Could a taser shot damage a car's electonics?

Let’s say a car’s hood or other conductive metal surface gets zapped by a taser. Will anything blow out?

WAG:
I don’t think so. The juice in a Taser shot goes from one probe to the other. In people, this causes the underlying muscle to spasm wildly which is highly painful and disorienting. In cars, there’s not really any electronics close to the surface of the body panels. The rubber tires further prevent current from grounding to anything other than the Taser probe.

Oh, and i don’t think the probes would even stick to the body for long enough to make any difference even if damage were possible. The Taser probes are, as I recall, straightened fish hooks. Good for getting through clothes and sticking into the flesh, bad for punching through hoods and trunks.

This article has good picture of taser barbs. (Scroll down)

The hood? No. But properly applied, say to a part of the car’s electrical circuit, one could cause damage.

Not tasers but the old record album static dischargers are used on video poker machines. The electrical shock resets the microprocessor causing the computer to start at its programming begining. Depending on the machine it is then possible to predict exactly what ‘hands’ will come next.

Like the devices the police used to stop cars on 2 Fast 2 Furious?

Taser to the hood? You might screw the paint where the probes touch, but that’s it.
Now lighting on the other hand…

In a word, no.

The ability to zap a car’s electronics has been a goal in the defense/security fields for at least fifteen years. I retired a decade ago and I worked on some of it.

There are ways to do it, but they are very inelegant. Large amounts of juice delivered through large wires or mats, not the simple point-and-shoot everyone wants. Research has advanced I suppose, but it is still a tough nut to crack.

Chances are lightning won’t do much either. Any time you have a metal box, it makes a natural “faraday cage” which protects the inside from electricity on the outside. Electricity flows along the surface of the box and leaves whatever is inside untouched. A car’s body isn’t a perfect box because we need holes in it here and there for things like windows, but it still provides quite a bit of protection against lightning.

Plus, you’d presumably be on four rubber tires and thus not grounded, right?

Yanna bet?
:smiley:
It does not always provide enough.
:eek:

Forgot to add,
Ask me how I know this

Consider yourself asked.

Two cases that I know of. both were MY 1999,
First case blew out all of the most if not all of the onboard electronics. Car was repurchased from owner/insurance company and sent to factory for analysis. I don’t know the outcome, but one of the factory guys told me before it went over that it was similar to what they would expect from the EMP of a nuke.
Second case, car was hit on the roof, and had a few pin holes in the roof. Insurance company totals car (that should tell you something right there, this was in late 1999 early 2000, so car was still worth a bunch). Anyway, a rebuilder see it at the auction and buys it thinking it will be a snap to get back on the road and make a bunch on.
He went broke trying to repair the car using used parts.
Car gets sold again.
Second guy gives up after replacing about 1/2 of the control units.
Third guy (were I saw the car) got it running after about $10K in repairs. :eek:

I call BS and require a cite.

Now just how the hell am I supposed to supply a cite for personal experiences that happened during my work 6 years ago?
No cite sorry. You are just going to have to rely on my history as a poster here at the dope, and trust that I am not lying.
Sorry if that is not good enough for you.

Cite? Lightning bolts are a few million volts at a few hundred thousand amps. Car wiring is designed for 12 volts at 10 to 15 amps. The damage listed is pretty dang consistant with what I’d expect from a lightning bolt. The pin holes on the roof are very typical of the type of damage you see from a lightning bolt. I’ve seen pictures of shoes from people who were struck by lightning and they often have the same pin hole effect.

Poking around on google, I found this site which shows some of the damage that lightning can do to a car:
http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_pls/vehicle_strike.html

This site describes a car being struck by lightning. The car’s electrical system was fried, the tires blown out, and there was a huge crater under the car, but the people inside were unharmed (a good example of the faraday cage effect I was talking about):
http://starryskies.com/Artshtml/dln/5-00/lightening.html

Getting slightly back on topic, if you want to compare a lightning bolt to a taser, a taser is about a hundred thousand volts but only a couple of milliamps (0.002 amps). The total energy available in a taser shock is fairly small. It’s designed to be non-lethal after all.

Typical energy in a taser shock is about 1 joule. It takes about 10 to 50 joules to throw your heartbeat out of whack. The typical energy in a lightning bolt is a few billion joules.

Just another personal car-lightning experience. I was driving back from Houston to Austin in a buddy’s car. It was the middle of the night of the day after Yom Kippur 1995, the night that the University of Texas lost to Rice University for the first time in 27 years or something (the week before, John Mackovic, our coach, had suffered a concussion on the sidelines after being bowled over by a Colorado player). Anyway, there were some legendary storms that night across Central Texas that eventually flooded Houston and lead to some weatherman describing conditions on I-10 as “slightly to moderately choppy.”

We went through them on Texas 71 somewhere between Columbus and La Grange. In a 1991 Acura Integra. About midway through the storms, lightning hit a tree next to the car. The car lights blinked on and off but the only thing that suffered irrepairable harm was the radio, which was totally fried. I guess my buddy could consider himself lucky. BTW, he was so traumatized by that night that after we got through the rain bands somewhere near Bastrop, we switched and I drove the rest of the way to Austin. He had problems driving at night for years after that.

I think cars are grounded through the tires (they’re not all rubber). A properly functioning car should be able to take a direct hit with lightning without frying the occupants. Note, however, that occupants implies people, not car stereos or iPods. The sheet amount of energy involved will most likely induce some current in anything conductive and I would expect things to go haywire and some things to actually fry.

What mechanism do you propose would make any part of the lightning flow directly through any electrical component inside the car? It hits the metal on the outside, which is directly, metal-to-metal connected with the ground. The antenna and anything connected to it will surely suffer, but I have serious doubts about your ECU or any sensors, starter motors, alternators, batteries, lights or whatever will have sufficient current flow through them to do anything bad.

Does anybody actually have a cite?

Try looking up three posts, and reading ECG’s first link. It’s from the National Lightning Safety Institute.
Here are some pictures of a lightning strike on a van. Looking at them, I feel safe in saying that any onboard electronics were fried. At least any of it near the steering wheel.
As far just how the damage occrus, who exactly knows? It does happen.