How To Prepare Your Car For SHTF

The problem with emergencies and disasters is that they are not scheduled events we can plan our lives around.

You can find yourself in an SHTF scenario at any time, and there is a good possibility that you will not be at home, have to leave your home to collect family members, or need to bug out.

Our vehicles will always be our first choice for transportation, but if you have not prepared your car or truck for SHTF, you may find that your vehicle could be more trouble than it’s worth.

Fortunately, preparing your car for SHTF is not difficult and will give you a leg up when disaster hits.

Develop Good Habits

A critical aspect of prepping is developing habits that will help us manage a post-SHTF world.

For example, one of those habits we all need to adopt regarding vehicles is never to allow our gas tanks to get too low.

The best way to do this is always to top up the tank when you notice it is between three-quarters and half a tank.

Ideally, you want to never have less than half a tank of fuel at any time. You should also keep track of your mileage and know how far you can drive on a tank of gas.

Related: The Best Places Where You Can Store Fuels Safely In An Emergency

Situational awareness is also an essential habit to adopt. Pay attention to the neighborhoods you drive through daily and try to imagine what issues may arise if you had to travel through them after SHTF.

For example, if you go through neighborhoods that have high crime rates at the best of times, you can anticipate that they will be especially dangerous after SHTF.

Take the time to plan and test alternate routes to and from work, school, the homes of friends and family, and other places that you may need to travel to after SHTF.

A great habit to adopt is to do a weekly once-over of your vehicle. Check fluids, lights, tire pressure, suspension, battery, hoses, and anything else you can think of. Doing this will hopefully identify issues before they become expensive.


How To Prepare Your Car For SHTFKeep up on routine maintenance.

We are all guilty of ignoring the clicks, clunks, and squeaks that usually sound expensive.  All vehicle manufacturers list recommended routine maintenance items and intervals, and you should use that as a basis for maintaining your vehicle.

Check the fluids regularly, peek under the vehicle and look at the steering and suspension, inspect the cooling system hoses, inspect and change air filters, and ensure that your tires are in good condition.

Related: Top 5 Awesome Bug Out Vehicles You Can Actually Afford

Every make and model of vehicle has known issues that plague them, so you must be aware of these issues so you can deal with them before SHTF.

Learning how to do routine maintenance on your vehicle is also essential. You need to know how to change a tire, change the oil, fix coolant leaks, properly use jumper cables, replace air filters, change light bulbs, and how to diagnose common issues.


Regardless of what type of vehicle you own, there are a few things that are worth upgrading to be more effective during a disaster or emergency.

  • If you live in a region with significant snowfall, buy a set of dedicated winter tires or upgrade to all-weather tires and carry some chains.
  • Adding bush bars, skid plates, and roof racks are worthwhile if you have a truck or SUV.
  • If you are a licensed amateur radio operator, you should be putting a VHF/UHF radio in your vehicle.

How To Turn Your CB Car Radio Into A Powerful Transmitter

  • How To Prepare Your Car For SHTFIf your vehicle does not have a full-sized spare tire, you should prioritize getting one. The spare tires that most cars come with are designed to allow the vehicle to drive at slower speeds for a short distance so you can repair the flat tire. Unfortunately, after SHTF, there won’t be any tire shops open.

Kitting the Vehicle Out

Every vehicle should have a vehicle emergency kit and a get-home bag. A vehicle emergency kit should cover the main issues you might have to deal with during daily life. These items are also valuable in an SHTF scenario as well.

A few notable items to include are:

  • Jumper cables
  • High-vis vest
  • Road flares
  • Flashlight
  • Wheel chocks
  • Basic tool kit
  • Gloves
  • Disposable coveralls
  • Rain poncho
  • Reflective hazard signs
  • Distilled water or premixed coolant
  • Tire repair kit
  • JB weld
  • Bailing wire
  • Hose repair kit
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Zip-ties
  • Shovel
  • Tire chains

This is a basic list of items to start building your vehicle emergency kit. Add anything else you can envision needing for a roadside emergency or SHTF situation.

How To Prepare Your Car For SHTFYour get-home bag should contain anything you need to travel back home from work, school, or anywhere else you may be when SHTF hits.

The bag’s contents largely depend on how far you would need to travel and what obstacle you would need to navigate on your journey home.

These mini bugout bags cover the necessities of survival while being small and light enough to let you move quickly through urban terrain.

Be Ready For Emergencies

A car or truck can end up being a cage that holds us inside after a collision or if it ends up in a river or lake. In these cases, breaking a window and cutting ourselves out of seat belts can be the only way to extricate ourselves from certain death.

Therefore, it would be best to have a glass breaker/seat belt cutter available to cut yourself out of the belt and smash the window. These tools are inexpensive, so there is no reason not to have one in each vehicle you own.

Wherever you decide to keep it, make sure that it is easily accessible and secure enough that it will not go flying in the event of a rollover.

Injuries and accidents happen, and when you are away from home, you must have a first-aid kit ready to treat any wounds or injuries you might encounter. So build a dedicated first-aid kit for each vehicle independent of your bugout bag or get-home bag.

Take a good defensive driving course and understand the capabilities of your vehicles.

It doesn’t matter how good your car is or how well you’ve prepared it for SHTF; if you wreck it in the first few moments of a disaster, then all that preparation has been for naught.

In North America, cars are essential to most people’s daily transportation, so we must take measures to prepare our vehicles for SHTF.

By keeping up on maintenance, making sure the tank is full, and keeping an emergency kit and get-home bag in the trunk, we can become better prepared for SHTF.

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