Vehicle Micro-circuitry & Computer Chips Will be a Problem During an EMP
First of all, most tests performed by the government and by private companies have concluded that most pre-1990 vehicles will largely be 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 functioning could be fried instantly. If the engine is fine, but it won’t start because of a fried ignition chip, well, that would answer the question.
The evidence suggests that most cars will probably be OK during an EMP comes from a study done by the EMP Commission. This was 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 automobiles ranging from 1986 through 2002. Automobiles of these vintages include extensive electronics. They also 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 the 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 with both engines turned off and engines turned on. 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 relative. 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 a 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; these include engine stall, which requires 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 crash. This could damage many more vehicles than are damaged by the EMP. This could result in 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; a metal body acts something like a big Faraday cage.
One possible solution to further harden your car, truck, and RV against an EMP attack is to install a grounding wire.
For decades, 18-wheelers have all utilized grounding wires attached to their frames; this is 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; with a grounding chain, you can protect your vehicle and RV 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. This is connected to the rear axle, allowing the cable to drag on the ground while the vehicle is in motion. This will allow an 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 the vehicle is parked, 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. Likewise, do during the workday, to give added protection.
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.