How to prep your car before SHTF
By Grace Olson // Dec 24, 2019

You may be confident that your bug-out location has complete supplies and the latest tech. But remember: you'll have to get there first.


A lot of preppers tend to forget about their bug-out vehicles (BOV). For some, BOVs are only meant to carry you to your bug-out location, and that's that. However, a lot of things can happen on the road. Before you know it, you may find yourself in a situation wherein your survival depends on your BOV. (h/t to

For this reason, you need to make sure that your BOV – whether it's a souped-up truck or the average car – is prepped and always ready to go. Here is a guide to help you get started:

1. Keep your vehicle maintained

A lot of people buy cars without knowing how to maintain them, and that's okay. There are mechanics that can help you with that after all. As a prepper, however, you need to think differently. Out on the road, with a natural disaster right on your heels – unless you're knowledgeable about cars, you're a sitting duck.

This means that you need to know your BOV. Do your homework on cars, how to properly maintain them and be sensitive to any unusual sounds your BOV may emit.

Here are some ways to ensure that your BOV is maintained:

  • Daily checks – Before getting in your vehicle in the morning, do a quick check: examine the tires, listen to any unusual sounds, make sure there are no leaks. Additionally, it's a good idea to take a quick look at your vehicle once you've parked it for the night.
  • Monthly checks – For these checks, you need to dive deep into the BOV's engine. Check the oil, transmission fluid, tire pressure, and other parts of the BOV. Since a lot of these things might get too complicated for the average car owner, it's best to consult a mechanic for help and advice. Ask about car maintenance and observe closely, so you can learn how to do more thorough check-ups on the vehicle yourself.
  • Keep your gas tank always at least half-filled – Don't let your car's gas tank dip below the half-line. You don't know when disaster will strike and people who didn't prepare will surely be racing toward gas stations to fill up. You don't want to be stuck in a long line when you could be well on your way to your BOL.

2. Stock up on supplies

You can always take your bug-out bag once SHTF. However, maximize the space of your car to store some extra supplies. Here are some of the crucial items that you need:

  • Clean drinking water – Look for square-shaped jugs to hold the water. Round-shaped containers are bound to roll over and potentially spill precious water once the ride gets bumpy. Make sure that you at least have a gallon for each person riding the car.
  • Food – Stack up on dry, nutritious foods, like granola bars, beans, and ready-to-eat meals. Practice proper food storage so that they don't go to waste.
  • First aid kit – Essential supplies for treating injuries, wounds, and other potential accidents should be included in the first aid kit. Add medications as well in case you might be forced to bug out in your vehicle. (Related: Planning a road trip? Don’t forget these 5 survival essentials.)

3. Buy an emergency road kit

Out on the open road, anything can happen. Your BOV may be in perfect working condition, but the unexpected happens. You wind up with the BOV damaged, and you're stuck on the open road. For this reason, you need an emergency road kit to get your BOV back on track.

Here are some items your emergency road kit needs to have:

  • A solid floor jack
  • Jumper cables and car battery jump starter
  • Spare tires and vehicle fluids
  • Tire pumps and patches
  • A power inverter
  • Fire extinguisher
  • A sturdy tow cable
  • Trac-grabber traction devices (if your BOV gets stuck in mud or snow)

4. Consider other items

Aside from the items listed above, adding the following equipment below can substantially improve your ride during an SHTF situation.

  • Maps and navigational gear  – Keep physical maps of the surrounding areas. Mark your home and BOL and check for alternative routes between the two. It's best to also check for any natural resources and animals available in case you may need them.
  • Communication devices – These include cellphones, radios, and chargers. You can also use satellite phones in case of network outages.
  • Signaling gear – If you ever find yourself stranded and need to call for help, include signaling gear as part of your supplies. These include flashlights, smoke guns, and tarpaulins that you can write SOS on.

These are only some of the supplies and gear that you need to prep your BOV. To learn more about bugging out — whether it's your car, bag, or alternative location – go to

Sources include:

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