Why Does Electric Car Steering Give Electric Shocks? Everything You’ve Got to Know!

Do you get zapped often when you enter your electric ride and touch the steering? Why does it happen? Both electric and conventional cars might differ, but they stand on frames made of conductive materials. Electric shocks might find their way to sneak into them.

Electric car steerings give electric shocks due to static or dynamic charges. The friction between our clothes and seat fabric gives us a static charge which leaves quickly when we come into contact with any conductor. Similarly, dynamic current shocks occur due to current leakages from the battery.

The Static Charge Reason Explained

Whenever two different materials rub against each other, the particles on the surface become charged. This happens because the electrons from one material transfer to the other. Similarly, when our clothes or body undergo friction with the car seat fabric, they become charged.

When we touch the steering with worn-out upholstery, the static charge thus accumulates leaves to the ground very quickly, giving us a shock. The aluminum and steel frame of the steering is a conductor that makes direct contact with the earth through the car frame, providing the path to the charge. The shock occurs at the point where our bodies meet the conductor.


This charge does not get any vent to flow smoothly from the body (which is a conductor) to the ground via any conductor. But when it contacts any conductor that is ultimately grounded, the ‘circuit’ completes instantly. The positive charge leaves the clothes quickly and violently, generating spark and shock at the point of contact – which in this case is the hand and the steering wheel.

Nevertheless, the steering wheels are covered with insulating plastic material, making them non-conductors—ideally. Inside, steering wheels are perfect conductors because their basic frame is composed of aluminum, magnesium, and steel. Hence, the static shocks should not occur unless the steering wheel is worn out enough to expose the metal, thus establishing direct contact between your charged clothes and the ground.

The Dynamic Charge Reason Explained

Shocks due to dynamic change occur when the battery power comes into direct contact with the toucher of the electric car frame—a highly unlikely situation in modern electric cars.


The wear and tear of the steering wheel upholstery can also lead to ‘dynamic’ shocks. Though electric cars are engineered to be extremely safe, if there is any electrical wiring fault that makes the enormous charge stored in the battery make its way to the car frame and, through it, into the steering wheel, the outcome could be severe.

How to Stop Getting Shocks From Electric Car Steering Wheels?

1. The ‘Steady-Flow’ Technique

Hold on to the metal surface of your electric car’s body while you get seated. While you adjust the seat, friction between your clothes and the seat fabric gives your clothes a net charge. This is the most common reason for getting electric shocks upon touching the steering wheel.

Do not close the door until you are properly seated, and hold on to the door’s metal frame. When your clothes get rubbed and charged, your hand will work as a conductor to smoothly send this charge to the ground as soon as it builds—making you equivalent to the ‘ground potential’ right away, without any shock. Having no static charge on your clothes, you can touch the steering wheel without any problem.

2. Maintaining Steering Upholstery

The steering wheel frame covered with plastics in tip-top condition will ensure no direct contact between your body and the car frame. Steering wheel upholstery usually lasts 10 to 15 years. Afterward, it starts looking ratty and will be eroded to the point that the internal frame is exposed. But you can freshen it with a professional’s help for just a few hundred dollars when the signs of erosion occur.


You can also prolong the life of the upholstery. Just use the steering wheel cover; it will block any harsh touch or chemical from reaching the surface of the upholstery, keeping it intact even after a decade.

3. Wearing Gloves

This technique is excellent for preventing static and dynamic shocks. If loopholes in the steering upholstery lead to direct contact between the ground and the passenger, the gloves will ensure no such event. You need to do a 100 percent job for the best results. Make sure the material is pure rubber or leather and covers your hands completely.


4. Visiting a Professional

It is particularly important to contact the manufacturer ASAP if you experience a shock due to a dynamic charge. Remember, shocks coming directly from the battery current can cause severe injuries, and you should not use your car unless it is properly inspected and the issue is resolved. You can confirm that the shock was dynamic if it had the following properties:

  • It lasted longer than the usual static charge shocks.
  • It was very painful and tingling.
  • You suffered numbness and difficulty moving your limbs afterward.

Dynamic Charge Shocks: Can Electric Cars Electrocute the Passengers?

No, it is doubtful to be electrocuted by electric cars, thanks to sophisticated technology. The circuit breakers and sensors ensure no ‘current leak’ in the car’s frame. Moreover, modern electric vehicles only accept charging when the sensors show no fault in the charging lines. Hence, they do not lead to shocks or electrocution even when caught in flood water.


However, despite all the hard work done on electric cars, some extreme events might still increase the chances of electrocution. For instance, in case of severe accidents, the safety system might not work as required due to the damage suffered, and the high-voltage current might find its way into the car’s frame, risking the passengers’ lives. Similarly, the emergency personnel trying to cut through the vehicle’s metal body to rescue the passengers might have a similar fate if their tools encounter any live wire.

Concluding Remarks: Why Does Electric Car Steering Give Electric Shocks?

Electric car steering wheels can give electric shocks due to static charge build-up. It is also the reason why conventional car steering might also end up giving their drivers a shock. In extreme cases that are highly unlikely, the shocks might come directly from the battery charge, which can be fatal. But by maintaining some recommended habits, both types of shocks can be kept at bay.

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