Preparedness Advantages of Holding on to Your Older Vehicle

ReadyNutrition Readers, I’m the last person on earth who would ever advocate going out and buying a brand-new vehicle from a showroom floor.  For any of you who may be selling automobiles, this is no insult to you or your products.  This article is meant to point out the advantages to “recycling” that older vehicle you have, and making an old thing into something new.  This has to do with a preparatory and survival mentality, not about saving dollars.  It has to do with things that may help you when you need them after the SHTF.

We have already seen and read a myriad of articles on the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), and the susceptibility of newer-model cars and trucks to the pulse, due to the reliance of the vehicles on complex circuitry and integrated computer systems.  OK, so you have an old 1973 Ford pickup truck, and it’s on it’s last legs.  It is a five speed and doesn’t utilize any of the ultramodern component parts just mentioned; however, the engine is not what it used to be.

Before you scrap it, I want to bring before you the possibility of doing a complete engine overhaul on the vehicle.  Understand if this avenue is pursued, you need the services of a competent mechanic…one who you can totally trust and rely on.  What an engine overhaul entails is detailed, but not complicated.  You will put out some money on this one, however, it may turn out to be a goldmine for you.  The pragmatic, non-preparatory reason is that if the engine is completely fixed and placed into reliable working order, the money you would have sunk into a new vehicle is completely eliminated.

The engine overhaul is just as it sounds: taking your vehicle’s engine completely apart, cleaning the parts that are serviceable, and replacing any parts with new ones as needed.  You can spend several thousand dollars on this, and once again, this will vary with your factors of the vehicle’s condition, availability of parts, and what not.  A good mechanic will do this and certify your vehicle after completion for an additional hundred thousand miles.  Then what?

Well, you’ve eliminated a car payment, as we mentioned.  Your older model should be well within the limits of being protected from an EMP, as mentioned, as it does not hold all of the modern hardware.  There are some other factors worth considering as well.  Remember those “black boxes” installed in the vehicles after 2012/2013 and (some firms) even earlier?  Well, that “secret agent” inside of your engine that tracks your every move with the vehicle is then eliminated.

In some states (Montana is one of them) if your vehicle is a certain age, you can apply for a “permanent” tag that will eliminate the yearly fee of their sticker on your license plate.  In addition, an older model may not be subject to the same emissions requirements as a new one, eliminating the needs for inspection, compliance, and funds expended.  Also, your insurance may even be reduced if you present paperwork showing that your vehicle has been improved in this manner.

Camouflage is another issue.  Your “beater” of a pickup truck doesn’t attract as much attention, both pre and post-SHTF.  It is less likely to be stolen or interfered with (interior looted, etc.)  Another thing is its simplicity.  The good mechanic will be able to advise you on what extra parts to obtain, pertaining to those that frequently wear out.  If the engine is simple, it is usually simple to repair it.  Of course there are other factors to weigh in, such as if it’s a gas guzzler, but here again, the mechanic can help you out in the initial assessment and can tell you whether or not the engine overhaul will significantly improve the gas mileage you’ve been getting.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that you may have “tailor made” this vehicle to serve your needs, such as weapons racks or tool brackets and boxes.  You are familiar with it, and know its limitations when you’re driving it…what it can and cannot do.  Think of how it was when you picked up the vehicle new.  You’ll be taking it back in the direction of that capability.  You won’t have to start out on a brand-new slate; it’s almost akin to having a surgery that will extend your life, and in this case it is the life of your vehicle.

Consider the engine overhaul on that early-model vehicle, and you’ll save money in the long run, and keep that anonymity that you so desperately desire as a prepper and survivalist.  The key is the good mechanic.  When all is finished, you’ll have something that will not look pretty on the outside as a new vehicle but you’ll have restored an asset that you need.  You will have invested in something that you know inside and out…capabilities and limits.  Then you can capitalize on this, and rely upon it again to suit your needs.  Happy motoring, and find that good mechanic!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published June 1st, 2016
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19 Responses to Preparedness Advantages of Holding on to Your Older Vehicle

  1. slobotnavich says:

    I’m also an old Army SF type, though not a prepper. I know a few people who are, however, and I would maintain that the best insurance in total societal collapse is not a food cache but rather being armed and ready to repel boarders. That way you can also take your prepper friends’ food at gunpoint if need be. All kidding aside, I believe that total and catastrophic economic and social collapse is highly unlikely. A slow and steady descent into economic erosion, reduced standards of living, and social disorder is far more likely, and probably will end with the dissolution of the US, much the same as happened with the old USSR, the most brutal and tightly controlled police state in perhaps all human history. In the now increasingly improbable event that Hillary the Hideous is elected, the process toward dissolution will accelerate and very likely happen on her watch. We now live in interesting times.

  2. BMaverick says:

    A truck is very versatile and so is a Jeep. Anything with an inline 6 should be easy to work on vs. a V8 or a V6. The Ford I6 and Jeep I6 are very dependable. The Chrysler /6 225 has advantages too. The I6 should be better on fuel as well.

    • Jay_Sherman says:

      Yes! Just about all of the inline sixes were GREAT! The old Ford 300 (which had gears instead of a timing chain) would last as long as a good diesel- saw man of ’em with 400K miles on them- in tru8cks, no less. The Jeep 4.0 is good for 300K miles… One of the reasons is, not only were they very old and simple designs (very little to go wrong, unlike the modern crap with variable cam timing and aluminum heads/blocks, and all the other BS) but [and this is the biggie] an inline 6 has 7 main bearings. -that’s 7 bearings for 6 cylinders- A V6 has 4 main bearings for 6 cylinders; A V8 only has 5 main bearings, for 8 cylinders.

      Guess that’s why they don’t make the I-6’s anymore…they were too reliable. Lasted too long. Why have a motor capable of 400K miles in a disposable car that is designed to be obsolete when the warranty runs out?

      What really kills me, is that so many of the great old cars and trucks from the 60’s and 70’s which came from the factory with I-6’s, were converted to V-8’s when all old cars became over-priced “classics”. And many of those I-6’s got awesome MPGs, too! A simple old Falcon with a 6 and a maual tranny could easily get 25+ MPGs- with a carburetor and no electronics- just simple basic stuff; something which a lot of 4 cyclinder fuel-injected cars today have trouble doing in the real world, especially when they’re a few years old.

      • I went through 4 of those old inline sixes and none of them lasted more than 90,000 miles. It came with a fuel-chugging one barrel and left with a 2D Holley Projection, which let it, after a rear end pumpkin change, cruise at 85 miles an hour, but it never got out single digits in the city, or teens on the highway. The latest (of 3) vans has the V-6, and far superior drivability and economy to anything that preceded it.

      • Jay_Sherman says:

        Maybe you’re just like me- no matter what I drive, it NEVER gets good MPGs (And I drive gently…)- I could drive a Prius, and it’d probably get 10MPGs- so the way I figure it, I may as well drive my big 4×4 trucks and enjoy myself and be safe, ’cause I just wasn’t meant to get much more than 10MPG…. Except when I lived in the city and had a ’92 Lincoln Town Car- that thing was phenomenal- 23MPG with the 4.6 Triton V-8 -Have the same motor in my van and it gets 11MPG on a good day with a tailwind going downhill….

      • It never really mattered, since it spent most of the last 2 years of the 14 that I drove and lived in it as a toad behind a truck-tractor. It’s replacement spent a couple of years likewise, before I gave up driveaway to move back west where I belong.

      • Jay_Sherman says:

        Oh, a hyper-miler, eh?! 😀

      • I don’t frequently change vehicles, since they are a part of my family more than anything, since I’m the only survivor on my father’s genealogical branch. In 14 years, the 6 digit odometer turned almost twice, which it would have if all the trailered miles had turned the odometer.

      • Jay_Sherman says:

        Ditto. Only for me, it’s more because good older vehicles are getting harder and harder to find- especially where I now live. I just had my friend bring me 2 vehicles down from NY. -an 00 and an 01- but I’m always keeping my eyes open, hoping eventually to find ones from the 70’s- but I’d say it’s not gonna happen unless I ship ’em in from AZ, NM, NV or CA. Slim pickings in the rest of the country, ‘specially for 4×4’s- everything’s either rotted or a show car.

      • It have never had anything to do with the age of the vehicle, but the serviceability thereof. Since all three of my vans were planned as my home as well as my transportation, I always had the long term reliability in mind. One of the reasons why I chose to become a vandweller is because I hate moving, and all I have to do to move is start the engine. There are almost as many pickup trucks here with distributors, points, and carburetors as there are with onboard Internet, and they sell for a premium, even if they are beaters.

    • If it doesn’t look like a JEEP or was made by a car company, it would be best left to the SUV market.

  3. Jay_Sherman says:

    To be practical, and free from all of the complexities (Which lead to unreliability, dependence on no-longer-available electronic parts, and endless expense) you really have to go back to the 70’s-mid 80’s if you’re thinking of rehabbing a vehicle for long-term and/or survival usage. And the problem is, pretty much anything that isn’t from the left-coast, will be rusted to hell by now.

    Rehabbing anything more modern- especially 99 and newer, is a losing battle. Sure, you can rebuild the engine- but transmissions are a weak point- especially automatics; you could spend thousands just rehabbing the suspension, alone; and the plethora of literally thousands of other little things- various computers; solenoids, relays; modules…. Just get a pinhole in a vacuum line or loose wire or corroded pin on an electrical connector, and it can be quite a job just figuring out where the problem is. Wouldn’t want to even think of having to pay someone to do such things if I couldn’t do it myself…..

    Modern vehicles are disposable, and are designed with planned obsolescence; gov’t-mandated BS; and to keep you dependent on stealerships. Trouble is, to get away from these things, you need to have a really old vehicle- one which just has a plain-old simple engine and tranny; simple suspension, and no electronics or other BS. If you already own such a vehicle, great! Hold onto it and take care of it. If you don’t own such a vehicle, you will pay dearly for one that isn’t rusted away.

    I was wanting a 70’s-mid 80’s 4×4 Suburban. Solid ones (Nothing special- just functional and not rusted away) from out west are going for over $16K!!!! Screw that! I got me an excursion instead. I love it, but as a “survival vehicle” it would be worthless. You turn the knob to put it into four-wheel-drive….if the little solenoid goes bad…you’re out of luck. In an older vehicle, like the aforementioned Suburbans, you simply operated the transfer case by manually shifting a lever- bulletproof!

  4. Fifth_Disciple says:

    Advances in metallurgy and motor oil have brought about an increase in the service life of most engines. My family has three cars in the driveway with over 200,000 miles. The key to this kind of reliability is regular service and careful driving. If you have to be the first one away from the light and don’t brake until the last fifty feet you’re not going to get that kind of service life.

    Other’s frequently recommend pre 70’s cars with carburetors and distributor-less ignitions. We’re talking 40+ year old cars. Parts are beginning to become scarce and/or expensive. I would consider a ten to fifteen year old vehicle. Parts availability is good and items like an ECU (engine control unit) can be found for under $100 dollars. An ECU for my wife’s 2001 Subaru Outback is $99.00 on Ebay.

    Sometimes you have to make compromises. My truck, the newest vehicle we own, is an ’09 Chevy HD2500 4X4 with a Duramax diesel and an Allison 6-speed automatic transmission. An ECU for it is $350+. A price I’m willing to pay for the advantages of a newer generation truck.

    The moral of this story is if you take care of it it will last. A couple of oil changes a year and some spare parts are a small price to pay to avoid a car payment.

    • Jay_Sherman says:

      Trouble is, while the engines of the last 20 years or so may be a little more durable in the lower-end [and older engines can be made just as durable when rebuilding, by using modern bearings…] the problem is, everything else on these newer vehicles wears out faster. Having to do a head gasket 40 years ago was virtually unheard of, unless you were a street racer. Today, half the cars out there will need a head gasket (if not an entire head) before 120K miles; Anything made by GM will probably need it before 80K miles. (I’ve seen some that have had three head gaskets before 120K miles). Ditto the trannies. Especially on the late model stuff- they’re becoming virtually unservicable.

      And electronics don’t age well- and the newer cars are HEAVILY dependent upon electronics. As various circuit boards, control modules and computers die, which will, it may be easy at the moment to find parts for some while there is still a decent stock of unsold stuff…but when that crop is gone…. Some of ’em are getting rare already. My neighbor had a heck of a time finding a ‘puter for his ’99 Powerstroke F350 4×4 dually.

      Onj the other hand, parts, like HEI ignition for 70’s/80’s GM will always be out there and cheap. And most of the part on 60’s/70’s/80’s vehicles (common vehicles, not weirdo European stuff or anything…) can be improvised/adapted from something else/repaired/fabricated quite easily.

      That Duramax is a ticking time-bomb. Have just one injection problem, and it could set you back thousands, once out-of-warranty- if they can even fix it. Happened to a friend of mine’s father. Out-of-warranty Duramax- no one had a clue what was wrong- had to go to the stealership- they just threw parts at it- including a new set of injectors (I TOLD him that was not the problem!) >$5K later, that truck still isn’t fixed. The truck was babied all it’s life. But somewhere, a wire got pinched, or a high-pressure passage got a little arteriosclerosis; or a dot of rust on a connector pin somewhere; or a bug in the computer- and even GM can’t figure it out, and is reduced to taking aducated guesses and throwing parts at. These babies are nothing like the old reliable simple diesels that would run without a battery…they’re fussy space-age Rube Goldberg-esque contraption.

      • Poorman says:

        Hmmm I have 3 vehicles 1 at 252 k and the other 2 over 160 k and haven’t had to do head gaskets on any of them. I have been in the automotive business for over 25 years and to be truthful I call bull-crap to your claims on the head gaskets. The reason head gaskets go is either the vehicle gets overheated or the coolant isn’t changed which cause’s it to turn acidic and eat gaskets. I will agree the older vehicles with both cast iron heads and blocks hold up better to being overheated. The point he was making was if you do MAINTENANCE on a vehicle it will last much longer.

      • Jay_Sherman says:

        I’ve been in the business most of my life, too; and still am, in a limited capacity. Every vehicle I’ve owned for the last 22 years has come from Copart 😮 -including my 300K mile van.

        Yes, we can agree that good maintenance and not abusing vehicles makes a big difference with ANY vehicle. But yeah, you and I know what to do. The average joe….not so much. Get those aluminum heads hot once…and bye-bye…. The vehicles you choose/deal with make a big difference. I mean, no matter what you do, short of total rebuild with bulletproofing, if you choose a 6-leaker (6.0 PSD) your head gasket’s a’poppin, and coolant and oil is a goin’ bye-bye, etc, right? Ditto most of the GM and Ford V-6’s in cars (Chrysler I’m not too familiar with…but it was always crap in the past…and I suspect still is- e.g. the problem with the recent Hemi’s…)

        But my point was, no matter how durable the injun…the electronics and complicated ancillary systems for emissions and CAFE compliance, et al, are the weak link in the chain.

        But I do agree that the owner/driver can make a huge difference. I mean, I currently have 3 Triton engines- a 4.6; a 5.4 and a 6.8 (V-10)- and thank goodness, have never had an issue with the famous popping-out spark plug issue. (And my 4.6 has 300K miles on it and has never had any work done to it- and still runs like a Swiss watch)- and not to even mention another 4.6 and another 5.4 I had in the past….all high-mile champs.

    • If you live in a place, as I do, where one can take a low tech engine and put it in a new chassis without having to explain it to a person that works for a government, it is up to you to decide what you will have in a keeper. There are two experienced engine and transmission rebuilders here, that never have the time to do anything else, so you better find someone who can do the R&R for you, if you can’t. Just up the road a piece, there’s a refinery, surrounded by a oilfield. My home is surrounded by large expanses of privately owned land that is dedicated to ranching and farming. There is a hydroelectric dam (the biggest in the world at the time of its construction) a few miles west of town. Making sure that all of this stays safe from bureaucrats and other deviates are 14 guns per capita.
      With all due respect, why do you state the truth in your first sentence, and then refute it in the third one? All of the traffic lights in this town could be at a dragstrip:-)

  5. Given the potential for the unavailability of fuel, I’ve been looking for an old trusty buckboard and experienced drafthorse.

  6. Oren Player says:

    I inherited from my dad the family car….a 1962 Chevy Impala Sport Coupe. I still have the original sales receipt (hand written) for $2438.00. Times do change. I have been thinking of getting rid of it, but every time I see an article like this, I rethink it. Guess I need to pull it out of the garage and get her running. As far as having a vehicle which I could repel boarders, well, by the time it gets that bad where I live, the gas will no longer be available anyway. We’ll be riding bicycles in caravan by then.

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