What Happens When Lightning Strikes Your Car?

car lightning

If you ever wondered what its like to get hit by lightning when inside of a car, just hit the play button below.

[via Spluch]


About the author: Vince Smith


Website: http://www.uberreview.com


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  • http://pixelkitty.net pixelkitty

    They always give Hammond the fun jobs.

  • http://www.uberreview.com Vic DaSilva

    I just read in the paper the other day that they upgraded Hammond’s condition from critical to stable from his last “fun job” on Top Gear

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  • Jay Morrison

    I disagree with this testing!!! This maybe true for “Newer” cars but is total false for older cars. I experianced it first hand 20years ago in Miami Florida USA. 1978 Camero with a small CB antenna, with my wife and I driving on a Florida Turnpike. Bolt of lightening hit my antenna, the noise was so loud I couldn’t hear my wife yelling next to me. The cataylic convertor was trashed which chocked out my engine, forcing me to pull over. As it turns out the lightening also blew the steel belting in my tires out through the treads, as the tires went flat, the metal rims soon touched the ground which created a shower of sparks which lasted only a few seconds. My car had become energined by the lightening and wasn’t discharged until the rims tocuhed the ground. If the tires hadn’t gone flat and I got out of the car touch any metal part of that car, the lightening would have gone through me to discharge to ground.So this is test is not proof positive that you are safe in all cars……

  • Monica

    I agree, getting hit by lightning was not like what the video portrayed. I was searching for information on this because my 2005 Infiniti G35 was hit by lightning today while I was driving in a thunderstorm. All of the sudden, there was a huge boom and my car was enveloped in a very bright white light. At first I thought a transformer blew out but soon realized that there were no transformers on the highway. Then I noticed that all the lights on my dash were illuminated and I was now coasting without any power from the engine. So there I was, right there on the freeway during rush hour traffic in the middle of a thunderstorm freaked out about getting hit by another vehicle. Upon later inspection of the car I saw that there were small cigarette type burn marks on the car’s roof and trunk, and white streaks on the tires. A rubber piece near the roof and door frame was blown completely off and the car would not restart. Very weird….very surreal experience. I’m now just waiting to see what they’ll (insurance) do with the car. If anyone has had an experience like this please let me know what outcome and/or experience you had. Thanks.

  • kathie

    I agree totally! My family was just on vacation in Taos, NM when we were struck by lightning in my 2006 Nissan Altima. We heard a loud boom, smelled some smokey smell, lost power, and coasted onto the side of the highway. The bolt left a small hole in the roof, a quarter sized hole in the paint and blew out the antennea in the windshield. We had to rent a car to get back to Denver. The car is still at a dealership in Sante Fe (closest shop that could perhaps fix it.) We are waiting for word on it. I have no idea what the shop will be able to do but the insurance will fix it after my $500 decuctible. I was totally bummed. Now we have to go back there to pick it up. We were hit on June 30,2007 , its now July 9 and still no word on what’s exactly wrong with it.

  • Sue

    I was searching for info on this topic because I, too, had something similar happen to my car. However, I was not aware of a lightning strike at the time – we were driving through a storm, and were ultimately pulled over because our taillights were completely out. We made it home. The next day, the car had all sorts of weird lights lit and systems not working, and no one can find the reason why. I also put in a claim under comprehensive. There are things on the car that are lit when the car is off. Very weird.

  • http://msn dale

    i also was hit by lighting at 70mph,my truck was one month old less than five thousand miles,i want to be idemnified by the ins.co,for a new truck,can this be done?

  • Ashley

    My car was struck and took out my whole electrical system, boards, everything, car was 5 months old. It was been at the shop for 6 weeks and they still cannot get it to start. So outside shell does not always protect you from everything. It struck my antenna, went through my radio.

  • Sue

    Follow-up to my earlier posting – after three weeks of searching, the dealership found a variety of scorch marks inside the right front wiring harness (1999 Camry). Every computer was fried. The weirdest thing about this was how I was unaware of a strike, and the car, although it lost its taillights, worked until the next day. It was totaled under comprehensive – have a new car now.

  • anna p

    Our experience was in an 88? volkswagon quantumn. heavy storm that i shouldn’t have been in anyway. we heard an extremely loud noise and their was a bright light.Upon inspection later there where burn marks on the hood of the car . It didn’t hurt the car in any other way. I on the other hand had very limited hearing for over two weeks. It didn’t affect my kids at all who just thought it was ‘cool’. it could of been worse since one of my windows was missing at the time! as for the testing…Lightning is unpredictable,all cars are different, and circumstances would also play a roll. Thank God we “ALL” survived! You can’t test chaos theory and nature is that theory in it’s truest form!

  • Doug

    This happened at my office this morning.


  • Kathie

    Update to my previous posting: The car was not totalled however there was over $7000 in damage. It took a month for the dealer in Santa Fe to get it running. They could not fix the air cond. and we needed the car back–no coverage for rental car–so my husband rented a car to drive back to Santa Fe and pick up the Altima. Then we had it fixed completely (body damage and air cond.) here in Denver. At the time my car was only a year old. It is running fine now, almost a year later but I wish it would have taken less time to fix.

  • Ashley

    Update on my Car, it took 5 months to fix, $16,000 and the car has not worked the same. I am currently in a lawsuit with the dealership for the repairs and just had the car back in the shop for the Radio…lesson learned, if you want to buy a used car…CARFAX!!

  • Bill

    I was just struck by lightning the other day and car died totally when it happened. My car is a lease car and I’m only half way thru it. Any clue if I will be able to get out of my lease. Pretty sure there are more money in damages to the car then its worth. I also have full covereage on the car.

  • kelly

    i want to know more information about ‘ how safety is it when strikes by lightning of a car?? ‘ how its happen’….
    if any one got information about this …can send message to me..

  • June

    My car, an Acura TL 2005, was struck while parked under a tree. The tree was definitely hit by lightning but I am not sure about the car. However, the day after the storm my car started up fine but the A/C, dash board controls, and beeping noises did not work. The radio and GPS seem to be unharmed. The car is at the dealership and they are still not sure how to fix it. I really hope the car is totalled so that I won’t have to worry about problem later on down the road.

  • mykkal

    Mine couldn’t start a day after a stormy night and some wires were burnt when I checked.I could only conclude it was a lightning strike.Still waiting to tow it to a shop.

  • Mary

    My car too was struck by lightning, while on vacation in Alabama. I was unaware of it at the time. I was driving and all of the sudden, all the lights on my dashboard came on and my car died, forcing me to coast to the side of the road. My computer and wiring harness is completely burned up, along with other wires. The dealership swears it was lightning, but my car insurance reports they cannot prove it was from lightning, and they do not want to pay anything. Have any of you had trouble with getting your insurance to pay? Should I contact an attorney?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=657086431 Paul English

    My car got hit last night in my yard… 2005 Malibu Maxx, won’t start, can’t recharge the battery… ugh…

  • Pete

    I parked my chevy pickup over a weekend and went out the following week and it would not start. The vehcile was parked in the mountains a few hundred miles from home because I use it for work and I left it at the jobsite. I am not sure if a lightning storm occurred over that weekend where it was parked. I towed it home where it sat for a couple of years prior to me taking it in for repairs. I started with a small repair facility and they informed me that they found burnt wires and computers and they thought it was caused by lightning, but it would need to go to a dealership for complete diag. The dealership has found numerous computers and electrical components burnt and shorted out. They think it is possibly lightning, but will not say for sure. They have informed me that it definately had to be caused by a severe surge from a source other than the vehicle itself. There are no burn marks that we have located on the vehicle. I am wondering if burns are always present on the body, and if the lightning could only short out only certain components and wiring and not others. If I can get some definitive data, I may be able to get this covered under my comp insurance. Any accounts of past experiences from people who are certain their vehicle was struck would be greatly appreciated.

  • Christi

    We have a 2006 Ford truck that got hit by lightning in aug 08 when it happened it went through the CB Radio Antenna it made a lightning bolt jagged rip through the plastic from top to bottom . It took out the computers & electronics it had to be towed . was in the shop at Ford a couple wks they said it was fixed butt we are still having electronic issues that the insurance co says they are not responisble for so we just paid another $1.600.00 today getting it out of the shop we are having all kinds of Radio issues also remote start issues, security system goes off while driving it’s really a nightmare ! Does anyone have any advice Please Help if you can .

  • Peter Sherwood

    Two weeks ago while in a tropical thunderstorm near Cape Coast, Ghana, the vehicle we were in appeared to be struck by lightening. The flash and bang with simultaneous and the car whited-out, our hair stood on end and we all felt a powerful static charge pass through us. There was no discernible damage to thevehicle and I suspect the ground close by was struck and whatever we experienced was ameliorated in some way. I felt strangely energised!

  • Tom

    I am an electrical engineer; when lightening strikes a car there is no left over build up of electricity in the car. When the lightening stikes, the current of electrons (the lighting bolt), will continue past the insulated tires back into the air and into the ground. A lightening bolt is a dissipation of electric potential energy in the form of current. Current travels the path of least resistance, so when lightening can jump from the air to the metal car it will; once the current encounter the tires it will jump back to the air. The only charge build up is before the lightening strikes. The reason why Jay Morrison’s rims sparked was due to friction between the road and the bare rims. Also lightening can and will overload electrical compnents in a car when it is struck, this does not effect older cars as much as newer ones.

  • Tom

    Lightning also travels from the ground up. Also the reason why the tire blew was due to the current traveling through the tire anyway (the air in the tire, the rim, and the metal structure of the tire). When current (lightning bolt) then encounters the rubber it realses large amounts of thermal energy. Thermal energy is relesed when current encounters a resistor, or a change in resistance. That is why the tire exploded.

  • Jp

    I was at work last week and there was a bad storm. Lightning struck the front lawn area which was flooded…burst the new plumbing causing a flood….fried the laptop I was on….two routers….a tv….a poor squirrel on the lawn…,and my car. There were no burn marks anywhere bc everything was soaked due to the rain. The lawn was flooded. well my car wouldn’t start…the batt worked bc the windows worked…the lights turned on perfectly…the car just wouldn’t start..,,the dealer thought it was a deprogrammed key…turns out the computer got burned out! Thank god for insurance…..500 bucks sounds better than a grand or more!

  • Dorian

    well we had a really bad storm one night and there was a loud sound of thunder, and really bad lighting the while that happened my lights on my car started flashing on and off all night no way to stop it then the next morning i had to get a jump its stopped for a while but now it started flashing again when when he hit the lock key and it makes the noise and flahes so i dunno what to do but take to dealer had for 3 years anyone know what happened? maybe a wire got messed up

  • Dorian

    wow there are alot of typos in my message sorry hope it can be figured out

  • Jason

    I was struck in my 97 Chevy tahoe on 8-11-09 traveling 60mph. It was a very loud boom, I thought a transformer blew up next to me. My antenna turned red hot and melted, my car shut off and now I think that it fried my PCM on my truck, well that is what the Chevy place is saying. It also blew holes in the asphalt where my tires were at and left at pot hole in the back where my trailer hitch was about 1.5′ in diameter and 6″ deep. My boss was behind me and he saw it all happen and he said it looked like a missle hit the asphalt after it left my vehicle. WOW it was scary!!

  • Amy

    My husband and I were at home when the lightning struck our house, our car, and us during a terrible thnderstorm. It was the scariest thing that has ever happened to us. The storm came on in a matter of seconds. All you could hear is thunder booming one after another. I turned the appliances off and told my husband to put the kids in our bed away from the windows. I was looking out the sliding glass door gripping the handle about to open the door because our gutters were falling. My husband was hanging the curtain back up and this loud boom as if a bomb exploded sounded and the brightest light i ever seen lit the kitchen up and I lost all control over my body;felt like a 100 pound weight was placed on my chest,my skin was on fire, and I lost my eye site for like 30 seconds. I thought I was dead. My husband experienced the exact same feelings at the time of the strike. When we came too and realized what happened, we were already screaming and running to each other in a pitch black house, scared out of our wits. The hair on our skin stood straight up till the next day. My right eye is now opening smaller than my left with redness ever since. My eye glasses are too strong and I’m seeing clearer. Weird! My husband is fine, we just felt wired up the next couple days. When the lightning hit it hit my house, bounced of hit the tree that hangs over the side of my house, and hit the car parked underneath the tree next to the house. It wont start at all and the fans come on when the keys are put in the ignition.Won’t even go in gear. I haven’t looked for burn marks or anything yet. This happened yesterday July 14th at midnight. My flat screen wont turn on, and the cable box that was connected to it won’t cut on either. Probably fried it. The cable runs right out my bedroom window and comes out next to the car, so it would make sense to me that the lightning ran through the cable, out my house, through my car, through the tree, and out the ground. That’s the only logical explanation I have about this crazy night. Bad luck I guess. The power box blew up too. The electric people came out that night/morning whatever. They responded very well…go rec. Thank God my kids didn’t feel anything. I think we got hit because we were grounding ourself out by touching things connected to the house.

  • http://ParanomalPhenomena.com Linda Tatum

    I actually had an exsperience I had Lightning to actually go through my body……….I also feel energized……….

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  • Lhare2525

    I was hit by lightning Dec 31, 2010, at 5:00 AM on a hunting trip. My car continued to run, but we took it back to a gas station before we turned it off. One tire was flat a few hours later. i took the tire off and took it to a garage to fix it. the manager at NTB told me the tire was unrepairable, and all tires were compromised by the strike wigh a scorch mark where the tire was touching the ground at impact of the lightning. I am petioning to get all tiures replaced. My truck has been in the shop now for 8 days, and they still cannot fix the electrical components that were fried. I am interested in others and how there insurance company treated them and if you are satisfied with the vehicle after the repair.

  • EMT 09

    Lhare2525 I am so glad for your post. My car was hit on Dec 31, 2010 around like 10 or 11 am. My tire was also flattened by the strike. When the lightning hit my car it activated my windshield wipers, horn, and cooling fan. I was unable to start my car and the cooling fan would not shut off. The inside of the car smelled heavily of smoke but did not catch fire. It also blew my trunk opened and blew my seatbelt apart. The insurance company at first was really nice. The chevy dealer that was in charge of fixing my car was a joke. They had my car three weeks and it came back in worse shape than when it was towed in. They did not replace the tire when I went to pick it up the tire was still flat. The seatbelt was not fixed, and I had four different service engine lights on. I am currently fighting the insurance company who claims that all these problems were not a result of the lightning strike. I maybe filing a lawsuit before the matter is over!

  • http://www.eurodesignauto.com/services.html Garry Brei

    And these kinds of things really happened in real life? Wow. Well, perhaps the best way to do when your car get struck by lightning is to contact repairs if the damage is really serious like broken windshield, wipers, engine, etc. This is pretty scary, btw. And one more thing, do NOT park your car outside your house. If you don’t have a garage, maybe you can park it under a shed near your place.

  • Lauren

    My car was parked outside during a fierce thunderstorm. The next day it would crank but not start. A lightening bolt had struck a transformer not far from where my car was parked. My mechanic says my car’s computer is not working. Still waiting for my car.

  • Alroccia

    My husband was driving his vehicle during a storm last Wed. 7/7/2011 when he heard a very loud explosion noise, similar to a shot gun or tire blow out and at the same time saw a very bright flash of light out the driver side window (not from the front of the vehicle or under the hood). He thought a tire blew so he started to pull over noticing it was hard to steer. Once pulled over he noticed the engine wasn’t running. When he turned over the key again, all of the dash board was out and the car wouldn’t start. The radio continued to work the entire time. The locks wouldn’t work but the driver door will unlock when you tire to open with the handle. Another motorist pulled over to make sure he was okay expressing that he heard the loud bang and saw the burst of light from under the vehicle. Nothing was leaking or on fire. Had the vehicle towed and 4 days later are being told from a Ford Service dept. that there was a surge the blew out the instrument cluster and in order to see what else is blow we have to pay $1,100.00 to replace this part. Then they can see if the PCM (main computer) is blown too. When I asked what would cause this they stated a surge from the battery or wiring. I asked if this was a normal thing and was told it’s a FLUX! Well I’m being told there is a MAster Fuse that’s main purpose is to stop these type of problems. & if it was the battery wouldn’t there be evidence of this, the battery looked perfectly fine. Also why would the radio still work as well as the hazard lights but nothing else. THe locks wouldn’t even work, not from the door or the key chain. I believe one of two things happened… One the vehicle was hit by lightning. I asked for them to look for a mark on the vehicle and was told they didn’t see one. That would be a very logical explanation for a power surge large enough to cause this damage. Or two some faulty manufacturing from FORD. Either way I will not pay for the repairs. Any advise or other thoughts would be appreciated.

  • Kell4422

    lightning struck the ground next to my 1994 firebird formula blew rocks all over the car which caused significant damage to exterior. Then went through the vehicle blowing out the tires and fried the electrical system and computer. My insurance company very good to try and help me fix unfortunately the repair shop i took it to didnt quite get it.They replaced  the tires and some of the body damage said they took car to dealership and fixed electrical and computer kept the car for 5 weeks. I picked up yesterday and the car is completely off like it don’t know what to do speedometer,rpm’s, very messed up does not run like the car i have had for 18 years. The car was is excellent condition before this. I was so upset barely made it home. I called insurance company immediately they called repair shop and no one could answer any of their questions about where the vehicle was actually taken to for electrical and computer repairs. Then the insurance company noticed there had been no charge to  for a diagnostic test. The repair place I took the vehicle is now under investigation all they apparently did was turn off   the flashing lights on the panel and drove the vehicle 50 miles which may caused more damage. My insurance company suggest me to take somewhere else for repairs duh. S0 pissed that people don’t get that yes your car can be struck by lightning and do significant damage.  


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