It's a commonly used device in sci-fi, including the upcoming show Revolution, which features an EMP-like device shutting off all the world's electronic devices. EMPs are most commonly known to come from nuclear blasts, though they are possible to generate independently. Ever since the 50s, when nuclear war panic and doomsday fantasizing and preparing began, the effects of an EMP on our modern electronic technology has been studied, with varied results.
The common wisdom is that in the case of an EMP, most cars since, say the 80s and up that rely heavily on engine management computers will be severely disabled, likely permanently.
But the more research I did, the more I realized that my daydream was founded on bad data, and that guy selling that moldy Jetta is probably full of shit, which, of course, would be a first for Craigslist. We tested a sample of 37 cars in an EMP simulation laboratory, with automobile vintages ranging from 1986 through 2002.
Automobiles were subjected to EMP environments under both engine turned off and engine turned on conditions.
Just to make things more confusing, there's been EMP devices made specifically for car-disabling purposes, like this one covered by our pals at Gizmodo.
For your regular car, the easiest protection is to park inside a giant Faraday cage, like a metal garage. Thirty years ago, most of the cars used carburetors, and only a few people believed that electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a real threat. Nowadays, even NASA admits that EMP is one of those events we could not recover from: it would stop all infrastructures that sustain modern society which rely so much on electronics. So if you are one of those readers who wish to consider EMP-resistance as a factor in selecting a bug-out vehicle, then you should not miss this article.
I have been doing the survival thing for some time and I see precious few absolutes when it comes to survival and a whole lot of gray area. Considering this, I will take a poke at answering some questions about EMP and how it would affect automobiles, which were asked by our readers after our recent article that described some top picks for ideal bugout vehicles. A large and strong enough EMP could stop the extraction, refinement, distribution and sale of fossil fuels. 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. 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. If your vehicle already has these features or you are already doing these things, then you are already part of the way there. 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.
Rewire with shielded wiring: Verify that your wiring is shielded or replace all you can with shielded wiring.
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. 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. The simpler the motor the better, but with larger motors, long wheel travel and skid braking, they will go faster than I want to go, that is for sure.
They are short on carrying capacity, but can sometimes fit in small planes when disassembled.
Ford, Chevy, Dodge, these older US-made trucks are very common and are great candidates for a low profile bug out vehicles that double as daily drivers. There are even some shops that will fix them up for you if you are not particularly mechanically inclined.
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. But if your route involves crossing a smaller body of water, a small watercraft may be an important arte of your plan. 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. Motopeds and bicycles are quiet and can be carried on the outside or on top of your rig as backup transport. In truth, there are many vehicles that would serve the function of bug out vehicle admirably, but in the end, your choice will likely be determined largely by availability, opportunity and economics. Similar to the prepper who is all guns and no groceries, every so often, I see someone who owns a car that is worth more than their home or someone who has invested a substantial portion of their net worth in a vehicle while living in an apartment.
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. In a post disaster scenario, you have to watch out for the Gestapo types who think they must run things. I am a huge proponent of modular kit and will be publishing a book on that topic soon, but it's a good thing to have backup transport on your transport as it increases the likelihood of you being able to refuel it or repair it t get it back on the road should it break down.

I would imagine it would provide substantial protection as long as it was made of all metal, but it could have leaks. Thanks for all the very good info, this saves all of us interested in the subject a lot of time and energy.
I'm aware that EFI was introduced in 1974-1975, but there are plenty of carbureted vehicles.
As far as Conex containers as, I spent some time managing an ATF-approved explosives magazine built from one and some of my other EMP articles and comments detail the drawbacks and utility of shipping containers as protection from a HEMP.
Build Your Own Ultimate 27-Pound Bug-Out Bag With Nothing But Inexpensive Items: Download Your Free Guide Here!
According to one report from Embedded, cars have over 200 lbs of electronics in them and more than a mile of wiring! I don’t want to incite panic and say that an EMP disaster is going to happen and we will all be left stranded… But anyone with an ounce of sense will acknowledge the risks so steps can be taken to mitigate damages.
The truth is that we can’t be 100% sure whether our vehicles will go out in event of an EMP disaster.
Various car manufacturers have performed tests about the effects of EMP on vehicles, but they aren’t about to publically publish the data – especially if it shows that their cars are vulnerable. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union and USA did tests which found that EMP could blow out the internal operating systems of vehicles – even when they didn’t have any electronic circuitry inside. The biggest public study we have about the effects of EMP on cars is the one carried out by the EMP Commission and published in the Critical National Infrastructure Report. Today’s vehicles also have a lot more circuitry in them than those of 2002, so they would be more vulnerable to EMP damages. There is a lot of talk in prepper forums about bug-out vehicles and how you could protect your car or truck from an EMP blast.
Keep an old vehicle handy: Older cars have less electronic circuitry and are therefore less vulnerable to EMP. Upgrade your garage: Metal garages could act like a giant Faraday cage and protect your car from EMP. Early nuclear testing anticipated the EMP, and shielded electronics accordingly, since the main effect of an EMP is that electronic equipment can be disabled or permanently damaged. I've tended to believe this myself, and the concept has been the foundation of a recurring frustration-daydream I have when stuck in traffic: A nuke detonates in the sky, sending a massive EMP propagating throughout the city. The biggest evidence to suggest that most cars will probably be just fine without any modification comes from a study done by the EMP Commission specifically to evaluate the effect on national infrastructure in the event of an EMP burst. No effects were subsequently observed in those automobiles that were not turned on during EMP exposure. 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. This is largely the result of a car's wiring and electronics already being pretty well shielded against electromagnetic interference (so you can, you know, still listen to the radio and not the noises made by your fuel injection computer) and because your car can act a bit like a big Faraday cage.
The Discovery Channel show Future Weapons drove a Taurus right under an EMP device, and it seemed to kill the ignition system, though ancillaries like dash lights and power windows remained working. If you're really, really paranoid, then an ideal EMP-proof vehicle actually isn't too far off from what our Craigslist guy who started this whole thing is selling: some sort of older diesel. And maybe smaller amber lanterns for the turn indicators, though I'm not crazy about running in and out of the car to turn them on and off to blink.
And I am not a mechanic or car salesman by trade, but I do have a solid background in technology and understanding of EMP as well what most people would term as vast experience as a self-reliant consumer.
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. Without computers, there is only so much to “do it yourself” on newer vehicles so older vehicles have greater appeal. Better still would be 2 or 3 less-expensive vehicles as opposed to a single vehicle that strains your financial resources. They sense and control virtually every function of the vehicle and are very sensitive to EMP. Sure, car manufacturers take reasonable precautions to shield them, but not against such great field strengths or over the entire frequency range EMP covers.
There are many features to look for and modifications to make to both your vehicle and your SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) regarding that vehicle. If you can find a 4×4 with the solid front axle and a carbureted 22R motor, you have a good starting point.
Plan B Supply can hook you up with a Deuce and a half that is all decked out for the apocalypse for less than $40K, which is a tenth the price of a Knight, UniCat or the like, a whole lot less than an Earth Roamer and way more likely to still run after a HEMP.
Space is limited on boats and must be carefully planned out, but many vessels have miniature versions of all the comforts of home.
As some of our troops were surprised to learn in Afghanistan, there is just no substitute for horses and pack animals in certain terrain.

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. He is profoundly grateful to his mentors for afflicting him with an insatiable curiosity about all things self-reliant but claims to be allergic to conspiracy theory. I haven't seen what electronics they do or don't have, but the are neat little bikes for sure. Current thinking is that a geomagnetic EMP (CME or solar event) would not affect most vehicles as long as they are not connected to he grid or other long conductors, but it would affect the extraction, refinement and distribution of fossil fuels. In tiny little no-budget sliver of EMP testing done on vehicles that is not classified, many minor glitches were reported. For all of those who know that they should be doing things like using a Faraday cage to protect electronics and going low-tech, then read on to learn about what you can do to protect your car from EMP. By the way, that article was written in 2003, and cars have obviously picked up a lot more electronics since then.
There was that video showing how an EMP cannon could disable a car – but I am skeptical of anything produced for entertainment. But, as Off The Grid News notes, there are a lot of problems with the EMP Commission study – like the fact that it was so underfunded that they were required to return the borrowed vehicles back in working condition! The truth is that we don’t know for sure (again, there are too many variables to consider and we’ve never experienced anything like this in modern times).
So make sure your disaster plan also includes a backup in case your vehicle is out of commission!!!
But, if the 1962 tests are to be believed, even cars without electronic circuitry could be fried by EMP – so be sure to learn basic mechanic skills and have spare parts on hand. Just be sure you don’t have any electronic wiring in the garage or they will act like an antenna and amplify the EMP! Almost all the cars around me are fried, leaving me in my archaic Beetle free to drive around and over the poor bastards, getting to wherever I was going unimpeded.
The testing was conducted by exposing running and nonrunning automobiles to sequentially increasing EMP field intensities. On a very basic level, a Faraday cage is a conductive enclosure that causes electromagnetic force to travel along the outside of the structure and leave what's inside mostly alone.
Since diesels have no ignition system at all, they don't really have to worry about any sort of electromagnetic frippery, and a diesel can be made to burn almost any kind of oil, so it'd be useful for the likely troubled times to follow an EMP event. Just do not allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that the vehicle skin is without holes that compromise its integrity.
As previously stated, there is no one standard followed by manufacturers even for EMP shielding. They are not so great for keeping a low profile, but they are the go to choice for many preppers looking for a vehicle with plenty of cargo space and can be had starting at under $10K. Invest in function as opposed to form when it comes to rolling stock, including bug out vehicles. But if you want your to run in an emergency, you had better prepare now while times are good, that's all.
The motor would quit running for about half a mile and then start running again; so, he learned to come in fast and coast. If we get attacked by an EMP weapon or a solar flare releases EMP, there is going to be the biggest traffic jam you’ve ever seen. We don’t have any confirmation that the circuitry failed, and that it failed because of the EMP.
That kind of defeats the point of having a study about what damages would be caused by EMP. In an actual EMP exposure, these vehicles would glide to a stop and require the driver to restart them. Lurking on survivalist forums, I did learn that a microwave oven can make an excellent Faraday cage, so that's where you want to jam your laptop and iPhone if you think an EMP attack is coming.
But the take away from this is to be sure to try to restart and fix you vehicle after an EMP and diagnose it if circumstances allow as opposed to assuming it's toast.
Still, the idea that a major EMP blast could destroy an old car without electronic circuitry is disconcerting.
Yeah, it might be a good idea to have an old vehicle on hand in case of an EMP emergency, but you’ll want some spare parts too.
The ultimate result of automobile EMP exposure could be triggered crashes that damage many more vehicles than are damaged by the EMP, the consequent loss of life, and multiple injuries. Maybe it's natural for some personality types to fantasize about finally getting to play judge or instrument of justice when a WROL scenario finally happens.

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