Lightning strikes Lexus parked at Springleaf Ave, fries car's electronics, repair costs hits S$220,000

Very rare occurrence.

Belmont Lay | June 04, 2024, 02:27 PM



A Lexus ES300 parked by the kerb at Springleaf Avenue in Singapore was suspected to have been struck by lightning, which fried its electronics and caused it severe damage.

But that's not the only hair-raising bit.

The quoted costs to rectify the broken components?

Over S$220,000.

This is higher than the price of the car when it was bought for S$210,000 in December 2019.

The car's owner, Ye, 64, told Shin Min Daily News that the incident occurred in November 2023 after she and her husband went to elder sister's place in Sembawang estate for a gathering.

She said she wanted to inform the public about avoiding parking beside tall trees as a safety precaution.

Thunderstorm that day

The car was parked near a playground beside a Foxtail Palm tree.

via Shin Min Daily News

A thunderstorm occurred at about 2:30pm that day, Ye recalled, and the rain stopped about an hour later.

Car could not start

When she was leaving the estate, it was discovered that the car door could not open, and the engine could not start.

A video shot in the aftermath of the incident showed the interior of the car in a state of disarray.

Wires from the dashboard were exposed and the gear was broken.

via Shin Min Daily News

via Shin Min Daily News

The airbag at the left rear passenger side was also deployed.

This was where a child would normally sit in the vehicle, Ye added.

The mechanic subsequently showed up to assess the situation, and the car was towed away.

Problem diagnosed

There was no word about what happened for the next two weeks after the incident, Ye said.

After a series of inspections, the woman said she received an email on Dec. 19, 2023.

The manufacturer informed her that the damage to the car was caused by an act of nature involving environmental or external factors that were beyond the manufacturer's control.

Ye said that convinced her even more that the car was damaged by lightning.

She said there were burn marks at the bottom of the nearby Foxtail Palm tree and some of its leaves were charred, which she believed was the result of a lightning strike.

Having been given a possible diagnosis of the cause, Ye said she received a quotation of up to S$220,000 for repair costs.

No one wanted to service car

The extensive damage to the car's electronics made the repair process problematic though.

Ye said no car servicing workshop wanted to take on the vehicle for repairs, and it was only in January 2024 that she found one that would take on the job.

But as the car insurance she purchased covered accidents caused by natural disasters, the repair costs could be ultimately borne by the insurance company if the problems got fixed.

However, the car still has not been repaired yet after more than seven months after it got damaged, Shin Min reported.

In the end, Ye and her husband opted to buy another car, a Toyota, as a replacement for their transport needs.

Very rare occurrence

Ye said she has since heard anecdotes of cars getting struck by lightning while in motion, causing their electronics to malfunction.

According to the head of the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association, this was only the second case in 32 years that he has heard of a lightning strike causing damage to a car.

He added that the insurance payout process might be more complicated when it comes to such acts of nature, given that it is not an accident.

In accident cases, the usual fault-finding process and assessing of liability of each party involved would be more straightforward.

Top photos via Shin Min Daily News