A brand new Hummer or Jeep Wrangler, decked out with every available option may sound like the best, most capable vehicle in an emergency situation. The harsh reality is that they could be one of the worst. Don’t get me wrong, they are both very nice, with proven track records, but in an emergency, can leave you and your loved ones stranded.
The problem lies with the tremendous amount of electronics needed for the vehicle to operate. The average newer vehicle(especially within the last ten years) has several computers on board that control not only the engine, but also the transmission, the four wheel drive system, brakes, power windows and locks, and even the lights just to name a few.
The fact is, computers have been used in vehicles since the early 1980s. The manufacturers have incorporated them in to more and more of the systems for better emissions, fuel economy, drivability, and creature comforts. The average vehicle has more than five computers, operating on their own network, sharing information back and fourth, making any needed adjustments for a seamless driving experience.
A computer controlled transmission cannot shift until the computer commands it to do so. Before the computer can command a shift to occur it needs to look at various sensors located throughout the vehicle such as, engine speed, vehicle speed, engine load, engine temperature, gas pedal position, selector lever position, and probably a few dozen more.
With the ever increasing possibility of a terrorist EMP attack or natural blast from our sun, these systems will probably not survive. Imagine loading your survival gear and family into your bug out vehicle, turning the key, and nothing happens.
The starter, fuel injectors, fuel pump, ignition coils, all receive their commands directly from the power train control module(PCM). Without a working PCM your vehicle is a 3200 pound paper weight.
There are several options for a practical EMP-proof bug out vehicle. Obviously, many older gasoline powered vehicles were EMP proof.
They had carburetors for fuel delivery, mechanical (points type) ignition, mechanical engine driven fuel pumps, no electronics what so ever. Automatic transmissions were also mechanically controlled and needed no electrical controls either.
Older jeeps and pick-ups are great choices. They are pretty easy to find, cheap to buy, and repair. There is also my personal favorite, the old school diesel. Unlike modern computerized fuel injected diesels, the old school diesel has an all mechanical fuel injection system and no computer either.
My personal bug out vehicle is a 1983 ford F350 Pick-up 4×4 automatic with a 6.9 diesel. Vehicles such as this can be purchased cheap, repaired cheap, tagged and insured cheap too. This truck has two 19 gallon fuel tanks, plenty of room for my family and all of our gear.
I had to take care of some maintenance to make it road ready. New batteries, brakes, filters, belts, hoses, starter, tires and a front end alignment, all told I have about $2000.00 invested in a vehicle that can go anywhere no matter what.
There are a bunch of vehicles such as this available from most manufacturers. Ford, General Motors, and Dodge all made diesel pick-ups with mechanical fuel injection and no computers all the way into the early 90s.
Ford used the 6.9 until the mid 80s before switching to the 7.3. The 7.3 was used up to the early 90s, General Motors was using the 6.5 during the same time period, and Dodge was using the 5.9 Cummins, all of which were strong, reliable engines easily capable of 300,000 plus miles.
A word of caution, though, while there was no computer needed for these engines to operate, some were equipped with computers to make certain automatic transmissions operate. Find one with a manual transmission, and you eliminated that problem as well.
In my opinion, a diesel has more advantages than drawbacks versus a gasoline engine. Diesels are built stronger with larger bearings, and heavier components, A diesel can run on many different fuel types such as vegetable oil, animal fat, and bio-diesel which can be home made a hell of a lot easier than home made gasoline.
Getting past the smell of the exhaust and the rattle and hum of the engine are small prices to pay for an emergency vehicle that will work in an actual emergency.