The EMP is the ultimate weapon against an electronic machine. In the hit movie “The Matrix,” the humans used an EMP detonation to fend off an assault of sentient machines attempting to destroy the ship piloted by Morpheus and Neo. And while “The Matrix” is science fiction, an EMP is very much science fact and has been used by militaries across the world for decades.
The Average Joe American won’t have access to a real EMP weapon, but a dark and grim future could have you up against bigger foes. If you’re interested in choosing an EMP-resistant vehicle to ensure you keep moving, these are the steps to make it happen.
What Exactly Is An EMP?
How to build an EMP generator – Warning: DIY at your own risk
EMP stands for “electromagnetic pulse” and is a short burst of electromagnetic energy that can disrupt and disarm electronic equipment when discharged. EMPs can be naturally occurring (such as in a bolt of lightning) or man made (in the case of an EMP weapon).
EMP attacks are a real threat and commonly associated with the aftershock of a nuclear weapon, which is the most likely scenario for one to actually happen. Access to EMP weapons is limited to the military (and possibly high-level law enforcement) but could fall into the wrong hands just like any other weapon.
How Do EMPs Disarm Cars?
Taurus gets zapped by EMP
The more modern the car, the more susceptible it is to an EMP attack. The pulse essentially knocks out the car’s ability to deliver power from the battery to the rest of the vehicle, and newer cars rely more on electricity for their components than classic cars do.
How an EMP destroys electronic devices is actually a complicated and debated topic, but researchers understand how much force it takes to disable something such as an automobile and how to prevent it.
The Right Vehicles & Where to Find Them
Older vehicles, specifically ones produced before 1980, rely less on electronic connections and more on raw mechanics to function. This is what makes them more resistant to an EMP blast and why they’re popular “bug out” vehicles for preppers.
It’s easy to find cars and trucks like these at used dealerships, but if you expand your reach to mountainous cities such as Denver or Phoenix, those used dealerships will probably have a larger inventory of off-road vehicles.
Other than age, what are some qualities to look for in an EMP-resistant vehicle? Look for some of these when shopping around:
- Diesel: If an EMP hits a major area, unleaded gas will turn into an instant scarcity, but diesel may be easier to scavenge.
- Fuel Capacity: For the same reason, you’ll need to carry a lot of fuel between stops.
- Cargo or Towing Capacity: While fuel efficiency is important, your ability to carry people or supplies is more important (or towing other cars knocked out by an EMP).
- Off-Road Capability: This depends on your area, but anywhere west of the Mississippi River is a given.
- Ease of Repair: Your vehicle should have an open engine that is easy to access, maintain and repair.
- Commonality of Parts: Stick with American brands to easily find parts along the way. Honda and Toyota are also common enough to find parts.
- Few Electronics: Try to avoid cars/trucks with anti-lock brakes, fuel injection or power control modules.
No Such Thing as “EMP Proof”
Remember that while these steps can help resist an EMP attack, there is never a guarantee. A strong enough pulse will knock out any car, but the steps above are a good place to begin.