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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just received a phone call from a local firefighter who was at the scene of a car fire. He called me because the car was a Prius (04-06). The fire was out but there was an odor of electrical burning. He said that the driver could not power the vehicle off nor turn off any lights. I told him to disconnect the 12 volt battery and that will kill power to the computer, thus shutting everything down. Now here’s the strange part – the driver told him the car was hit by lightning (we were in the middle of a severe storm). I’ve never heard of a car being hit by lightning before. I had always been told that a car was a safe area in an electrical storm. Anyone heard of a Prius being hit by lightning?
 

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The reason a car is a safe place to be during a lightning storm is not because a car cannot be hit by lightning, but because the car acts as a Faraday cage. The electricty travels around the outside of the metal body. Anyone sitting inside the car will not be electrocuted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Re: Thor's revenge

tochatihu said:
Heard of it before? Yes, yesterday in the Yahoo group, near Austin TX. Is this the same instance? If not, something strange is going on here.

DAS
The incident I posted was near Valley Forge, PA this evening.
 

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After working for Motorola for some 30 years, I'd thought I'd seen it all.

One day I was coming home from Portland Ore with my Wife sitting next to me in my Ford Tarus. I had taken my own car but needed to have the company two way radio with me so I took a portable unit and put a magnetic antenna mount on top of the car.
My Wife was reading an article in the newspaper about the lottery and the
writer saying that you had a 10 times better chance of getting hit by lightning than winning.....She breathed a sigh..

The company portable radio sat nestled between my legs so I could get to it easily.
It was a pretty warm day but quite muggy. You know the kind......
So, as I approach Centeralia Washington, My Wife says...."Gee, look how black it is up ahead".
As we approach the overpass in town, I was driving with my right hand on the top of the steering wheel and noticed that all the hair on my arm was standing straight up. My Wife giggles and says, "God, that's funny".

KAPOW!!!!!! A huge spark jumps from my portable to my right thigh and then from my elbow to my Wifes upper arm.
It was like a flash bulb went off in the car.

We pull off underneath the over pass and I take the magnetic mount antenna off the roof of the Tarus.

The strike had left a big round burn on my inner thigh and had made a dime size hole in my slacks. Wifey had a big red welt on her arm but
the both of us were OK.

We got back on the road and Wifey wanted to stop at the 7/11 in town and buy some lottery tickets...
True story. Swear to God!

PS
Car and radio worked fine after our little experience.
 

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I thought the same thing.

Sounds like the strike traveled through the ground leads (antenna wire/radio shielding), which would pass by going through any electronics, although if it hit the whip, I wonder how it got to the shielding without causing damage.
 

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Way to go Dan.....':D'

Good technical question.....
The magnetic mount has a layer of plastic on the magnet so it doesn't scratch the paint on the car.
That means the whole antenna assembly is above DC ground potential.
The charge moved down the outer shield of the coax and to the case of the radio and then over to my leg.
The fact that my Wifey got zapped meant that she was in better contact with the ground potential of the inside of the car than was I.

And this means that my goodies don't conduct electricity very well. Something I will be eternally grateful for.':lol:'
 

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Well the antenna shielding being above vehicle ground potential depends if and how the radio was connected to the car in any way. For example, how was the radio powered? If directly off the vehicle's 12V, then the antenna shielding would be grounded through the radio. If through an inverter, then it may or may not be isolated to the car's negative ground. If it was powered by batteries, then it had an independent potential relative to the car, which became a much higher or lower potential at the time it was hit depending who had the excess electrons, the clouds or the ground.

But again, the whip is not likely to be connected to ground but rather the antenna lead itself so somewhere it would have had to cross over to the ground shield, unless maybe the lightning scooted on the outside of the antenna mast then entered through the antenna base.
Lightning is so unpredictable and can take on the wierdest paths.

My former boss once pointed out to me how microwave receivere appear to have a dead short at their antenna input leads. In reality because of the frequency, the so called short appears as a coil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Just a little more info to my original post... I spoke with the firefighter who called me from the scene of the "Prius fire". He said, "Lightning hit the antenna (and blew it off the car), so we were looking for fire under the headliner. We had an odor of smoke, and the electrical system was obviously damaged (couldn't shut the car lights off). Never did find the source of where the smoke odor was coming from."
 

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firepa63 said:
...Never did find the source of where the smoke odor was coming from."
Anyone check the guy's goodies? Maybe they were better conductors than dogtag's. ;)
 

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firepa63 said:
Sanny said:
firepa63 said:
...Never did find the source of where the smoke odor was coming from."
Anyone check the guy's goodies? Maybe they were better conductors than dogtag's. ;)
I never said it was a guy driving...
Well, girl goodies are even more good! Anyone check hers? ;) Hot babe, etc...
 

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Oh, I meant to say this earlier: if the DC-DC converter is functioning, disconnecting the 12V battery won't shut the car down any more than disconnecting a battery from a conventional car with the engine running and a working alternator would. However in the latter case, the battery is needed to keep the voltage from flying up to 18 volts or highter, frying all the computers. The DC-DC converter does a better job of regulating the voltage, so that's not likely to happen in the Prius.

Best to pull fuses under the hood.
 

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DanMan32 said:
Best to pull fuses under the hood.
I would suggest following the Prius Emergency Response Guide:
http://techinfo.toyota.com/public/main/erg.html

Classic Prius:
Extrication
• Immobilize Vehicle
Chock wheels and set the parking brake.
Move the shift lever to the P (park) position.
• Disable Vehicle (HV battery pack, SRS airbags, & gasoline fuel pump)
Turn the ignition key off, remove the ignition key, and place on
dash.
Disconnect 12-Volt auxiliary battery.
-OR (if the ignition key is inaccessible)-
Disconnect the 12-Volt auxiliary battery.
Remove the IGCT relay in the engine compartment as shown in the
illustration.
2004-current Prius:
Extrication
• Immobilize Vehicle
Chock wheels and set the parking brake.
Move the shift lever to the P (park) position.
• Disable Vehicle (HV battery pack, SRS airbags, & gasoline fuel pump)
Turn the ignition key off, remove the ignition key, and place on
dash.
Disconnect 12-Volt auxiliary battery.
-OR (if the ignition key is inaccessible)-
Disconnect the 12-Volt auxiliary battery.
Remove the IGCT relay in the engine compartment as shown in the
illustration.
Extrication
• Immobilize Vehicle
Chock wheels and set the parking brake.
Move the shift lever to the P (park) position.
• Disable Vehicle (HV battery pack, SRS airbags, & gasoline fuel pump)
Turn the ignition key off, remove the ignition key, and place on
dash.
Disconnect 12-Volt auxiliary battery.
-OR (if the ignition key is inaccessible)-
Disconnect the 12-Volt auxiliary battery.
Remove the IGCT relay in the engine compartment as shown in the
illustration.
No need to pull all the fuses, just the important one for the hybrid battery.
 

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Safe-ing the Prius

Hi Michelle, as a point of interest I wished to prepare an illustration of the igct relay locations in Prius models. Then looking at the emergency response guides at

techinfo.toyota.com

I found a different wording about the new Prius, saying to remove instead the HEV fuse. I cannot explain this disparity, but here is the illustration I prepared.

DAS
 

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