Would Your Car Run After A Solar Or Nuclear EMP?


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Categories: Survival

There is more tension today than we've had in a long time in the political arena.  We have tens of thousands of bloggers posting headlines to gain viral appeal for their articles.  Facebook changed it's algorithm when it monetized it's page in a way that drastically slowed the traffic of page writers, making them desperate for the traffic they once had.  Headlines around the web have become known as "Clickbait" or half truths for the sake of drawing that big audience back to the page.

Meanwhile we read headlines that continue to reflect that Planet X is coming this way, that Jadehelm military exercises are ending shortly, marking preparation for something that will lead to martial law.  There are four blood moons close together which have sparked worry about the end times, bible prophecy, and the preppers are still prepping for whatever may come.  Just as people were nervously preparing for Y2K, and for the end of the Mayan Calendar, there is as much anxiety in the air today as there was at any of those events.

We are continually spammed by scammers trying to steal our passwords, and we are told lies and exaggerations by people hyping stories without first hand knowledge.  Many of us click the share button for something that looks great often without fully reading what we're sharing, and the rumor mill spins rampant in our world today.  


That said, as a boy scout, the motto was "Be Prepared."  And I like to be prepared.  I have heard since childhood in school that a nuclear war, or certain types of EMP detonations or solar flares from the sun could render our modern world back to the dark ages.  During the cold war, there was a worry that one day it all could erupt into cataclysm.  In World War II, when there was a fuel shortage, Europeans learned to run cars on wood with gassifiers.  When you live in tornado land in the midwest, it is wise to have an underground home or a storm shelter.  

As a part of being prepared, I've often wondered if an emp went off, what particular items would be effected, and which ones would not.  Would my cell phone still turn on?  Would my computer work?  Would appliances... the microwave, the can opener, my battery powered drills, etc still function?  Here's a great publication I ran into about what happens to vehicles following an EMP.  If for no other reason, consider it great head knowledge in case of emergency.

EMP Effects on Vehicles
by Jerry Emanuelson, B.S.E.E.

One of the most common questions about electromagnetic pulse is about the effects of EMP on vehicles.  I have resisted writing much about this in the past because so little is known about it given the wide variety of motor vehicles in use today.

First, however, because it is a point of so much confusion, it is important to point out that there is no known mechanism by which a solar storm would destroy an automobile, except for making fuel unavailable due to loss of the power grid.  Even the most massive solar storms are not known to contain the fast E1 component, which is the part of a nuclear EMP that can destroy items that are not connected to extremely long lines.

The question of EMP damage to automobiles is so complex that it cannot be answered definitely for the reasons discussed below.

The one thing that does have a broad level of agreement among those who have studied the matter is that obtaining fuel after any kind of electromagnetic disaster would be a matter of extreme difficulty.   Any particular vehicle may or may not run, until it runs out of fuel; then it will not run any longer until the fuel production and distribution system can be re-started.


Any statement concerning the effect of nuclear EMP on vehicles would depend upon details such as how your vehicle is oriented (in other words, which direction it is facing) with respect to the nuclear detonation.  It would also depend upon the height of the detonation, the gamma ray output of the detonation, the distance and azimuth to the detonation, and the local strength of the Earth's magnetic field between your location and the detonation point.

It would also depend upon whether your car is parked outdoors, in a concrete garage, or in a metal garage.  Obviously a metal garage is best, but concrete is slightly conductive and will provide a little bit of protection compared to outdoors.  A major problem with any ordinary garage (even an underground parking garage), however, is that any electrical wiring inside of the garage will simply act as an EMP antenna and will re-radiate the EMP inside of the structure.

There have been a number of isolated tests of vehicles in EMP simulators over the years.  The manufacturers of the cars wouldn't even say which cars had been tested, and the cars were usually transported to the EMP simulators in such a way that the make and model was hidden from view.  So we not only don't know the result, we don't even know which cars were tested.  One Ford Taurus was tested on video by the Discovery Channel, but that was only one particular vehicle; and questions have been raised about the video editing of that segment.  (Having spent most of my career working for television stations and related industries, I have learned to be skeptical of television reports, no matter what the source.)  Authoritative reports, however, indicate that some cars do behave like that vehicle.

The U.S. EMP Commission tested a number of cars and trucks at the L-3 facility in Colorado.  Although this was the most comprehensive set of tests on vehicles that has been done, those tests were very poorly done because the Commission was financially responsible for the vehicles, but did not have the funding to pay for any of the vehicles they tested.  The vehicles were borrowed from other government agencies (most vehicles came from the Department of Defense); and the vehicles had to be returned to those lending agencies in good condition.

Those vehicles were tested up to the level that some sort of upset occurred, then further testing was stopped on that vehicle.  In most cases, after the initial upset occurred, the vehicle could be restarted.  In most of the remaining cases where the vehicle could not be immediately restarted, a latch-up had occurred in the electronics, and the battery could be momentarily disconnected to "re-boot" the electronics, and the vehicle could then be restarted.  This temporary electronic latch-up failure mode caused by EMP is something that almost never occurs in automobiles during a typical lifetime of operation.

Only one of the vehicles tested (a pickup) could not be restarted after some minor work, and it had to be towed to the shop for repairs.

Very few of the vehicles were tested up to the maximum level of the EMP simulator.  There was considerable disagreement among Commission staff members about how to report on the testing that had been done.  Some EMP Commission staff members believe that the wording of the paragraphs in the EMP Commission's Critical National Infrastructures Report about the effect of EMP on vehicles is quite misleading.

For an excellent audio discussion the testing done by the Commission on automobiles and trucks, listen to EMPact America Radio Program number 41, which contains a discussion of this matter between the Chairman of the EMP Commission and a prominent staff member of that Commission.

In particular, the discussion about the testing of vehicles was roughly between the 46 minute and 54minute marks of this 96-minute program....

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