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swintec
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[Help] Truck hit by lightning...

We had a nasty storm this evening. One that brought some lightning to strike right out in my parents yard. Shredded some bark off a tree limb and a hole in the ground (with rocks brought up and scattered about) RIGHT next to the rear drivers side tire of my fathers pickup (truck under tree).

Anyways, what happened to the truck is very odd to me and I was hoping to get some advice. After the strike, the windshield wipers turned on "by themselves" and would not shut off.

The truck will also not start / turn over.

Lights work and stuff.

What would get fried to allow something like the wipers to run on their own? Would this also cause the vehicle to not run? I know lightning is a funny thing so it all may just be a total crap shoot on what happened. What do you think? I can envision repairs becoming very expensive.

Other stuff that was friend included a cable box, router, VOIP adapter...all of which were plugged into surge protector power strips and also the house is connected to a whole house surge protector at the panel. Random breakers also tripped.
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Juggernaut
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I think this is a time for insurance, don't you?


swintec
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said by Juggernaut:

I think this is a time for insurance, don't you?

Yep, of course. My own curiosity about this though wants to know what other experts think on the matter since it would be at least a few days before anything is heard.
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Juggernaut
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With that level of voltage arcing to the vehicle through the chassis, pretty much everything is fair game. Melted, and shorted harnesses, hot to ground, and all in between.

Fried controllers, and ECM's are all possible. It all depends on where it's path entered, and left.
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nonymous
Premium
join:2003-09-08
Glendale, AZ
reply to swintec
Just do a little looking you may unfortunately see how bad it is. If it is very extreme even electrical parts that have not currently failed may fail in the future.
Even a possibility it may get totaled. Also the newer the truck the more likely it is to have many computers on board.


FuriousG

join:2002-08-21
Kenora, ON
reply to swintec
Just had one towed in on Monday same thing, exactly same symptoms too lol. Depending on what type of vehicle we talking about, BCM is gone. Mine was melted, as soon as battery connected wipers and lights come on. Oddly, radio, HVAC, and ATC all worked normally.
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swintec
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It is an 07 Silverado.

westom

join:2009-03-15
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reply to swintec
Let's assume a transistor controls that wiper (ie intermittent wiper action). Transistors fail different ways. A lesser current forced through a transistor can cause a short circuit. A larger current would blow out (open circuit) that transistor. IOW the voltage may have been high enough to blow through the transistor. But the resulting current was only enough to create a short circuit - not blow out the transistor.

Very unusual to have such damage. Most surges pass through the truck body to earth without damage. For some reason, that current needed to pass through electronics to connect to earth. More often a struck vehicle does not suffer electronics damage.


swintec
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said by westom:


Very unusual to have such damage. Most surges pass through the truck body to earth without damage. For some reason, that current needed to pass through electronics to connect to earth. More often a struck vehicle does not suffer electronics damage.

That is why I thought this was all very odd. The hole in the ground right next to the rear tire is also really interesting. I also had my all metal utility trailer on the property about 5 feet from the truck. I had the trailer tongue sitting on a brick to keep it off the ground and the two safety chains were resting on the ground. There is a perfect outline (soil disturbed) around the brick and safety chains where they were resting on the ground. Geesh.
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FuriousG

join:2002-08-21
Kenora, ON
reply to swintec
Mondays was a 08 Silverado as well.

Lightning damage is pretty common around here, I usually see several every summer and we are a very small population town.

And now that I think of it, I don't recall ever having a passenger car ever damaged, always the trucks

Have a peak under the steering column area, the BCM is just to the left of the column, 6 connectors lined up vertically all different colours. Mine had a huge bow in the side of the case where the ckt board inside had extreme heat.
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swintec
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1 edit
said by FuriousG:

Mondays was a 08 Silverado as well.

Lightning damage is pretty common around here, I usually see several every summer and we are a very small population town.

And now that I think of it, I don't recall ever having a passenger car ever damaged, always the trucks

Have you gotten any word back on problems / costs?

My father is telling me State Farm (who they have for auto / home insurance) does not cover lightning damage, despite them having comprehensive coverage. While it wouldnt surprise me, I find that hard to believe.
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mattmag
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reply to westom
said by westom:



Very unusual to have such damage. Most surges pass through the truck body to earth without damage. For some reason, that current needed to pass through electronics to connect to earth. More often a struck vehicle does not suffer electronics damage.

I would have to strongly disagree with this. Every vehicle that I have ever encountered that was on the receiving end of a lightning strike has taken significant damage, and in most cases, not all of the problems are immediately detected.

The current absolutely *does not* have to pass through the electronics, as it is the strength of the magnetic energy field (EMF) associated with such a hit which is phenomenal, and is more than enough to thoroughly disrupt vehicle system electronics. This is also why the occupants of vehicle hit by lightning are relatively safe, since the body of the vehicle shunts the actual current around them. The effect of the EMF on humans is minimal, and, interestingly, has little effect on older cars before the days of multiple on-board electronic devices.

The most recent case I have experience with resulted in the vehicle ultimately being declared a total loss by the insurance company, as the initial "obvious" failures were followed by a series of other component failures, including internal shift modules, ABS motor failure, and two door control modules. Rarely will there be much visual evidence like "burned and melted wires" though, again, since it is EMF, not actual electrical current that caused the damage which makes advance diagnosis of a failure next to impossible.

My opinion without actually seeing the vehicle myself is that the hole in the earth is in fact where the strike departed the vehicle body, and if you examine the paint finish closely, you will find an area on the upper portion where the strike was taken as a deflection from the tree.

Basically, these cases are a real nightmare, and are rarely repaired completely the first try.


aurgathor

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reply to swintec
There are a number of possibilities, such as the aforementioned transistor fusing into a permanent short. You'd need to do a detailed post mortem to figure out how components failed, which is probably not a viable option unless you're an EE or into electronics, and can do it yourself.

You probably need to replace most/all electronic controls, verify and/or replace the wiring harnesses, etc. Lots of work, and only worth if the truck otherwise is in a good condition.
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westom

join:2009-03-15
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reply to mattmag
If EMF did that damage, then every nearby cell phone, wrist watch, and car radio was destroyed. Obviously not. Damage always means that current must pass through.

Lightning struck a building rod. That lightning rod was earthed by a wire only four feet from an IBM PC. So EMF created by 20,000 amps of nearby lightning also destroyed that IBM PC? Of course not. The PC did not even blink. EMF is a myth created when many do not understand how many 'insulators' are really electrical conductors.

Damage means a current was passing through that damaged device. He only sees vehicles with major damage. He does not see the so many others struck by lightning without damage.

Why are humans so safe in lightning struck cars? Same reason why electronics are only infrequently harmed by those strikes. Better auto designs means damage is less likely.

What specifically might be damaged? The list would be rather short. It starts by identifying the incoming and the outgoing to earth current paths. Then finding anything that was in that electrical path. What makes that challenging? Many have no idea that insulators (ie wood, linoleum, some plastics) are really electrical conductors.


workablob

join:2004-06-09
Houston, TX
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Do you mean EMI (Electro-Magnetic Interference)?

EMF (Electro-Motive Force) is just another name for voltage.

I think I get what you mean though.

Dave

flashcore

join:2007-01-23
united state
reply to swintec
I had a 02 saturn with the exact same problem, lightning hit the tree and it traveled right down and across the yard a few feet before finding the rim, long story short every computer in the car had to be replaced (some multiple times, when they replaced one another would cause the one they replaced to fry agian) as well as the radio and some electric motors. It would not start but would crank, the remote entry/alarm would not work and the radio was dead.

All that being said, mine was covered by insurance and took about 2 weeks for the dealer to fix.


mattmag
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NW Illinois
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reply to westom
said by westom:

Damage means a current was passing through that damaged device. He only sees vehicles with major damage. He does not see the so many others struck by lightning without damage.

I must say I am always enlightened by those here who pontificate their knowledge of all subjects, while those of us with many years of real-world experience in the automotive industry (over 30 actually) with hands-on experience as well are dismissed as not knowing of what we speak.

Good day.

nonymous
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join:2003-09-08
Glendale, AZ
reply to westom
said by westom:

What specifically might be damaged? The list would be rather short. It starts by identifying the incoming and the outgoing to earth current paths. Then finding anything that was in that electrical path. What makes that challenging? Many have no idea that insulators (ie wood, linoleum, some plastics) are really electrical conductors.

There may easily be more than one exit path and not all paths may be easily visible.

nonymous
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Glendale, AZ
reply to westom
said by westom:

Why are humans so safe in lightning struck cars? Same reason why electronics are only infrequently harmed by those strikes. Better auto designs means damage is less likely.

I do not think they harden a vehicle against possible lightning strike. Now electronics in a vehicle are designed to withstand high temperatures under a hood of a car if placed there or just driving around in a bouncing vehicle all day. Plus designed not to cause accidents or break easily as lawsuits would happen. So by their very use and design are better off than some cheap product bought at a dollar store.

now airplane electronics and planes are tested for lightning strikes.

wth
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reply to swintec
FYI: I have 2 lightning experiences. First was a 2year old car back in mid 70's that had a 7/16's inch burned hole clear through the top of the left ft fender. What was interesting was that fact that the paint was not burned beyond an 1/8" of the burned hole in the sheet metal. From what I remember, there was no electrical or tire damage.
Second case happened about 10 years ago when lightning did a direct hit on our 6" deep buried cable tv line. This happened about 12' from a 50' high tree and 25' from from an electric pole w/transformer. Only item lost connected to the cable was my cable modem. Router, computers & all tv's were ok. The strike left a hole about 6" deep & 6" wide, and blew off the connectors on both ends of the cable (house & pole).


TypeNameHere

@70.33.18.x
What most people don't know is that tires contain graphite as a small component of thier makeup.
Graphite conducts electricity.

The lightning strike only needs to be close...say within a 50-75 foot radius, to let the smoke out.

You only have to get close to the modules and take a deep sniff.

Does it smell like burnt electronics ?
If so, it's ...well...burnt electronics.

westom

join:2009-03-15
kudos:1
reply to nonymous
said by nonymous:

There may easily be more than one exit path and not all paths may be easily visible.

Welcome to an art. Virtually no damage is visible - unless you are using test equipment that can see what eyes cannot. Many potentially destructive paths become obvious once simple concepts (ie insulators that are really conductors) are understood.

Problem of fixing surge damage is mostly about what the human does and does not know. But we know one thing. The destructive path(s) is from where lightning stikes to where it connects to earth. That never changes.

In one case, a mechanic kept replacing the computer - four times. Then we took over. Computer was never defective. He just followed the tech manual procedure four times rather than learn what those procedures were doing or asking. In that case, only three possibile defects existed: a control device, wire, and the computer. So he replaced the computer four times. That is what the diagnostics procedure told him to do. The actual problem was the control device.

It is a serious problem with all auto repair. To many only read directions rather than learn what directions are actually doing. Damage due to lightning is particularly challenging for many mechanics. Too many consumers then pay for replacing same components that were never defective.

Same solutions that harden a vehicle from lightning also harden those same electronics from other potential problems - such as an adjacent CB radio transmistter. Early auto computers, confused by nearby transmitters, were also easily succeptible to lightning damage. The solution for both are often same.

BTW, some of those solutions were pioneered in nuclear hardened weapon systems. Cars are routinely put into anechoic and equivalent test chambers for reliable operation during all types of electromagnetic interferenece. Better vehicles are struck by lighting without any damage. But again, welcome to an art.

westom

join:2009-03-15
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reply to TypeNameHere
> What most people don't know is that tires contain graphite ...

That material was often referred to as carbon black. However some tires (in my case, a set of Michelens) reduced carbon black. Then I would periodically get static shocks when exiting. This was ignored until one day the power lead of a radio receiever (that I had modified) touched the ground before I got out. It blew out the entire from end (RF receiver) in that radio. Damage because that set of tires (unlike most) were not as electrically conductive.

This is also why some toll booths had what looked like tiny antennas in the roadway. The antenna would discharge the car before a toll attendant took your money.

All tires were still electrically conductive. Some better than others. In one case, the best connection to earth was directly from the rack and pinion steering box to a manhole beneath that steering gear. That was more conductive than the tires. But again. Welcome to an art.

Beezel

join:2008-12-15
Las Vegas, NV
reply to westom
said by westom:

said by nonymous:

There may easily be more than one exit path and not all paths may be easily visible.


In one case, a mechanic kept replacing the computer - four times. Then we took over. Computer was never defective. He just followed the tech manual procedure four times rather than learn what those procedures were doing or asking. In that case, only three possibile defects existed: a control device, wire, and the computer. So he replaced the computer four times. That is what the diagnostics procedure told him to do. The actual problem was the control device.

It is a serious problem with all auto repair. To many only read directions rather than learn what directions are actually doing. Damage due to lightning is particularly challenging for many mechanics. Too many consumers then pay for replacing same components that were never defective.

That's the difference between a true technician or mechanic if you will, and a parts changer. Mileage varies unfortunately.


Doctor Olds
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1 edit
reply to swintec
said by swintec:

We had a nasty storm this evening. One that brought some lightning to strike right out in my parents yard.

Anyways, what happened to the truck is very odd to me and I was hoping to get some advice. After the strike, the windshield wipers turned on "by themselves" and would not shut off.

The truck will also not start / turn over.

At least you were not in it!

Lightning Zapped Car Won't Turn Off After Key Removed From Ignition
»abcnews.go.com/US/lightning-zapp···16804921

Idaho Man Struck by Lightning While Driving
»abcnews.go.com/US/video/washingt···16802499
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Kearnstd
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reply to swintec
people are told to get into a car during lightning because its better protection than nothing if no proper building is available.
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Doctor Olds
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True, that is for some safety, but you still can become sometimes traumatized by the experience so stay inside a business or shelter or your home if possible. Finally a ditch is another location to use if it is available. Don't get under a tree as many have found out that is a huge mistake the hard way.
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nonymous
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Glendale, AZ
reply to swintec


aannoonn

@optonline.net
reply to TypeNameHere
said by TypeNameHere :

What most people don't know is that tires contain graphite as a small component of thier makeup.
Graphite conducts electricity.

Lightning which has traveled 2 miles though the air is not going to be affected significantly by the conductivity of the tires.


aannoonn

@optonline.net
reply to nonymous
That may have the voltage, but not the peak power present in a lightning bolt (1 trillion Watts dissipated in less than 0.0001 seconds).