What are the Features and Design Considerations of the Automotive PCB?

Automakers as well as different suppliers are striving to manufacture standard automotive printed circuit boards, which ensure that all systems are efficient.

Furthermore, the modern automotive industry standards feature advanced technology. This is one reason why lots of questions regarding PCB automotive may be on your mind. Well, there is nothing to worry about.

Here, you’ll learn everything you should concerning automotive PCBs. Let’s dive in.

What does Automotive PCB Mean?

Let’s start by explaining what a printed circuit board (PCB) means. Printed circuit boards are non-conductive boards featuring all the necessary electrical and electronic components. With the help of a physical support, these electrical components easily connect to the board.

Furthermore, automotive printed circuit boards are complex circuit systems, which control the majority of a car’s electronic operations. This implies that, when you make use of an automotive PCB, then you must ensure that it is very durable, highly reliable, and comes at highly competitive rates.

Also, higher temperature laminates, copper, and aluminum are components, which helps in improving an automotive PCB’s readability. Now the question is why is it necessary to have an automatic printed circuit in your car?

The application of an electrical PCB system in automotives seeks to increase a vehicle’s performance. Three major aspects are covered here.

  • Security enhancements that seek to reduce traffic accidents via the use of automotive avoidance, radar monitoring, and airbags. It also makes use of stereo cameras, infrared monitoring, autonomous driving, etc.
  • Environment improvement seeks to save fuel and reduce tail gas. Also, it helps in improving fuel gas transformation from gasoline into hybrid power and pure power.
  • Convenience and comfort, which seeks to improve audio, video display, mobile communication, air conditioning, and audio.

Back then, many vehicles made use of the standard automotive PCBs, which were rigid in nature. However, cars of today now have features.

What are the Features of Automotive PCB?

Automotive industry PCBs come with many features which aids its operation. Here, we will be discussing some of the features of automotive pcbs.

Great for any complex system in the automotive industry

In the automotive industry, you will most likely find many complex systems. Note that these systems face lots of challenges like external interference and extreme temperatures.

Furthermore, automotive pcbs have great features, which can withstand very extreme conditions. Also, it allows the use of automotive with very little interruptions.

It can withstand extremely low and high temperature conditions

For any automotive system, it is normal for temperatures to fluctuate usually from a high to a low one. This fluctuation could affect the features of your automotive printed circuit.

Also, for cases like this, you must make use of materials which can withstand the fluctuation. An automotive PCB has materials which tolerates fluctuations in the conditions of temperature.

Resists chemicals in the automotive industry

Organic solvents, bases, adhesives, and corrosive acids like salt water could affect automotive PCBs. This is why manufacturers make use of materials with the ability of resisting corrosion of an automotive PCB.

Furthermore, it ensures that the printed circuit boards become more efficient and lasts longer with little interruptions.

Can adapt to all possible automotive environments

Cars can be driven to many different places, which could have different environmental characteristics. Having this in mind, most manufacturers make sure that the automotive PCBs they manufacture can adapt to many different environments.

Also, there are other manufacturers that specialize in manufacturing PCBs for some environmental conditions.

High Reliability

Materials present in the automotive PCB lasts longer and are usually very strong. This means that they can withstand harsh conditions, as well as function effectively. In addition, these automotive printed circuit boards properties are what makes them one reliable part of the car.

Resists Dirt

When dirt accumulates in a PCB system, it could cause the system to have electric short circuits. Therefore, it is important to work with printed circuit boards with the ability to resist dirt accumulation.

Furthermore, manufacturers make use of special laminates, which ensures that dirt doesn’t come near an electric circuit. This allows users to make use of automotives even in a dusty environment.

Also, these features will ensure that the car is safe regardless of the conditions of the environment. Now, let’s consider the applications of an automotive PCB.

What are the Applications of an Automotive PCB?

Automotive PCBs can be regarded as systems seen in different car applications. Also, the fact is when we talk of automotive applications, it is obvious why printed circuit boards have become a backbone for electronic components.

Furthermore, in cars, most electronics feature an automotive PCB that performs different functions. This aspect helps us understand the applications of the automotive PCB.

  • GPS systems
  • On board radar
  • LED headlights
  • Instrumentation
  • ECU/ECL control modules
  • Transmission sensors
  • Stalk switches
  • Systems for emergency assist
  • LED lighting systems
  • Engine controls and engine timing system
  • Comfort systems
  • Sensor systems for vehicles
  • Locking or door latch systems
  • Infotainment systems
  • AC/DC power convertors
  • Electronic modules and electronic elements
  • Antilock braking systems or antilock brake systems
  • Audio and stereo components
  • Digital displays and display monitors
  • Power relays
  • Occupant detectors
  • Airbag deployment
  • Automatic dimming
  • Diagnostic systems

From all these, it is clear that the security, lighting, entertainment, as well as other major features present in a car will depend on automotive PCBs. Asides from applications, there are other things that an automotive PCB can offer.

Let’s continue by understanding the design considerations of an Automotive PCB

What are the Design Considerations of an Automotive PCB?

By now, you already understand that an electronic element has a significant role to play in the automotive industry. The fact is, the vehicles of today feature around 200 control units like sensors and processors.

In order to make this happen, manufacturers usually consider or look at different designs of an automotive PCB. In this section, we will be explaining the design considerations that manufacturers need to put in mind for automotive pcbs.

Let’s check them out

Quality Assurance

From the international point of view, the customer’s demand from distributors and manufacturers for high-quality products depends on the ISO9001 regulations.

Explaining further, the administration system, which governs the automotive industry is the ISO90001/TS16949. Furthermore, this helps in integrating the special requirements, as well as emphasizes on quality fluctuation, waste reduction, and defect prevention, in the supply chain of the automotive industry.

Furthermore, automotive manufacturers must have the ISO/TS16949 before they enter the market. For product definition under the 3rd class (Class 3), there is a need to build it in the IPC criteria. The IPC class III standard helps in dictating the quality standards for:

  • Material qualifications
  • Inspection criteria
  • Arranging facilities like PCB components
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Plating thickness
  • Laminates selection

Basic Performance

There are some factors you need to consider, which include the following.

High Reliability

There are 2 main aspects, when it comes to automotive reliability

The first has to do with the elongated service life. Here the control units and the electronic components can last. Usually, an automotive service life usually ranges between ten to twelve years. All through this period, any vulnerable part that can get damaged easily will need replacement.

Furthermore, the automotive PCB has to be very strong to make it last through an actual automotive’s service life.

The second has to do with environmental resistance. This allows automotive control and electronic components to perform very well in very harsh environments.

Also, it must have the ability to survive harsh cold temperatures and extreme heat, asides other environmental conditions. In order to know the conditions of automotive pcbs, there are some tests you can perform. Some include temperature humidity bias, thermal shock test, and thermal cycling tests.

Lightweight and Miniaturization

Lightweight and miniaturization are important when saving fuel. Furthermore, lightweight and miniaturization of PCBs or printed circuit boards (PCBs) is achievable by area reduction and density. Also, for all the aspects, you can also reduce the thickness and make use of multiple layers also.

Automotive PCB Layout and Designs

For this section, we will be considering some factors that you must pay special attention to.

Lead Coupling

If you will be placing leads close to themselves, then you may probably affect the coupling and cause mutual inductance. For this, you will need to place that current path near the major current path and should be in a less radiation field. This helps in reducing the loop area of the current.

Also consider the integrated grounding under the leads. Why? This is due to the fact that your integrated mass area grounding helps in improving the automotive PCB’s performance.

Orientation of the Inductor

When two inductors happen to come close together, there is inductance generated. Therefore, having a specific design whereby the designs are in a compact circuit layout. Also, when the inductance alignment is better, it ensures mutual distribution with respect to the inductance alignment.

So, when designing the automotive printed circuit board, there are two rules you should follow:

First of all, the spaces present in-between the inductors must be very large. Second, the inductor alignment has to be at ninety degrees (right angles). Also, it helps in minimizing possible inductor cross talks.

Grounding & Filling

This aspect is very important in automotive PCB design. This is why the design must be perfect. This helps in avoiding issues relating to the circuit’s impedance.

Whenever designing the integrated grounding & filling, it is compulsory that you consider the following.

First, your continuous grounding area should have extremely low impedance. Second, the terminals of the filling wire must connect with the thru hole array onto the ground. Then lastly, you connect the copper coated lines onto the ground.

Now, with the automotive PCB design considerations above, you can be sure that your automotive PCB will function effectively.

Grounding Thru-hole

One major issue that you must solve here has to do with the different circuits’ bad impedance. This might come via different interconnections and electronic components.

Furthermore, the thru-hole capacitance is usually between the copper at the thru-hole’s edge and the bottom copper. The thru-hole capacitance is affected greatly by the thru-holes’ cylinder.

Therefore, this inductance module must be present for the through hole and it must be in sensitive areas. The filter or matching network has to depend on the independent through hole array. Also, with a PCB copper that is thin, it will help in reducing the parasitic inductance effects.

What is Automotive PCB Prototyping?

There is a need for an automotive PCB prototype before the automotive printed circuit boards can happen. This prototype guides you to make complete and good automotive printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Also, it will help you understand or know if that particular automotive PCB design you desire is going to work. Eventually, you will be able to save so much money with your prototype ready before the PCB assembly.

Understand the specifications of the needed automotive printed circuit boards  

There is a need to know the material type, dimensions, plating finish, the layers, impedance control, and board thickness. Asides from this, you must also include the minimum pitch, silkscreen, solder mask, castellated holes, and the size of the holes.

Check if there’s a design rule violation

Check the design rules. Using design software, it is sure you will make a very good prototype. Some software needed include Free-DFM and eagle (DRC).

 Generate Gerber Files

Using the software, it is possible to get the blueprint of an automotive PCB. Then, you will have to check the files and make sure that they are all in the best order.

Get your stack up documented

When your gerber files are ready, then the time for the stack up documentation is set and then you should send it over to your manufacturer. Ensure you label and arrange these layers accordingly.

Furthermore, the producer or manufacturer will be able to create your prototype and then test it to be sure it is working properly.


We hope we have explained what automotive printed circuit boards are. Also, they stand out and they have lots of great features. These PCBs are also useful in different applications.

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