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$220k in motor repairs: Woman's car gets struck by lightning after she parks it beside tree in Upper Thomson

$220k in motor repairs: Woman's car gets struck by lightning after she parks it beside tree in Upper Thomson
Ye's car was severely damaged after it was struck by lightning.
PHOTO: Shin Min Daily News

Almost eight months after her car was damaged by a thunderstorm, one woman still hasn't managed to get it back. 

The woman, surnamed Ye, told Shin Min Daily News that she and her husband drove their Lexus ES300 to her sister's house at Upper Thomson for a gathering on Nov 16 last year. 

She purchased the car in December 2019 for $210,000, and used the vehicle mainly to send her grandchild to school. 

Her husband parked the vehicle near a playground along Springleaf Avenue near her sister's house, said the 64-year-old. 

At about 2.30pm, there was a thunderstorm which lasted for an hour. 

When the couple went to retrieve their car after the storm, they realised the car's door was stuck. The car also couldn't start, and one of the airbags had exploded.

Ye called a car repair shop which sent a mechanic down to start the car but the latter was unable to do so. Their car had to be towed away. 

About two weeks later, Ye received an email from Lexus Singapore informing her that the car was damaged by an act of nature, and that was beyond the manufacturer's control.

Ye told the Chinese daily that she believes her car was damaged by the storm, as she remembered seeing burn marks on the bottom of a nearby tree, which was likely caused by the lightning. 

A car dealer reportedly told her that repairing the Lexus sedan would cost $220,000 - more than what Ye paid for the vehicle. 

Although the cost of the repairs would be covered by her insurance, Ye said she only managed to find a workshop that was willing to do the job at the end of January this year. 

She told Shin Min Daily News that she still hasn't gotten her car back as of June 3, and had to buy another Toyota car as a replacement. 

Despite her frustration, Ye said she's relieved that no one was inside the car when lightning struck. 

She added that she has visited her sister many times before, and never expected something like this to happen. 

"The scariest part was seeing the airbag in the left rear seat explode. That's where I always put my grandchild's car seat, I don't dare imagine what would have happened if he was sitting there then," said Ye. 

She also cautioned others about parking their vehicle outdoors in bad weather. 

Don't park near trees in stormy weather

Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, assistant professor Wang Jingyu from the National Institute of Education's Humanities & Social Studies Education Academic Group, said that it's possible for a car to get struck by lightning. 

Wang, who specialises in the climate and environment, said this usually happens when a car is parked at an open space, and is the tallest object in the area. 

However, Wang said that the likelihood of this happening is quite low, as lightning tends to take the path of least resistance to the ground. 

Wang advised drivers not to park their cars next to trees or electric poles in bad weather, and to look for shelter in the event of the thunderstorm. 

If there is no nearby shelter, drivers should stay inside their vehicle and close the windows while avoiding contact with any metal surfaces of the car. 

Shin Min also spoke to Tan Guohua (transliteration), managing director of car workshop STK Auto about the incident. 

While he agreed that it was rare for a car to be struck by lightning, he said that the car's electrical circuits were likely damaged from the high voltage current from the storm. 

"It would take a lot of work to fix this, because we'll need to replace the wires and the electronic control unit (ECU).

"The amount of $220,000 quoted is considered reasonable for a repair of this scale, because the mechanic would have to dismantle the entire unit." 

READ ALSO: 'He drove my car to have dinner': Woman clashes with workshop over repair costs, calls police

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