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kush

Struck By Lightning

Question

Thought I will share this as this as this might interest members and also may benefit from the experience.

Few days back my BIL had parked the car (Toyota Vitz) in my garden during a thunder storm and a lightning struck close by.

My house was also affected with burned ceiling fans and couple of burned bulbs (CFL/LED) main fuses in the electricity meter was blown and the entire house also got tripped.

Fortunately may wife who was at home had sense to pull out the plugs from the TV and other stuff so the damage was minimal.

But when my BIL tried to start the car although it cranked car newer started. All the other stuff including the instrument cluster was working. Only unusual indicator was a blinking coolant temperature light.

For what it is worth we decided to call the insurance company and when the guy came on following day morning the battery was also dead.

We had to tow the car to the garage and even the diagnostics (OBD) were not working.

Apparently the ECU (two ICs) and the alternator has got fried, this is as of now and we may need to replace the ECU and run OBD to see whether there is further damage.

He may get 50% of the claim form the insurance (have to wait and see)

Members my advice keep you vehicles indoor during thunderstorms, may not be practical all the time but may save you from lot of pain and hassle.

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Wow first time I heard such thing. Are you sure car didn't had any electrical issues before?

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Wow first time I heard such thing. Are you sure car didn't had any electrical issues before?

Nope he had the car for the last 5 years,

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It is a bit unusual accident because the parts in a car are well shielded against a possible EMF discharge. One possibility is if the car was parked on a ground with grass and other small plants, a discharge could have entered from the ground through a part like the alternator and caused havoc inside. It is a good lesson for all of us but what can we possibly do in case if you are outside except to seek divine help when a lightning comes?

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It is a bit unusual accident because the parts in a car are well shielded against a possible EMF discharge. One possibility is if the car was parked on a ground with grass and other small plants, a discharge could have entered from the ground through a part like the alternator and caused havoc inside. It is a good lesson for all of us but what can we possibly do in case if you are outside except to seek divine help when a lightning comes?

This is probably the most likely solution, there was probably a plant or something touching a metal part of the car and carried a strong enough current through it to cause the damage. In an ordinary situation the car is insulated simply by the fact that it is sitting on four giant pieces of rubber.

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This is probably the most likely solution, there was probably a plant or something touching a metal part of the car and carried a strong enough current through it to cause the damage. In an ordinary situation the car is insulated simply by the fact that it is sitting on four giant pieces of rubber.

My thoughts as well, when lightning struck ground residual current would have got induced through the battery or alternator. Car was parked on grass and house damage was also through the earth.

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wow.. this is very interesting... keep us updated on how the insurance company handles this as well.

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It is a bit unusual accident because the parts in a car are well shielded against a possible EMF discharge. One possibility is if the car was parked on a ground with grass and other small plants, a discharge could have entered from the ground through a part like the alternator and caused havoc inside. It is a good lesson for all of us but what can we possibly do in case if you are outside except to seek divine help when a lightning comes?

Yeah that makes sense. Otherwise we would hear such stories everyday as so many cars parked along roads during thunder storms.

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After 12 years on Autolanka you think you've heard everything.. and this gem of a brain teaser comes along!


OK, yes, I too was thinking along the lines of lightning striking the ground and being conducted to the car through the grass/weed. But if THAT's the case, the electric charge still needs to leave the car. It wont shoot back upto the sky, and it already came from the ground. Which would mean the lightning took the path of sky > car > Weed > ground > house. But if the car was parked in the garden, i presume in very close proximity to the house, the lightning wouldn't have hit the car to begin with. If recall my Grade 10 science, a high point that attracts lightning forms shields everything under a 45 degree umbrella of sorts (aka the typical lightening rod).

So how.....................

And just sharing..

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If recall my Grade 10 science, a high point that attracts lightning forms shields everything under a 45 degree umbrella of sorts (aka the typical lightening rod).

So how.....................

And just sharing..

Agreed. The damage here is not due to a lightning strike from sky to the ground that directly hit the car. What could have happened is that lighting must have hit some thing like a tall tree or a telecom tower near by. This creates what is called a step potential along the ground. The discharge can enter from one point on the ground and exit from another point back to the ground if it finds a path of lesser resistance compared to ground. (This is why you are asked to keep your feet together and not to lean on to another object if you are outside and the four legged animals are at a higher risk during a thunder storm).

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It's the electromagnetic field generated by the lightning strike which fried the ECU et al.

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oh dear this is an unusual accident,pls keep us posted how the insurance handles it,If it had natural disaster cover then I think it should be ok ? (i assume)

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About a year ago I witnessed a lightning strike on a Toyota Prius near Keells supermarket in Rajagiriya. It looked like lightning struck the car on to the rear antenna and fried the battery pack and other electronics.

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I thought cars and lighting follow the same theory of faraday cage/Shield where earthed metal spheres are shielded from EM pulses. This defy theory. electrical charges do not enter inside metal spheres which is why aero planes are protected from lighting. Thats what they taught me in physics i guess

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I thought cars and lighting follow the same theory of faraday cage/Shield where earthed metal spheres are shielded from EM pulses. This defy theory. electrical charges do not enter inside metal spheres which is why aero planes are protected from lighting. Thats what they taught me in physics i guess

Actually there is no telltale sign of lightning damage to the car. I’m assuming that the high voltage of the lighting (over 20,000 V) could induce substantial voltage in the battery or electronics damaging them.

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I thought cars and lighting follow the same theory of faraday cage/Shield where earthed metal spheres are shielded from EM pulses. This defy theory. electrical charges do not enter inside metal spheres which is why aero planes are protected from lighting. Thats what they taught me in physics i guess

Yes. Cars are Faraday cages. They will protect the people sitting in there (as long as there's no contact with earth). But the electricals can still get affected if there's some contact with earth.

Edited by Crosswind
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I thought cars and lighting follow the same theory of faraday cage/Shield where earthed metal spheres are shielded from EM pulses. This defy theory. electrical charges do not enter inside metal spheres which is why aero planes are protected from lighting. Thats what they taught me in physics i guess

You are right but there are basically several methods for a lightning energy to reach a conductive body - ie inductive coupling, capacitive coupling, resistive coupling and electromagnetic coupling (EMI). Once you are inside a Faraday cage you get protection from all except resistive coupling if that is not properly taken care of. A lightning flash can enter through the antenna as Crosswind has witnessed above or though an exposed point at the front of the car and exit from a metal part at the back.

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Guys,

What if there was a heavy rain, and the tires were wet.

Contaminated water can conduct electricity..

And the story of the Faraday cage is no longer there..

Just my thought.

But just to tell you guys, actually in engineering theory - the last few kms of lightning strike is going from the ground to the sky.. and not vice versa which I learned in the university

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I thought cars and lighting follow the same theory of faraday cage/Shield where earthed metal spheres are shielded from EM pulses. This defy theory. electrical charges do not enter inside metal spheres which is why aero planes are protected from lighting. Thats what they taught me in physics i guess

The car mimics a farady cage, but isn't an ideal one, plus the wiring in the engine bay is more than enough for an EMP to travel through to the ECU.

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Guys,

What if there was a heavy rain, and the tires were wet.

Contaminated water can conduct electricity..

And the story of the Faraday cage is no longer there..

Just my thought.

But just to tell you guys, actually in engineering theory - the last few kms of lightning strike is going from the ground to the sky.. and not vice versa which I learned in the university

No it is there because even a lightning streamer gets through the wet tires it will end up on the axles and the chassis but would not pass through other components inside the body. However a breach in the protection like a protruding antenna may help the streamer to go through other components and further up into the sky. That is resistive coupling. As for the streamers starting from the ground, they meet the downward leader at a height of around 100m. If you are interested you may read the work of a prominent local scholar on the subject on www.llampecinternational.com/downloads/

Edited by Rumesh88

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Yes rumesh,

What I said regarding the Faraday cage is incorrect.

(It doesnt happen due to the rubber insulation as I thought earlier)

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Finally Insurance made good 85% of the claim of Rs. 158K

Replacements being ECU, ABS Module, Alternator, EPS and some other sensors.

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23 hours ago, osanda19 said:

What's your insurance company?

 Axxxxxxe

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