Cars in the Post Apocalypse World

In the post apocalypse world staying mobile means staying alive. The question is, how should this be done. If you like movies such as the Road Warrior or Doomsday that answer is to use a car to get around the wasteland. This is not always practical, if you decide to use some type of vehicle for transportation here is a little checklist of things to consider before blindly going off and grabbing that Porsche you always wanted to drive.

Can You Fix It?

Automobiles are complex machines with multiple moving parts, and computer and electronic equipment. Even older vehicles still have numerous parts that require precise timing to function properly. Now factor in a post apocalypse environment where all the body shops are abandoned and access to a mechanic will be extremely limited, factor in as well that most people don’t change their own tires or other basic mechanical requirements and you have a situation where cars will break down and be left to rot because no-one can repair them.


There may be refiners here and there that are still working but for the most part fuel will become scarce quickly. While you can find fuel in abandoned cars and gas stations, these are sources that will dry up fast.

Replacement Parts

You might be able to fix your vehicle but only if you have the parts to do it. After scraping other vehicles for parts and tires, you will need to be able to fabricated new ones. Otherwise simply swapping out parts from one car to another will only be a temporary solution.


This is short for high altitude electro-magnetic pulse which occurs when a nuclear weapon is detonated at high altitude. It’s purpose is to essentially fry all electronic devices with a blast radius to effectively wipe out communications and hinder an enemy’s movement on the ground or air. This means that everything in that area that electric is now dead. Computers will be fried, clocks will stop, pacemakers and those on life-support at hospitals will die, and every car, motorcycle, moped, and ride on lawnmower won’t work, unless you spend considerable time replacing key electrical components. Older cars will have a major advantage in that with the right parts they can be up and running again. Newer cars especially in the last decade relay heavily on micro-chips and processors to help with everything from fuel economy, to navigation, to running all the luxuries we take for granted. Newer cars will require a complex overhaul of these systems to become operational again, something many of use simply don’t possess the knowledge to do.

The Road

Roads in many areas will be unusable after a collapse. First abandoned cars will litter the highways and major routes leading in and out of cities, this in turn will make travelling around cities much slower and potentially hazardous as the few roads that are still usable could be blocked off by other survivors looking to ambush you. Mother Nature herself will cause havoc in many areas by causing landslides, flash floods, and other weather effects that will wear roads down and make them impossible to pass.

Lack Of Cars

If the collapse comes from either an environmental disaster such as what’s predicted to happen in 2012, or a nuclear war that destroys most cities and urban areas, there will be far fewer vehicles to choose from. This will also mean that what I mentioned before in terms of fuel, replacement parts, and skilled mechanical persons will be in even shorter supply making the few vehicles that are left wear out that much faster.

For more information or ideas on post apocalypse survival please visit my website The Razors Edge a post apocalypse survival guide.