What are the causes of electronic components malfunction?

Nothing, including electronic components, lasts forever. While there are several reasons for failure, several modes are the most common culprits. In this post, we’ll look at some of the most prevalent reasons for electromechanical components failure. Look for alternative possibilities for your company’s electronic equipment not working once you’ve checked these points. Recognize the most effective strategies for preventing the most prevalent failure modes, as well as what your firm should do if electronics go wrong.

How to identify

Visible Signs: Any damaged component will usually display some visible signs that show there is a problem. Examine the component for any damage and you can understand it by visual examination. Burnt or melted portions, as well as bulged and enlarged areas, are common features of failed components. Capacitors, particularly electrolytic capacitors with metal caps, are frequently bulged. In integrated circuit (IC) packages, a small hole is frequently burned where a hot point on the component melted the plastic through the IC package.

Smoke/Smell: Another clear indicator of a failed component is smoke or a bad smell. It is caused by thermal overload. Smoke can be blue or colorful. The type of smoke has a particular odor that varies depending on the component. Aside from the item not operating, this is often the first symptom of a component failure. A failing component’s characteristic odor can linger for days or weeks, making it easier to identify the culprit component during troubleshooting.

Sound: Listen for sounds of failure. When a component fails, it will occasionally produce a sound. Which is caused by Rapid thermal failures, voltage fluctuations, are more likely to cause this. When a component breaks this badly, it frequently emits a foul odor. It’s rare to hear a component fail.

It usually indicates that portions of the component are not properly assembled in the product, therefore establishing which component is no longer on the PCB or in the system could be the key to identifying the failed component.

Testing: Individual components should be tested. Testing a failed component is sometimes the only way to find out what’s wrong with it. On a PCB, this technique might be difficult because other components can affect the measurement. Because measurements necessitate the application of a little voltage or current, the circuit will react to it, causing results to be thrown off. If a system has many subassemblies, replacing them is often an excellent method to narrow down the source of the problem.

What are the Causes of Component Failure?

Electronics fail and parts fail. Some component failures can be avoided using good design standards, but many are beyond your control. It is important to identify the problem component which is failing repeatedly. A good and state-of-the-art design can boost the performance and reliability of the system. Component failure can occur for a variety of causes. Some failures occur slowly, allowing time to identify and replace the component before it entirely fails. Other failures occur quickly, severely, and without warning.

Failures of components frequently follow a pattern. Component failures are more likely in the early stages of an electronic system’s life, and the likelihood of failure decreases as the components are used. The decrease in failure rates is due to that components with packing, soldering, or manufacturing flaws frequently fail within minutes or hours of first use. This is the reason behind several hours of burn-in periods, carried by many manufacturers for their products. This simple test prevents the possibility of a defective component sneaking through the manufacturing process and resulting in a broken gadget just hours after purchase. Component failures tend to level off after the initial burn-in period and occur at random. Natural chemical processes diminish the quality of the package, wires, and components as they age. The component’s strength is also affected by mechanical and thermal cycling. As a result of these factors, failure rates rise as the product ages. This is why failures are frequently classified according to the root cause or when the component failed during its service life.

Not Properly Protected

Circuit board undergo a series of test before becoming operational. Board manufacture, PCB assembly, transportation, and storage are among them. During these stages, components are likely to be contaminated. Ionic contamination is a major problem in the manufacturing of boards which are commonly used in devices that are used in the medical industry. If these circuits are not well protected during their mobility and storage, they can be faced with oxidation and other contamination, which can result in early board and/or component failure.

Moisture and Humidity

Another major factor to cause component failure is humidity and moisture. Moisture is not good for circuit boards, and it can put electronic components at risk. It can even happen during component and/or board manufacturing. Humidity can form on the circuit board as well as inside component packaging.

 When boards are housed in packaging with interior temperatures that are colder than the outside environment, this is most typical. The tendency to get moisture is different for different components, so keep that in mind when you make your choices.


These days, PCBAs are deployed almost everywhere. Temperature, pressure, and corrosion can all have an impact on the operation, causing damage to boards and components. Components used in aircraft electronics, for example, must be able to endure extreme temperatures ranging from extremely cold (as low as minus 184° F in the thermosphere) to extremely hot (about 5,792° F during a rocket launch). Thermal sensitivity must be a primary consideration when selecting these components.

Power Fluctuation

Several failure modes can be triggered by excessive heat on circuit boards. Structure fatigue and current flow spikes are examples of this. In the case of high voltage PCBAs used in industrial applications, power supply surges or arcing can also cause the latter. Regardless of the source, large currents can wreak havoc on circuit boards and damage weak, unprotected components.


Radiation issues in most PCBA development are limited to limiting EMI or attempting to achieve electromagnetic compatibility with the environment. This is important because too much noise can decrease signal integrity to the point where dependable TX/RX is impossible. Radiation can cause considerable damage to circuit boards and other electromechanical components.

Mechanical Strains

Mechanical problems face PCBAs used in aerospace systems, industrial machinery, and vehicles. Shock and vibration can cause boards to crack and break, as well as sever component solder junctions and pins.

Limited Life

Electronic components, like all other constructed systems, have a limited lifespan. Continuing to use components after this time greatly increases the risk of mechanical fatigue failure. There is a component lifespan, during which the component’s availability progresses through distinct stages. Obsolescence is the end of this cycle when the component is no longer manufactured. Components sourced at this end-of-life (EOL) stage are often obsolete and may not match contemporary performance criteria, putting them at risk of premature failure.

Summing Up,

The inability of PCBAs to satisfy their performance criteria consistently over their expected life cycles is common Component selection during design isn’t the only way to avoid component failure. Instead, effective implementation of the standards causes collaboration with your CM. This dedication ensures that your boards are created to the highest manufacturing standards, which is critical for avoiding failure after installation.

When a board fails, there is always one or more components that caused the failure. For good PCBA development and to avoid selling boards with faulty or inferior components, optimization of the selected components for your design is critical. Making the best choices, on the other hand, is just one of the necessary behaviors for preventing the most common electronic component failures. Before moving on to additional steps that must become habitual for dependable board functioning, it’s important to understand which components are the most prone to failure.

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