems.  Easily gets mid 30's on the highway, mid 20's driving around town.  Got 80k miles on the original tires.

I drive a 1992 Cadillac Deville that has 202k miles on it.  Runs like a champ.  Springs a leak here and there every once in a while (my plumbing aint' what it used to be either!), but other than that it gets me around.  I get about 20 mpg, almost all around town driving.

I don't believe that the "J factor" cars are ultimately any better than "A factor" cars.  I have had both over the years, and I have had good experiences with both. I prefer current American built sedans to anything built.

Rocketman
User Rank
Iron
Re: Upside to the on-going debate
Rocketman   7/26/2012 11:05:33 AM
I remember dealing with tin wiskers on wire wrap terrestrial sysems back in the 70's.  They were occuring between pins with 1/16 in spacing. Ok, so now I've been working with spacecraft and satellites for 25 years where there is one rule on this: don't use pure tin. I feel like saying "duh". 

Stuart21
User Rank
Silver
Re: Tin Whisker Headaches
Stuart21   7/26/2012 11:25:12 AM
I am interested to know how the computer can distinguish between a throttle position giving a certain resistance and a tin whisker coincidentally producing the same resistance.

Would not encapsulation of soldered areas solve this problem?

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Tin Whisker Headaches
tekochip   7/26/2012 11:52:32 AM
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The typical method is to use a voltage divider so that a short to either rail or an open is an invalid reading.  monitoring for noise is also used to determine if the connection is intermittent, which is what will happen when the sensor starts to fail.  They usually open in the throttle position that is used the most, like at a highway cruise or idle.

averagejoe72677
User Rank
Gold
Re: Tin Whisker Headaches
averagejoe72677   7/26/2012 11:52:54 AM
I have thought of the encapsulation method myself, such as a spray on coating after assembly, but am not sure if this would prevent whisker growth. Perhaps someone with direct experience with the issue could chime in and answer the question. The real scary part of this is that any commercial aircraft built in the last 30 years are controlled by fly-by wire systems.  

Chris PE
User Rank
Gold
Whiskers? Of course!
Chris PE   7/26/2012 12:02:06 PM
Charles, I hate to tell you "I told you so" , because I did comment on your previous blog where you definitevely rejected a possibility of whiskers "because NHTSA said so". Few cases in 1.7 million cars? Just a good cover-up.Most of customer have no idea what a dealer is doing to a car that was left for "car mat replacement".Anyhow , why would I take a word of NHTSA agains NASA? Only one of them consists of really credible scientists (no pun intended to the other one)It is a serious problem and it has to be addressed as such.A driver of a car does not quite know what to do in a panic situation.Sorry to say that but after seeing thousands "whisker cases" in many other devices I would dismiss car mats...

Regards,

Chris

connectr
User Rank
Iron
Re: More information
connectr   7/26/2012 12:07:30 PM
Tin whiskers are not a new phenomena, but we used to have a bit of lead in our solder which prevented it. But with everyone going RoHS compliant, this is one of those results of the law of unintended consequences.

 

Keep in mind, when RoHS was first proposed and adopted, the primary usage of lead in electronics, was a pigment fixative in plastics. The darker the color, the more fixative was used. In the average consumer electronics equipment, something like >90% of the lead was in the plastic.

 

RoHS was never originally meant to touch our solders, because that was considered (at the time) too little a percentage to be worthwhile. If memory serves, the day that RoHS was adopted, Nokia dropped their 5 year warranty to 1 year because they were afraid of tin whiskers. Ahh, how times change!

 

 

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