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SHTF tips: How to prep an EMP-proof vehicle
By Zoey Sky // Nov 19, 2021

Preppers always try to get ready for different survival scenarios, including an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.


EMP attacks affect your devices and cars. Read on to learn more about EMPs and how to make your car EMP-proof. (h/t to PreparednessAdvice.com)

Understanding EMPs

An EMP is a brief or short-lived burst of electromagnetic energy. It is similar to a beam of sunlight or bright flash from an object that emits light, but an EMP is on a different frequency level. An electromagnetic pulse can either be natural or artificial. It will occur as either an electromagnetic field, a magnetic field, an electric current or an electric field.

Pulses are characterized by three main aspects:

  1. The mode used to transfer energy: electric, magnetic, radiated or conducted.
  2. The range or spectrum of the frequencies present within the EMP.
  3. The pulse waveform: amplitude, shape and duration.

An EMP is broken down into three individual pulses:

  • E1 – E1 pulses happen when the gamma radiation released by a nuclear detonation knocks electrons loose from atoms in the atmosphere. This produces an enormous electrical current.
  • E2 – E2 pulses are similar to the pulses produced by very close lightning strikes. They occur because of the inelastic gammas produced by the neutrinos within a nuclear weapon.
  • E3 – E3s happen when the force of the nuclear blast throws a planet's magnetic field out of the way. In nature, E3's are produced by solar geomagnetic storms.

E1 and E2 pulses can damage modern electronics and they travel along exposed wires.

EMPs can be produced by natural or man-made phenomena or weapons. Common examples of EMP-producing events include lightning strikes, electrostatic discharges, power line surges and nuclear explosions.

The effects of an EMP differ based on the corresponding intensity of the electromagnetic pulse. Minor EMP events cause low levels of electrical interference and these may affect the functioning of nearby susceptible devices.

Minor events include the ignition of gasoline engines, which would cause radio and TV sets in the vicinity to show signs of interference like crackling or static stripes. Meanwhile, a major event would include a high-energy lightning strike that can damage nearby structures.

Other effects of a major EMP event include the disrupted function of nearby electronics or even permanent damage. A powerful electromagnetic pulse may also affect magnetic materials and corrupt data stored in computer hard drives and other similar devices. (Related: Making a DIY survival kit for your electronics before SHTF.)

This is why manufacturers of mechanical and electronic equipment have to include some sort of protection or EMP-aversion hardware or software to prevent the effects of an electromagnetic pulse event in their products.

Preparing for an EMP attack

When you consider the logistics of an EMP attack, you can understand how likely it is that you will experience one in your area.

As you prepare for an EMP attack, you need to understand that the likelihood of experiencing one in your lifetime is very rare. But this doesn't mean an EMP attack is something you shouldn't prep for.

EMP attacks are uncommon mostly because the level of energy required to cause significant damage and make an attack worthwhile for the perpetrator is very hard to generate. A major EMP event can be produced after a nuclear blast, but the process and energy required to create and deploy an EMP of that size without the detonation of a nuclear warhead are rather unrealistic.

Compared to a nuclear device, the effect of an EMP or its blast radius will be much smaller. Due to this much smaller explosive yield, it's harder to determine the best spot in the Earth's atmosphere that would produce the desired effect.

Theoretically, it would require several test detonations to find the right altitude and location to detonate an EMP, making it even more unrealistic.

While it's good to always be prepared, you shouldn't worry too much about an EMP attack. But it's still better to make the necessary preparations.

Vehicles that are vulnerable to an EMP attack

Older cars built with only mechanical machinery and don't have any electronic gear will be immune to an EMP attack. But an electromagnetic pulse will still affect vehicles designed and built with electronic systems, as well as the mechanical parts that make cars run.

An EMP blast will affect the electronics in a modern car to different degrees. If your car has an electronic system, an EMP attack will affect its turn signals, headlights, brake lights and radio signal.

These effects may vary depending on car type because the chassis of the vehicle, which is the earthed metal screen surrounding the electronics, will shield a car's parts from electrostatic and electromagnetic pulses.

While most cars will have some sort of pulse protection, the quality of this protection will vary. Theoretically, cars with electronic systems will be affected by an EMP attack. Fortunately, a lot of cars have counter-EMP measures built into their design to make them relatively immune during an attack.

How to prepare your car for an EMP attack

A lot of cars have their wiring and electronics protected against electromagnetic interference, like the chassis of the car that also functions as a Faraday cage.

A Faraday cage is an enclosure that is conductive. This means it can make electromagnetic pulses travel along this conductive outside structure, which then protects whatever is inside.

However, an EMP can still travel through windows and other car parts, eventually reaching the sensitive electronics within. To fully protect your car, turn it into a complete Faraday cage by covering exposed areas like windows and windshields with aluminum foil to complete the circuit.

Note that you shouldn't drive your car like this, but you can keep a spare vehicle wrapped in foil parked in your garage.

Still, this doesn't mean your car is 100 percent EMP-proof. To make sure your car can still function after an EMP attack, drive a diesel fuel vehicle.

Diesel engines don't have an ignition system like most normal fuel cars. This type of system usually involves an electronic fuel injection system that could be interrupted by an EMP attack.

If you own a modern car, it is most likely designed and built with electromagnetic pulse deterring systems. But if you want to make your car totally EMP-proof, you can opt to buy an old car built strictly with mechanical parts that are immune to interference from an EMP attack.

Most old cars have little to no electronic systems incorporated into their builds so they won't be affected by an EMP event.

There's a very small chance that you will experience an EMP attack, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. If you are worried about an EMP attack in your area, invest in an old diesel engine model that will be 100 percent EMP-proof.

Sources include:



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