Electronic control unit failures? - Alfa Romeo Forum
You are currently unregistered, register for more features.    
Thread Tools Search this Thread
(Post Link) post #1 of 2 Old 29-01-12 Thread Starter
Status: -
AO Silver Member
seadart's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: United Kingdom
County: Hampshire
Posts: 2,197
Electronic control unit failures?

After a conversation with a breaker in which he stated that GTVs are being scrapped because of electronic component failures, I began to wonder if anyone has experienced failure of these components.. After some research I found that integrated circuits seem to have a life expectancy of between five and fifteen years.. My car is sixteen years old and, touch wood, all OK so far..
If these cars are to become 'classics'.. ECU failure could present a problem due to the non availability of original spares and the cost of re-engineering and re-manufacturing complex electronic components.. ABS, Airbag, engine ECU's.. plus the associated sensors and peripherals.. etc..

Are there any electronics whizz kids who can comment on this..

Gettin' to old for this sh*t
seadart is offline  
Sponsored Links
Status: Occasionally driving my Gtv
Club Member
Membro Medio
alexGS's Avatar
Club Member Number: 1265
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: New Zealand
County: Waikato
Posts: 2,361
Images: 36

Member car:

Gtv V6

Originally Posted by seadart View Post
Are there any electronics whizz kids who can comment on this..
I wouldn't think of myself as an electronic whizz kid (I'm 32) but in the dim and distant past, I did my degree in electronics

Practical experience with cars has shown me that ECUs never fail all by themselves - there is always an external load or condition that causes their demise. For example, the engine ECU in a FIAT Punto Mk1 fails after the heater core leaks coolant. Or the airbag ECU in a Multipla becomes drowned when the windscreen leaks.

Sometimes the problem comes from a lack of maintenance - if spark plugs are not replaced, the larger electrode gap leads to a higher spark-over voltage, which means the low-tension side of the coil experiences a larger back-EMF, which might damage the coil driver in the ECU.

It seems, though, we have a third problem afflicting cars of the GTV's era - ECUs that we can no longer communicate with! I'm thinking here of the airbag ECU in my phase-1 that defied all attempts to talk to it. All I needed was to clear the 'pretensioner open circuit' fault code, but nothing I could find was able to connect and I ended up replacing the ECU instead. I don't even know the part number of what I replaced it with, but it dropped straight in and worked.

I'm not sure where you read about the lifespan of electronics being 15 years. Some components, such as capacitors, age quite badly, and the heat from continual operation of resistors may degrade their materials and the circuit board itself. But digital electronics tends to use fewer passive components (capacitors and resistors), so there is less wasted power, and greater reliability as a result.

I'd say the reliability of ECUs is the least of our problems compared to the poor quality of electrical connections and ageing of all rubber components on the car... particularly on cars imported from Singapore (a problem you are probably spared in the UK) where wiring insulation becomes brittle and falls off, I think due to ground-level ozone. A wiring loom with disintegrated insulation causes such maddening and widespread problems, it makes you want to use petrol and a match to sort the car out.


'00 GTV V6, '08 FIAT 500, shell and parts for a '71 FIAT 850 Coupe
alexGS is offline  

Go Back   Alfa Romeo Forum > Supported Alfa Romeo Models > Technical & Vehicle Assistance > Alfa GTV & 916 Spider

control , electronic , failures , unit

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome