Purpose To determine the Coffin-Manson (CM) equation constants for fatigue life estimation of Sn-8Zn-3Bi solder joints, since Sn-8Zn-3Bi solder has a melting temperature of around 199°C which is close to that of the conventional Sn-Pb solder which has previously been used in the electronics assembly industry. Design/methodology/approach Three dimensional finite element (FE) simulation analysis was used for comparison with the experimentally measured data and to determine the CM constants. Low cycle fatigue tests and FE simulations were carried out for these lead-free solder joints, and eutectic Sn-37Pb solder was used as a reference. Findings The CM equation for Sn-8Zn-3Bi solder joints was fitted to the lifetimes measured and the shear strains simulated. The constants were determined to be 0.0294 for C, the proportional constant, and for the fatigue exponent, β, −2.833. Originality/value The CM equation can now be used to predict the reliability of Sn-8Zn-3Bi solder joints in electronics assembly and the knowledge base for the properties of the Sn-Zn solder system has been increased.