Vehicle Prepping: Replacing The Control Module Of Your Car

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Vehcile Prepping

Do you have enough money set aside to pay for hundreds to thousands of dollars in vehicle computer repair and diagnostics?

Have you been watching the news and feel that either a terrorist group or a foreign country is right on the brink of launching an EMP strike right here in the United States?

Even without the usual concerns you take into account as a prepper, just a few computer chips can make it impossible for you to use your survival vehicle, nor to get to work and meet other vital transportation needs.

Replacing the PCM or Powertrain Control Module in your vehicle brings you one step closer to having reliable transportation regardless of what is going on in the world around you.

What is the PCM?

In most vehicles, the Powertrain Control Module is the key computer that controls just about every aspect of your vehicle’s performance. Its presence is designed to improve gas mileage and also make it easier for mechanics to detect oncoming system or part failure as well as find problems faster when they occur.

As with any other computer, however, they can be a serious headache to consumers because:

  • When they break down or produce false readings that prevent an otherwise functional car from operating. Replacing the computer can be very expensive and is usually beyond the ability of the vehicle owner. It also often requires a manufacturer licensed repair shop to reset the new computer so that it works correctly.
  • The PCM and other computer systems in the car are all susceptible to EMP strikes.
  • In more modern vehicles, the computers may be hacked by outsiders that can literally cause your vehicle to stop cold in traffic or accelerate to a dangerous level in order to cause a crash.
  • RFID chips equipped with GPS locators or wireless internet access elsewhere in the vehicle can make it easy for hackers, stalkers, and others to locate your vehicle. In some modern vehicles, these chips which may not reside in the actual PCM can cause your vehicle to become inoperable.

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The Basic Parts of the PCM

The ECU or Engine Control Unit

It controls the air to fuel ratio, idle speed, and ignition timing. Together with these functions, the ECU or related computers may also control firing order and valve timing.

In some vehicles, the ECU may also control ABS braking, skid control, traction monitoring, and cruise control. The ECU may also have some control over steering in newer vehicles with automated crash avoidance technologies.

The TCU or Transmission Control Unit

It’s mainly used in vehicles with automatic transmissions. This part of the PCM receives information from sensors that reveal the vehicle’s speed, the throttle position, and traction control monitoring. From this data, it determines which gear is best to use.

It also controls how the transmission shifts from one gear to the next. The TCU is also heavily involved in improving mileage.

The BCM or Body Control Module

This module is usually dedicated to other accessories found in the vehicle. Automatic seat belts, electronic lock doors, sun roof, anti-theft systems, the radio, electronic windows, and internal lights will all be controlled by this module. Some vehicles may have this module integrated with the ECU, while it is a separate computer in others.

Video first seen on DanielJaegerFilms.

In order to function, the PCM must send and receive information about what is going on in other parts of the vehicle. Much like your brain, the PCM has “sensors” that detect certain conditions and then relay the information directly back to the PCM, or to another module that reports back to the PCM.

As an analogy, your eyes detect the presence of a very narrow band of frequencies within the light spectrum. That information is sent via the optic nerve to your brain where it is interpreted so that you can “see”.

Once the PCM receives information from the sensors, it compares it to information organized in a table or database. If the value is outside the range set in the database, then the PCM “interprets” that something is wrong. If the data is inside the range, then it determines there are no problems in that part of the engine. Depending on the findings, the PCM will send one set of directions or another to other computer modules, that, in turn, control how the actual working parts of your vehicle perform.

As an extremely simplified example, a sensor located inside the cylinder might report when the spark plug has fired, as well as the estimated power of that spark. The PCM or an associated module should have already initiated the process which takes fuel from the gas tank, turns it into a mist, combines it with air, and then injects it into the cylinder.

As the explosion occurs inside the cylinder, another sensor might keep track of the heat delivered by the explosion, if there are leaks in the piston rings, and when the piston reaches its lowest point in the cylinder.

While all this information is coming in and being compared, the PCM will be dedicating some of its resources to repeating the same process in the next cylinder set in the firing order. If a fault occurs, other resources within the PCM will be used to let the driver know there is a problem by activating one or more lights on the dashboard.

That’s a lot of work for one tiny computer, isn’t it? While you can expect the sensors attached to the PCM to fail more often than the computer itself, they can cause it to send out wrong instructions, or, worse yet, cause the PCM to shut your vehicle down entirely. In the scenario listed above, here are some problems that can occur.

These problems can occur regardless of whether an EMP strikes. In addition, if an EMP occurs, damage to the computer chips or those found in the sensors can also generate false readings or no readings at all. Either way, your vehicle may not run, or be ruined because the computer will give directions that can cause the engine to seize up and fail.

  • If the plug is fouled or does not fire, that will be transmitted to the PCM. An error code will be generated that will cause the check engine light on your dashboard to light up.
  • If the sensors itself is failing and transmits that the plug is misfiring, it will also cause the PCM to generate a system fault.
  • If an EMP strike affects this or some other sensor that, in turn, damages part of the PCM, it may cause the cylinders to fire out of order. It may also reduce coolant flow (modern automobile computers send less coolant through a newly started or cold engine so that it heats up faster), which can cause the engine to overheat and seize up. If you think about all the things that can cause an engine to seize up or fail, chances are you will find at least on sensor that leads back to the PCM. Each of these sensors can very easily cause the engine to seize up via the PCM or other computers attached to it.

Perhaps off topic, but I am inclined to disagree with the view that a motor vehicle that is not running during an EMP and has the battery out should survive the blast. Others claim it is impossible for the computer to cause the engine or transmission to seize up and fail completely.

Remember, an EMP pulse can propagate without the benefit of a physical medium such as a wire or other direct connection. If your vehicle is near a power line or anything else that can conduct electricity, the computer can be ruined by the EMP. The safe distance from the power line will depend on the magnitude of the EMP and the capacity of the conducting medium.

In essence, the stronger the EMP, the further away your vehicle will have to be from transmission sources to remain safe. Do some research on wireless power transmission, a technology envisioned by Tesla and on the verge of changing how we receive electricity from centralized sources.

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What Does the PCM Do in Your Specific Vehicle?

Depending on the age, make, and model of your vehicle, the PCM may do relatively little, or it may replace important parts that were once mainstays in motor vehicles. As a general rule of thumb, the newer your vehicle is, the more integrated the PCM will be.

For example, almost all vehicles on the market right now still have camshafts (these determine when valves open and close). It is entirely possible, however, to see camshaft free vehicles widely available to consumers in the next 5 – 10 years. Instead of a camshaft (which you can fix or replace as needed), these newer vehicles use hydraulic pumps that are, in turn, controlled by the engine control unit (aka ECU).

Before you decide to remove the PCM, look at the shop manual that should be available through the manufacturer. This book should tell you exactly what the PCM does in your vehicle, all the other computers it connects to, and the sensors involved in the chain of information.

If you are in the market for a new or used vehicle that you might want to retrofit to get rid of the computers, it will help to have a look at the manufacturer’s shop manual. As you read through the shop manual, flow charts including the following information:

  • The name of each sensor, the module it reports to, and what it reports.
  • Other information that is reported to the same module from other sensors.
  • Where the module reports next in the chain. Keep following this chain until it goes directly back to one of the major parts of the PCM. Also note any side chains that may report to another module elsewhere in the system.
  • Continue following each line of the flow chart until you reach an actual component that does tangible work in the vehicle. For example, you will know you have completed the trail when you hit something that instructs a motor to turn, a valve to open, or a hydraulic pump to work.
  • If there are RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips or other ties not entirely related directly to engine performance, this is how you will find them.

Once you have made a complete chart of the sensors and modules within the vehicle, it will be easier to see how they all connect to each other. Bypassing one sensors may, in fact, entail bypassing several others so that the vehicle runs properly. If the PCM is highly integrated into the transmission and braking systems, you may have to do the entire overhaul at one time.

Alternatively, you may want to consult some open source vehicle retrofitting sites to see if there are workaround micro controllers that transmit information to the PCM even though the sensors and other parts no longer exist.

Make sure that your vehicle is safe to operate during the time period when one part of the PCM is present, but another is not. Fortunately, if your main concern is getting rid of automated remote shutoff RFIDs or other devices that can be used to control your vehicle remotely, bypassing them may not impact the overall functionality and safety of the vehicle.

Common Systems and Replacement Options

The Air to Fuel Ratio

If your vehicle has fuel injectors, then the air to fuel mixture will be controlled by some kind of computer. The only thing you can do, based on older technology, is to replace the fuel injectors with a carburetor.

If there is not enough space between the top of the engine and the hood, you may need to cut a hole in the hood to accommodate the added height of the carburetor.

Idle Speed

If you replace the fuel injector system, the carburetor will also control the idle speed. Unlike fuel injector systems, you will have full, easy control of the idle speed when using a carburetor. If the idle is too fast or too slow, just turn the idle adjustment screw.

In modern vehicles with PCMs, you cannot adjust the idle speed at all, and will have to take the vehicle to a mechanic that has the kind of computers onhand that can communicate with the PCM and make the necessary adjustments.

Ignition Timing

At the simplest, modern electronic ignition systems use sensors to monitor a magnet spinning on the distributor shaft. Transistors and other solid state devices (which you will recall are highly sensitive to EMPs) initiate high current flow through a coil, which then causes the spark plug to emit a spark. This whole process is controlled by the PCM or a related module.

You would need to install a mechanical based distributor in place of the electronic ignition system and then adjust the timing manually as needed. A mechanical distributor basically has a “cap and rotor” assembly on top of the distributor. The rotor has a piece of metal in the middle that accepts current from the distributor, and a small metal bit of metal on the outer edge. The cap has one metal bit for each spark plug that will be activated by the distributor.

As the rotor spins, the two pieces of metal meet and electricity from the distributor passes through the rotor, into the cap, down the spark plug wire, and into the spark plug. Once the metal on the rotor passes the metal point on the cap, no power is available for that spark plug until the metal on the rotor spins back into position.

Along with the distributor, you would also need to add a vacuum advance to the ignition system.

Firing Order

On a mechanical distributor system, the firing order is determined by the position of a gear which drives the distributor. This gear, in turn, is driven by the camshaft.

In order to avoid backfires or other symptoms of misfiring, the cables that connect the distributor to the spark plugs must be in the right order. If you do not have a repair manual that indicates the cylinder designations for each point on the distributor cap, and the firing order, you will have to find them manually.

Video first seen on  HOWSTUFFINMYCARWORKS.

Valve Timing

Modern camshaft systems use the ECU to control how much the exhaust and intake valves open as well as when they do so in the timing sequence.

Changing this system to remove the computer control will depend largely on how the camshaft is constructed and how the camshaft lobe is designed. Since different manufacturers use different methods for arriving at variable valve timing systems, you will need to look at the system for your car and take it from there.

ABS Braking

Basically, anti-lock braking systems use a sensor that detects when the wheel stops spinning, yet the vehicle itself keeps moving forward. Because locked wheels prevent steering, the first priority is to get the wheels turning again so that traction can be restored. Since most people slam the brakes when they feel the vehicle skid, they make the situation worse.

ABS systems automatically release the brakes and then re-apply them so that there is a balance between braking and traction control. You should be able to remove the sensors, and also the control module that connects to the pump that provides power assist while braking.

Just remember that you may need to do some additional work to restore full control between the brake pedal and the master cylinder.

Automatic Transmission Gear Switching

Even though you may remove the ECU, some parts of the TCU may still be looking for input from the ECU. As a result, you may also need to make some changes to the transmission so that it can run without input from a computer module. First, you can completely change the automatic transmission out for a manual one. This can be a difficult task, especially if you cannot find a compatible transmission.

Building one from the ground up would take access to metal working equipment, plus the experience required to build a fairly complicated system. Since you may also want to eliminate as many motors as possible in the vehicle, switching to a manual transmission may prove to be the best option.

Your other option may be to install an older style cable  that controls the transmission directly based on the position of the gas pedal.

Essentially, the transmission has a throttle valve that connects to the gas paddle via a cable. When you press on the gas, more pressure is exerted on the throttle valve. This, in turn, initiates changes in the hydraulic system within the transmission to engage or disengage different gears.

Electronic Windows

Have you ever shut the engine of your vehicle, and then realized that you needed to open or close the window?

If so, then you can readily understand what the rest of your vehicle will feel like when some part of the PCM is damaged or destroyed by an EMP. Without question, electronic windows are as dangerous as they are problematic to preppers that want a safe, reliable vehicle.

In order to change electronic windows for manual ones, you will need to find and install a window crank system that will fit inside the door compartment of your vehicle.

If the window system is deeply integrated into an anti-theft device which integrates with the PCM, you may have to disabled any number of sensors and auxiliary control modules so that the vehicle will start up and run properly.

Electronic Doors

You will more than likely need to change the lock on the door as well as install a manual lock system. This includes an internal door latch that will allow you to open the door from the inside.

Considering how dangerous electronic doors are if you happen to get locked inside, making this change should be a top priority even if you aren’t concerned about EMP proofing at this time. As with electronic windows, you may have to disable parts of the PCM or the BCM in order to get the vehicle to operate.

Steering System

Since most modern vehicles don’t have crash avoidance systems, the computer integration may be at about the same level as in the braking system. You may need to do without power steering, mainly because this is yet another motor that can be damaged by an EMP.

Are you going to let another year go by without doing something to EMP proof your car? In all probability, this will be the year I begin the process of rebuilding and retrofitting a more modern vehicle to one that will be EMP proof.

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Please comment in the section below on this topic so that we can all be encouraged to be better and more confident preppers in the arena of transportation!

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

References:

http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/01/technology/security/car-hack/

http://www.techradar.com/news/a-tv-sized-panel-on-your-wall-could-wirelessly-charge-all-your-gadgets

https://www.yourmechanic.com/article/how-to-adjust-your-carburetor-by-ed-ruelas

http://www.carparts.com/classroom/ignition.htm

http://jalopnik.com/how-variable-valve-timing-works-500056093

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/automatic-transmission12.htm

http://mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/9957/in-an-automatic-transmission-what-decides-to-change-gears

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/automatic-transmission13.htm

Carmela Tyrell

About Carmela Tyrell

Carmela Tyrrell is committed to off gridding for survival and every day life. She is currently working on combining vertical container gardening with hydroponics. Tyrrell is also exploring ways to integrate magnetic and solar power generation methods. On any given day, her husband and six cats give thanks that she has not yet blown up the house. You can send Carmela a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Comments

  1. Great article. You can buy a replacement PCM for your car, but who is going to program it? They don't come pre programed!

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    • That vary's on the year make and model of the vehicle. So need to be programmed on the vehicle this is true but many are ready to go out of the box this is know in the industry as plug and play. If you don't know what you are talking about you should wait till you do to comment. I have 25 years in the automotive field so I know of what I speak.

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    • Buy used ones, they're already programmed and a lot cheaper.

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  2. This is good information but little over the top. Mind you, first you have to have an undamaged computer to replace the old one with. Saying you have that, it really is not that hard to replace. I am not a "certified" mechanic however I have replaced 15 different computers in 15 different vehicles and they all run great. The computer itself apart from the grounding wire is pretty much plug n play. That is the easy part. As mentioned in the article there other things that have to happen after you replace the computer like timing and a complete tuneup. As the article mentions yes definetly get a manual like a Haynes or similar to guide you through the rest of the steps. Just don't freeze up with fear on doing it. If you have basic mechanical skills, the replacement parts, and the manual, you will do fine. HOWEVER, remember one thing. If you have a vehicle that works and everyone else does not, now long do you think you can keep that vehicle?

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  3. Undamaged replacement computers in a junkyard. They are rarely the reason that vehicle is in the junkyard.

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  4. James Johnson says:

    Why not just get an old car without all the computers and fix it up? Wouldn't that be a lot easier?

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  5. Ruben Soto says:

    Just wanted to know if you have a list of autos or trucks which have mostly mechanical functions and need minimal or no retrofitting to be EMP proof? Model, years makes? Such a list will be very useful to our prepper community. The number of alterations you're describing above are beyond most nonprofessional mechanics.

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    • ECM's go back quite a ways,at least to the early 80's. Pre 1995 you have whats called OBD1 ( on board diagnostics 1 ) after that you have OBD2. The first was a primitive system that basically controlled spark and fuel it was the second that started to monitor things like transmission,coolant temp,converters ect. If you are looking to cut out the ecm you should start with early carb systems that still run distributors and points. probably pre 1975. Then still keep backup coils,points condensers ect or maybe a whole distributor.

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      • As a timeline checkpoint, my '88 Ford F150 engine was largely computerized; power windows, heater & A/C, auto transmission involved. Everything digital still worked when I got rid of it in 2013 - 25 years, but the body was reaching its limit. Fuel tanks leaking, rubber body parts & insulation on lights was wearing through.

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  6. Curious 1 says:

    The article was interesting as to the many ways an EMP could cripple a car, but it is also convincing that most of us cannot make the required changes and we will not be able to afford having a mechanic make these alterations. It would be useful information to know the likely radius within which "everything" electrical will shut down and whether there is any material that could be added to a garage to at least provide protection when the car is in the garage. Also, is anyone working on material that could be used during vehicle construction that would deflect an EMP?

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  7. insanecandycane says:

    i do not know of very many motorized vehicles that use an electric motor to power the power steering unit. most every automobile i have ever seen use a hydrolic pump powered by the turning of the engine to give you power steering. most diesel school buses manufactured in 1992 and earlier have mechanical systems and only electrical requirement is the starter motor and the battery to power the starter motor, and alternator to charge the battery. so if you have one of these with a manual transmission all you need to do is park so you can roll down hill to start the engine, if you shut down the engine.
    just remove the body of the bus and use it for a storage or habitat, and place the body of what ever vehicle you choose to use on top of the frame. then remove the drive shaft and move the rear axle forward and bolt it where you wish. then have the drive shaft shortened to needed length and balanced so you can reinstall it.
    i am thinking of starting a business converting school buses into pick up trucks using older bodies like 1980's and earlier. they wont pass any vehicle emission checks or inspections as a 1 ton crew can dually will have a 28,000 lb rated suspension but be licensed as a 1 ton truck. but if SHTF or EMP none of that means a thing. yes it will stick out like a monster truck but will be pretty much un stopable! for 4WD you can use military truck instead of bus or swap in axles and transfer case from military truck. if you can not build your own transportation what are you going to do when it breaks down after society does. you might as well spend your money on bicycles with acessories to haul what you want to haul! i myself will not be repairing any ones stuff except for my own !!

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    • T.B. Bryceson says:

      There are several automobiles sold today that have electric power steering; The Chevy Cobalt (and its sisters) have it, and this was one of the main reasons that Chevrolet was sued (and had a recall), because a faulty ignition switch caused the car to lose power, including the electrical steering system, which left the driver entirely without steering. As for planning to use an automobile after SHTF, I agree that diesel would be the logical currently-existing choice, since a diesel engine can be run on biologically-produced fuels such as corn or peanut oil. (In fact, this was originally the reason that Diesel invented the engine in the first place, so that farmers could grow their own fuel [originally peanuts]--although it became more economical at the time for them to use cheaper petroleum-based diesel fuel, so the self-produced fuel idea was abandoned.) Any petroleum-based fuel will be nearly impossible to obtain; despite the idea that existing supplies of gasoline could be manually pumped from underground storage tanks (since there will likely be no electricity to run gas pumps), the supply will not last long at all, and even if you have a gas "stash" somewhere, any stored gasoline is subject to go "stale" after a while, even with stabilizing agents. Actually, the means to produce a diesel-compatible bio-fuel will likely be beyond the scope of all but (possibly) a very, very few, so I don't believe depending upon automobiles or internal combustion engines of any kind would be a good idea, except for old-fashioned steam powered vehicles or, perhaps, for a gasoline-powered vehicle adapted to run on wood-gas, with the means to produce wood-gas on-board (not extremely difficult, but potentially dangerous). Of course, this would require a large payload-capacity vehicle, like a truck or the school bus you mention, to carry the wood-gas producing system.

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    • Quite a few vehicles are now set up with what we call drive by wire. To see if yours is just simply look for a power steering reservoir. If you don't have one you don't have hydraulic steering

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    • My '08 Ford Escape AWD has electric power steering; V6 has individual electric ignition coils on each spark plug. I'll bet the digital key security system would prevent it from starting after an EMP, unless the key was protected from the blast.

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  8. Having a reliable vehicle that would be somewhat immune to EMP is an interesting concept, and one that I have pondered. Not the least since I have a 1998 Jeep Cherokee which is generally a very reliable vehicle. Mine, not so much anymore. I've done a great deal of work on it and the usual modifications including a lift. Problem now is I can't run it as the system is not regulating voltage properly. In this vehicle, it's controlled entirely by the PCM. No separate voltage regulator which in the past has been an individually replaceable component, or incorporated with the alternator. No, I got a whole replacement PCM, and it did not solve the issue. There are a wide variety of issues that can cause this, and my next step is to get a complete diagnostic check on the electrical system to find the cause. My point is that in order to have a vehicle as you describe, you could have a separate PCM/TCM and as many addition sensors as you can afford in reserve, kept in an EMP proof container. Or, perhaps do some shielding on your whole garage, or construct a garage underground. Rather than try to remake an engine system that's designed with all of these electronics, you are better off starting with a good vehicle and getting an older model crate engine, which has different and perhaps less sensitive electronics. I like my Jeep, but a vehicle that has the PCM control virtually everything - even timing and the spark to the plugs.. to be honest, it's not a choice for a true expedition vehicle off road away from services. It's just not. Fine for rock climbing and general off-road fun when you can get help from others or get towed. But running in the middle of nowhere, or in a survival circumstance, I'd be looking for something different, maybe with a diesel retrofit.

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    • As for your 98 Jeep, check the large red power wire going to the back of the alternator. Clean it and the post it's attached to throughly, corrosion is a common problem at that point on the 4.0l engine. It can cause irratic readings, false voltage regulator test results and numerous other irratic electrical problems. As for your advice on this article, you are correct. Trying to convert a newer model with all its required bells and whistles from electronic fuel injection back to carburetion and electronically controlled timing back to manual is more of a pain than just keeping up an older vehicle. Hope this helps.

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  9. Sounds like a lot to do on newer vehicles for EMP proofing.
    Why not just purchase an older vehicle with carborator and
    Manual transmission. Will save on a lot of head aches.

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  10. Very informative article, however:
    A - it would be easier cheaper to build an underground garage for your EMP susceptive vehicle than "rebuilding" it with mechanical parts.
    B - You can purchase an old manual transmission carbureted vehicle wherever you can find one, even in a junkyard, fix it and use it.
    C- All these comments and solutions will be of no value if you can not find a gas station with a working electrical pump to fill up your vehicle because with no electricity nothing will be working.
    D- Supposing you have an EMP proof vehicle and somehow can fuel it, how long will it take until all the neighborhood of crooks will know about it and start "taking the necessary steps" to remove you from the ownership of said vehicle?
    E- For individual & families willing to go back to "old country times" it will be easier to buy a small piece of land, 2 to 5 acres somewhere and put up a home and live off the land with few "modern" equipment like solar or wind energy for your electricity and goats or cattle or both for milk and protein and a well, spring, lake or river for the water. In a small acreage will be easy to build a perimeter and protect your garden, livestock end family. A good pair of herding / guard dogs will be great addition also - remember to get a male & female so you can bread and keep use or barter the off-springs.
    God Bless and keep safe.

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    • F- for anyone who lives in a state that has smog laws all of these changes will cause your vehicle to fail smog as a modified vehicle.

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      • Carmela Tyrrell says:

        Poorman,

        I've been thinking some on the emissions question and thinking about modifications to the tailpipe so that the "emissions" are modified before they ever get out into the environment. In a way, I'm thinking about something that comes just after the muffler with some kind of disposable or rechargeable filter that can be changed with ease. That would make it different from the cat converter and solve the emissions problem. It would also make it a lot easier to get rid of the computer controlled emissions parts.

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      • Are there statutes of limitations on vehicles meeting emission standardards if, they where manufactured before a certain year or are 25 years or older in certain states? I'm asking because I live in a state were emissions testing isn't required.

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        • For California Currently, smog inspections are required for all vehicles except diesel powered vehicles 1997 year model and older or with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR) of more than 14,000 lbs, electric, natural gas powered vehicles over 14,000 lbs, motorcycles, trailers, or gasoline powered vehicles 1975 and older.
          im not a smog check tech or anything but from my experience owning a vehicle with tricky smog problems ive learn theres 2 parts to the inspection. 1- they stick the wand thing in the tail pipe. as long as theres no mechanical issues with the car this is not a problem. 2- they connect their diagnostic computer to your cars computer. your car has been recording an emmission profile which is read by the tech. if you do something completely ordinary like disconnect the battery for a repair and the computer loses its data, it will fail the smog check. you will need to do various acceleration exercises to re-record the data.
          i would expect removing the computers to be automatic failure. there isnt the option to explain the modifications and all that, the test needs specific data to pass, like a multiple choice test in school, no essay questions.
          to understand how an emp will destroy electronics you need to know a little big about electro magnetism. imagine a simple copper wire layed out straight on a table, then a hand held magnet stroking the length of the wire. as the magnetic field moves over the wire it pulls electrons in the copper along with it. this will of course be very weak, but electrons moving is what we call electricity. take that wire and coil it a couple hundred times then spin a magnet very fast in the center of that coil and you have an electrical generator. apply electricity to the coil, the center magnet will spin and you have a motor. there is of course a few more technnical details but just understand the layman concept.
          EMP- electro magnetic pulse, imagine a river current as the emp carrying a little row boat which represents electrons. as the emp washes over the area, conductive materials will 'soak it up' the magnetism pushing electrons along generating a current flow. some silcon based semiconductors are senstive to excess voltage and will be damaged.
          theres not many things that can block a magnetic field, to protect a sensative silcon semiconductor from the big river emp you need a faraday cage, which is like an umbrella. the faraday cage is just conductive material surrounding or mostly surrounding the protected item so that the emp soaks into it and around it instead of whats inside.
          so a faraday cage will be alot like being under an umbrella in the rain. youre hoping to stay mostly dry but its not 100% certain.
          while writing this i started thinking about solar panels. while the collector part doesnt have any moving parts and would probably survive just fine, it generates DC, which is sent to an inverter and made into AC to work with your normal wall outlet powered devices. the inverters are sometimes modular on the individual panels themselves or a single big box on the side of your house. these have electronics in them that I would expect a powerful emp is able to damage.
          back to cars, i would expect models with mostly steel construction and the computer boxes seperated from the frame have the best chance of surviving. if the frame is steel and the electronics still connected, maybe 50% chance of remaining operational. in plastic cars the emp is gonna soak into the wires and push back into electronics, so maybe 25% of of living. but theres less metal to catch the emp and flow back where you dont want it. maybe we can get myth busters to do an episode on this for us ^_^

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          • Ruben Soto says:

            Referring to solar panels and EMP, if the inverter is grounded will this "save" it from short circuiting? Thanks for your answer.

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    • I suggest you not even consider certifying or licensing your older non-digital emergency vehicle. You should be able to confirm that it functions without attracting 'the authorities' - then just keep it in reserve, off the streets, for when the SHTF.

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  11. Mike Uphoff says:

    Hi do you have any idea how to disable the onstar system on a 2014 Buick LaCrosse. I just don't like having someone tracking me. I unplugged the onstar module and the car won't start
    Thanks Mike

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    • Carmela Tyrrell says:

      Mike,

      I don't know how to disable the Onstar on that vehicle, but I may be able to help you figure out where in the system the 'puter is blocking you.

      When you say the vehicle doesn't start - do you get:

      * a click or something like that when you turn the key
      ** you can hear the starter engage, but the engine doesn't turn over
      *** you can hear the engine turn over, but then it dies out?

      Also - is there a difference between the first time you tried to start the vehicle and the second time?

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