Buying Your Bug Out Vehicle
Originally written for the US Population, but much of this applies to UK Preppers…
Factors to Think Of When Buying Your Bug Out Vehicle
1. Benefits of Diesel
A large and strong enough EMP could stop the extraction, refinement, distribution and sale of fossil fuels. Whatever gas you have on hand could be all the gas you get for years. The more highly a fuel is refined, the shorter its storage life. Diesel is less refined than unleaded so diesel stores longer.
You make biodiesel from crops that you grow. Diesel motors are somewhat simpler than gasoline motors in that they do not have an ignition system. This cuts down on some vulnerable parts.
Most tractors also run on diesel too, so for many homesteaders, it is worth considering.
2. Fuel Capacity
You can add oversized and/or additional fuel tanks to many vehicles, increasing the vehicle’s range. A post EMP world will likely have far fewer gas stations, if any. To get at any of remaining fuel, you will need a pump and hose like the Jackrabbit by Black & Decker.
3. Cargo or Towing Capability
By the time you pile in what will surely be everything you own in this world, your spouse, your 2.4 kids, grandma and the golden retriever, you may be looking for ways to increase your vehicle’s carrying capacity. So cargo space, a trailer hitch, roof rack, swing outs and so forth will come in handy. For many, the vehicle will likely double as their home.
4. Off-Road Capability
Features such as 4-wheel drive, a full size spare, plenty of ground clearance, all-terrain tires, lockers, extraction or trail gear, towing points, winch and off road lighting will come in handy post-EMP because roads will no longer be maintained, disabled vehicles and vehicles that have run out of fuel will litter the roadway. Imagine the highway or even your own street after a snowstorm without any snowplows or drivers to remove the snow and 4-wheel drive and over-size tires starts to look like a pretty good idea.
5. Ease of Maintenance & Repair
Simplicity is a good thing when it comes to survival. Without computers, there is only so much to “do it yourself” on newer vehicles so older vehicles have greater appeal. A good repair manual and well-equipped toolbox are mission-critical equipment.
6. Commonality of Parts
An expensive custom vehicle might look cool online or be fun to daydream about, but after a HEMP, the first time it needs a part, you might wish you bought something a little more pedestrian (no pun intended). Better still would be 2 or 3 less-expensive vehicles as opposed to a single vehiclethat strains your financial resources.
7. Fewest Possible Microelectronics, Computers or Chips
Some newer vehicles have in excess of 100 processors that run on miniscule amounts of power. They sense and control virtually every function of the vehicle and are very sensitive to EMP.
How far are you going to get without an engine, fuel injection, transmission or 4-wheel drive system? Sure, car manufacturers take reasonable precautions to shield them, but not against such great field strengths or over the entire frequency range EMP covers. Any transistor-based technology is vulnerable.
Avoid vehicles with the following systems, rewire them or replace them with their non-electronic counterparts and/or stock replacements in a Faraday cage:
- PCM (Powertrain Control Module)
- Anti-lock Braking System
- Electronic Fuel Injection
- Electronic Ignition
- Computers Controlling Critical Systems
- Consumer Electronics
- Long Antennas
- Negative Battery Terminal Grounded to Vehicle Frame
8. Overt vs Covert
It is often best to blend in as opposed to standing out. In the city, that might mean driving a white sedan or van. In the bush, it might mean a camouflage or matte earth tone paint job.
Other times, looking like you are not worth tangling with might be the better option.
9. Conductive Metal Body
For the best EMP-resistance, choose a vehicle with conductive metal body enclosing the engine and passenger compartment or cab over a vehicle with body panels made of fiberglass, plastic or any other non-conductive material.
How to EMP-Harden Your Auto
If your vehicle already has these features or you are already doing these things, then you are already part of the way there. There are many features to look for and modifications to make to both your vehicle and your SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) regarding that vehicle.
No matter which automobile you choose, there is always more that can be done to minimize the effect of HEMP on the vehicle.
- Ground all conductive components of the vehicle to a single point on the chassis. Do not ground them to the earth.
- Park in an EMP-protected garage: I described how to build such a structure in the article How To Turn Your Q-Hut Into an EMP-shielded Home.
- Do not connect your vehicle to an unprotected engine oil warmer.
- Rewire with shielded wiring: Verify that your wiring is shielded or replace all you can with shielded wiring.
- Re-bond metal body panels: Remove body panels and make sure that you have good conductive bonds between body panels by removing paint and installing conductive gasket material or make sure you have metal on metal contact with as much overlap as possible. This will help the body conduct energy through the vehicle skin like the skin of a Faraday cage. Just do not allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that the vehicle skin is without holes that compromise its integrity. EM shielding is not all or nothing. Every little bit helps.
- Route wiring close to the vehicle frame
- Install ferrite clamps or snap on cores on cable ends
- Protect cable entry and exit points with surge suppression: This will need to be fast-clamping surge protection faster than one millisecond that will handle high voltages. (Think lightening protection.)
- Mechanical ignition (points and condenser)
- Install EMP-rated surge protection on antennas
- Mechanical fuel & water pumps
- Carburetor or mechanical fuel injection
- Keep spares of vulnerable parts you cannot replace in a Faraday cage: You may have a vehicle that is mostly good to go, but it still parts like a starter, alternator and voltage regulator that do not contain microelectronics, but could still conceivably be affected. Get some extras and store them in a Faraday cage. They do not even have to be new. Pull them off a junk vehicle and test them if you cannot afford new parts.
- Manual transmission: Some will surely disagree with me on this one, but they are easier to repair and make it possible to push start vehicles even if the battery is shot or missing. Even some diesels can be push or roll started if you wire open the fuel valve.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of vehicle modifications. Every vehicle is different. As previously stated, there is no one standard followed by manufacturers even for EMP shielding.
Keep in mind that everything you do improves your chances. Start with the easiest and least expensive and work your way through the harder ones.
10. Recommendations for EMP-resistant Transport:
There are a lot of good vehicles to choose from. There are many appealing aspects to these older vehicles. They are inexpensive to buy, inexpensive to work on as long as you provide the labor, simple to understand, inexpensive to insure and inexpensive to register.
You will have to do a little research on specific models to figure out what year the manufacturer started installing EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) and so forth because I am supposed to be writing an article or two as opposed to a book here, but the topic is certainly worthy of a book.8. Canoes, Kayaks, Sailboats, Pack Rafts and Other Small Watercraft
Maybe your bugout plan does not involve a blue water voyage, but it does involve running a stretch of river, lake or crossing a body of water. Man has used boats to solve these types of problems since prehistoric times.
A couple recently rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, but I would not recommend it and I am sure they would not either.
But if your route involves crossing a smaller body of water, a small watercraft may be an important arte of your plan.
After a severe HEMP, they may make a comeback. As some of our troops were surprised to learn in Afghanistan, there is just no substitute for horses and pack animals in certain terrain.
My county has a mounted search and rescue team that is very effective in certain regions. Mules are an important part of maintaining many of our nation’s wilderness trails to this day and American mountain men would not have been able to travel the Western US trapping without horses and mules.
I have been grateful for them on trips that I have used them and it is plain to see why they figured so prominently into life until the advent of the automobile and how they will again if we lose are large electrical transformers due to EMP or any other reason.
Mopeds, Bikes, Trailers:
Motoped is on my shopping list. You do not have to be a prepper to appreciate not having to deal with the Department of Motor Vehicles and being able to park in the bike rack.
Motopeds and bicycles are quiet and can be carried on the outside or on top of your rig as backup transport. If the motor is small enough or it doesn’t go faster than a certain speed motopeds are not classified as motorcycles in many states, but this varies by jurisdiction so check your local laws.
Find a vehicle that will get you from point A to point B and make sure you have your food storage and other survival priorities in place.
If you get too far out of balance in any one area of preparedness, your plan is flawed.