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1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
These scarce "chips" in short supply needed in new cars, are they semiconductor ICs with fragile pins that plug into a socket on some Circuit Board or are they more ruggedly constructed modules? I would hope that there is some master circuit board at a central location they plug into or at least some Network so the chips or modules and be co-located close to where they are needed.

Also, I would hope those scarce "chips" or modules reside in a better location than our R107 fuses and relays haphazardly mounted behind the dash.
 

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1986 560SL
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507 Posts
The old "through hole" ICs with rows of pins are essentially obsolete now, as are most electrical components with wire leads. Our company used to make our boards this way, but now most everything is done by the surface-mount method. This technology involves a paste made of powdered solder and a flux material, to be 'silkscreened' onto a circuit board exactly where the connections are to be made. The parts themselves are placed on the board by very fast robotic equipment, then the board with all its component terminals stuck to the paste spots is quickly heated just to the point that the solder melts. More rugged, less susceptible to vibration damage, more compact, and usually cheaper.

All car now use data networks that connect to many modules located throughout the car. As an example, to lower your window, the window switch may cause a coded signal to go throughout the network, being responded to by the window control module located somewhere else, which then sends a coded signal to your window motor.
 

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1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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9,071 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
With all these basically assembled cars just waiting on "chips", how are these "chips"going to incorporated into these awaiting cars? Certainly if "chips" are surface mounted ICs, they will have to be mounted on a larger assembly and then that assembly installed in all those cars awaiting them.
 

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1979 450SL UK spec
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2,514 Posts
The ECUs (electronic control units) which contain printed circuit boards upon which the chips are mounted are probably normally installed at the same time as the wiring loom, however they are all accessable on a completed car so that they can be replaced if they go faulty. I suspect though that cars are not taken all they way to completion if there is a shortage of ECUs though, as they are often difficult to get to.
 

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2015 GL350
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Also, the "chips" may be varied, everything from CPU to interface to AtoD and DtoA chips. Been out of the system for a few years now, but did a LOT of work with surface mount, and "single chip" solutions for a few different applications, including space. Almost everything is build in the East, as the bean counters moved them to "save money", and didn't think/care about National Security.
 

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1987 300SL
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We're getting cars land in Australia now with features removed, including safety features. We're being told that's how it is, take the car or not
No mention of things being added later, that's just the new spec level now
'Global' marketplace is showing up with some warts
 

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1989 560SL
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I think most common would be MCU chips (microcontroller unit). These are little programmable computers used for just about anything you can imagine on a contemporary car from engine power management to entertainment system. Also common are MEMS sensors (gyros) used for stability control. All the radiofrequency communication (BlueTooth, WiFi, GPS, etc) is done with various chips too.
 

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1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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9,071 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We're getting cars land in Australia now with features removed, including safety features. We're being told that's how it is, take the car or not
No mention of things being added later, that's just the new spec level now
'Global' marketplace is showing up with some warts
Cars landing on dealer lots with certain features disabled makes me surmise that Engineers figured out how to make modules work without certain "chips". Perhaps those "chips" are primarily sensors and interface chips controlling other parts providing features such a heated seats, etc. I read where the Car Wizard stated on his YouTube channel that he rented a Chevrolet and figures certain things didn't work because of the "chips".

I'm really curious how manufactures go back and add those "features" deleted because of the "chip shortage", especially curious about the thousands of assembled vehicles sitting outside at factories awaiting "chips". Would they send out $15/hr folks who will do a simple task, or have to run them back through the factory for refit. And, assuming that those thousands sitting out there do crank up and are driveable.
 

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1987 300SL
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I'm really curious how manufactures go back and add those "features" deleted because of the "chip shortage",
We're being told, in Australia at least, the car doesn't come with that anymore. You want the car, or you don't
We bought a Skoda 18 months ago that had been sitting at the docks waiting for a chip(s)
It was a superseded model by the time they released them so they gave us a 5 year service pack for free
Guess they're not doing that anymore
 

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1979 450SL UK spec
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Virtually every feature has its own module, there tends not to be one big central computer. So chips will not be installed in cars, modules, known as ECUs can be fitted at a later day. But as Cousin says, many cars are just being sold without the features provided but the ECUs that are not available due to the chip shortage.
 

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1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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9,071 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
My thinking is that "chips" needed are to complete a major assembly or module. God I hope they are not a bunch of modules dangling from a wiring harness like with our 560SLs like a messy cluttered room. Surely they are better layed out and neatly organized.
 
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