Ask the Best and Brighest: Do You Discharge Your Static Electricity Before Fueling?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
Robert Farago
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  • Gibbleth Gibbleth on Sep 04, 2009

    That whole cellphone bit used to crack me up because every single car out there is outfitted with a high-voltage inductive ignition system and a solenoid on the starter motor. There is no conceivable way that a cellphone could produce adequate EMF to do anything to gasoline if those two things can't. As for the gap-spark problem, some really old cellphones may have at one time had that problem, but the concentration of gasoline vapors in the cellphone would be very low. I, personally, never, ever get back in a car. I've always been that way, even in short sleeves in freezing weather, I will shiver rather than get back in. The ignition is caused by a spark from the nozzle to the car. There is a lot of fumes in the fuel filler pipe at that point. As for aircraft, they charge themselves due to air friction and encountering ionized atmospheric conditions, I would imagine, so they need to be grounded. It is the airframe, not the person that matters there.

  • Mitchim Mitchim on Sep 04, 2009

    +1 on the first gen Saturns! My Vue is nutts with static. It sounds and feels like it could be a sourse of ignition every time I touch the dam thing. Happens every time I get out of it.

  • Texlovera Texlovera on Sep 04, 2009

    @gibbleth- Re airplanes, I believe you're right. Plus, planes have much more metallic surface area, and thus should be able to hold a bigger/more sustained static charge (basically a bigger "battery"). I only "ground" myself in winter because that's the only time eneough static builds up to get a shock. And I don't do it to keep from getting blown up; I just do it to get the shock over with.

  • Redwood Redwood on Sep 04, 2009

    Yes, but not on purpose. It just happens when I get out of the car. I should note that nothing ever discharges, probably because I have leather seats. When I was a kid, I would always get shocked getting out of my parents' '87 Ford Taurus. One time I touched the car when getting out and the shock was so bad it stopped my watch for several seconds until I hit it and it started up again. Ouch!