Do you currently take your car to a mechanic for routine servicing or repairs? Then you are missing out on an important opportunity to prepare your car for long term survival needs. Going to a mechanic robs you of vital spare parts and experience in a situation where you can’t get help.
If you rarely look under the hood of your car or don’t have a clue what bearings, oil rings, or hydraulic pumps do, then you will need to start with a good grounding in auto repair before delving into working on your own car.
Information: Your Most Critical Need
There are four basic sources of information that you can use to find out everything you need to know about keeping your car running long after parts and services become unavailable.
- Automotive repair courses
Today, many community colleges offer courses that lead to degrees and certifications in auto mechanics. It will take about 2 years to complete the degree plan and all the training required. (Being able to fix cars might be a great skill to barter, don’t you think?)
- Learn on your own
As someone who did it this way, I recommend buying a cheap vehicle that no longer runs to experiment on. Get a book on automotive repair and study it carefully.
Next, take the car apart from bumper to bumper (including disassembling the engine, transmission, and drive train) and put it back together again in working and drivable condition.
This will teach you about each vehicle system, how to recognize broken, worn, or failing components, plus how to fix or replace them.
Plan to spend 2 – 3 years with a commitment of 5 – 6 hours per week under the hood plus an additional 2 – 4 hours per week studying schematics and book learning.
- Work on your own vehicle
Once you have a good understanding of auto repair (and the associated grease, stuck fastener removals, and acquiring physical flexibility, strength, patience) you can start working on your own vehicle.
It is very important to have schematics for every system in the car as well as instructions for repair and replacement. You should get the Chilton’s repair manuals, or the full repair guide from the manufacturer. This is also the perfect time to make some decisions about which parts will be eliminated or bypassed in a crisis situation, as well as make sure you can achieve that goal.
You should also make it a point to learn how to add a water to hydrogen fuel converter to the intake manifold, as well as upgrade the vehicle to run on biofuel.
- Get all information that you need
Some car models have a tendency to go through critical parts while others do not. You can get some of this information via the US Department of Transportation website.
Visit http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchSafetyIssues and start looking for complaints related to the model vehicle you currently own. If you see a lot of complaints about fuel pumps, alternators, or other high priced items, then you know to store those or put a focus on learning how to refurbish them. Keep in mind that it may take a few years for a complete picture to emerge for newer vehicles.
Here are the most important tools to start with for auto survival needs. As you become more proficient in auto repair, other items may be of interest to you.
- Grinder or rotary tool with polishing and cutting bits
- Hand drill with metal working bits
- Phillips and flat head screwdriver bits
- Magnetic and non-magnetic screwdriver handles
- Hex wrench set
- SAE and metric wrench and socket sets
- Monkey wrench
- Metal working files
- Wire cutters
- Needle nose and regular pliers
- X-acto knife and blades
- Metal cutting hand saw
- Rubber mallet
- Torque wrench
- Timing light
- Soldering iron
- Brazing torch
- Cinder blocks (for wheel blocking)
- Floor jack
- Plenty of rags
- WD-40 and other lubricants
Common Things You Can Use for Parts
- Metal chains
- Wood (which can be used in conjunction with metal chains to make an emergency tire)
- Paracord rope
- Metal coat hangers/metal wire
- 3-wire electrical wire
- Rubber sheeting
- Copper wire or speaker wire
- Aluminum foil
- Screws and nails of various sizes
- Nuts and bolts of various sizes
- Hex bolts and screws of various sizes
- Metal (including coins) and rubber washers of various sizes
- Electrical tape
- Duct tape
- Tin cans and lids
- Screening/filter cloth for cleaning oil
- Fiberglass body repair goo
- Spray paint
Parts You Should Keep on Hand
- Spark plugs
- Oil filters
- Oil rings
- Radiator fluid
- Valve and injector sets
- Battery acid and material to refurbish internal metal parts
- Windshield wiper pads
- Brake pads
- Brake fluid
- Transmission/steering fluid
- Timing belts
- Air, oil, and gas filters
- Air conditioner kit
- Tire repair patches and kit
- Any item that seems to wear out quickly, requires a special filter, or cannot easily be fixed.
Top 10 Car Prep DO and DON’Ts
1. Never work on your car when you are tired, drunk, drugged, angry, or in a hurry.
2. Do take the time to study schematics and information about each part you will be working on.
3. Don’t use the wrong tools to do the job.
4. Do take time to set up appropriate lighting, wheel blocking, and prepare other safety needs.
5. Don’t be careless when disposing of liquids or other items.
6. Do practice automotive repairs skills and get to know the engine.
7. Don’t smoke, wear loose clothing, or anything else that may catch in moving parts.
8. Do tie your hair back, wear goggles, aprons, and other protective gear.
9. Don’t let the mechanic keep old parts that may be refurbishable.
10. Do keep a record of everything you do.
If you are serious about being able to own and drive a car in the post-crisis world, and even during crisis, it is very important to go back to basics and learn how to maintain a vehicle. It will be to your advantage to practice your skills as often as possible.
No matter what vehicle you decide to work on, it is also important to think about adaptions that will make it easier to repair and operate your vehicle in a post crisis world.
This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.