Can a 12v car battery kill

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Autowood, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Autowood

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 9, 2013
    It might have just been an urban myth I heard years ago, but it went like this: If you were laying in a puddle of water underneath a car and the car's chassis was grounded by something like a drive line detached and laying in that puddle, if you reached up to the starter and grabbed a hold of the positive cable, you could receive a fatal shock. True or false?:confused:
  2. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    Car batteries can deliver loads of amps, and if that current was allowed to pass through your heart it could definitely kill you. The thing about it, though, is that they are only 12 volts. It's very unlikely that 12 volts could penetrate your skin and tissue and get to a point where it could deliver the current through your heart. If you had moist hands you could get a nasty shock, maybe some burns, same with open cuts. But it generally isn't a problem. Just be careful when handling them -- make sure you don't get any shorts, because that could cause some severe arc flashes or red-hot cables that could cause other sorts of injury.

    Autowood likes this.
  3. MaxHeadRoom


    Jul 18, 2013
    Why go to that extreme or theatrics, just grasp the +ve and -ve terminal!
    Normal human body resistance does not allow enough current to flow to cause any adverse reaction on a 12vdc source.
    Earth ground does not enter the picture and is irrelevant.
  4. inwo

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013

    What was the weather doing! :D
  5. MikeML

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 2, 2009
    Sure a 12V battery can kill you; have one drop on your head from about 20 ft. up...
    shortbus and Brownout like this.
  6. inwo

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    I've heard the myth.
    I've been unable to come up with a way.

    The lowest resistance path thru the body (that we can discuss here) might be the 9v battery on the tongue test.

    Come on, you've done it!

    5ma Far from lethal. (Yes I've measured)
    Don't see any way 12v will more than double it.

    If I did get a shock I'd be shocked.
  7. bountyhunter

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009

    Unless you managed to grab a wire from the spark or ignition which is really hard to do now because there are no more spark plug wires (the coils mount onto the spark plugs)
  8. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
    Unless someone open your chest and connect the battery directly to your heart. It will not kill you in any way.
  9. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    Take one battery jumper cable, wrap several times around your neck. Leave a foot or so on each end.

    Bend over engine compartment, and attach first one, then second end directly to battery.

    Try not to squirm around too much. May not kill you but you will wish you were dead until it stops.
  10. Dr.killjoy

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
    I work on cars and I have seen many people get zapped from coil packs but it won' probably won't kill you but it could in the right conditions ..
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  11. PackratKing

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2008
    And then there is Holly-weird BS... Mel Gibson [ lethal weapon 1 ] dangling from a chain, soaking wet in a shower, with "endo" torturing him with jumpers off what looks like a large semi-truck battery..

    That had to hurt a little
  12. tcmtech

    Distinguished Member

    Nov 4, 2013
    I have my doubts considering I have had similar experiences with that having soaking wet hands while working on vehicles, farm machinery and industrial equipment.

    You feel it but its nothing more than odd or uncomfortable. 24 volt systems get your attention right way but again I obviously never found them lethal either even after having taken more than just few direct contacts between right and left hands with a good hard grip on a tool and some solid piece of frame I was bracing myself with.
  13. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010
    CAN a battery kill? Maybe, but you'd have to really work at it.

    If you are laying in a puddle of salty water AND somehow the car is also grounded (maybe it fell off the jack?), AND the positive terminal of the starter is driven into your chest, AND you cannot get away, it might be a problem. But you'd have bigger problems in that scenario.

    I do wonder about the scene with the salty sponges. I don't think 12V would be enough. As Max noted, you can firmly grip the poles of the battery with wet hands and you'll feel nothing.