View Full Version : Automobiles and EMP

09-28-2010, 11:05 AM
There has been so much conflicting information about how EMP affects cars. I'm going to assume the worse. This is my main worry about getting to my BOL

How can you repair a car like an Explorer if an EMP happens? What parts would you need?

09-28-2010, 11:24 AM
IN THEORY all of the electrical system would be fried. That being said, a car is usually made of metal, sitting up off the ground via 4 rubber insulators....

Too far to bike it as a backup?

09-28-2010, 11:39 AM
It would matter what year it was i think, whether it is diesel or gas (or other fuel)

09-28-2010, 12:43 PM
So to be clear on this the EMP actually burns up the copper wiring or something?

09-29-2010, 10:50 AM
I need to go around 325 miles or so. It's a 1999 Ford Explorer. I'm just confused about all the info about EMP and automobiles that come up from time to time. In Tom Cruise's "War of the Worlds", he simply changed a part. So, if its only a part of so I'd need to restore the Explorer, I'd buy them and keep them stored.

09-29-2010, 11:22 AM
I guess it all depends on what exactly an EMP does to wires and circuit boards. If it burns the wires up too then you would need an extra set of cables in addition to the circuit boards. From what I remember of JWR's book ("HTS TEOTWAWKI") you would want to put the spare parts in an ammo can or something like that to protect them from the EMP but if you are directly under an EMP I don't think it will really matter IMO.

Matt In Oklahoma
09-29-2010, 07:30 PM
325 is a long ways. Thats more than a tank of fuel even in good times. If you don't have it now get a few midway points, I'm worried about going 120 after SHTF without EMP. A 99 Ford Explorer has a computer brain that will most certanly be gone and the battery is gonna be a maybe. The solid state ignition and all fuses will be a maybe too depending on the power of the EMP. This is just what I am told, even the military has no real experiance with anyt technology over the early 60s . My training was very dated even before I retired.
IMHO travel of anything over a few miles after an EMP is going to be almost impossible to achieve. I've been in places with collaspes and attempted takeovers without the EMP and we were not even moving much. I have no plans after an EMP on travel with much because of the issues it will create. If I'm wrong then I will fall back on the standard bugout plans. I believe you are gonna be stuck depending on where you are and how many folks are around you.

09-30-2010, 11:33 AM
We tested a sample of 37 cars in an EMP simulation laboratory, with automobile vin-
tages ranging from 1986 through 2002. Automobiles of these vintages include extensive
electronics and represent a significant fraction of automobiles on the road today. The
testing was conducted by exposing running and nonrunning automobiles to sequentially
increasing EMP field intensities. If anomalous response (either temporary or permanent)
was observed, the testing of that particular automobile was stopped. If no anomalous
response was observed, the testing was continued up to the field intensity limits of the
simulation capability (approximately 50 kV/m).
Automobiles were subjected to EMP environments under both engine turned off and
engine turned on conditions. No effects were subsequently observed in those automobiles
that were not turned on during EMP exposure. The most serious effect observed on run-
ning automobiles was that the motors in three cars stopped at field strengths of approxi-
mately 30 kV/m or above. In an actual EMP exposure, these vehicles would glide to a
stop and require the driver to restart them. Electronics in the dashboard of one automobile
were damaged and required repair. Other effects were relatively minor. Twenty-five
automobiles exhibited malfunctions that could be considered only a nuisance (e.g.,
blinking dashboard lights) and did not require driver intervention to correct. Eight of the
37 cars tested did not exhibit any anomalous response.
Based on these test results, we expect few automobile effects at EMP field levels below
25 kV/m. Approximately 10 percent or more of the automobiles exposed to higher field
levels may experience serious EMP effects, including engine stall, that require driver
intervention to correct. We further expect that at least two out of three automobiles on the
road will manifest some nuisance response at these higher field levels. The serious mal-
functions could trigger car crashes on U.S. highways; the nuisance malfunctions could
exacerbate this condition. The ultimate result of automobile EMP exposure could be trig-
gered crashes that damage many more vehicles than are damaged by the EMP, the conse-
quent loss of life, and multiple injuries.


The credit for the link to this report is from a post on another forum.

This quote is from a do***ent produced by the Governmental EMP Commission: Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack produced in April of 2008. This is a long report and details all types of infrastructure affected by an EMP.

If this is true - then why do so many people believe that it will kill most automobiles? The novel "One Second After" which depicts all cars stopping when the EMP appeared is supposedly based on accurate research.

That's why I'm so confused. Don't know whether the government is skewing the data or actually reporting the facts.

I do have portable gasoline for the trip.

09-30-2010, 11:53 AM
The novel "One Second After" which depicts all cars stopping when the EMP appeared is supposedly based on accurate research.

Not all vehicles stopped in the book. All of the newer cars are subject to EMP damage, a lot depends on how close they are, if they are line of site, but most importantly how how much electronics the vehicle needs to run. If you have a way to shield your vehicle during the attach (inside a metal building in the bottom of a parking structure) it should help.

Diesels seem to far less susceptible to EMP, because the way the motor works. You might like reading today's Survival Blog.

There is a lot of conflicting information out there and what makes it worse is that some of it is put out by people you would believe are reliable.

One site says if you hang a chain from your vehicles bumper it will ground the vehicle and protect during an EMP event. I doubt this, i do know for a fact that a lot of scissor lifts (a construction equipment) use a piece of chain or metal strap hanging from it's frame to flooring so it will discharge static electricity, so the user does not get shocked.

09-30-2010, 01:18 PM
I think it was the "Star Prime" or "Star Fish" test in the Pacific that was a higher altitude blast that fried a bunch of electronics in Hawaii something like 800 miles away.

The problem is we stopped doing above ground testing 40 or so years ago. I'm not even sure they test zippers any more?

You could put up a starter, solenoid, etc. wouldn't hurt to have them anyways.

A car you can push start- i.e, manual tranny might come in handy also.

325 miles is a long way. I'd be looking at heading out during potential "warning" times just to be safe. In the late 90's I used a lot of "warning" times to head out of the city for a couple days, test my BO plans and work on the homestead a little bit. Obviously being self employed and at the time single, this was pretty easy.

I'd pre-position everything you possibly could, so that you'd only have to worry about putting some gas cans, maybe a couple packs and some weapons in the vehicle and then going.

It's the packing process that is going to kill everyone's time frame upon bugging out. Everyone THINKS they can be gone in 5 minutes until they really have to bugout. I know I did.

Take a different route every time you go there to learn all the possible routes. Make strip maps of your route to include potential ambush points. I'd consider finding a rural storage center and consider renting a small one to put some gas cans in, perhaps some spare parts for the vehicle, a cheap bike, some water, extra maps, etc.

09-30-2010, 02:00 PM
I wish the trip was closer, however I'd have to leave my husband to move to our Florida location as he has a full time job. I need to be in Florida because my strong healthy son is there and will be able to take care of most of the physical labor and other things that need brawn. I've purchased Delorme's maps for both Alabama and Florida and my REAL problem is how to get across the Tennessee River. There are not very many crossings and I worry about gridlock at these locations.

I hope I'll have the information necessary to make an early decision.

Hopefully, I'll be back in Florida full time in a few years. I just hope we have a few more years.

09-30-2010, 02:28 PM
@monkeybird - I have a similar issue which I discussed in a different post about crossing a River. Here is the gist of what came from that discussion.

1. I mapped out alternate routes 60 miles above and below the normal crossing that I use.
2. Use Google Maps to help identify possible crossing sites i.e. railroad bridges, gas piping that crosses the river, narrow spots in the river etc.
3. Preposition a boat(s) (inflatable or aluminum or _____) at one or more possible crossing sites.
4. Set up an order of rally points for your son to meet you at in the event of gridlock at all of the bridges. You will want an approximate idea of how long it will take you to get to all of your crossing points this will help in determining how long your son should wait at a rally point. It would be helpful for both of you to have good hand held radios.

Hope this helps. If anyone else has thoughts please add them to this list.
5. Drive your alternate routes to see how long it takes to get to each of them.

09-30-2010, 07:13 PM
One small add,
Is don't over look the river it self. If you traveled by river could it get you closer to your final destination? I guess what i'm trying to say is if you had a canoe, could you say get with in twenty miles and it would 50 miles over land, that would be a good trade off