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2004 Buick Century will not start (after close proximity lightning strike)

Maybe it’s just coincidence, or maybe there was some EMP type of effect from the lightning strike. Lots of equipment inside the home was destroyed. Outside, the car was just a few yards from where the lightning strike happened. Keyfob still works. When I open the door and insert the key, everything beeps and bings and lights up as it normally would. I turn the key and it does nothing. Checked fuses and attempted a jump start anyway. No luck.

I do lots of DIY electronics work, and I’d like to start doing more DIY car stuff. Can someone help a newbie diagnose which part is failing? How should I check to see if it’s a starter / solenoid? Thanks!


The P/R/N/D/3/2/1 letters and numbers are lit, the red area that would normally appear behind the current selection is not visible.

Turn the ignition on so the dash lights come on, step on the brake pedal and shift the transmission into neutral and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts, the park/neutral safety switch was effected by the lightning strike.


It is possible the ECU that controls the engine is now fried.

Would a bad ECU have any identifiable symptoms before attempting to start the car?

Tester: I will give that a shot and report back momentarily!

Well, the car wouln’t start, or it might not crank. Impossible to predict what random lightning might burn out but electronics in cars are vulnerable.

Thanks, Tester. I tried but it didn’t work. Here’s something to note: The P/R/N/D/3/2/1 letters and numbers are lit, but the red area that would normally appear behind the current selection is not visible.

The car has a few computers plus there are fuses in the wires that I suppose could have fried but you’d almost need the wiring diagram to trace back that red light deal. Once though you got it to crank, who knows what else? The good news is that it should be covered by your home owners insurance so best to just tow it to a shop and let them have at it.

Try disconnecting the battery and leave it that way overnight. Reconnecting the next AM will reset all the computers. Worth a try anyway.

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