Survival 101: Is your car EMP-ready?
By Zoey Sky // Aug 17, 2023

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is one of the by-products of a nuclear detonation.

It is an invisible pulse that spreads out at the speed of light and is very disruptive. An EMP can also be lethal to certain electronic components.

If you are worried about transportation after an EMP attack, you should learn how to make your car EMP-ready. You can also start looking into other transportation alternatives so you can travel after SHTF. (h/t to

Modern cars may be vulnerable to an EMP attack

An EMP attack can potentially shut down some, if not all, of your electronics. It can also fry the components.

But how will an EMP affect your car?

Before 1980, vehicles were mainly mechanical machines paired with electrical systems. After 1980, vehicles started to incorporate features like computers and electronic components.

Computers and their components are more sensitive to EMP's effects than a simple electrical wire.

As technology advanced, computers and their components became more and more integrated into a vehicle. Those components also continued to become smaller, making them more sensitive.

This means that if an EMP attack happens and your vehicle is in the area, a modern vehicle will be instantly shut down, maybe even permanently.

Preparing transportation for an EMP attack

If you're worried about an EMP attack, the best thing to do is to get the oldest vehicle you can find because the older the car, the fewer electronic components it will have.

But this may vary depending on the type and year of the vehicle since it may still be susceptible to the effects of an EMP, but not to the same degree as a newer car.

To illustrate, a car from 1980 might only have several components that would need to be replaced after an EMP event compared to a newer car from 2019 which might need more components replaced.

You should also remember that older cars would be easier to work on than newer cars. (Related: How to prepare for an EMP strike.)

But owning a car from the right decade isn’t enough.

If you want to prepare for an EMP attack, you also need to stock up on spare parts, fluids, tools and fuel. After all, there's no point in investing time and money in finding a vehicle that can survive an EMP attack if you don't have the tools you need to keep it running after the first tank of fuel runs out or it needs to be repaired.

The car and spare parts should also be shielded using the principles of a Faraday cage.

You also need to start learning how to maintain and repair your older car since you don’t want to be driving around your neighborhood with the only working vehicle and looking for a mechanic.

This seems intimidating at first, but many common car maintenance issues aren’t too hard difficult to learn about or fix.

What are the best EMP-ready cars?

When looking for an EMP-ready car, look for something with the least amount of electrical components.

You don’t want electrical components and computers controlling primary functions like pumps or and fuel injection. You also look for an option with simple functions like lights, locks and windows.

Note that cars are broken down into two broad categories: Utility cars and non-utility cars, or passenger cars.

Utility vehicles include jeeps and trucks. These types of cars are better for driving off-road, hauling supplies and towing. They are not designed for comfort, speed, or transporting a lot of passengers.

Utility vehicles may also consume more fuel than passenger cars.

Non-utility vehicles or passenger cars include almost all other vehicles, such as compact cars, station wagons and sports cars. Non-utility vehicles are designed for comfort, transporting more passengers, or speed. Unlike most utility vehicles, they often have better fuel mileage.

You should get a non-utility vehicle if you are sure that your car will always be driven on smooth, even or paved roadways.

Many people may disagree with this but when SHTF, the comfort and speed offered by non-utility vehicles shouldn’t be a big concern because your drives will often be uncomfortable and the roads may be bumpy.

The speed or the acceleration of your car is something to consider, especially if you think you will need to escape dangers or threats. However, lack of speed can be compensated for in other ways.

There isn’t a right type of car to choose since the answer will depend on your circumstances and what you will be using the car for. But if you can't choose, it would be better to invest in a utility car.

When trying to decide what car to get, here are some things to remember:

  • What year is it?
  • Are parts for the car still available?
  • How easy is it to work on?
  • Will it serve your prepping and survival needs?
  • Where do you plan on primarily driving it?

Other transportation alternatives

Here are some options to consider if you are looking for three transportation alternatives that will not be affected by an EMP.


Bicycles are a great alternative mode of transportation. They are affordable, and you can buy one for your whole family for less than what a new car would cost.

Spare parts for bikes are relatively cheap and they don’t take up much space. meaning you can stockpile a lot of spare parts before SHTF.

Bikes are easier to work on and repair, especially if you are bugging out. They also won't run out of fuel as long as you are strong enough to pedal.

If needed, your bike can pull carts behind them. There are also several ways to attach supplies to them.

Bikes are silent and they can be ridden over different terrains, both in urban environments and more rural settings.

Boat or canoe

Depending on your location, you can also travel after an EMP by boat or canoe.

Check the rivers, lakes and large streams near your property to see if any of your alternate bug-out routes after an EMP would be faster by water.

You should also have a plan for a viable way to get your boat or canoe from your home to the water. Lastly, prepare your gear and supplies with waterproof clothing and waterproof bags so you'll be fine even after an accidental capsize.

Horses, mules and wagons

If you prefer something that requires no fuel or maintenance, you should consider a horse or mule and wagons.

While this option won’t work for everyone’s current situation and it can entail a lot of work, it is very dependable.

Visit for more tips on how to prepare for an EMP attack.

Watch the video below for tips on how to prepare supplies for your bug-out car.

This video is from the Sons of Adam channel on

More related stories:

5 Survival essentials for your bug-out vehicle.

Possible scenarios following an EMP event.

Bug out survival planning: Transportation ideas during a financial crisis.

Sources include:

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