Automotive Preparedness by P.D. in Northern Missouri

I am a firm believer that a TEOTWAWKI situation will happen, and in my lifetime.  I consider myself a prepper, and am a daily reader of “prepping articles,” and almost always read about “bug out bags,” or “72-hour kits,” call them what you will.  I also read allot of articles devoted to bug out vehicles.  A bug out vehicle is a great concept, but is only as good as the distance it will take you, or for the length of time that it will last.  I do believe that bugging out is a necessity in prepping for a TEOTWAWKI situation, but to my surprise I very rarely read articles on preparing for automotive repair during a TEOTWAWKI situation!  Imagine this:

The grid goes down, you and your family and/or team are preparing to “bug out.”  You gather all of your supplies, and start your journey to your retreat.  On the way your vehicle starts running very rough, sputtering, and stalls on the side of the road, which is not a very good place to be during a TEOTWAWKI situation!  What do you do?  If a member of your family, and/or team is an experienced mechanic the situation may not seem so dire.  That person may be able to repair your vehicle fast, and proper.  But what if no such person is a member of your group?  How did you prepare for this situation?

The basics of all automotive mechanics are as follows:  Diagnosing the problem (figuring out what is wrong), and fixing the problem.  This may seem difficult for someone who is not experienced in mechanical repair, and can definitely be a frustrating situation.  Here are just a few from a very long list of tips:

  • Become very familiar with your vehicle, and how it operates.
  • Have a service manual for the specific year, make, and model of the vehicle.  This will provide you with detailed information on your vehicle, and offer you detailed directions on how to replace parts, and more.
  • Include an experienced mechanic in your group, or become familiar with common automotive problems related to your vehicle, and the ways in which to correct those problems.
  • Always include a set of tools (wrenches, socket sets, jack stands etc.) in your prepping list.  Preferably tools that you know will fit the various bolts, nuts, and screws found on your vehicle.
  • Remember that one size tool does not fit all or solve all problems.  Always use the right tool for the job, to help prevent further damage. 
  • Include a jack; tire tool, and spare tire.  Many vehicles already come with a spare tire, tire tool, and jack, but not all of them do.
  • Make sure that your jack can safely lift the weight of your vehicle, and any added weight from supplies.
  • Include a set of Jumper cables.
  • Include a fire extinguisher.  You don’t want fires making an already bad situation worse!
  • Include a set of tire plugs, so that small holes can easily be patched on the go.  Also include a few cans of fix-a-flat for the same reasons.  Many types of fix-a-flat exist, and most of them contained compressed air, which will aid in airing up the tire.  These are for temporary use only.  Tires should be changed, or repaired as soon as possible.
  • Determine the average amount of oil changes you will do in a year, and stock up on oil and filters. On average for most gasoline engines oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.
  • Know what kind of, and how much oil you should use with your vehicle.  Not all vehicles use the same viscosity and/or amount of oil.  The type of oil and amount you should use can be determined by reading your owners manual, looking for information under the hood, or on the side of the driver’s side door.  Temperature will also play a role in determining the type of oil you should use.  
  • Determine the average number of tune-ups you will need in a year (tune up-changing spark plugs, plug wires, and distributor cap/ rotor if applicable), and stock up!
  • Always make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas.  This helps to not only remain prepared to leave, but keeps moisture from building up in, and rusting out your fuel tank and/or fuel lines.
  • Check fluid levels regularly so as to maintain readiness, and to ensure the absence of leaks!
  • Always carry extra gas cans in your vehicle so you can store, and use fuel as needed. 


In addition to making sure your vehicle has a spare tire it is always a good idea if possible to include more than one spare tire, and even a complete wheel and tire so as to change in a hurry, as you most likely wont have all day to work on changing a flat tire on the side of the road in a “bug out” situation.  Just the other day a friend of the family was posting on facebook that she had a flat tire, and her donut (a common type of spare tire) went flat within an hour of it being changed, that’s two flat tires in one hour!  It is impossible to predict every scenario, but you are always better off to plan ahead, plan ahead, and again plan ahead!

Currently my own personal vehicle a 1995 Chevy 1500 pick up has a bad exhaust system, brake problems, bad spark plug wires causing a misfire, and a tire that needs attention as it has been slowly leaking air!  I think to myself, why I am I setting my self up for failure by putting off the work that needs to be done.  How far would I make it if I needed to “bug out?”  Probably not very far!  Don’t set your self up for failure.  Properly maintenance your vehicle as much as possible so that you are ready when SHTF!

Remember that this list only contains some of the basics.  Your situation, and type of vehicle will both play a huge role in preparing for automotive repair in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.  The best advice I can offer is to regularly check the fluid levels on your vehicle.  Look for, and repair any leaks as soon as they are noticed to prevent further damage.  Get a service manual for your vehicle its value is immeasurable!  Familiarize yourself with common automotive problems, and ways to correct those problems!  I hope this list is helpful, and that you are prepared when, and if your bug out vehicle breaks down!