That annoying ‘zap’ we get when touching a metal or other object in dry weather is produced when certain susceptible materials move against each other. In this case it’s often caused by shoes rubbing against carpet.
It’s more noticeable in dry weather as moisture in the air assists in dissipating the charge.
In the case of a car, clothing rubbing against certain types of seat upholstery can produce charges in the order of 10,000 to 20,000 volts.
Newer cars are generally more susceptible to static electricity generation as trim materials pick up a thin coating of oils and dirt over time which helps dissipate any static charge.
The good news is that, provided you’re wearing shoes, the shock can be eliminated by simply holding onto a metal part of the car as you get out. Another alternative is to fit a ‘static strap’ to your car to dissipate the charge. They are readily available from auto accessory shops.
A static discharge near fuel can be dangerous, and certain types of containers are unsuitable for fuel storage due to their susceptibility to static build up.
Read more about safe fuel handling.