TCM (Transmission Control Module) Numbers & Letters significance - Page 2 - Mazda3 Forums : The #1 Mazda 3 Forum
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-24-2018, 11:53 PM
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Thanks for the info. Hats off to you for your degree. It takes brains and a lot of hard work to get that degree. I knew that the information you gave wasn't from your average Joe. Your posts are always well thought out and intelligent so I kinda figured after reading that one that you might very well be some type of engineer. Your 2.5 swap shows that you also have a lot of practicality along with the I.Q.
Thanks, rickkari.

To be honest, I've met a lot of dumb Engineers. The ones worth their salt are the ones that have some sort of practical experience - automotive work seems to be one of the best for that. The ones who only know theory are pretty worthless. Engineering at its core is basically problem solving.

I've been very impressed with a lot of people on these forums. If it weren't for the support of these fine people, I'd have been in too far over my head with that engine swap. I took auto shop in high school in the 80s, and I loved working on my cars but they were from the 60s and 70s. Somewhere along the way I got too busy to do that kind of stuff and got out of practice. It took some major repair costs staring me in the face to get me back in the groove. And now I kick myself for ever leaving this kind of DIY work because it is fun and pretty rewarding too.

Enjoy the long weekend!
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 11:55 AM
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Okay, so knowing that, (and yes the lead-free solder is indeed complete trash, I refuse to use it), you think re-flowing the board with good solder would fix many of these issues?

I know I had an old school car amp from the 80's that was having some minor issues here and there, removed the board from the heatsink, and found a dozen or so cold joints. I decided to just touch up the entire board, hitting every single spot, and it's worked flawlessly ever since.

I know that was through board instead of the probably SMD that the TCM has, but still, that's not hard to fix a cold SMD joint, either.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 04:41 PM
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Okay, so knowing that, (and yes the lead-free solder is indeed complete trash, I refuse to use it), you think re-flowing the board with good solder would fix many of these issues?
That's entirely possible. My son replaced the TCM while I was on a business trip, and therefore I never got to see the old one or the new one. The new one arrived while I was gone and he got very anxious to have a normally running car. He threw the old one away.

On another thread someone said the TCM unit was potted. That's good for shock, vibration, and moisture resistance. But then you can't do anything with a solid 'block' if it goes bad.

Have you seen one that is an exposed PCB (or enclosed in a case that can be opened)?

Assuming the PCB can be accessed, you have to be very careful with higher end PCBs these days because they use smaller and smaller components. The size of some resistors is pitifully small. Basically if you tried to add solder to the board you could end up bridging two pads and screw it up. If they use large discrete components like you can find at Radio Shack (RIP) then you'll be able to access the bond pads pretty well. Some components measure only 1mm x 1mm and have several BGA bumps or connector leads underneath. The solder paste is screen printed in place (literally like old fashioned screen printing - ah who am I kidding...anyone head of that?), the components are put into place by high speed robot arms with camera alignment, and then the whole thing is sent through a reflow oven. It wouldn't be possible to assembly the thing by hand.

And it's quite possible that some of the components they use simply go bad after a while. Who knows. If I was able to study a TCM a bit I'd know better.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 06:45 PM
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i have heard of guys baking their abs module in the oven
180 degrees celcius, 360 farenheit for 10 minutes
supposed to be just hot enough to fix cold solder joints

Last edited by lout; 05-26-2018 at 09:19 PM. Reason: note temperature in celcius
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 08:52 PM
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i have heard of guys baking their abs module in the oven
180 degrees for 10 minutes
supposed to be just hot enough to fix cold solder joints
That is exactly what I was about to say. 180C though, not 180F. 180F wouldn't do a damned thing. I know people "repair" xboxes like that.
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post #16 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by lout View Post
i have heard of guys baking their abs module in the oven
180 degrees for 10 minutes
supposed to be just hot enough to fix cold solder joints
Huh! Well, it just might work. Obviously it's enough to melt solder. In fact, 165C would be fine if you have flux on the joints. I see that Wikipedia says 183C for a solder melting point. Whatever. That's much higher than any PCB reflow actually goes through because of temperature limitations of some of the components.

However, if your device is broken, then when why not try this as a fix? Pretty cool DIY project!
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post #17 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-26-2018, 11:39 AM
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Just FYI for everyone: about a year ago, I found a seller on e-Bay who refurbishes TCMs. IIRC, his price (after the core) is around $200 shipped. Just something to keep in mind if/when this happens with your vehicle.

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post #18 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-26-2018, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by VWandDodge View Post
Just FYI for everyone: about a year ago, I found a seller on e-Bay who refurbishes TCMs. IIRC, his price (after the core) is around $200 shipped. Just something to keep in mind if/when this happens with your vehicle.
That's a favorable price.

One thing I don't like about refurbished electronics is that you aren't getting the latest model. These TCMs have gone through several revisions. Of course, a revision can be as simple as something PCB-design related change, and that could be just a landing pad enlargement for one component so that more solder can be applied.

Or it could be a big improvement like "these capacitors from company X have proven to be trash" and they provide an improved component in its place.

I don't know to what extent a refurb on a TCM can prove worthwhile. If they're just finding bad solder joints and fixing those, then cool. You can use X-ray inspection to find bad solder joints so maybe they are going about it in a high-tech way to repair these?

The local shop wanted $1100 to replace my son's TCM. I don't think so!
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post #19 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-27-2018, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Datsun1600 View Post
That's a favorable price.

One thing I don't like about refurbished electronics is that you aren't getting the latest model. These TCMs have gone through several revisions. Of course, a revision can be as simple as something PCB-design related change, and that could be just a landing pad enlargement for one component so that more solder can be applied.

Or it could be a big improvement like "these capacitors from company X have proven to be trash" and they provide an improved component in its place.

I don't know to what extent a refurb on a TCM can prove worthwhile. If they're just finding bad solder joints and fixing those, then cool. You can use X-ray inspection to find bad solder joints so maybe they are going about it in a high-tech way to repair these?

The local shop wanted $1100 to replace my son's TCM. I don't think so!
I understand the revision process and why people would want to upgrade; however, having the unit refurbished at a fraction of a cost for an updated unit is a viable option. When the TCM went out on my car, I paid close to $550 for the unit plus replacement. What irked me the most is the shop claimed the TCM had to be programmed to play nice with the vehicle's security system. I didn't learn until a few years later that the Mazda TCM can be swapped without any issues with the security system.

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post #20 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-28-2018, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by VWandDodge View Post
I understand the revision process and why people would want to upgrade; however, having the unit refurbished at a fraction of a cost for an updated unit is a viable option. When the TCM went out on my car, I paid close to $550 for the unit plus replacement. What irked me the most is the shop claimed the TCM had to be programmed to play nice with the vehicle's security system. I didn't learn until a few years later that the Mazda TCM can be swapped without any issues with the security system.
Yep! The $1100 the local shop quoted me was partly because they said the new module would have be reprogrammed. That was completely false.
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