Abstract The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the use of finite element techniques for modelling thermal fatigue effects in solder layers of insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) – modules used in traction applications. The three-dimensional models presented predict how progressive solder fatigue, affects the static and dynamic thermal performance of such devices. Specifically, in this paper, the analysis of an 800 A–1800 V IGBT module is performed. In the first part, the static analysis is realised. The parameters assessed are thermal resistance, maximum junction temperature and heat flux distribution through the different layers comprising the module construction. In the second part of the paper, transient analyses are performed in order to study the dynamic thermal behaviour of the module. The constructed thermal impedance curves allow for calculation of the device temperature variations with time. Stress parameters, such as temperature excursion and maximal temperature at chip and solder interfaces, are determined. Calibration of all simulation models is achieved by comparison with alternative theoretical calculations and manufacturers’ measured values provided in the data sheet book.