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Static Electric Shock Problem

  1. Dec 10, 2005 #1
    Every time I get out of my truck and touch the door to shut it, I get a zinger of a static electric shock. It's getting very annoying. I'm suspect I'm charging myself by rubbing against the seat cover as I get out.

    Anyone have any ideas how to stop this?
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  3. Dec 10, 2005 #2


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    There are static straps available at most auto parts outlets. It's basically just a braided flat cable that hangs from your suspension or bumper or whatnot to ground the vehicle. I'm not sure how effective they are, but a lot of folks seem to be satisfied with them.
    My own approach is simply to touch the door with your key, from which the spark will jump. The electricity is still going through you, but there's no spark gap between your hand and the key so you don't feel it. Another thing that works with doorknobs or such like is just to slap the thing or flick it with your finger. The spark gap narrows so quickly that you don't notice the spark (either that or the sensory input from the impact overpowers it; I'm not sure which).
  4. Dec 11, 2005 #3


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    Hi Zoobyshoe - I hate that zing, very annoying. I'm not absolutely sure but I've come to the conclusion the static buildup isn't you that's creating it, it's the wind on the outside of the vehicle. The wind as you're driving creates a static electric charge on the car body. The faster you're driving the larger the static charge can be. The same thing happens in piping systems, the flow of dry air or other gas inside a pipe can create a static electric potential on the pipe that has to be grounded.
  5. Dec 11, 2005 #4


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    I remember a discussion a while back on Engineering Forums about this. One thing that was mentioned that was a culprit was the newer formulations for tires actually isolates the vehicle more,, not allowing that charge built up to go to ground. I'd try one of the straps that Danger mentioned. That and stay away from wool clothes.

    Hey Q. You're absolutely right about static build up. Back in the day when I was still flying, the topic would always come up when preparing a person for hooking up sling loads for us (ref pic here: http://www.chinook-helicopter.com/sling_loads/Bondsteel_a.jpg. We would always have to warn them about static build up due to the rotors. Even in a hover, we would build up a enough static in less than 3 rotations of the rotors to put you on your butt in a lot of pain. Actually, in that pic you can see someone with a grounding hook. I always thought that was pretty cool.

    We also had that happen during high pressure quick refueling like you said. Everything had to be grounded, including yourself.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2005
  6. Dec 11, 2005 #5


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    Simply hold onto a metal part of your truck (the door?) when you step off the truck and onto the ground.

    No gap, no shock. Easy!
  7. Dec 11, 2005 #6
    If it's the truck, the grounding strap would work. If it's me, the strap might just make it worse, making it a deeper sink. Either way, Danger's key idea will certainly work: it's the voltage jumping the gap that makes it painful.

    The inside of the door is mostly plastic, but I can check for something metal to touch as I'm getting out.

    Anyway, it's gotten worse lately as the weather's gotten cooler and dryer.
  8. Dec 11, 2005 #7


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    I started out by doing it Brewski's way, and still do occassionally. Unfortunately, I also have some non-conductive bits in the door that I held on to by accident a couple of times. Moreover, my car has 33" tires, with the floor sitting a couple of feet above the ground. I can't always maintain my grip while climbing down.
  9. Dec 12, 2005 #8
    Yeah, I had two opportunities to try out the key thing, and it seems to work well.

    I can't even try Brewnog's way cause there isn't anything I could find on the inside that's metal.

    I also experimented with seeing if I got a shock just from getting in and out of the seat without driving anywhere and I did.
  10. Dec 12, 2005 #9


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    If you have furry seat covers, which are pretty essential for winter comfort where I live, they contribute a lot to the static.
  11. Dec 12, 2005 #10


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    As you have found out, this is also a prime reason why, even though it is bitter cold out, you should never get back inside your car while refueling.
  12. Dec 12, 2005 #11
    I've never been in the habit of doing that. I saw a thing where they set up a camera at some gas stations and it turns out something like one out of every two women does this. After I saw that, I started paying attention, and have seen many women do it since, but only one or two men. This is Southern California, too, so they're not doing it to stay warm. I guess they're usually fiddling with their purses.
  13. Dec 13, 2005 #12
    There is a product made for removing static from clothing, Staticguard, it works well on car seats too. Even a fabric dryer sheet rubbed briskly over the material will reduce the shock.
  14. Dec 14, 2005 #13


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    I was emailed a video of a girl at a gas station. She starts the pump and then gets back in her jeep. When she gets out she walks over to the pump handle and WHOOSH! A huge flare up. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but it was pretty brutal to see. She doesn't appear to be injured, but I bet she was wondering what the heck just happened though.
  15. Jan 18, 2006 #14
    when working with sensitive optical equiment you have certain wristbands that are attached to the optical table to ground yourself, maybe they can invent something like that for the car. Anyway I am glad someone mentioned this because I get zapped every time. Maybe I shouldn't take of my woolen sweater over my nylon jacket right before I get out of the car
  16. Jan 19, 2006 #15
    I read about those wrist straps when I was researching how to upgrade my memory. They recommend them when handling any chips that might be damaged by static electricity.

    Danger's key discharge method has been working well for me since I started using it. I might check out Hypatia's anti-static spray, though, since that would allow me to just stop worrying about the problem.

    At night the spark is quite visible. If I approach the door with the key as slowly as possible the spark will jump a gap of about 3/16ths of an inch. That's a couple thousand volts, at least.
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