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. 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. 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. 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. 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. They are short on carrying capacity, but can sometimes fit in small planes when disassembled.


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. 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. 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. 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. No communication, to transportation, and no escape with your fancy new car out of the crowded urban jungle. 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. 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.


This will help the body conduct energy through the vehicle skin like the skin of a Faraday cage. If you can find a 4×4 with the solid front axle and a carbureted 22R motor, you have a good starting point. Space is limited on boats and must be carefully planned out, but many vessels have miniature versions of all the comforts of home. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.



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