Driving the Model S through a thunderstorm?

I am just curious if there is any risk of weird things happening if you are caught driving your model s and encounter a powerful thunderstorm with lots of static charge around. Has anyone driven through a t-storm is the S? Any issues? Lightning strikes nearby, anything happen?

Sorry if this has been discussed somewhere before, I searched and found almost no info on this subject.

I can't with all (working) cars you are grounded by four rubber tires...

@riceguy I think you mean insulated. Pretty much the opposite of grounded. Not to steal Brian H's thunder;)

Sorry...still a bit jet lagged! Indeed I did mean insulated. :-)

The sensitive things would be the computers, which are present in any modern car whether ICE or EV.

I have driven through thunderstorms, and my only worry was if it would start to hail while I am out in the open.

With the appropriate rod one could fully charge the battery in one zap :)

Quick, who is going to build a lighting charging adapter :-)


Jarvis: "Power at 400-percent capacity."

Tony: "How 'bout that?"

Do wet tires in a T-storm insulate?

Perhaps now would be a good time to google Faraday cage.

So lightning travels thousands of feet through air and is miraculously stopped by 6 inches of rubber? That myth never made much sense to me.

Wet tires are not insulators during a t/s. The water is dirty and is a good conductor. Things inside the metallic shell of the car should not be affected by external static.

+1 Robert
current flowing through the car is the problem. more specifically over the skin of the car. This current flow generates a powerful magnetic field. when this field intersects wires, current is induced, frying the electronics. The electronics and power cables and wire harness just have to be shielded. The Model S shields the power electronic module in an aluminum box that sits on top of the shielded battery pack. You are as safe in your MS as you are in a jet airplane in a thunder storm. Wether the MS survives a strike or not depends on how much energy flows through the car.

I wouldn't be too concerned with electrocution. It's the electrostatic charge from the lightning that could potentially cause induced currents and harm unshielded electronics.

So the Model S is made as a kind of Faraday Cage? Because of the aluminum?

I have several times been uncomfortably near to a lightning strike, and there was a tremendous amount of static charge in the air moments before the lightning hit. I was wondering if this static charge could cause problems even if the car is "insulated" against an actual "strike."

"So lightning travels thousands of feet through air and is miraculously stopped by 6 inches of rubber? That myth never made much sense to me."

Lightning is not really a spear hurled by Zeus in arbitrary directions.
Electric sparks (e.g., lightning) develop where the electric field strength is strongest, which depends upon potential ("voltage") and shape of the object, among other factors. The tips of pointy objects like trees, mountain tops, spark plug electrodes and golf clubs are where electric fields are strongest. An insulated rubber tire will not "stop" a lightning bolt; the bolt would simply never arise. However, a wet tire is conductive anyway. What protects the passengers in a car is the conductive metal shell. I don't know how an occupant in a carbon-fiber Tesla Roadster would fair in a lightning strike, but a Model S passenger is just like an airline passenger. Airliners are routinely struck by lightning-- several times a year per plane.


Yes, thanks for explaining it much better than I ever could. The most common consequence of a vehicular lightning strike is flattening of at least one tire as opposed to occupant injury. I was attempting to speak to the myth of rubber tires as insulators.

This is a clever tech twist on a Farraday cage someone sent me this week:

Can't believe I'm the first here to mention 1.21 gigawatts.

Cars with supercharging = instant charge

From where? Using what superconducting or 6" thick cable? Delivering how many MW power? Dream on.

who needs a supercharger if you get hit? =)

The ultimate driving experience.....hooked to a morphine drip.

I believe the greatest danger would be trees falling on you ;>]

Car travels through time with enough charge and speed.

The biggest danger is a direct hit ignites the fuel tank and the car explodes!

Oh wait that is the danger of the last hundred years and we eliminated it with the MS.

They add carbon to the rubber in car tires to make them electro conductive. I am more worried about charging in a thunderstorm, a strong surge conducted through the wiring might fry the battery and electronics

You will be supercharged ;)

CapZap would enjoy it!

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