Automotive engineering has been a game of delivering more value with minimal resources confronting conflicting design choices at every design step. . As more and more electronics enters the game, it becomes imperative to critically evaluate various design choices to deliver a robust hard-ware back-bone which delivers a robust performance on an ever-reducing shoe-string budget. Hardware interface with the outside environment in particular needs to be equipped with a bullet-proof robustness . Harsh transients, tough environmental conditions, rough and at times abusive usage by the end-customer add near impossible rules to the game. This paper discusses various hardware design techniques which aim to meet the formidable challenges posed by the automotive requirements. It also points out pit-falls behind various design options where the designer may be tempted to reduce the cost at the risk of defaulting over the robustness on one hand and may misinterpret the design requirements and unnecessarily increase the cost on the other hand. Importance of paper/computer analysis is dwelt upon highlighting the inadequacy of the tests defined by the international standards. This often lands us in a situation where a design claiming to have passed all standard tests meets with a poor warranty performance in the field. The concepts discussed are supported by real life field/test results. The paper sums-up with design guide-lines which would assist the designer in making right decisions to create a product equipped with rock-solid robustness on a shoe-string budget.