EMP Protection For Your Tow Vehicle and RV

Vehicle Micro-circuitry & Computer Chips Will be a Problem During an EMP

First of all, most of the tests performed by the government and by private companies have conclude that most vehicles, pre-1990, will be largely unaffected by the EMP. The engine and mechanical parts of a vehicle will remain intact, however, the computer ignition systems and microcircuitry that controls much of a vehicle’s internal functioning could be fried instantly. If the engine is fine, but it won’t start because the chip in the ignition is fried, well, the result would answer the question.

The evidence to suggest that most cars will probably be OK during an EMP comes from a study done by the EMP Commission, specifically done to evaluate the consequences of an EMP burst on the national infrastructure.

Here’s what the study reported about cars:

We tested a sample of 37 cars in an EMP simulation laboratory, with automobile vintages ranging from 1986 through 2002. Automobiles of these vintages include extensive electronics and represent a significant fraction of automobiles on the road today. The testing was conducted by exposing running and nonrunning automobiles to sequentially increasing EMP field intensities. If anomalous response (either temporary or permanent) was observed, the testing of that particular automobile was stopped. If no anomalous response was observed, the testing was continued up to the field intensity limits of the simulation capability (approximately 50 kV/m).

Automobiles were subjected to EMP environments under both engine turned off and engine turned on conditions. No effects were subsequently observed in those automobiles that were not turned on during EMP exposure. The most serious effect observed on running automobiles was that the motors in three cars stopped at field strengths of approximately 30 kV/m or above. In an actual EMP exposure, these vehicles would glide to a stop and require the driver to restart them. Electronics in the dashboard of one automobile were damaged and required repair. Other effects were relatively . Twenty-five automobiles exhibited malfunctions that could be considered only a nuisance (e.g., blinking dashboard lights) and did not require driver intervention to correct. Eight of the 37 cars tested did not exhibit any anomalous response.

Based on these test results, we expect few automobile effects at EMP field levels below 25 kV/m. Approximately 10 percent or more of the automobiles exposed to higher field levels may experience serious EMP effects, including engine stall, that require driver intervention to correct. We further expect that at least two out of three automobiles on the road will manifest some nuisance response at these higher field levels. The serious malfunctions could trigger car crashes on U.S. highways; the nuisance malfunctions could exacerbate this condition. The ultimate result of automobile EMP exposure could be triggered crashes that damage many more vehicles than are damaged by the EMP, the consequent loss of life, and multiple injuries.

Most cars, at least older cars, would not seriously be affected by an EMP. This is because a car’s wiring and electronics are already fairly well shielded against electromagnetic interference by the vehicle’s metal body, which acts something like a big Faraday cage.

One possible solution to further harden your car, truck and RV against an EMP attack would be to install a grounding wire. For decades, 18-wheelers have all utilized grounding wires attached to their frames, both for protection against lightning strikes, and to protect from static electrical discharge when delivering flammable cargo. This is something you too can easily do, and along with a grounding chain, you can protect your vehicle and RV home from an EMP.

How to Attach Grounding Wire to Your Vehicle

The EMP grounding wire can be a long, thick length of stranded steel cable, connected to the rear axle, allowing the cable to drag on the ground while the vehicle is in motion. This will allow any electrical charge to pass along the vehicle frame and into the cable, then into the ground. You will need to replace the steel cable periodically, as it will fray and wear down.

When your vehicle is not moving, you can increase your chances of surviving an EMP by affixing a grounding chain to the rear axle or frame. Use a chain with 1/8” thick links. You will not drag this chain. When you park the vehicle, coil the chain around the axle, or around the frame, and stake it to the ground. Bare earth is best. Do it at night before you go to bed, and during the workday, to give that added protection in the manner that electricity will pass along the grounding wire.

For a motorhome that tows a car, or a truck that tows a trailer, you could also use the safety tow chains, staking them with a metal stake to the ground when parked.

Is this a perfect solution? Probably not, but the point is, to give you a better chance during an EMP.


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