2001 Tacoma Pickup Truck gets hit by lightening!

Wondering about how a Toyota dealership can actually diagnose all of the symptoms and reasons why my fiances Toyota has not run properly since it was hit by lightening over a month ago. Every time he drives it off the lot there seems to be a new problem. Lost and frustrated with the run around, costs and worries that my sweetheart is enduring since the lightening episode happened. Concerned that nobody really has an answer and nobody wants to pay either, i.e., insurance. They covered the seatbelt locks to “unlock” so we could use them again, they fixed the airbag malfunction, but that’s it. Not covering sensors, air compressing units, valves?, etc. I can get a list of problems their computer has generated but it seems to change daily. Any other folks been hit by lightening recently? Would love to hear from you ~

Agree that a lightining strike can cause may different problems, electronic and otherwise. I doubt if the computer diagnostic system or the dealer can diagnose which of the many items could have been “fried”. It’s like a flooded car; it should be written off by the insurance company, since it may never run properly again unless all electronic items, and some non-electric, are replaced. That is often not cost-effective! Especially on a 2001 vehicle. This is not much help, I know, but my best judgement tells me the vehicle should be replaced by the insurance company.

I agree too.

After the amount of energy a lightning bolt generates hits a vehicles’ computer, it wouldn’t be able to put out much of anything much less codes to locate problems.

Good thing nobody was in the truck at the time. Otherwise, this would have been a much different post.

Your words are my exact thoughts and I am very perplexed that the insurance company hasn’t even mentioned that. I know that my fiance loves his truck and he will never get what he believes it is worth if the insurance company did make that determination. But, I think the truck is “fried” and his life is far more important. It just isn’t worth risking when nobody has a difinitve answer. I really appreciate the time you took to write to me. I will show your answer to my fiance and see what avenue he will pursue. ~ Much Appreciate ~ Cynthia

Where I work we have a large group of windows facing the parking lot. One day a big thunderstorm was approaching and a bunch of us were gathered near the windows watching the storm. We actually saw lightning hit a car in the lot. As far as I know it needed 2 computer modules (one engine, one transmission) and a few sensors. That was about it. In all likelihood the engine computer is fried and may be giving lots of false codes, unless it’s already been replaced.

Cars are one of the safest places to be in a thunderstorm. If it is hit by lightning the passengers are safe. Here is a link to a Top Gear test where they intentionally hit a car with lightning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve6XGKZxYxA

You must have one of those insurance companies which have GREAT attention getting advertisements; but, falls far short when it comes time to deliver. You could post a complaint with the State Attorney General for Consumer Affairs (or, some such title).

You could go out of pocket and get computer modules from a salvage yard. They would likely have to be “introduced” to your truck by the dealers scan tool and software.

Interesting test under a controlled environment with a vehicle of which we have NO idea IF extra preparations were done.

Obviously the people who did the test KNEW he was going to be safe and told him what to do and NOT to do.

Out in the real world with a lightning enhanced thunderstorm including a deluge of water I’ll bet the results would be different.

The only way that test would prove positive would be to perform the exact same test on every type and make of vehicle out there.

Personally, by the time the first hit came, I’d be lookin’ for the roll of white paper! That’s JMHO though.

His truck was at work too! Numerous people saw the lighteing hit and saw a flash flame and billowing smoke. Assumed the smoke was from the blown tire. The entire sprinkler system to the industrial park was blown out (he was parked right beside it) and they have heavy equipment there now re-installing a new system. It is funny that you mentioned computers because the DEALER said “their computer” showed that the truck’s computer failing was not from the lightening. They said Toyota’s are infamous for the computer going at 90K, so they advised the insurance company not to pay for it. My fiance ended paying for it out-of-pocket. Nice dealership hey? Additionally, they arbitrarily said that the air bag sensor needed replacing and the seatbelts needed to unlocked but that is all the DEALER said the lightening did. They didn’t even cover the tire. They said they found a nail in it but we never saw that (it probably came from the sprinkler system shooting out for all we know!) Then, after all that was said and done and we paid out of our own pocket, my fiance drove it off the lot and within minutes the engine light came back on. He brought it back to the dealer and hasn’t had it since. The DEALER again, is saying that problems that the truck is now experiencing are “unrelated” to the lightening (air compressing issues or something like that) and they are telling the insurer that as well. We have never been to this dealer before. Went there b/c it is close to home (we live on a peninsula in Hull, MA) and we are literally stunned by the service from the dealership. It behooves me that they are so certain and imply that they have a direct line to the “lightening Gods” through their computer system and they know unequivocably what damage it caused to the truck. It has been very disconcerting at best! Well, thanks for the link. I already saw that when I did some research on the internet concerning lightening and cars. I was worried sick when it first got hit (and still am to be perfectly honest). I appreciate your efforts, but feel that either way we lose. The truck will never be the same, we don’t want to total it because it has been good to us and ran perfectly before the lightening hit. We are hoping that this will all be rectified soon and he can have his truck back! We’ll be broke but that’s the way it goes sometimes. You can’t beat city hall. We miss the truck!! We just want it back and running safely but that almost seems to easy in this crazy world!!! We don’t know if there is something between the dealer and the insurance company going on. We just don’t know how they would know so much about lightening and be so certain about it. It is weird and stressful and we just want the truck back. You know how that goes, it is like part of the family. Thanks for listening ~ C

You say, “…you can’t fight City Hall!” You haven’t even gone to City Hall, so, how would you know? Insurance companies have to answer to the State Insurance Commissioner, and there is the Start Attorney General for consumer affairs, and there is Toyota America. Why give up without making some official effort? If you roll over and play dead, you are dead.
And there is your local tv and radio reporters for consumer affairs who may love to cover this story! Call them!

The computer was hurt by the lightning and should be replaced because the codes will always be nonsense, but even then you may still have problems. The body and mechanical stuff is still OK but the electric stuff may always be trouble. If the computer won’t fix the problems, a body shop could use the car.

I agree!!! And I personally don’t think this is over. The problem is it is not my vehicle. It is my fiance’s. I called Toyota America earlier this week and the minute I asked what happens when a truck gets hit by lightening they asked if the insurance company filed for a salvaged title. I told them no. The insurance company is going by what the dealer says and I think that dealer is a jerk! I have no idea why he is so linear thinking! It is hideous! I am ready to make the official effort. I really am, it is just not my call and my fiance is so non-confrontational. That’s probably why these corporate know it alls are taking such advantage of him. I know it isn’t over yet and I am not looking forward to him paying for all these repairs out of pocket, getting the truck and then having that engine light come back on. I wish I was confident that it won’t happen, but I think that is wishful thinking on my part. I do feel confident that it WILL happen again and that is the worst part. I am ready to make the calls, believe me!! Thanks for your support. We needed that!!! C

You need to go to bat for your non-agressive beau. Go for it!

Too many dealers getting away with WAY too much.

Perhaps the first step would be to talk to a second dealer. And avoid the first like the plague. Oh, and I’d mention to the service advisor that you’re planning on giving the dealer as much bad PR as possible because of their treatment of the situation and clueless service dept. And getting Toyota above the dealer level involved would be nice too.