The reliability of microengines is a function of the design of the mechanical linkage used to connect the electrostatic actuator to the drive. We have completed a series of reliability stress tests on surface micromachined microengines driving an inertial load. In these experiments, we used microengines that had pin mechanisms with guides connecting the drive arms to the electrostatic actuators. Comparing this data to previous results using flexure linkages revealed that the pin linkage design was less reliable. The devices were stressed to failure at eight frequencies, both above and below the measured resonance frequency of the microengine. Significant amounts of wear debris were observed both around the hub and pin joint of the drive gear. Additionally, wear tracks were observed in the area where the moving shuttle rubbed against the guides of the pin linkage. At each frequency, we analyzed the statistical data yielding a lifetime (t50) for median cycles to failure and (sigma) , the shape parameter of the distribution. A model was developed to describe the failure data based on fundamental wear mechanisms and forces exhibited in mechanical resonant systems. The comparison to the model will be discussed.© (1998) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.