EMP Effects on Cars: Would Yours Survive?

It seems like something that could only happen in sci-fi novels and shows, but the threat of an EMP strike is real. Since the 1950s, when nuclear war panic and preparation for doomsday events was common, the effects of EMP attacks have been carefully studied.

In the rare chance that an EMP attack does occur, you want to make sure that you still have the capability to travel and evacuate with your loved ones. Read on to learn about the EMP effects on cars and how you can increase your chances of keeping your car protected!

What is an EMP?

EMP stands for electromagnetic pulse. Although it doesn’t pose any risk to people health-wise, this burst of electromagnetic radiation has the potential to do devastating and permanent damage to any electronics it comes in contact with.

In the past, solar flares have been the cause of EMPs that damaged satellites. However, the fear of an EMP attack largely comes from man-made nuclear weapons. High-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) devices can theoretically be detonated over countries to take out their power grids and damage unshielded electronics.

Although other developed countries still don’t have the military or technological power to create nuclear devices that are capable of doing this, the threat is still a hard one to ignore.

Automotive Vulnerability: EMP Effects on Cars

The EMP Commission released a study in 2004 that subjected 37 different vehicles with vintages ranging from 1986 to 2002 to simulated EMP attacks. None of the vehicles suffered any lasting effects with their engines shut off.

With the engine’s on, some of their engines turned off during an EMP attack, or their electronics went haywire, like blinking dash lights. However, those malfunctions are only considered a nuisance and don’t require driver intervention to correct.

Taking all of this into account, the biggest risk was that these temporary nuisances would cause car accidents on the road, leading to injuries and potential loss of life. There’s also an impact on the availability of fuel. In the case of a power grid failure, fuel will become unavailable or rare.

There are also many different variables that increase or decrease the chances of your car falling victim to an EMP attack, such as:

  • The direction your vehicle is facing in relation to the EMP
  • The height of a nuclear strike detonation if it causes the EMP
  • The gamma ray output of the explosion
  • Your vehicle’s distance from the detonation
  • The location of your car
  • The year, make and model

How to EMP-Proof Your Car

There’s a belief that the vehicle’s electronics don’t suffer any severe damage because of the metal bodies covering the vehicles. The outer covering acts as a partial Faraday cage, which reflects an EMP back and is also the reason why you can survive a lightning strike to your car.

However, more and more cars today are being made with more delicate electronics. We can assume that our cars are more vulnerable compared to what the 2004 study found. Aside from building your survival supplies, knowing a few ways to protect your car can give you greater peace of mind.

Purchase an Old Car

If you have an older car and you’re afraid of an EMP attack, it’s worth it to keep any antique cars or to purchase one and keep it well maintained. Ideally, you want an older car with a carbureted engine and four-wheel drive in the case that you need to go off-road around abandoned cars during the aftermath of an EMP.

Store Your Car in a Faraday Cage

A Faraday cage is a metal container that blocks and reflects electrical energy. They can be bought or made on your own.

With this in mind, parking your car in a metal garage can lessen the chances of it being effected during an EMP. Concrete garages will also block electrical energy, but they’re not as effective as metal.

Of course, a metal garage won’t help if you’re out on the road.

Backup Parts

If you’re caught out on the road and your vehicle is affected, the easiest and most effective thing you can do is to keep backup electronics in your car and your home. Ensure that you store them in Faraday cages.

When an EMP takes out your vehicle, all you need to do is replace the defective components with the new ones you’ve protected.

Aftermarket Protection

It’s also possible to invest in aftermarket protection. These wire into your car’s electrical system. Although this is a fairly new technology and its effectiveness isn’t 100 percent guaranteed, these aftermarket options are supposed to reroute any incoming electrical or electromagnetic energy.

Focusing on Your Survival

Although it may seem unnecessary, protecting your vehicle from the EMP effects on cars is one more thing you can do to ensure your survival in the event of a doomsday scenario. The best way to survive is to get as far away from the nuclear weapon blast radius as possible.

A functioning car will increase your chances of survival. It can even serve as a temporary shelter as you and your loved ones travel. However, it’s good to keep in mind that only a small amount of cars will stall during an EMP attack.

When that’s the case and you’re out on the open road, the greatest threat to you will be distracted drivers and car accidents that you’ll need to swerve to avoid.

Simply put, keeping informed about your vehicle’s protection will grant you greater peace of mind.

Want to find a simple way to protect your electronics and electrical components? Check out our easy to use Faraday EMP bags!

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