Top 10 Things You Can Scavenge From Cars During Disasters

Aug 28, 2017

Top 10 Things You Can Scavenge From Cars During Disasters

For a moment, picture yourself in the situation where some sort of disaster has struck without warning and civilization as you knew it has come to a complete stop.

Imagine too that no matter how much you have prepared by stocking up on all of the right survival gear, it has magically disappeared and you are starting from nothing.

You're probably thinking, that's not me, I've prepared for SHTF and I'm ready. For the sake of planning, let's pretend that you've lost everything.

Now the moment comes where it's just you, your thinking, your survival skills, and your scavenging abilities. What do you think you could come up with?

In this scenario, there is no civilization, now law, no order, no rules. If that makes you uncomfortable, good. Remember, it's how other people will be behaving. While it's illegal to take anyone's property (we call it stealing when society is stable), life is way different when SHTF.

That's why in this article, we are going to explore the top 10 items that are worth scavenging for from vehicles that ideally have been abandoned.

These are the cars and trucks that are in some remote location and for all appearances, seem to not be used by anyone. You don't want to try this on populated zones where the owner is going to be armed and defending their property. Perhaps stake out the vehicle for a few days if you can first before acting on it.Note: It's rather obvious, but it needs to be stated that you should never do this during normal life as stealing is against the law and an all around bad thing to be doing. This advice is for

Note: It's rather obvious, but it needs to be stated that you should never do this during normal life as stealing is against the law and an all around bad thing to be doing. This advice is for end of the world type situations only.

A major thing to point out is that if you haven't done so already, you should really be focusing on increasing your survival skills. There are simple common things that you should always know how to do like tying knots, making fire, creating shelter, and purifying water.

There are even more advanced skills that are important too. Some great examples include being able to open a can without a can opener, as well as how to siphon gas in an emergency, which we will discuss later in our list.

Let's jump in.


Car As A Shelter

Before we get into the list, let's first point out that a vehicle makes one heck of a survival shelter, depending on how weather proof it is against water and wind. This assumes that temperatures are not extremely cold.

If you don't have a great shelter available and you come upon a vehicle that is mostly intact, consider using it as your primary shelter until you get more supplies rounded up and something better to live out of.

If you have to break into the car, then decide first if you plan on making it a shelter, and then break a window you can enter that is farthest from where you will be sleeping in order to keep the shelter capability intact.


The Obvious Items

We should also mention that people keep all sorts of neat items in their cars. Places like the trunk, back seat, glove box, and console can contain anything from maps, flashlights, knives, lighters, batteries, to paper that can make great tinder.

It's rather obvious that you would look in these areas first for a wide variety of things that you can grab. In fact, every other person that has been out scavenging before you will have most likely wiped these areas clean of anything useful.

However, it's worth checking here before you do anything else to grab any useful items. Because it's the first target, we are going to focus on other items that many people haven't considered, which are more likely to be available for scavenging.

You’ll be surprised at all the cool items most people leave behind…


1. Gas

One of the more useful things you can get from a car is going to be gasoline. You can use it to run a vehicle at your home base, a generator to create electricity, or even as a means to start a fire.

While everyone knows that cars may have gas in them, not everyone knows how to siphon gas or has the right equipment to do it.

It's worth spending some time to become familiar with the different ways to siphon gas. There is a nice rundown on the different methods and the equipment that you need over at Trek Warrior.

One of the best methods is using two rubber hoses where you blow into one to create positive pressure in the gas tank of the vehicle which helps force gas out of the second hose and into your container.

Keep in mind that you have to create a good seal at the entry to the vehicle gas tank for this to work. However, newer vehicles will most likely have some sort of anti siphoning technology, so you will need to know what kind of vehicle you are dealing with.

You have to be very careful siphoning gas because if you get it in your mouth or eyes, it can cause permanent damage and even lead to death.

Of course, you will need a container to collect the gas, and if you don't have one, consider ripping out the windshield wiper fluid tank to be used as a great container.


2. Oil

Another thing that is very useful that every car should have is oil. Oil can be useful for your own vehicle, to lubricate all sorts of metal parts, and it's flammable. You can even use it to start slow burning fires that give off a lot of black smoke for signaling.

Oil is a lot easier to get out of most vehicles since there is typically a plug on the bottom side of the vehicle where you can drain the oil out of the vehicle. You will need a way to store the oil, so consider using the windshield wiper fluid tank if you don't have one and you aren't using it to store gas.

An alternative that is usually not considered is the transmission fluid. It is also very handy if the oil was already taken out.


3. Battery

A car battery is another valuable resource that can be used in your own vehicle or to power different things back at home base. It is usually easily accessible under the hood and only requires a few things to be loosened for extraction.

The catch here is that car batteries are typically very heavy, so unless you have a way to transport it, it won't be worth carrying it by yourself for long distances.

If you are mechanically inclined and know your way around a vehicle, consider ripping out the alternator too so that you can rig up a way to recharge the car battery back home.


4. Lighting

Another item that is often overlooked in cars is lighting. Usually, you can quickly open light fixtures and remove bulbs from the interior car, which can make great lighting options back home. These bulbs are super lightweight and easy to grab. Plus they can run off of a car battery, which is 12 Volts.

While you are at it, consider raiding the fuse box, which is usually under the dashboard with some sort of cover over the face of it. Fuses can be handy in your own vehicle in the years to come.

The main target, of course, should be the headlights. Depending on the vehicle, you can typically get these removed fairly easily. If not, always go for the back side of the headlights and see if you can rip out the bulbs at a minimum. You can use the headlights as great light sources at the home base.


5. Tools

Since you have already raided the trunk, back seat, glove box, and console, you may have gotten lucky and found some tools in the vehicle. If not, consider checking all of the different compartments on the interior and exterior to see if you can find some. Tools are very valuable in SHTF, so you don't want to miss any opportunities.Other common items of interest include chains, jumper cables, and jacks. A jack typically comes standard on a vehicle and might be hidden under the back seat or under the hood. It usually includes a lug wrench (which can be used as a weapon) and the jack itself. If you can carry both, then do so, otherwise, focus on the lug wrench as it's far more useful.

Other common items of interest include chains, jumper cables, and jacks. A jack typically comes standard on a vehicle and might be hidden under the back seat or under the hood. It usually includes a lug wrench (which can be used as a weapon) and the jack itself. If you can carry both, then do so, otherwise, focus on the lug wrench as it's far more useful.


6. Mirrors

Mirrors can be very useful for signaling as well as setting up a better security perimeter around your home base. The rear view mirror, attached to the windshield, is the easiest one to knock off and grab.

You can also consider grabbing the side mirrors, especially if there is a truck with a convex style mirror for wide angle views.


7. Radio

While many thieves might consider stealing a radio to pawn off when times are good, many may not pay attention to a radio when SHTF.

However, you will want to have the ability to listen in for any possible news, so it makes sense to grab the radio if you can remove it easily. Also consider grabbing the external antenna, especially if it is one of the easy to remove screw off types.

A lot of people suggest grabbing any wiring you can get too, but if you've ever worked on a vehicle, you will have seen how much work that may require. So it may not be worth it, unless you have plenty of time to stay there and work on that vehicle.


8. Seatbelts

Cordage is like gold in a survival situation. That's why seatbelts are other hot targets in a vehicle. You can use them to tie objects together, and even split them down the center a few times to increase your amount of cordage.

Make sure that you pull the seatbelts out as far as they will go before you cut them out to remove them. You want to maximize how much material you get to use.


9. Wash Fluid Reservoir

This item was mentioned earlier in the case that you don't have a way to store either gas or oil that you want to take from the vehicle.

However, it is a nice item in its own right. It's a great plastic container that can be used for fluid storage. Keep in mind that you will need to wash this thing out thoroughly before storing water in it. Usually, windshield wiper fluid is toxic, so you need to clean it out first.


10. Upholstery

Last but not least, if the vehicle has carpet, seat covers, and a headliner that is in good shape, you should consider cutting out the material so that you can use it on other things.

You may need to make clothing out of leather or use the cloth headliner as a cheap blanket. You never know what need may arise, so having great material on hand to use is quite valuable.


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