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Reliability of automotive connectors

Reliability of connectors

Reliability of automotive connectors

Automobile manufacturers place a high priority on the safety of their products. Vehicles are susceptible to harshest environments like high and low temperatures, vibrations, corrosion, and oxidation. Choosing high-performance connectors is of utmost importance for automobile manufacturers. Analyzing mechanical and physical phenomena is crucial for determining the connector's performance.


Friction Corrosion Failures

The failure of automotive connectors is a result of three significant conditions: 

High humidity, corrosive gas, and severe vibration are responsible for the oxidation of electronic components. One of the causes of connector failures is the connection between cables and terminals. Crimping is a method for attaching terminals to the wires in an automotive wiring harness. This technique is more cost-effective to use than soldering the terminal.


Failures caused by connector mating

Incorrect mating can cause failures if the connector is not aligned correctly. Mating locking connectors is a way to solve this issue.


What factors made a connector reliable?

The reliability of automotive connectors depends on various factors.

Here are some key characteristics that contribute to the reliability:


Material Quality

The materials used in manufacturing connectors should be durable and resistant to environmental factors like temperature variations, moisture, chemicals, and vibrations. High-quality materials, such as corrosion-resistant metals or durable polymers, contribute to the reliability of connectors.


Design and Engineering

The design of connectors is essential to their performance. Well-engineered connectors should have a secure fitting, proper contact alignment, and relief of mating and unmating. 


Contact Integrity and Assembly

Contact integrity is assured by proper material for contacts and 

adequate plating to preserve a low-resistance electrical connection over time. Crimping, soldering, or other assembly methods ensure durable connection and reliability.


Environmental Protection and Sealing

Automotive connectors should withstand challenging environmental conditions such as exposure to water, dust, and other contaminants. 

Sealing products and protective coatings are employed to maintain connectivity.


Connector Mating Cycles

The mating cycle is the number of times a connector can be mated and unmated throughout its lifespan without degradation. That is critical for its reliability, specifically in applications requiring frequent connections.


Mechanical Stress Resistance 

Automotive connectors are exposed to vibration and mechanical stress during operation and must withstand these aspects without compromising their electrical connections. Connectors designed to withstand such conditions are more reliable.


Insulation Resistance

The insulation material and configuration between contacts play a function in preventing unintentional electrical paths. Higher insulation resistance contributes to the reliability of the connector.


Temperature Resistance

Automotive connectors should be able to operate within a wide range of temperatures, from extreme cold to high heat, without affecting their performance for vehicles operating in diverse climates.


Testing for Quality Control

Reliability testing during development and manufacturing, including electrical, mechanical stress, and environmental impacts, helps identify potential weaknesses before being deployed in real-world applications.


Compliance with Standards

Compliance with industry standards ensures the connector meets certain quality and performance criteria, contributing to its safety and reliability.


Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) 

Automotive electronics are susceptible to electromagnetic disturbances. Connectors should minimize interference and maintain signal integrity, ensuring that component functions are reliable.


Ease of Use

Connectors that are easy to install are likely to be used accurately, reducing the chances of human error impacting their reliability.


Summary

Connectors are vital in establishing electric connections between components like sensors, actuators, control units, and more. Considering these factors and choosing connectors based on the specific application requirements will contribute to the overall reliability of a given system.

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