2001 Honda Accord struck by lightening


#1

It is 2D Coupe DX.

Happened on Monday evening. The front tire on passenger side was flat. Can’t start the car… We believe that the electric system was fried.

It was towed to the mechanics. We are now told by the shop that just to start the car and make make further investigation will cost $1500.

We paid for $9500 on this second handed car and have driven it for 3 years. I don’t know what to do now. We are facing a hole that no one knows how deep it is. I am leaned towards giving it up and buying something cheap for transportation. Any idea if we can get something out of running parts of the car or any way to minimize the loss?

btw, we do not have comprehensive insurance coverage so that is out of the question.

Any idea would help. Thanks!


#2

You could buy another 2001 Honda Accord DX coupe and keep the old one for parts, although anything electrical is probably useless.


#3

That’s the problem with a lightning strike…(they are very rare). But it’s impossible to evaluate the damage in modern computerized vehicles…There are so many expensive sensors and modules, electronic control boxes, The damage could be major or minor, no way to tell…

How about the other functions of the car?? Do the lights work? the horn? the radio? the wipers? the heater blower? A good automotive electrician might be able to isolate the problem quickly…But if you find bundles of burned wires, that’s it, you now have a 'Parts car"…


#4

Wow.

At “standard” 29.92 Hg and 23C, a lightening bolt has an estimated 3.3 million volts, with a peak temperature of up to 60,000F. If it blew your tire and fried your electronics, your car suffered a direct hit. Damage could be extensive and cost thousands of dollars to correct. The $1500 will be a huge gamble.

If it were mine, I think I’d be inclined to get a battery and ECU from a boneyard and see what happens. If nothing, I’d check the fusable link and battery cables. I’d be reluctant to dump too much money into it.

Sincere best. This is a tough one.


#5

I think you have a "parts’ car on your hand now. Lightning strikes to a modern vehicle usually destroy most electrical and electronic functions instantly. That’s why the shop wants $1500 to just get started on repairs.


#6

No so fast…Airliners survive lightning strikes all the time, but they are designed to…The blown tire is the path the bolt took to ground. It jumped across the tire, burned through it, and it blew out…But most of the bolts energy will have traveled through the body structure (can you find any other burn marks on the paint?) and the damage to the wiring might not be too severe…

I would find a shop that is willing to look at it, offer them two hours labor to check out the electrical system (fuses, fuse links, that sort of stuff) and see, after going this far, what they find out…


#7

Caddyman, since the body structure is the ground plane for all of the circuitry and systems in the car, I don’t think that assumption can be made when dealing with these kind of pulses, however I do agree that it’d be a good idea to simply pay a shop a few hours labor to take a peek. It might be as simple as a blown fusable link.


#8

Right…You just never know…But it’s worth investing $200-$300 to find out before you scrap it…


#9

Where’d this occur? Any chance homeowners insurance would cover it?


#10

Thanks for all the thoughts and suggestions! I didn’t see any noticeable burn marks on the body. I was pretty freaked out and it didn’t occur to me to check other parts like radio, horn etc (lights are still working.). I’ll head to the shop now and talk with the mechanics. They have pretty good reputation fixing Honda cars.

I honestly don’t know much about cars and often feel likely to be trapped. So want to get some useful opinions before going.

Do you think it is feasible to sell the usable parts to the mechanic shop? You know, if it turns out it will be too expensive to fix the car.


#11

We are grad students renting a place to live in. The landlord said he would have us covered if there is a way to do so. He is too busy these days to deal with this but from my own internet research, I don’t think the homeowner insurance covers cars, not to say renters’ car! Thanks for the thought though.


#12

If it turns out to be too expensive to fix, than I think asking the mechanic if he’s interested in it as a “parts car” is a great idea. But Caddyman made a good point. Until someone looks at it we’re all just speculating. It could turn out to be something simple and cheap. like that fusable link I mentioned.


#13

Heres a question, you say the car wont start, does the starter motor work? Does the engine turn over like its supposed to but the engine doesn’t “catch” or run on its own?

If there are no burn marks on the body, there is a good chance that the lightning did not strike the vehicle itself, but the ground next to the tire. The heat would have melted the tire.

If this is the case, you will probably only need a new ECM. It could have gotten fried by the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) of the lightning strike. The radio might also not work for the same reason. Those should be the only two things that are sensitive to ESD/EMP.


#14

Keith, you may be right. Except for the human error factor. A few months back I heard a loud “whack” as I was driving beneath some trees, nobody around. I got out and checked everywhere, saw nothing. I figured it must have been an acorn from high above. A few weeks later I was waxed my car and there it was…a round dent the size of a golfball, right on the extremely robust structural member above the rear quarter window. Sometimes even a nasty blemish can be less than obvious.

I’m taking the blown tire as a sign. Lightning does really weird things sometimes.


#15

I agree with you. Thats why I started the second paragraph with If.


#16

First thing is to check with your car insurance agent. I can’t believe this wouldn’t be covered under your comprehensive as an act of God. I agree though that first thing would be to check all the fuses but most likely the computer got fried. Too bad they can’t put in a spare computer to at least test it.


#17

Bing, the OP doesn’t have comprehensive insurance. Even if it were covered under a comprehensive policy, the OP doesn’t have one.


#18

So we went to the shop. Apparently they have tried to a point where they had to stop. Absolutely not just a problem of wiring damage. The electric system was indeed fried. He explained that he would need to take out the alarm, replace the windshield and get an ECU to make the car start (where the $1500 is from). From there, he will be able to see what more problems there are…

This shop has great reputation especially on dealing with Honda cars and I have a gut feeling that towing the car to somewhere else will not help more.

The mechanic (also the owner, so I took it for granted that he should be a very skillful one if not the most with a lot experience) in fact suggested us getting a new car. The situation is like a deep well and no one knows how deep it goes. I can understand it from his point of view: with the amount of time he will need to spend on the car to diagnose, he can make more money on fixing problems from working on other cars. He did say that if we like, we can try getting ECU etc (details regarding what to get will have to be worked out with him should we decide to do so) from junkyard and he’ll see what he can do from there. With my knowledge on cars, I don’t feel confident to do that and it sounds like a lot hassle.

Still haven’t fully decided but we’ve started looking at used cars…

Thanks many many times. That’s my luck yet I don’t know what I did to deserve this. haha…


#19

Yes, I see now that you don’t have insurance. The thing is bad things happen that no one deserves. You really need to consider the risks though of not having comprehensive protection on your next car. I’ve always had it no matter how old the cars were. When I talked to my agent about pulling it on an older car, we talked about just the cost of broken glass that can total a car out. So its the cost versus risk equation again. If the cost of repair or throwing a car away is no big deal, then not a problem. But is the cost is a problem, insurance can be fairly cheap with a higher deductible. Just my two cents, but seems like the minute you don’t insure something, you wish you had.


#20

Here is a little more detail for those who are curious:

The lightening must have struck the tree 4-5 meters away from my car (stripe on the bark from top to root );

The force blew holes on the asphalt driveway, where we parked. There were always holes underneath the tires. My landlord parked side by side mine, further from the tree. He’s too busy to deal with his BMW but he can’t even use the remote key to open the car.

Now, the windshield starts wiping when he tries to start the car and the alarm goes on, according to the mechanic.