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  #1  
Old 04-15-2011, 09:25 PM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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static shock from car: how to stop?

Just bought a new Honda CRV for my wife a couple of weeks ago. We are receiving severe jolts of static electricity every time we get out of the car, the moment our hands touch the metal frame around the window.

I typically get minor shocks from my own car (an '03 Nissan Maxima) during the winter (very dry air), but not during times of higher humidity, and never anything like this; these shocks are seriously painful and produce a flash of blue light that's visible in daylight.

Any suggestions for reducing or eliminating these shocks?
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  #2  
Old 04-15-2011, 09:33 PM
kayT kayT is offline
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If your seats are cloth, spray with Static Guard. I had the same problem and this worked; I probably sprayed them a couple of times each winter is all.
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  #3  
Old 04-15-2011, 09:34 PM
Qwakkeddup Qwakkeddup is offline
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Rub some dryer sheets all over the seats, and carpet? Might cut it down a little bit.
It seems to me there is also a spray you can use, but I couldn't begin to remember the name of it.
Other than some experimentation that is all I got.

Last edited by Qwakkeddup; 04-15-2011 at 09:36 PM.. Reason: kayT FTW.
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  #4  
Old 04-15-2011, 09:35 PM
chacoguy chacoguy is online now
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Get one of these.
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  #5  
Old 04-15-2011, 09:37 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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What chacoguy said. The tires are of a particular make that builds up a lot of static. Get the ground straps. In the meanwhile, hold the key (or another piece of metal) firmly in your hand and touch the car's frame with the key first, to discharge it that way.
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  #6  
Old 04-15-2011, 09:54 PM
voltaire voltaire is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
In the meanwhile, hold the key (or another piece of metal) firmly in your hand and touch the car's frame with the key first, to discharge it that way.
^^ That will work.

I used to have a '91 Honda CRX (as opposed to your CRV) that had a small button-type thing (except it didn't actually depress like a button) on the inside of the door that was specifically designed for you to touch before getting out of the car to avoid static shocks. I guess they didn't carry that feature from the CRX to the CRV. (The button thingy said "Touch" on it.)

ETA: Actually, thinking about it further, this might be a Mazda MX-3 I'm remembering, not a Honda CRX...

Last edited by voltaire; 04-15-2011 at 09:57 PM..
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  #7  
Old 04-15-2011, 09:57 PM
USCDiver USCDiver is offline
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Close the doors with your elbow. One of the best examples of classical conditioning I've ever personally been the subject of.

Get out of car, close with bare hand, receive shock.
Get out of car, close with elbow, no shock!
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  #8  
Old 04-16-2011, 01:28 AM
Critical1 Critical1 is online now
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Originally Posted by USCDiver View Post
Close the doors with your elbow. One of the best examples of classical conditioning I've ever personally been the subject of.

Get out of car, close with bare hand, receive shock.
Get out of car, close with elbow, no shock!
this would be a great way to set your car on fire while pumping gas though.

when its cold people get back in the car while pumping gas to stay warm, it is really important to touch the metal body someplace away from the pump handle before removing it to discharge static electricity as the spark could ignite the fumes coming out of your tank. (gas goes in, flammable fumes are forced out)

otherwise carry on.
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  #9  
Old 04-16-2011, 02:29 AM
GreasyJack GreasyJack is offline
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Originally Posted by chacoguy View Post
I don't really see what good those could do. They supposedly provide a path from the body of the car (i.e. the chassis ground) to the ground, but that's not the problem. What causes the shock is that there's no path between the chassis ground and your body until you touch something getting out of the car.

Also, the testimonials on that site are really bizarre. Apparently in addition to preventing static shock, they cure driver fatigue and car sickness in humans and pets!
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  #10  
Old 04-16-2011, 02:42 AM
Claude Remains Claude Remains is offline
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Link shows bus on snow? How does that work?
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  #11  
Old 04-16-2011, 03:02 AM
Claude Remains Claude Remains is offline
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Originally Posted by Critical1 View Post
this would be a great way to set your car on fire while pumping gas though.

when its cold people get back in the car while pumping gas to stay warm, it is really important to touch the metal body someplace away from the pump handle before removing it to discharge static electricity as the spark could ignite the fumes coming out of your tank. (gas goes in, flammable fumes are forced out)

otherwise carry on.
How does one pump gas while inside there car?
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  #12  
Old 04-16-2011, 04:45 AM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Originally Posted by Claude Remains View Post
How does one pump gas while inside there car?
er, the hold-open clip on the pump nozzle?
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  #13  
Old 04-16-2011, 05:29 AM
LouisB LouisB is offline
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Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
er, the hold-open clip on the pump nozzle?
I can't remember the last time I saw one of these.
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  #14  
Old 04-16-2011, 06:56 AM
Hbns Hbns is offline
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Have to get out of Florida Louis. I can't remember the last time I ran across a pump that didn't have one. LA maybe? Even have them on the pumps here in Germany.

As to the OP, having owned cars that were notorious for the shock, I found that having my hand in contact with the metal frame of the door, or the door opening I don't get shocked. If I am not consciously putting my hand on metal before my foot hits the ground it is easy to get out of most vehicles without touching anything metal.

Last edited by Hbns; 04-16-2011 at 06:59 AM..
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  #15  
Old 04-16-2011, 07:17 AM
voltaire voltaire is offline
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Originally Posted by LouisB View Post
I can't remember the last time I saw one of these.
They're fairly common. There more often than not, IME. (And I'm in FL too)
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  #16  
Old 04-16-2011, 07:46 AM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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don't wear pants or any clothes.

keep your hands in contact with bare metal on the car until your feet are on the ground.
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  #17  
Old 04-16-2011, 08:35 AM
Anachronism Anachronism is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
er, the hold-open clip on the pump nozzle?
I think it's a state by state thing, they are banned here in Mass (at self serve stations).

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreasyJack View Post
I don't really see what good those could do. They supposedly provide a path from the body of the car (i.e. the chassis ground) to the ground, but that's not the problem. What causes the shock is that there's no path between the chassis ground and your body until you touch something getting out of the car.
The problem is static builds up in the car and you act as the ground. With the grounding strip static can not build up in the car. I agree the testimonials are bizarre

I have heard the static problem is worse with low rolling resistance tires.

Last edited by Anachronism; 04-16-2011 at 08:36 AM..
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  #18  
Old 04-16-2011, 10:27 AM
LouisB LouisB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voltaire View Post
They're fairly common. There more often than not, IME. (And I'm in FL too)
Well, hell, I'm getting older and older. I probably should have said "I can't remember the last time I used one." But the way memory is failing, I might have seen one and even used one yesterday. Seriously I just don't remember seeing one in quite a while. I'll have to be more observant. Carry on without me.
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  #19  
Old 04-16-2011, 10:36 AM
Gorsnak Gorsnak is offline
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My Fit does this as well, and it is very, very easy to resolve. Make sure your hand is on a metallic portion of the car (likely the window frame) as your foot touches the ground. The static electrical potential will dissipate through the sole of your shoe with no unpleasant arcing onto your skin. It's just a matter of developing the habit of getting out of the car this way.
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  #20  
Old 04-16-2011, 11:38 PM
wbeaty wbeaty is offline
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Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
What chacoguy said. The tires are of a particular make that builds up a lot of static.
Not true. Black rubber tires are conductive, and provide a much wider contact area than any scam product "grounding strap."

If new upholstery rubbing on clothing is the cause, then *you* are charged up, and grounding the car does nothing, if not actually making it worse. (You'll also get a bad zap if you touch the adjacent car in the parking lot.) Anti-static dryer sheets, or anti-static spray is the way to go.
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  #21  
Old 04-17-2011, 01:53 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wbeaty View Post
Not true. Black rubber tires are conductive, and provide a much wider contact area than any scam product "grounding strap."
The type of rubber they are using these days is a lot less conductive, which is why this is more of a problem than it was a couple of decades ago. I don't know the exact reason for it. Someone told me that it was because they were using silica instead of carbon in order to reduce the rolling friction but I haven't looked into it further to confirm this.

Those grounding straps do work, and while you might find expensive scam versions on line, you can get grounding straps fairly cheap at ye ol local auto parts store. A short piece of chain will work as well. Just be careful that anything you hang can't bounce up and get caught in anything that moves.

As for the tires, in the past few years, the dangers of static electricity at filling pumps has finally started to get some attention. Static discharges tend to cause on average about half a dozen pump fires every year, which isn't exactly a huge number when you realize how many millions of cars there are out there filling up every week. But, since a pump fire can kinda ruin your whole day, folks have started paying more attention to it. Some tire manufacturers are now intentionally formulating their rubber so that it is more conductive, and some of those that aren't are putting small carbon rubber strips (more conductive) on their tires to provide an electrical discharge path.
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  #22  
Old 04-17-2011, 02:09 AM
The Niply Elder The Niply Elder is offline
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The actual problem is your underwear. Change the type of fabric of your underwear such that when you're skidding (!) around twisties (!) in some mountain roads from side to side, your underwear doesnt rub with your jeans ( because your jeans will probably be firmly gripped by the cloth seats). Note that this type of static buildup doesn't happen if you have leather seats.
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  #23  
Old 04-17-2011, 07:57 AM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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from what i've heard that silica was placed in tires replacing carbon black to give better rolling resistance. providing conductive paths through tires requires a change in the manufacturing. i agree with engineer_comp_geek statement on this.

even if the car is grounded you have the static charge on you if you exit without grounding yourself. touching a conductive part of the car until your foot is on the ground and before your butt has left the seat will discharge the static.

no pants, no static. drive naked for safety.
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  #24  
Old 04-17-2011, 03:11 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
no pants, no static. drive naked for safety.
That might be a bit uncomfortable in the winter.

Seriously, though, your choice of clothing (or no clothing) does make a difference. Materials like wool, fur, and some synthetics like polyester are good at building up a static charge. Cotton clothes (like jeans) don't build up a charge as easily.
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  #25  
Old 04-17-2011, 09:17 PM
Kiwi Fruit Kiwi Fruit is offline
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Yes, I've found that holding on to a metallic part of the car while exiting appears to eliminate the static discharge shocks. As the electrical potential seems to be between you and the car, I can't see what good grounding the car will do.

Wear different clothes, spray your upholstery with anti-static spray or hold on to a metallic bit of the car while decarring (de-car-ring?). Those are all good ways to cut the shocks. The car grounding strap doesn't do anything for me, nor likely enough, for you.
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  #26  
Old 04-18-2011, 12:22 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Fruit View Post
I can't see what good grounding the car will do.
There are two different situations you need to consider.

The first is that the charge differential is between yourself and the car. This is usually caused by you sliding across the seat, and what clothes you wear makes a huge difference in how much of a charge builds up, as does the material the seats are made out of. You are correct that grounding the car won't make any difference at all in this situation. The rubber in the tires also makes no difference at all here.

The second situation is when the car builds up a charge differential between itself and the earth. This is caused by the rubber belt (or belts) on the engine as well as the movement of the car through air. Cars with conductive rubber tires will bleed off the charge very quickly. Cars with insulating tires will not. What you wear makes very little difference in this situation, but a ground strap will help in cases where the tires are of the insulating rubber type.

You can have both of these at the same time, and in either case the symptoms are the same. You get zapped.
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  #27  
Old 04-18-2011, 12:26 AM
wombattver wombattver is offline
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My in-laws...

had the same problem with their car - seriously painful shocks. My kids were scared of their car! They bought one of those grounding strips and we teased them that it looked like their car had a tail, but it absolutely worked. They just bought it at a local shop, not off the internet. They are Australian - maybe these strips are more common there. They didn't seem to think this was an unusual device. Problem solved.
P.S. - we are in AZ, so it's very dry all year round.

Last edited by wombattver; 04-18-2011 at 12:28 AM.. Reason: added P.S.
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  #28  
Old 04-18-2011, 01:09 AM
Marc Xenos Marc Xenos is offline
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
Just bought a new Honda CRV for my wife a couple of weeks ago. We are receiving severe jolts of static electricity every time we get out of the car, the moment our hands touch the metal frame around the window.
Used to have that problem in a Dodge Neon, but it wasn't the car. It was my shoes, which had kind of a rubberized sole. When I started wearing leather-soled shoes, the problem disappeared. Various sneakers brought it back. Strange how I didn't have that problem, though, with the same shoes in other cars.
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  #29  
Old 04-18-2011, 03:24 AM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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Originally Posted by Marc Xenos View Post
Used to have that problem in a Dodge Neon, but it wasn't the car. It was my shoes, which had kind of a rubberized sole. When I started wearing leather-soled shoes, the problem disappeared. Various sneakers brought it back. Strange how I didn't have that problem, though, with the same shoes in other cars.
the combination of shoe material and carpet material can build static charge in one case and not the other.
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  #30  
Old 04-18-2011, 07:18 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
That might be a bit uncomfortable in the winter.

Seriously, though, your choice of clothing (or no clothing) does make a difference. Materials like wool, fur, and some synthetics like polyester are good at building up a static charge. Cotton clothes (like jeans) don't build up a charge as easily.
I wear denim (cotton) jeans most of the time, and they haven't reduced the incidence of shocks.

I bought some Static Guard on Saturday; will apply it this week and see what happens.
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  #31  
Old 04-18-2011, 02:24 PM
wbeaty wbeaty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
The type of rubber they are using these days is a lot less conductive, which is why this is more of a problem than it was a couple of decades ago. I don't know the exact reason for it. Someone told me that it was because they were using silica instead of carbon in order to reduce the rolling friction but I haven't looked into it further to confirm this.
Interesting! The original problem in the 1930s was glow-discharge ozone destruction of tire innertubes, and was solved by making tires conductive: increasing the carbon-black in the neoprene mix. (Carbon-black was already in there, it makes for a tough composite.)

Now that the innertubes don't exist, maybe somebody is reducing the amount of carbon-black to where the rubber becomes an insulator. Note that 'conductor' and 'insulator' have an odd meaning here, since where electrostatic charging is concerned, 10^12 ohms is a resistive load, and tens of megohms is a good conductor.
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