Is It Possible to Make Your Car EMP Proof?

Rich M.
By Rich M. July 10, 2018 07:30

Is It Possible to Make Your Car EMP Proof?

There are a lot of rumors floating around about EMP and the devastating effects it will have on society, if one of our nation’s enemies manages to attack us in this way. While it can be hard to dig through the various ideas that people have, there is one definitive source that we can rely on; that’s the report of the EMP commission. They have done the research necessary to come to some realistic conclusions.

Even so, the reality of how bad an EMP will affect our country won’t really hit us, until such an event happens; assuming it does. So our safest bet is to assume that it will and that the worst of the rumors that we hear will be true. If anything less happens, it’s to our advantage to over-prepare.

One of the key rumors out there is that all cars will instantly stop running. This comes from the fact that cars and trucks today all have computer controlled engines. There is no way that those computers can survive an EMP, if they are subject to it. The only cars and trucks which won’t be affected like this are those that were built before computers took over engine management in the 1970s.

So, if you happen to have an old pickup sitting around, that you’ve kept limping along all these years, I’d highly recommend fixing it up and making sure the engine is sound. When some enemy attacks us by EMP, that pickup truck will be worth its weight in gold.

But what about the rest of us? Is there anything that we can do, short of buying a vintage car or truck and fixing it up for use in a post-EMP world? Yes, there are actually several EMP survival strategies that we can use to ensure that we’ll still have wheels after an EMP.

A Word about EMP Itself

Studying EMP is highly technical, and I don’t even want to try to get into a technical description of it here. But there are a few things that it is useful to understand. First of all, EMP actually consists of three pulses, known as E1, E2 and E3. For automobiles, E1 and E2 are the ones we are concerned about. These two provide a huge electrical spike, much like a static shock, which burn high fidelity electronics.

E1 and E2 need to be absorbed into the electronic device to do their work. But, like radio waves, they can’t travel though a sheet of metal. This is good for cars, as most cars have metal bodies. But cars also have windshields, with a mass of electrical wiring under the dashboard. That wiring can act as an antenna, channeling the E1 and E2 pulses into the car’s computer.

If we can protect the car’s electronics from those pulses, it should survive the EMP with no damage whatsoever.

Related: What To Store In A Faraday Cage For EMP Protection?

Option 1 – Be Prepared to Replace the Electronics

Is It Possible to Make Your Car EMP Proof

Our first option may actually be the simplest to implement. That is to buy a spare computer for the car, as well as all of the car’s other electronics (sensors, modules, etc.). These parts would then need to be stored in a Faraday Cage, to protect them from the EMP. Once the EMP attack is over, it would be fairly simple to replace the car’s electronics with those that were stored away. Voila! Working car.

Option 2 – Store the Car in an EMP-Proof Shelter

It is a well established fact that a Faraday Cage can protect electronics from EMP. This is nothing more than an enclosed metal container. For any Faraday Cage to work, it must fully surround the electronics being protected or at least surround all sides but the bottom, if the bottom is the ground. Electronic devices stored in the Faraday Cage must be insulated from it. Finally, the electronics must be insulated from the cage, so that they do not have any contact with the metal.

You can accomplish this fairly easily by building a metal building to use as a garage. As long as the car is inside the garage and not touching the walls, it is protected. The rubber tires serve to insulate the car form the ground or concrete slab, so there is no problem from that side either. Of course, if you happen to be taking the car for a drive when the EMP hits, your Faraday Cage won’t do you any good.

Option 3 – Turn the Car into a Faraday Cage

Is It Possible to Make Your Car EMP Proof

Most cars are made of metal, making them almost into Faraday Cages. However, there are some places where EMP could still get into the car; mostly through the windshield and other glass. But unless your car has a plastic body or a plastic roof, those should be the only places that need protection.

Non-preppers joke about preppers wearing aluminum foil hats. Well, here’s the place for it. If you made a metal “hat” akin to an aluminum foil hat and put it on your car, covering the glass it would function to complete the Faraday Cage. The only other thing that to make the system complete is a wire, electrically connecting the “hat” to the body of the car.

Of course, you couldn’t drive your car with that in place, so that solution only has limited value. But we can do a modification of that, to turn your car into a Faraday Cage, while still making it drivable.

I said that EMP is something like a spark. It’s also something like radio waves. As I mentioned, radio waves can’t pass through sheet metal. But what most people don’t realizes is that those radio waves see perforated metal or wire fence as a solid sheet of metal. Any radio waves trying to pass through chicken wire, remesh (used in concrete slabs), or welded wire cloth (used for fencing in animals), will be attracted to the wire and captured by it, not passing through.

So, you could make a cover for your vehicle’s windows out of one of these materials and attach it in place, electrically grounding it to the vehicle’s metal body. This would totally enclose the vehicle, while the rubber tires would insulate it from the ground. That should protect your car’s electronics from the EMP.

But What about Gasoline?

Is It Possible to Make Your Car EMP ProofThere is one other problem that has to be considered in this, that of gasoline. Even if you are able to salvage your car, through one of the methods I mentioned above, you’re going to have a hard time finding gas for it. If everyone else’s car is sitting on the side of the road, not running, then you should be able to siphon gas out of those cars, at least for a while. But gasoline doesn’t keep well.

It would be a good idea to stock a fuel stabilizer, to use as an additive for any gas that you manage to siphon out of cars along the road. This adds some of the more volatile chemicals back into the gasoline, making it usable. But even then, after about a year, it probably won’t be usable at all.

During World War II, they “canned” gasoline in sealed five gallon metal cans, with a metal seal. This would theoretically keep for much longer than storing gasoline in plastic gas cans or depending on gasoline held in gas tanks. You can still find five gallon metal cans, such as Jerry cans and Kerosene cans, but you may have to do a little looking.

Even then, your fuel supply will be limited. While I am sure that restoring fuel production will be a high priority for whoever is in charge, pumping raw petroleum out of the ground and distilling it down to usable products requires massive amounts of electricity. So, chances are your fuel supplies will run out, long before they have the gas pumps running again. Even so, you’ll be better off than anyone else if you make your car EMP proof.

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Rich M.
By Rich M. July 10, 2018 07:30
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  1. MKS July 10, 10:22

    Just leave your components in a small box (preferably the one they came in) and wrap it on all 3 axis with aluminum tape. As for cars, good luck. Any electrical component with insulation values less the 20,000 volts will get fried. Most inductors use 600 volt insulation. The 50,000 volt (design value) will fry them. Any dodge or similar product will have their ballast resistor fried right along with the low voltage side of the coil.

    Thinking only solid state component will be damaged is a huge mistake.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Rick July 10, 13:36

    Even if you could EMP proof your vehicle,WHERE would you be able to drive with all the stalled other vehicles EVERYWHERE ?

    Reply to this comment
    • Tex July 10, 16:06

      Hey Rick….you’re thinking like a city dweller. Folks in the country will be able to navigate both on and off road.

      Reply to this comment
      • Glock907 November 24, 18:37

        Rick – The stalled vehicles on the road would be the least of your worries. Just where will you purchase your gas?
        The gas pumps will not work!

        Reply to this comment
        • Chase April 9, 15:28

          Glock907 they do have manual siphon pumps and you could go to the manhole that they tankertrucks fill the underground tanks for the pumps and pump out of it.

          Reply to this comment
    • Leann July 10, 17:23

      Not to mention the fact that the running vehicle makes you an instant target for people who don’t.

      Reply to this comment
    • Andy6015 February 22, 04:14

      I have a Jeep, so I’ll be heading up to the hills and let society destroy themselves in about a year after an EMP. However, an EMP can happen more than once, so you’d have to prepare for that possibility also. As far as cars blocking the road? Who cares. I have a 4-Wheel drive so I would just drive around them. I’m wondering if my car is in the garage, can I foil wrap my PCM? And what about the alternator? You’d need that to run the car.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Marcell July 10, 13:44

    Get the old diesel tractor with no ignition. Pull cable kills it. All mechanical. Pull start if you have to. Doesn’t need a battery to run, just to turn the starter. I used one for years with no generator on it. Neighbor used one for years with no starter. From 86 until last year. Parked on a hill when he was done using it. Old vehicles maybe. I keep extra points distributors put away. But I don’t think I want to have the only ride that still goes…might not work out too well.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Abigail Adams July 10, 14:11

    For gasoline storage – the main reason it no longer stores well is ETHANOL. Buy “Rec” fuel, recreational vehicle gas for boats, chainsaws. etc. which is just higher octane pure gasoline without ethanol. It costs more, but worth it in a crisis. Use gas stabilizer in it, keep it sealed airtight, & it’ll last a while.

    Reply to this comment
    • lc65 July 10, 22:17

      I’ve used it after 18 months – still good – WITHOUT STA BIL.

      Reply to this comment
    • Old Bull July 11, 13:10

      I just finished a test of storing ethanol-free gas for two years. Stored 30 gallons two years in steel cans without stabilizer. Cool dry place. Perfect after two years.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Skip July 10, 14:13

    My plan is live where there is navigable water way. Place two 55# thrust electric motors in a Faraday Cage along with a shortwave radio, Satellite telephone. Have a pontoon boat. I can catch fish, use a solar oven to cook them along with harvested wild greens. Having a running car, will only get you carjack and murdered. Get a horse and saddle. We will be back into the 1880’s. Be sure you have a Winchester and plenty of ammo for Crazy people wanting your food & water.

    Reply to this comment
    • Willx July 9, 05:35

      Yeah man let me just keep a freaking HORSE in my back yard for an indefinite period of time, just in case something happens. Horses are cheap, right? And I’m pretty sure they don’t need to eat unless you ride them.

      Or, you know, buy a freaking dirtbike.

      Reply to this comment
  6. left coast chuck July 10, 14:58

    First, a disclaimer. I don’t have my PhD in electrical engineering yet. I sent the money order for the degree to the People’s Democratic College of Uganda but the degree hasn’t arrived, so I can’t call myself Doctor yet.

    Dr. Author Bradley is the only person with a qualified background that I know of who has done actual testing of Faraday cages vs. electrical currents. He describes in detail how he set up the tests and the results, complete with lots of figures I didn’t really understand but that is probably because my degree hasn’t arrived yet.

    Other than a poorly designed, poorly executed test where the conductors of the experiment used their own cars. Naturally, they didn’t want to damage their personal vehicles so when the cars started exhibiting difficulties they quit the experiment, there hasn’t been any actual testing of automobiles versus EMP/CME to my knowledge.

    There is at least one firm that is working on a blanket-like device that they claim will protect your car but I understand it is not quite ready for prime time yet.

    If you have a detached garage you can probably fix the inside of your garage to make it a Faraday cage without arousing the building inspectors; curiosity and having to buy a bunch of expensive building permits.

    Most of what I have read on the topic, and I have done more than a little reading, seem to postulate that the vehicles most at risk will be those that are operating at the time of the EMP. If your vehicle is stored in a garage, there is no clear-cut answer. It is like many things in life. We desire clear cut answers but life is not like that. It’s like the question of how long will bannock last? The correct answer is “It depends.”

    We decry the fact that the government has not run any EMP testing or if they have, it is a more closely guarded secret than Hillary’s e-mails. I can think of at least one reason why large, influential companies might want the government not to release information about the effects of EMP on motor vehicles. For example, how do you think Toyota would react and what impact would it have on sales if the government announced that in the event of an EMP every single hy-bred everywhere, running or not, would be as dead as a doornail. Not just Toyota, but every car company in the world would be storming congressional offices to have that information suppressed. All the green folks would also be storming their congressional offices demanding suppression of that study.

    One thing that Dr. Bradley’s experiments did show was that it isn’t necessary to block every single electron. It is only necessary to block sufficiently to lower the electron flow to the point where they are too weak to damage the item being protected.

    But again, that is the rub. How much is enough? So we attempt to block all electron flow in order to insure that we have enough shielding.

    This is an intensely interesting topic for me because not only do we need to be concerned about an EMP event, but we have to be cognizant of the threat of a CME event. Of the two, while an EMP event would probably wreak more havoc on our electrical systems, a CME event is like expecting a hurricane in Florida. It isn’t a question of “Will a hurricane come?” it is a question of “When will a hurricane come and how big will it be?”

    I would postulate that putting metal window screening on your automobile’s windows when it is in your driveway or garage might address the leakage that the author of this article suggests. You wouldn’t be able to drive with the windows shielded like that but you certainly could do that as a possible protection while parked. Unless one is on a trip someplace, most of the time our private automobiles are parked someplace. It would be a pain to put window screen in all your windows every time you parked and so most won’t do it, but overnight would help even if you didn’t do it while on a shopping trip to multiple stores.

    There are tarps that are shiny and look as if they are aluminized. I don’t know the actual substance that is on them, However, they are cheap and easy to throw over a car and tie down. It could well be that an aluminized if that is what it really is, tarp could provide sufficient interference to the electron flow to safeguard your vehicle.

    I toss that out as a possible — and I heavily emphasize “possible” — solution to the problem. It seems too simple though, so there must be a flaw in it that I am not cognizant of. Dr. Bradley found that duct tape worked as well in sealing a Faraday vessel as the much more expensive anti-electron tape that he also used. So he did find that cheaper was better.

    Worst case, you spent some money for a shiny tarp that you have faithfully put on your car every night only to find out that it was for nothing. But then a lot of what we do might be for nothing. My homeowners’ insurance that I have paid on for the last 50 years has been wasted money. But if my home were located 500 feet further up the hill I live on, I would have been so happy that I had kept the policy current I would be jumping around like Snoopy waiting for dinner.

    Reply to this comment
    • Necrophage July 10, 16:23

      Excellent post. Actually that’s the best post I’ve seen on this topic yet from a non-expert, and I haven’t seen any from experts, so you win the internet prepper-prize for the day.

      Reply to this comment
    • -Grumpy- July 11, 02:40

      not a PHD either but have a masters degree from MIT in electronics. All of what you say is correct but I still old school it and stick with a 55 Ford truck I have with plenty of spare parts, metal garage grounded plus chain link fence around base going into the ground.

      Reply to this comment
    • TheSouthernNationalist July 11, 20:40

      I have read that a simple way to test your home made faraday cage is to place a fm radio in the bottom of it, turn it on and close the lid. The only noise you should hear is the hissing sound of no signal. Take the top off and if you hear music playing again you have an operational faraday cage.

      Reply to this comment
    • Jack July 23, 20:46

      Dr. Bradley also sells an EMP Cloth that can be sewn to a size suitable for a car. Expensive, but his testing indicates that it works.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Mr Evilwrench July 10, 16:57

    I’m an actual EE that’s had a lot of experience with Faraday cages. Building, modifying, using, maintaining single and double layer cages. I was doing this in an RF environment more than in an EMP, but unless you’re right next to a high voltage/current pulse generator, it becomes an RF phenomenon anyway.

    I was able to suppress transmitters >10W on channel so well I could tune a very sensitive receiver with no interference. I could close up a computer case and cables so a sensitive detector couldn’t find it. Computers generate hella hash all across the RF band up to microwaves.

    The operation of a shield or cage depends on the size of the gaps in the coverage compared to the wavelength of the signal. This is why AM radio will drop out if you drive under some power lines, but FM won’t. An effective shield is considered to be about 1/6 of the wavelength, which is why old satellite dishes could be made of screen.

    Putting a tinfoil hat on a car would require electrical contacts between the edge of the hat and the body of the car, at pretty short intervals, or you may as well not bother. Then there’s the bottom. If you don’t have a full body pan with good electrical contact, the dangerous signals will be unimpeded.

    A car kept in a Faraday cage would be safe unless you were right under the bomb, but a Faraday cage that size would likely be fragile, and in any case you’d need to maintain it. Doors are hard to make well, and you’d need a big one. If you’re really good, you could shield cables and boxes in the car well enough it would probably be just fine, but you have to know what you’re doing and be prepared for a lot of rectal discomfort.

    I keep going back to buying duplicate modules and keeping them in a cage. That would be the best balance of ease and effectiveness. My favorite cage design is a dual layer, 3/4 plywood with each side covered with galvanized steel and the joints well connected. I have finger stock and compressible conductors for the doors. But I know the magic.

    Reply to this comment
    • Necrophage July 10, 17:56

      Well, that takes care of the expert post. Thanks!

      Reply to this comment
    • Marcell July 10, 18:03

      I respect how much you know. Please touch on solar flares, CME’s. If you can. Thanks.

      Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck July 10, 21:48

      If one has the room on one’s property, one can purchase all metal farm buildings. If you are familiar with the military Butler building, they are similar but can be smaller in size. A garage sized all metal farm building that is large enough to house your automotive equipment would suffice as to size. Leaks around the seams of the panels that make up the building could be sealed by welding. Around the door frame, overlapping flanges could be added so that when the door was closed, contact would be made between the door and the wall of the building.

      Storing all the electrical components that might be damaged in an EMT in a Faraday cage presupposes that one is familiar enough with the wiring of one’s vehicle to know which parts are liable to damage, where they are located and how to remove and replace them. Some of us may not have such knowledge. If you know how to tear down and reinstall the electrical system in your Honda Accura, you are way ahead of many of us.

      If you are interested in the metal building routine, you can see them on the website. I believe Great Northern Tool Company and Gemplers also have metal buildings. Or just look up metal farm buildings. That will probably reveal far more than the three possibles I have mentioned. You might even be able to get them from Amazon with next day delivery.

      Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck July 10, 22:06

      Evilwrench: When I was doing my cross-country bike riding, my wife and I car camped. It’s hot at night in Kansas and Wyoming in June and July unless you are at altitude in Wyoming. In Kansas you are never at altitude. In order to allow us to have ventilation at night I bought screen clothl. I attached the screen cloth to the car with magnets. One could easily attach aluminum screening to one’s car with magnets put closely together enough to act as blocking contact points. In fact, long strips of magnetic material 1/2 inch wide by whatever length can be purchased which would allow for a continuous contact.

      The screening could be draped over the car in long enough lengths to allow it to be grounded by metal straps with nail-type tent pegs fastening the metal straps to the ground and the grounding screen under the straps. The straps would go all around the perimeter of the vehicle so that the ground completed a circuit around the car.

      I hope you can envision what I am describing. You have a large metal mesh net over the car that is grounded by being nailed to the earth. Where there are gaps in the metal mesh you fasten the edges to the metal body of the car with magnets.

      Does that sound like a solution to the problem of protecting one’s auto from EMP/CME?

      Reply to this comment
  8. Kellel July 10, 20:44

    Modify an older pickup with a gasifier.

    Reply to this comment
  9. ray July 10, 20:47

    How about surge protectors for appliances, radios, etc.. Will they trip and protect the devices plugged into them, I know that without electricity we won’t be able to use those devices anyway. but could use a CB or short wave off of a generator.

    Reply to this comment
    • Claude Davis July 10, 22:04

      As I understand it, no, that won’t give any protection. The EMP will directly attack the circuitry inside the appliances themselves; it isn’t coming out the wall socket.

      Reply to this comment
  10. jim July 10, 21:26

    what about a faraday cage for a whole house- possible?

    Reply to this comment
    • Momma January 16, 19:04

      There is product, under $1000, which is supposed to protect your car from emps. Just hook it up to your car. There is also one for the house. Know anything about these?

      Reply to this comment
  11. Random thought July 10, 23:42

    Just a thought, how susceptible would a car be to an EMP if the battery was removed and the plus and minus battery cables were securely grounded together. Would having the power system using a common isolated ground from the Earth ground, limit the Damage Done by the EMP?

    Reply to this comment
  12. IvyMike July 11, 01:14

    I have an old friend whose hobby is buying old rusted out hulks of cars and rebuilding them into race cars. He networks with thousands of people all over the country who do the same thing. I think everybody is going to be surprised how many old cars hit the road the day after an EMP, I know we’ll be having traffic jams in Texas. I have a funny vision of a guy building a perfect Faraday cage for his 2018 4×4 Cowboy Cadillac, he’s feeling pretty good about life after EMP, then realizes he left the electronic key fob hanging from the hook by the backdoor just like always…
    …and about gas, I stick my mower in the garage every fall and do nothing to the gas, it always starts right up in the spring on the gas in the tank. And years ago I bought a totally rusted but otherwise perfect 54 Chevy pickup that had not a single ding on the cameo windows, it had been sitting uncovered in a hay field for two years w/o being started, hooked jumper cables to it and it fired right up, no gas problem at all. One more tale about gas, when Hurricane Harvey shut down the Port of Houston and all the refineries it took just 2 days for every gas station in Dallas to be drained dry.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Spike July 11, 02:06

    I’ve always wondered about lining the inside of an existing garage with mesh welded galvanized wire like you see at a farm store. I don’t know how small of mesh you’d need but some of them are 1/2″. We have to remember that you don’t need perfect…you only need to lower the emp effect down to where it won’t fry electronics.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Allen-the-not-so-wise July 11, 04:43

    Are you ignoring the ringing? The secondary pulse that the sheet metal on the car itself makes? And don’t forget grounding straps.

    Reply to this comment
  15. d-man July 11, 14:31

    I have a wood frame, metal sheeted pole barn, lined with metal on ceiling and walls. When pulling vehicle in, the radio loses signal, you have to walk to a door or outside for cell phone service and need an external antenna for the shop radio to work. not sure of emp resistance, but sure stops radio transmission.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck July 11, 23:42

      That’s what I have read also. Actually, I don’t think you would be able to hear the white noise of the radio unless you had the volume really cranked up. But that is supposed to be the test.

      Reply to this comment
  16. Bubba Gene July 11, 16:01

    Just get an old vehicle. Ten ignition systems can be bought and put in a little safe place. You still haven’t spent nowhere near what these other ideas will cost. I recently left out of Louisiana in a 75 model truck with a 33′ horse trailer. With a freshly installed engine and trans I knew was sitting out in somebody’s yard for a year or so. I was heavily loaded with dredge equipment. Crossed the Yukon in Alaska. Made it on one set of points. Not saying I didn’t tinker with it at times, but I wouldn’t have even tried in a newer truck. When it’s a thousand miles to town in either direction, it’s nice when it’s simple and fixable. I know, on the Canada map it has little names of places all over it. Its just that, a name on the map matches the name on the road sign, so you know where you are. But you are the only one there, if you camp a few days, you are still the only one that’s been through there. Yes I have some hard earned experience. Blew a clutch coming out of Rapid City, steep incline, when I figured out it was the clutch, it snowed six inches. No shoulder, over in ditch. Pulled that heavy four speed, no trans jack, on a mountain, in the snow all night, wet, no heat…I fondly recall that day because it was one of the easier days. Yes I got some stories. Crossed corner of Wyoming and just hit Montana when the radiator exploded at that first creek. 65 miles to Belle Fource SD, all I had was pit and pat. Cold, had made it to town but radiator wouldn’t be in until morning. Freezing. Found a used car lot that had a horse trailer and the tack area was unlocked. I slept there shivering all night. I was near the two truck stops. Old one and new one. Truck had no heat, no gauges, no radio, no Speedo, just like an old tractor. Rattlin? It needs oil. Steam blowing? Needs water.I had left Louisiana with a hundred and sixty dollars. Now, say I ain’t crafty…

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  17. LA Bill July 11, 17:31

    With all the articles written about EMP effects, Faraday Cages, and surviving after an EMP or CME, I don’t know why none of them discussed the actual replacing and programming required for a modern vehicle’s many computer control modules. You can put back-ups for your vehicle’s computer modules in a Faraday Cage easily enough, and if you live far enough out in the country, you might even have enough time to replace the fried modules with the protected modules you stored in a Faraday Cage. But according to an auto mechanic I asked about the feasibility of doing that myself, he said all of the major engine, braking and suspension control modules used in vehicles made in recent years require setting or adjusting (programming) with their own specialized computer programming tools, which are also computerized electronic devices that would need to be protected in the same Faraday Cage with the vehicle’s replacement computer modules. He also estimated that it could take up to 36 hours to complete the removal, reinstalling and programming of the computer control modules in a modern vehicle, if you had all the required parts, tools and training. He then asked me if I ever wondered why it cost so much to have my vehicle worked on in a repair shop. Among the many factors, aside from the repair shop’s function as a profit-center, one part of the dealer’s expense is in hiring and retaining trained technicians who know how to work on my vehicle and another part is to pay for the electronic diagnostic and programming devices required for the trained technicians to do their work.

    Living far enough out in the country may provide the time required for you to remove the hardware holding the fried computer control modules in place, label and unplug the wiring connectors from them on your vehicle, then reattach the Faraday Cage-protected modules using the saved, original hardware (assuming you don’t strip-out or lose any in the removal process) and correctly reattach the labelled wiring connectors to them. But if you don’t have, or don’t know how to use the computer module programming tools correctly and don’t happen to have a trained technician in your family, or survival team, you may have spent a great deal of money (the computer control modules and programming tools required to get a modern vehicle running properly after an EMP event aren’t cheap) for nothing because you won’t be able to get your modern vehicle running again.

    For people living in towns or cities who , unless you have your own garage with a solid steel door and no windows to keep “snoopers” or marauders from seeing you working on your vehicle for several days after the SHTF event, I wouldn’t recommend planning to use your vehicle to escape the inevitable break-down of society that would take place following an EMP event. It makes the idea of having a late 60’s to mid 70’s 4WD, carbureted-gas or diesel powered hardtop SUV-type (they weren’t called that back then) vehicle with a WARN wench on the front, a roof rack, and enclosed storage space behind the front seats that has been mechanically restored and is in excellent running condition with new all-terrain tires sound a lot better to me with every passing day.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck July 11, 23:58

      All it takes is the application of a lot of cash or an excellent line of credit. In addition, if you are talking about 60s or 70s vehicles, you are talking about vehicles that are, at a minimum, 40 years old. Unless they were a huge seller in their day, parts for cars that old might be like searching for Hillary’s missing e-mails.

      Many of these suggestions require a fairly sophisticated level of automotive mechanical and electrical knowledge, specialized tools, time and money to put into place. Some of us lack the knowledge, money and time to effectuate that kind of preparation. That’s why we are looking for something like throwing wire window screening over the car and nailing the ends to the ground. Possible EMP protection for less than $100 and don’t have to be a certified master mechanic to do it. Will it work? I don’t know. I still haven’t gotten my mail-order PhD in EE yet.

      Read LA Bill’s post about the newer model cars. While his mechanic friend might be gilding the lily a tad, it is pretty darn close to real life. In the past couple of years the shops that do smog testing here in the PDRK had to replace all their testing equipment for electronic gear. No more sticking the probe in the tailpipe for the newer cars and also replace their computer system. No small investment in bucks. That’s just for testing for all those nasty pollutants in the air.

      Wow, I almost got my soapbox out and started on my air pollution rant.

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  18. War Eagle Scout July 12, 01:32

    Using a metallic cloth is the best way to actually shield a car, generator or other large piece of equipment. Here are the details. No I don’t sell it. Just putting this here for info.

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    • left coast chuck July 14, 01:52

      That is Dr. Arthur Bradley’s website. He is my go to guy for information about EMPs and CMEs viz a viz electricity and electrical components. He is the only author that I have found who has published the tests he set up, the methodology used and the results of those tests.

      I must admit however, that my research into the electrical part of survival is pretty elemental. I haven’t read any books dealing with the mechanics of radio frequency and electron flow or such. I did find Dr. Bradley’s book to be written on a level that I could understand and it seemed to make sense to me as a layman.

      I did find his fiction to be a little gory and over the top but it does contain good prepper tips and is useful in that regard. His heroes tended to be a little too perfect and his heroines were all really hot babes. Most of us in real life are less than perfect. Good airport reading though. You can read a chapter. Run to the gate and check in. Board, pick up the book and you haven’t lost the train of thought a bit.

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  19. Chuckstur in NC July 13, 02:02

    All of the above info is great and I appreciate every ones time and knowledge. I’ll share my remedy at combating an EMP. I have a 1994 chevy luxury touring van as a work van. Sounds great but I purchased it because it has only 4 electronic control modules and has overload springs. The modules control the ABS braking, cruise control, windshield wipers and of course the main mother board. Not caring about the first 3 modules job I went to the junk yard and purchased a Main Mother Board that was already programmed to my van. I switched the mother boards and drove with the junk yard unit a couple weeks then changed them back. The junk yard unit was inserted into a mylar bag and it now rides under the drivers seat. Problem solved.

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  20. Wannabe July 13, 18:34

    Maybe if you are Batman and have a bat cave and can store it under thirty feet of solid rock. Other than that we are mostly screwed

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    • left coast chuck July 14, 01:36

      There are other scenarios that might protect your vehicle besides the Batcave. Certainly having your vehicle in a cave will work. I also understand that if you are shielded from the emissions you will be protected. For instance, several levels down in an underground parking garage. I am not saying that you will be protected, but consider it. You are down on level 5 in an underground parking garage. Consider how much concrete and steel is above you. If you are not parked right in front of the panel board for the garage or a giant ventilation fan or some other large electrical apparatus, but parked against a wall, I believe you will be wheeling your car out of the garage after an EMP. If you were there and there was a ground blast and you weren’t at ground zero, you would ride out the blast quite nicely.

      Similarly, if you are in a deep valley and the blast is some distance away, you may be protected.

      It is my personal opinion that like so many devices that fail to work either as designed or have deficiencies, an EMP attack built by some third world country using technology that strains their capacity has a good chance of not working at all or only working at partial capacity. Just consider how many failures we have had in our rocket programs.

      While many of us with our cars parked on the top floor of an outdoor parking garage will find their electronics fried, some of us will be pleasantly surprised and find that our vehicle somehow survived. I believe there will be more cars on the road than we all have been convinced there will be.

      I may be pollyannish in my belief, but I think we will do better than the “experts” claim. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take precautions and attempt to ameliorate an EMP event. I don’t expect a flood or a tidal wave where I live but I keep all my survival supplies up off the floor anyway.

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  21. OhioHarvey July 16, 01:21

    Could you just purchase a steel cargo container used in shipping. I think I’ve seen them for 2500-3500 new far cheaper used. Spray a rubber coating on the inside then put everything you want protected from EMP inside including a car, or truck?

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    • left coast chuck July 16, 15:02

      my belief is that would work also.

      For Joe Average who doesn’t have a highly expensive electronics lab to do the kind of testing really needed other than the radio-inside-can-you-hear-it-playing kind of test the only way we will know if our shielding efforts work is an hour after an EMP attack.

      Knowledgable folks can postulate all kinds of theory based on their studies. Computer modeling allows us to create all kinds of fantasy situations. Can you say “global warming”? In real life, however, nothing beats empirical testing. That’s why they still have test pilots who make test flights in a new air craft. That’s why navy ships have a shakedown cruise. Yeah, everything is assembled according to plans and it all meets specs and has been inspected by inspectors who have been at their job for years but nothing beats starting it up and actually putting it through its paces real time real life.

      That’s not to say that we should just give up. If you have room for a steel cargo box and can somehow seal the door so that it doesn’t leak electrons and you can coat the inside with rubberized spray and have the space and money for it, I would definitely give it a try. You would have to be careful not to damage the rubber coating as you were loading it as the one thing that everyone seems to agree on, whether it is correct or not is something else, but no one seems to have a dissenting opinion that I have read, you must maintain insulation from the outer metal skin. That’s kind a convoluted sentence. Hope you are able to translate it. If the cargo container had a wooden floor, that would certainly isolate the items stored from the metal skin and be non-conductive.

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  22. Darryl Smith July 31, 22:20

    One thing to not forget is even if yoju have an older vehicle from before the time of computerized vehicles, and probably one of the most important items is that since all gas pumps are computerized an EMP attack will also bring them to a stop.
    Therefore, you will need to learn to make your own fuel as there will be no way to obtain fuel commercially. You will need to build a still and have plenty of grains on hand to boil down thereby producing your own fuel. You will also need to have plenty of oil on hand since you will not be able to purchase it.
    After an EMP attack you will not be able to purchase anything from a store as there registers and equipment will not work without electricity. Also you would need to have exact change since the average store employee cannot count change and rely completely on the register to tell them how much change to return to you.
    Remember, in the case of an EMP attack nothing electric will be running!!

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  23. Bleh February 28, 05:31

    How to EMP proof your vehicle retrofit it to run on steam problem solved people will be like what the heck?
    Steam needs no electricity just a fire in an enclosed space

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  24. CHASBO July 17, 18:33


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  25. Dave October 1, 22:55

    EMP is not a single pulse for say. The pulse is made up of many different frequencies. EMP strength is also in question. Any un-shielded length of wire will act as an antenna and absorb energy based on the frequency in the pules and the length of un-shielded wire. Even shielded wire acting as a faraday cage around the wire (antenna) can be problematic. See the next paragraph.

    EMP shielding is more like an attenuator of energy, And the energy must go some were. If the EMP is of significant energy the faraday shielding will conduct the induced current in the shielding and then radiate a pulse as well. Yes, into the protected area and back out from were the pulse came from. The amount of energy radiated depends on the loss of energy occurring in the shielding. Simplistic assumptions: Loss of energy from the conductor (shielding) similar as a wire heats up when current is flowing through it. Reduction of radiated strength due to the radiation is now both into and out of the shielded area. The higher the loss of energy in the shielding the better so long as it does not overheat. An EMP protected area may will have multiple layers of a lossy faraday cages.

    If the EMP is weak simple shielding may be beneficial. EMP shielding is simple to understand but a very complex issue to mitigate. More variables than I want to shake a stick at.

    Some shielding is better than none. If this were to happen as an EMP attack who really knows what would work for your situation?

    No, I am not an EE. There are EE’s that this, EMP protection design(s) are all they do.

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  26. John Osman October 13, 09:42

    By utilizing an electric fuel pump, you can get gasoline out of most any tank in the ground, or from other vehicles, … I had bought a 1954 dodge 2 ton farm truck that had been sitting in the farmer’s field for the past 20 odd years, … it had a 315 engine, & the fuel pump had been taken off, & the tank, (behind the seat), was about 10% full, so I removed it, & replaced it with a Chevy Vega gas tank that was still intact, & also replaced the old crumbly gas line, bought an inline electric fuel pump, circuit breaker, & wired it to the ignition switch, plus 20’ of rubber fuel line hose, & a new inline filter, … brought a new battery for it, & installed all of it in about an hour, & 1/2, plus, I took a piece of paper, & a small ball peen hammer,& traced out a cover for where the old fuel pump had been, … then cut a piece of 3/16ths sheet steel with a torch, ground off the rough edges, & popped a couple of new bolts into it with a Kellogs cornflakes box as a gasket, & it never leaked any more, nor did it continue to sling oil all over the ground when running, … lol, the farmer actually got mad at me, seeing that I had gotten it up, & running in less than 3 hours, I had paid him $25.00 for the truck, … and he was truly aghast after he saw what I had accomplished, … as I drove it from his farm up to the coffee house where he was talking with some of the other regional farmers over coffee around 3 pm that afternoon, … he wanted to buy it back for the same price, but I had added $375.00 dollars to the vehicle, … parts, plus my labor, was about an hour, & 1/2 all told, was about $60.00 at the time, including the gas I bought for it, … I sold that old truck, 4x’s, & twice to the same guy in 3 years, he just really liked driving it around town, … as did his dad, … who had bought it the 1st time, … I never did have it long enough in between selling it the 1st 3 times, to put any lates on it, … but sold it to a bone yard for $175.00 just to get it out of the driveway, 4th, & final time, … they used it for almost 7 years, the last I had heard, …
    the 315 V-8, was the predecessor, to the 318, … crazy, right? But it is true, …

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