Letter Re: Batteries for Long Term Storage

A vehicle with standard transmission, points ignition, generator and wire wound voltage regulator will roll-start or push-start without a starter or battery. Disconnect positive cable clamp at the battery, and secure it where it cannot ground. Taping it to a heater hose is okay. Then push start. Any competent old mechanic can rig a truck as described. Many young mechanics were not trained to work on vehicles built before the Federal government mandated unshielded electronic [ignition]s on all civilian vehicles. One nuclear detonation in space 300 miles high and 99% civilian vehicles exposed to electromagnetic pulse (EMP) will not run. It is what? A conspiracy to put 250,000,000 armed American patriots afoot? Of course not. it is progress. – Vlad

JWR Replies: You should not disconnect the battery when push-, pull-, or roll-starting an engine. Operating an engine with no battery connected can create voltage spikes when the alternator goes into full field mode. These spike might fry the various processors, such as the Body Control Module (BCM), Powertrain Control Module (PCM), Electronic Control Module (ECM)–or Electronic Distributorless Ignition System (EDIS) in Ford terminology.

I believe that the EMP threat to automobile electronic ignition systems is real, but that it has been considerably over-stated by some pundits. With that said, it is prudent to own at least one vehicle that is either a diesel (a model with electronic fuel controls and a traditional glow plug switch) or a gasoline engine with a traditional points/rotor/condenser ignition system. If you don’t have the budget to buy a second vehicle that is “EMP Proof” then you should store two or three spare electronic ignition processor modules in a steel ammo can. Consult your local auto mechanic for the details on exactly what would be needed for your particular make/model/year vehicle. If new processors are too expensive, you can probably obtain some used ones from a “pick and pull” auto wrecking yard.