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Old 09-27-2011, 06:36 AM   #1
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Getting Static Electric Shocks---Ouch!

I am wondering if anyone has experienced and solved getting electrical shocks when touching the vehicle chassis. In my case, every time I leave the vehicle and grab the driver's door to shut it, I get an electrical discharge shock, i.e. if I touch the door again I don't get shocked. I have gotten into the habit of flicking my fingers past the edge of the door to get it over with before swinging it shut. I have fabric seats and unlike a passenger car I tend to slide off it to get out of the car, which could do it just like shuffling across a rug in your house and touching a door knob, but I have never had a vehicle that had such a problem. I know this can be a complicated problem to solve given all the electrical work done to make the van an RV, but wonder if anyone has found out it is a simple problem and has a solution. It doesn't seem to happen when hanging out inside the house portion, but then there is not a lot of chassis exposed to touch there. When I asked the folks at the Indiana plant where my van was built, they said it seems to be a common problem but did not know the cause.
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Old 09-27-2011, 07:56 AM   #2
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Re: Getting Static Electric Shocks---Ouch!

One way to avoid getting shocks when getting out of the van, grab the door or other metallic part before touching ground.
It's static electricity charged on you.

That works for me.
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Old 09-27-2011, 03:27 PM   #3
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Re: Getting Static Electric Shocks---Ouch!

Ooh Ooh! I know this one! Finally, a technical question I can answer. But only because I heard it on Car Talk on NPR radio. Obviously it's caused when you slide across the seat of your vehicle and build up static electricity. But the real cause is the type of tires you have on your vehicle. The newer formulations for tires actually isolates the vehicle more, not allowing that charge built up to go to ground.

There are static straps you can buy at most auto parts outlets. It's basically just a braided flat cable that hangs from your suspension or bumper or whatnot to ground the vehicle. I'm not sure how effective they are, but a lot of folks seem to be satisfied with them. Or you can get new tires.

My own approach is simply to touch the door with your key, from which the spark will jump. The electricity is still going through you, but there's no spark gap between your hand and the key so you don't feel it. Another thing that works with doorknobs or such like is just to slap the thing or flick it with your finger. The spark gap narrows so quickly that you don't notice the spark.
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Old 09-27-2011, 06:36 PM   #4
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Re: Getting Static Electric Shocks---Ouch!

Try a different pair of shoes
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Old 09-28-2011, 06:35 AM   #5
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Re: Getting Static Electric Shocks---Ouch!

So! it appears this problem has nothing to do with a quirk of this particular vehicle or the SMB build---great! And I am going to guess I should not run out and get a whole new set of shoes or tires! I will modify my "slap" technique and experiment with holding onto the door while exiting or the key trick before grabbing the door to shut it after exiting.

It is still not clear to me at the time I am standing on the ground ready to touch the door whether the current flow between me and the van is because 1) I am at ground potential (discharged myself by contacting the ground) and the vehicle is not (insulating tires), 2) whether I get charged by sliding off the seat and remain charged after hitting the ground while the van is at ground potential (conducting tires) or 3) both I and the van are ungrounded but a different potentials (insulating shoes and tires). But, hey, I love the key trick, 'cause it should work in all cases!

Maybe the reason I have not had this problem with other cars has been my snooty attitude of always getting leather seats, something I decided to pass up when I breaking the bank to get the SMB.
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Solar: 540 W of Kyrocera w/ Blue Sky 3024iL, 3x100 AmpHr AGM's
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Old 09-28-2011, 08:04 AM   #6
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Re: Getting Static Electric Shocks---Ouch!

Maybe because it is so dry where you at...

My wife's old Cherokee 2001 shocked the **** out of you, and it wasn't static electricity, it was something else. Never figured it out, but I remember that zzz-zzz-zzz touched a wire feel as you got out as opposed to the POP of static.
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Old 09-28-2011, 08:06 AM   #7
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Re: Getting Static Electric Shocks---Ouch!

Quote:
It is still not clear to me at the time I am standing on the ground ready to touch the door whether the current flow between me and the van is because 1) I am at ground potential (discharged myself by contacting the ground) and the vehicle is not (insulating tires), 2) whether I get charged by sliding off the seat and remain charged after hitting the ground while the van is at ground potential (conducting tires) or 3) both I and the van are ungrounded but a different potentials (insulating shoes and tires).
You could find out by jumping in the air and touching the van.
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