Ever get a static electric shock from your car? That little zap may be harmless, but it’s still shocking, and sometimes a little painful! Put simply, what you’re experiencing is a transfer of electrons called an electrostatic discharge. If you’ve ever noticed more “shocks” during wintertime, or in dry climates like the desert, that’s because electrons build up easier in dry places with lower air humidity. However, static electricity doesn’t only zap people. It’s also been known to ignite gasoline vapors and cause fires at fuel pumps! Almost 200 static electricity-related incidents have been reported since the mid-1990s, so while uncommon, it’s certainly important to follow the safety precautions for discharging static electricity build-up.
Ready to prevent static electricity in cars? Follow these tips for a static-free driving experience so you don’t feel like you’re getting jolted at random moments when exiting your car!
- Put your hand to the metal. Before exiting your vehicle, hold the metal door with your bare hand as you put your feet on the ground. It’s that simple!
- Touch metal to your car: If you’ve already exited, touch the car with a coin, key, or metal ring to dispel static.
- Go for the glass: Place your hand on the glass window for less of a shock. Glass is substantially less conductive than metal
- Check your fabrics. A lot of winter fabrics like wool, fur, silk, polyester, and rayon add more static to an already staticky situation as you slide out of your car. However, neutral fabrics like cotton and leather are good options. You might also consider using anti-static sheets or spray on your clothing and car fabric.
- Consider your shoes: Rubber-soled shoes insulate you from the ground and increase the chance of getting zapped. However, the porous surface of leather-soled shoes prevents static shock.
- Stay safe at the pump: Ensure you dispel any static before fueling. Otherwise, it could cause a flash fire or small sustained fire! Avoid re-entering your vehicle while the gas is pumping. However, if you must return to your car, simply retouch your car’s metal door before heading back to the pump.