One of the hallmarks of being a good prepper is knowing what you’re up against. Understanding the nature of the threat, be it a group of people, a natural disaster or an accidental catastrophe is fundamental to preparing yourself against the consequences.
No matter how big, no matter how scary, there’s always something that can be done to improve your chances…
But one of the biggest and scariest, and also one of the most plausible, society-toppling events facing civilization today is that of an EMP, or electromagnetic pulse.
Created by the detonation of a nuclear bomb or specialty weapon designed for the purpose, any potent EMP can completely wipe out electrical grids, electronics and the many tools and devices that rely on either. This includes many automobiles.
No matter what sort of situation you’re facing, losing your vehicle could be devastating to your chances.
That’s why it’s so important that you learn how to protect it from an EMP in case one does occur, or at least increase the chances that it is repairable in the aftermath. This guide will help you do exactly that.
What’s an EMP, Exactly?
An EMP is an electromagnetic pulse, a surge of electrical energy that can impart extreme voltages across any conductive material and subsequently cause an overload, short or overheating damage in any vulnerable device.
There are all kinds of EMPs that occur every single day, generated by many different sources. Many are caused by various kinds of electrical equipment, while others are naturally occurring, resulting from lightning strikes.
All have the ability of interfering with various electronics, and sometimes they can be damaging. But, we generally aren’t worried about these everyday and borderline-insignificant EMPs…
We’re worried about the really big ones, the ones that can cause widespread local or even regional damage to electrical grids and most electronics, or anything that depends upon electronics to function, such as our vehicles.
What are the Causes of a Major EMP?
Major EMPs of the type we are concerned with generally come in three varieties: nuclear, non-nuclear and natural.
Nuclear: an EMP that is generated by the detonation of a nuclear warhead. Larger warheads generate a more powerful pulse that radiates out from the point of detonation as waves that can travel a long distance, virtually unimpeded by the air alone.
A nuclear EMP is especially dangerous because it might hamper escape or relief efforts after the blast in an area far outside the primary and secondary effects of the bomb itself.
Non-nuclear: a non-nuclear EMP, abbreviated NNEMP, is one that is created from a specialty EMP-generating device or “bomb”.
These devices can produce the sometimes highly desirable effects of an EMP in a military context without the stigma of actually detonating a nuclear weapon.
For our purposes, these weapons are powerful enough to produce EMPs capable of causing serious regional mayhem.
Natural: major EMPs can also be completely natural occurrences, surprisingly enough. These are typically in the form of cosmic phenomena created by the sun in the form of solar storms, coronal mass ejections and other interstellar events that can affect the entire globe at once.
Usually not as powerful overall compared to nuclear and non-nuclear EMPs, these events may nonetheless be sustained over days or weeks, and can cause serious trouble with electronics and potentially major damage.
Obviously nuclear and non-nuclear EMPs are the most worrying, and frighteningly plausible. That being said, naturally occurring EMPs that had global consequences have happened in recorded history and should be taken seriously.
Look up the Carrington Event for more information.
What Effects Could an EMP Have on a Vehicle?
So we know what an EMP is and where it comes from. How does this affect our vehicles?
Considering that the vast majority of cars on the road today are increasingly dependent upon electronics including for basic operation, EMPs could disable, damage, or destroy our vehicles.
It could burn out circuit boards, damage or destroy fuel injection systems, create malfunctions or destruction of instrumentation and much more.
Depending on the year, brand and model of your car, as well as various design features inherent to it, your vehicle could temporarily malfunction, be rendered inoperable due to damage or be effectively destroyed due to the loss of its critical electronic components.
As a general rule, the more sophisticated and modern your vehicle, the more vulnerable it likely is to an EMP.
Losing your vehicle in any case is going to be a terrible blow under the circumstances, and if you are relying on it to survive a seriously dangerous situation your life could be put in danger.
It’s Uncertain How Much a Powerful EMP Will Actually Affect Your Vehicle
Obviously, you’ll want to protect your vehicle, whatever it is, from the destructive effects of an EMP. However, before we get to the actual nuts and bolts of protecting it, there is a major but little-known controversy that must be addressed.
This “elephant in the room” is simply that the precise nature of the vulnerability of modern vehicles is up for debate.
We know EMPs of the kind we’re talking about are indeed highly destructive, but what we don’t know is just how destructive they are to vehicles, even modern ones.
This is because the private companies that have performed such testing, whether or not at the behest of the federal government, are not telling us the whole story.
Plus, of the tests we do know about might have been corrupted by lobbying from manufacturers or subjected it to seriously flawed testing protocols.
I’ll spare you all of the details but I will link to a relevant story on the matter, and here’s the short version…
Out of all the modern vehicles tested and one of the few laboratories capable of it actually creating the levels of energy were worried about, no vehicle was subjected to testing at the maximum end of the power spectrum.
In addition, all testing, for any model of vehicle, was halted as soon as any failure, malfunction or damage was experienced.
The manufacturers and agencies that supplied those vehicles? No one is talking. Reports from participants or administrators of the tests? At odds, redacted or retracted.
We simply do not know the true extent of automobile vulnerability to EMP, and the people that do know clearly want to keep the public in the dark.
Knowing this, you should act accordingly, but also understand that a large amount of uncertainty must remain no matter what we do to try and protect our vehicles.
With that in mind, let’s finally get on to the actual protection process.
Here’s How to EMP-proof Your Vehicle
So, after reading all that if you are undaunted and still want to try to EMP-proof your vehicle or just increase its EMP resistance, do the following:
Assess Before You Begin
Before you get taken by any snake oil claims of automotive EMP protection kits or you just want to perform some DIY hardening of your vehicle, you should assess it for vulnerability.
Here’s the rule of thumb for EMP vulnerability assessment: the older the car and the less electronics it has, the less vulnerable it will be to an EMP.
The newer the car, and the more electronics, the more vulnerable it is.
The more knowledge and expert skill you have with automobiles, the better off you will be when making this assessment.
If you know a given make and model of car is basically inoperable without one or more of its computers or other electronics functioning, you can bet your bottom dollar that car is probably toast when an EMP occurs.
Conversely, a car that has precious few electronics and uses a carburetor will probably run just fine immediately after.
These are rules of thumb, and we will talk about exceptions, but if you have a newer vehicle you’re definitely going to have your work cut out for you if you want to EMP-proof it.
Speaking of, there are three basic methods of EMP protection, and I’ll tell you about all of them in the following sections.
EMP hardening is a school of thought for protection that centers on increasing ruggedness and redundancy in vulnerable devices, vehicles, and so forth.
This doesn’t necessarily try to block or redirect the effects of the EMP around the affected components, but rather tries to make them able to withstand the extreme voltages inherent to the EMP and keep working.
A car that is hardened against EMP might malfunction but be easily restarted, or slightly damaged and easily repair. It might temporarily stall or stop, but continue operation once the EMP is over.
Examples of hardening an automobile against an EMP could be changing the battery system over from frame grounded to using twisted wire cable pairs, or installing ferrite housings around vulnerable wire harnesses and other components.
EMP shielding is a process where the vulnerable devices or components are encased, surrounded, or physically protected from the effects of an EMP.
This is typically done by enclosing them in a conductive envelope or compartment that will block and redirect the energies of an EMP harmlessly. These enclosures are known as Faraday cages.
Depending on the complexity of the device or vehicle being protected, shielding might be performed externally.
For example, you can park the vehicle in an EMP protected facility, or do it internally, by installing purpose-designed shielded components for critical systems or shielding and grounding them yourself.
Some devices are intrinsically invulnerable to an EMP. As a broad rule of thumb, any device that doesn’t use a circuit board, is not connected to a power grid or is not dependent upon electricity at all has little to fear from an EMP.
In essence, if the massive voltage surge created by an EMP will not affect the object in question, it is immune to the effects of an EMP.
For instance, primitive automobiles that don’t rely on electrical power at all, or only need a simple battery or generator system for operation and nothing more should work fine after an EMP. If you have such a vehicle, hardening and shielding are not required.
Comprehensive Protection is Best
EMP protection is rarely completely certain, and success is measured in percentages. Generally, a combination of hardening and shielding performed strategically will yield the best results, especially when combined with a choice of vehicle that is only somewhat vulnerable in the first place.
Is Different Protection Required for Different EMP Sources?
No. We’ve got that going for us at least. Whether it comes from a nuclear bomb, an EMP generator weapon or a massive solar storm, all methods of EMP protection are effective against EMPs created by different sources.
Can EMP-proof Cars Be Bought?
Yes, either in the form of older model vehicles that are intrinsically immune or at least resistant to the effects of an EMP, or as specially designed or modified modern vehicles produced by various shops and a few manufacturers.
Again, when looking for such a vehicle you want to eliminate all possible electronics, particularly electronic ignition, fuel injection, computerized systems, and so forth.
A truly EMP-proof vehicle is going to be extremely spartan by today’s standards, but will also be a vehicle that is most likely to function in the aftermath.
Can You Turn Your Garage into a Big Faraday Cage?
One of the most commonly sought countermeasures against an EMP is simply turning the garage or carport where a vehicle is kept into one great, big Faraday cage that will shield the entire vehicle from the event.
Remember, except in the case of naturally-occurring EMPs created by solar storms these events are over basically in an instant, so a car that was kept inside a giant Faraday cage should, in theory, be fully operational.
To answer the question, yes, it is possible to turn a large structure into one big Faraday cage. But, we have to assume that:
- the garage is made of metal or some other conductive material,
- has no gaps for the effects of an EMP to “sneak in,”
- and has no conductive wiring or other external features that could transmit an EMP to the interior from exposed surfaces outside.
However, you also have to take special precautions with the floor of the garage, since the ground and even concrete might prove to be conductive enough for a powerful EMP to affect the vehicle inside.
But once again, in theory, you might not need anything more sophisticated than a relatively lightweight and affordable but tightly closed and jointed metal building to protect a vehicle from an EMP.
Should You Even Try to EMP Proof Your Vehicle?
It rarely fails that when I’m discussing this topic with fellow preppers many of them become dismayed at the prospect of trying to protect any automobile.
There’s so much uncertainty, it is complicated, it is expensive; should we just plan on trying to survive without our cars? What’s the very worst that could happen?
I understand the sentiment, believe me. All I can tell you is you’ll have to weigh the risks and make the most informed decision that you can.
From what we can tell about the serious EMP testing that has been performed on automobiles, most cars didn’t burst into flames, explode or spaz out and crash when they were operating at speed.
Some of those vehicles were even able to be restarted simply by turning the car off, disconnecting the battery, reconnecting the battery, and then turning them on again.
It is possible that your vehicle might be one like that, even if it is a modern car. It’s also possible that a much older vehicle could be permanently affected and basically dead. There is just so much we don’t know.
I’ll put it to you this way: out of all the mega-disasters that might occur today, an EMP is the most plausible and certainly the most likely to occur thanks to the proliferation of nuclear and specialty weapons capable of creating them.
Considering how dependent we are on all of our modern technology, I will do my best to protect my vehicle from an EMP whether or not it is in the garage, but I will also have a backup plan in case it doesn’t work out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Gas or Diesel Vehicles More Vulnerable to an EMP?
Not really. It is often thought that diesel vehicles were more resistant to the effects of an EMP, but modern versions have just as many electronics as gasoline engine cars do.
Will an EMP Electrocute People in an Affected Vehicle?
No, but again there is a slight amount of uncertainty. It isn’t out of the question that someone touching a conductive component or surface inside the cabin of a vehicle could be shocked, but this likely won’t be fatal.
A bigger concern is what will happen to the passengers inside the car should it crash!
What Years of Cars are Immune to an EMP?
Based on what we know from actual testing that has been performed, and because those results were all highly variable, there isn’t any year of car that we can say is truly invulnerable to an EMP. But, generally, your chances are best going with a vehicle made before 1970.
Are Military Vehicles Immune to an EMP’s Effects?
Only some. The military cares more than most other organizations about EMP protection, but many basic ground vehicles such as trucks are unlikely to be truly EMP-proof (though they might prove to be easier to repair if affected by an EMP).
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29 thoughts on “Here’s How to EMP-Proof Your Vehicle”
You got your vehicle running and you’re riding around town looking for supplies, and what
happens? The town police commandeer your car for the common good. I’ll bike.
I absolutely see that happening depending on the circumstances. Certainly emphasizes the need to be way out in the sticks so as not to attract attention.
I was once tangentially involved in an electromagnetic vehicle kill/disable program. Turns out that modern US vehicle computers are really hardened and that the energy levels required to kill the computer was hard on humans as well. Semiconductor junctions are closer these days so the vulnerability increases.
I have a 1974 Jeep tucked back in my sheet metal barn – just in case. I also have extra points, condenser, coil, and voltage relay. stored in a sealed metal container. I worry less about the starting motor as I live on a mountain and of course that vintage has a standard transmission. The fine wire secondary wirings in the distributor coil are certainly vulnerable as is the capacitor or so called condenser. Anything that can arc might and if the condenser goes then there may be welded ignition points. Starting motors are robust and worst case, I would think that the solenoid might freeze (for the same reason the coil would fail). Any electrical motor with brushes might well have problems and for that reason you should stock extra brushes for drill motors, starters, etc. Of course if you vehicle has an alternator, it is silicon diode rectified and there’s another semiconductor junction to fail. My old Jeep has an generator – and voltage relay to regulate battery charging. The fine wire windings in the relay are also vulnerable.
Interested readers might want to review an article I wrote for MS regarding vulnerabilities of diesel JD tractors and Kubota UTX diesel motors. Those things are EMP proof, and only a handful of relays would be required to get on back up and running – but then again you need that replacement handful of relays in a protected environment.
Great post. It should generate a lot of thought and hopefully comment.
By the way, my Jeep is nicknamed TEOTEAWKI. People ask how I came by that old Indian name.
For those interested – here is the link PR wrote – good stuff: http://modernsurvivalonline.com/utility-vehicles-tractors-and-vulnerability-to-electromagnetic-pulse/
We have bicycles and a draft horse and a good tractor .However one can only store a limited about of fuel and that will become an issue.Many of us will be remaining at home or at our retreat guarding it. The article was good though and the follow up discussions always helpful. Arlene
Thanks Arlene –
We have several bicycles as well. Excellent transportation.
Good article. Here’s a twist on it for you to consider. Its my understanding that an EMP fries electronic circuits that are “on” or “juiced up” by reversing the polarity of electricity. Kind of like if you hooked your battery in your car up with the positive terminal hooked to the negative and vice versa. If electricity is not flowing through a circuit at the time of an EMP or solar flare, there is a good chance those electronics will not be affected. Things that are ‘on” at the time will however likely be fried. The power grid, your phone, anything hooked up to the power grid and a vehicle with its battery hooked up will certainly be toast. Along with storing backup electronics inside a faraday cage you may want to consider installing a battery quick disconnect in your vehicle and using it. This is somewhat impractical on modern vehicles as they require constant power to the vehicles computer to keep its memory. But, on older vehicles or vehicles that are to be left sitting for a period of time, its a good idea to kill the juice to them. Those of you who have street bikes who put them away in the winter can relate as we all mostly remove our battery and store it for the winter. Now, while an old pickup or car that runs on old school electronics without a computer is a good idea for a doomsday/EMP vehicle, you may want to consider alternate vehicles. For example, if I were an enemy of the US, and I wanted to detonate an EMP I would want to do it at a time when it would have the most devestating effect. I would set it off somewhere between 7-9AM or between 4-6PM during the busiest “rush hour” times in the country. This would ensure roads and highways would become giant parking lots. Accidents would kill people, and there would be literally millions of stranded motorists everywhere. Children would be stuck in schools, and families would be divided and going crazy to get back together. Of course, parents wouldnt be able to call their kids schools and day cares, husbands couldnt call wives, and ambulances and other emergency vehicles would be either out of service or unable to get to those in need. In this instance, it would be good to have an older motorcycle or ATV that is able to weave through traffic or go off the side of the road if necessary to get around. My own personal bug out toy is a custom made Honda TRX450R turned into a trike. Its carbureted, thus no computer, and when not in use, the battery is disconnected ensuring no electricity is going through any part of the electrical system. As well, even if the battery fried, I can still push start the thing by running with it in gear and popping the clutch. In the event of an EMP, dont forget, gas stations wont be pumping gas either. So youre going to want a vehicle that doesnt burn too much fuel as you may find yourself scavenging fuel from abandoned or disabled vehicles. Id suggest having several gas cans, a nice big funnel, and a hammer and a punch to knock holes in gas tanks. Also, discuss with your family what your plan is if there is a solar flare or EMP. My family knows to stay put and wait for me to come get them. First, I must get home which could take a couple of hours, then fire up the trike, then I go pick up my wife from work and bring her home, then I go pick up my daughter from day care and bring her home, then I check on my parents. Expect lots of chaos if this ever happens. Dont be surprised if people attempt to shoot at you even to steal your BOV. There will be lots of desperate confused people out there, and the police will not likely be anywhere to be found, and many will be doing what they can to protect and round up their own families. So be prepared for anything because and EMP / solar flare is one hell of a bad SHTF scenario thats likely going to kill millions of people.
Thanks for all the info and ideas. I have talked to several “experts” ad the bottom line with EMP is no one knows for sure what will happen and what the exact effect will be – until it actually happens. Those that are supposed to be in the know do not have a lot of faith in the “take the batteries” out method of protection.
Lets hope we do not find out.
You might want to consider “nesting” your parts in multiple Faraday cages. Small parts are fairly easy. Drop the part in a zip lock bag, wrap the bag in a couple of layers of aluminum foil then tape the foil. Another zip lock bag, more foil and tape and a final bag. This will provide two additional layers of protection as long as each layer of foil is electrically insulated from the others. Each Faraday cage will cut down the pulse to some degree. “Nesting” cages will significantly increase protection.
Sealing the lid of a 33 gallon trash can Faraday cage with aluminum tape is worthwhile but doesn’t insure a complete electrical path. The glue on the tape is non-conductive thus allowing frequencies of that wavelength in. I sealed mine with aluminum foil wadded up around where the lid seats on the can as well as sealing the lid with aluminum tape.
My understanding abouut EMPs as a whole, you would want a vehicle 1796 and older to be assure of it starting and running.
Back in 1796 their transportation was emp resistant. And it was capable of making copies of itself. Imagine if you had two Fords and they were capable of manufacturing copies of themselves.
Sorry, 1976 or older. Lol! Oops.
Joe – yeah, when I first read “1796” I had to laugh.
Most domestic vehicles went to computers in 1980, most had electronic ignition in 1975, except Chrysler had it earlier. I don’t think electronic ignition would survive an EMP. I also don’t believe disconnecting the battery would save it.
This is an interesting premise and there are so many differing opinions about EMP hardening of various components. Several examples exist out there if one knows where to look for them. My own personal experience came with a 1981 Ford Courier manufactured by Mazda with the Ford 2.3 liter engine. While parked near the building my wife worked in during the afternoon, a transformer on the pole next to the building blew up.
Many cars in the parking lot would not start but my wife said she did not know why the truck started and others did not when she came to pick me up. After I asked her if anything unusual had happened that day and she said only that transformer blast had occurred. She was already aware of EMP since I had explained it to her but had not told her that it did not require a nuclear blast to accomplish it but a CME event just like the transformer would also trigger the event. Our truck had transistorized ignition but the firing module was well armored and grounded so the charge would be absorbed by the body of the truck and this is why it still ran. We really had some pissed off people in that parking lot that day.
Good ideas John P -Arlene
Joe, the vehicle in 1796 was a horse and EMP would not have been a problem, seriously though having horses, mules and bicycles as Arlene do is great. PR, glad you have an older jeep, I know my 1978 J20 had a computer and an alternator. I just keep looking for an older vehicle that can use older non electronic parts. As far as fuel one of the people on this site was investigating into the construction of a wood gassifier and if he is successful I hope he does a DVD on it.
Man I’ve been worrying about this issue for a couple years now, great info, thanks for sharing it guys 🙂
I failed to mention that TEOTEAWKI is not power plant original. For reliability and more power, it has a crate 283 chevy engine with mechanical fuel pump, 500cfm 2bbl Holley, and an old point style distributor with external coil.
In my youth I found the 283 simple to maintain, long lived, and economical for the reliable power it generated. I returned to this venerable engine for the Jeep. Nary a computer nor semiconductor rectifier in old TEOTEAWKI. The 283 is an easy mod often done to older Jeeps. Addition of an even older 12vdc generator and mechanical voltage regulator is a snap and there’s even room for a functional alternator so one could leave the generator/VR unconnected and with a little mechanical planning, unbelted. Were the alternator to die, then unplug it, connect the generator and relocate the belt. Not complicated at all.
See: http://www.autozone.com/autozone/parts/Surefire-Engine/1965-Chevrolet-Impala/_/N-ixfhfZ9enw6?itemIdentifier=891036_845676_11266_ for your old technology 283 today.
But of course we have about a dozen hayburning fertilizer generators including a venerable cranky old burro.
Bottom line everyone, keep ole Bob and boots in your vehicles.
One of my favorite, if fanciful, emp novels is WEST OF SHERIDAN. It had a more than a little to do with where we ended up.
My EMP vehicles consist of three 1978 era cars with 0 computers and minimal electronics that are stored as backups (coils, generators, starter, points and condenser sets) in a EMP vault. Two of the cars are Mazda racecars that although very loud would have their uses. The third is a Lotus Esprit (my stupid simple ’55 Chevy)so that I can play James Bond come the apocalypse. The speed and low profiles would make for difficult targets, but not much ground clearance for off-roading.
Sounds like we are both wrench heads. I have a restored 30s model Plymouth with an ultra modern vertex magneto, the ultimate in emp survivable ignition. I mention this for those of you who might want to go that extra step in reliability beyond breaker point ignition. There several firms in California that will manufacture custom magnetos for most gasoline engines. Magnetos produce and distribute their own high tension electrical energy. Magneto equipped engines need no external power source such as a generator or battery to operate. Because magnetos produce so much sparking power, engines so equipped start easily when just ‘bumped’ over. One does not ‘turn off’ a magneto, one grounds its P lead, otherwise, it is always ‘on.’ Pilots are loathe to move propellers by hand for fear of an open P lead where just a little movement can cause the engine to start.
Most small airplane power plants such as manufactured by Continental or Lycoming have not only one magneto but two as a redundancy. Each magneto independently energizes its own set of spark plugs of which there of course two per cylinder.
So my friends when you read that last greatest emp novel and the small planes are falling from the air, remember my comment that those type engines are among the most emp resistant gasoline powered internal combustion engines ever made by man. Besides, all pilots know that it is not the engine and wings that keep planes aloft, it is money, and a lot of it.
Ah hah! Thank you for your information regarding magnetos. If correct, this means I can cut firewood with my chainsaw, rototill my and neighbor’s gardens, run my outboard – I live on an island and there may be opportunities to transport people for medical service(?) or help people get home. (Gotta be careful who you offer rides to though.) Do some motorcycles still use magnetos? Some gas stations carry non-ethanol gas (89 octane) which can be treated with additives like STA-BIL will last over a year if properly stored.
My long term goal is to do just as you described, but with one small change – I want my “EMP Proof” vehicle to be diesel. Why? Two very good reasons:
1. Diesel engines don’t have near as much “electrical” as their gasoline brothers. Basically, all you will have to keep a spare of is the starter. As long as you can start a diesel engine, no further electricity is required (except that most will need electricity of some type to “kill” the engine).
2. Diesel is MUCH better suited to long term storage. Gasoline will go bad a short time after an EMP, but diesel will stay fresh much longer.
Bonus #3 – An older diesel engine will (if there is no other viable source of diesel fuel) run (for a while) on pretty much any flammable oil – cooking oil, waste motor oil, citronella, etc.
I’ve owned a number of diesel powered pick up trucks. I highly recommend any 90s era or earlier Ford with the old International diesel engine and standard transmission with manual 4wd gearbox. Of course our tractors and side by sides are diesel. In a dire situation, our travels will initially be foot patrol. The side by sides would take the place of highway vehicles because of their much better fuel economy and ability to negotiate rough terrain. We have a number of trailers for the side by sides which along with the hydraulic dump beds provide great carrying capacity.
Your hard parts such as switches will be unaffected. They can pass more amperage than a momentary surge will create. The E3 component of an EMP strike (the hydrodynamic part) is what creates huge pulses in transmission lines, pipes, rails, etc… and creates overtemp conditions in grid transformers. Our vehicles aren’t subject to that. They will be most affected by the first component, which has a quick rise time, just as quick a decay, and propagates well within circuits not necessarily tied to the earth.
Spares in an EMP box are the way to go. Two spares, if you’re paranoid about late trigger strikes. If we’re talking CME, one set will do.
I wouldn’t expect the battery (s) to be affected. Your starter passes huge currents as part of its design – it will be safe. Alternators might have an issue with their internal regulators.
In short, what will potentially have problems are devices with integrated circuits. Their small paths ways, sometimes measure in microns, ca not pass great volumes of current. They quickly overheat and melt, breaking the circuit. They may even be damaged, and fail sometime later.
The one thing we have going for us is that the lengths of wire in our wiring harnesses are not very long. This limits their ability to collect energy and pass it to sensitive electronics. They are practically non-existent when compared to power lines. Prep by having spare computer controls, and sensors that include integrated circuits in their designs.
I believe in using modern vehicles equipped with spares. The reason for this is that the older units are going away. I see fewer of them every year. I see plenty of the recent rigs, and that means I have access to spare engines, transmissions, accessories… you name it. If a guy has electronics squirreled away, he really isn’t as limited as is commonly believed.
Ah LP, I agree with you about the higher current devices. Starfish Prime tends to support this as well. In addition to integrated circuits, many modern vehicles, tractors, and utility equipment, use fine wire wound solenoids. The secondary winding of the older ignition coils is fine wire as well. Depending upon the intensity of the EMP field, these devices may be vulnerable. Be sure you have protected spares.
Spare computers have to be configured to the particular motor/transmission. I suppose one might have the connectors, protected programming computer and software to do this. I don’t. I once owned one of the infamous 2006 Ford diesels (the one the company did not stand behind when engines failed by the thousands). This vehicle nickled and dimed me out of $17,000. First it was the injectors, then the turbocharger, then the engine again, then the transmission, then all three computers, etc. I watched the dealership install and program the computers. Would you believe that they never got all of them working correctly? And this was a big dealership that does volume mechanical work. Of course Dodge, Chevrolet/GMC, and Toyota may be different but I think not. It takes a lot more effort than just snapping out the old computer and replacing with new.
How I wished I had kept my fleet of International engined Ford diesels. Parts may be harder to obtain over the decades but anyone with a lathe, milling machine, and patience can duplicate most anything metal.
My son and I both have 50 year old re-engined Jeeps. I suspect my great grandchildren will enjoy the old relics someday – and that they will be as functional then as now. The old vehicles are started once a month and driven in the pasture, fluids topped off and PM performed. Then back inside the metal barn they go. These are our deep reserve highway transportation. Anyone with a Jeep knows that they haven’t surplus room. Our Jeeps have universal receivers and high single axle trailers. Anyone with a Jeep should have a trailer.
LP, you touched on something I suspect not many have considered. I would think that any EMP attack would have at least two strikes. The first to take out the infrastructure, and a second some time later to take out any reconstructed infrastructure. For this reason, we have protected reserves, and deep protected reserves. The latter are the highest quality in commo and other electronics and are not intended to be broken out for some time after such a strike, and hopefully after intelligence indicates the opposing nation/terrorist state has been neutralized.
As long as we have boomers at sea with nuclear strike capability this nation has a measure of MAD. Which is why I believe we haven’t seen an EMP strike here – or elsewhere.
Excellent commentaries by the two most recent contributors. I have to possibly disagree with PH on his last sentence. There’s a very strong possibility that an EMP attack may not have “fingerprints on it. That, and a hesitant president and those boomers may be just sitting out there with all that potential-and not be used.
even though I have 3 pre-electronic vehicles, I am still wondering about the 1800’s Carrington effect that destroyed Electro-Mechanical Telegraph equipment and wires. Is is possible that the hard wire in vehicles can be effected the same way? My second concern with the few remaining running vehicles is gangs using them for targets, to obtain supplies.