In every zombie TV show and disaster movie, we see plenty of abandoned vehicles. Some are in driveways or on lawns, while others are in ditches or on the road. As my friend, Orrin Knutson, would say, they’re nothing more than “road-kill” or “yard art.”
But the last thing you will want to do during a survival situation is abandon your vehicle. Instead, cannibalize it because there is much there you can use for survival. Let’s go over the elements Orrin tells me you can put to use from a disabled vehicle during a crisis.
Among the flammable fluids a vehicle has that can be used for fire starting, other than gasoline, are motor oil, power steering fluid, axle grease, brake fluid and transmission fluid. In addition, grease and oil can be used as a water repellent treatment for boots and other items. Pouring motor oil on a fire sends a black smoke signal to searchers, if you need that.
A disabled vehicle will also include several mirrors, which can be used as signaling devices when the sun is out. At night, you can strategically place mirrors so they magnify ambient light from your campfire or flashlight. Or, you can use a shard from a mirror as a sharp knife or spear point.
Some of the best uses for seat belts are as an improvised backpack strap, an adjustable waist belt, a tree stand safety or repelling harness, or as bindings.
Of course, there is plenty of wiring in a vehicle, and it can be used as cordage. Once you’ve stripped electric wiring of its insulation, it can also be fashioned into snares, fish lures and hooks. In addition, it can be used to bind a cooking grill together without burning away, as well as for secure wrap for mounting spear, arrow or gig points. It can even be used as webbing for snowshoes.
Then there’s a vehicle’s interior cloth or leather, which can be employed as bedding, clothing, backpacks, leg wraps in snow country, and rainproof or snow-proof shelter roofing.
Foam padding from inside the vehicle’s seats can be used to insulate makeshift snow boots, or as a mattress or bedding, or to tuck inside light clothing to turn a windbreaker into a parka.
Colored plastic from the vehicle’s lights and interior can be fashioned into flashy fishing lures, or into spear and arrow points. Extra-large pieces from the interior can be used for waterproof roofing on a shelter or firewood pile cover, or melted to be used as glue.
A lift jack can be used as a powerful lifting device for multiple tasks, while the tire iron can be used as a heavy pry bar or weapon. The long twist handle for a scissor jack can be made into a heavy spear or used for a turning spit over a campfire.
Once they are cleaned, small tanks designed for windshield wiper fluid and other fluids can be used to store drinking water as a canteen. They can also carry oil or gas if you must bug out.
The small, rubber tubing you find under a vehicle’s hood can be cleaned and then used to suck water from deep holes. It can also be fashioned into a slingshot or a tourniquet to slow serious bleeding, as well as cordage.
Tires, tubes and rubber hoses can be utilized to make improvised sandals or shoes. When tossed on a fire, rubber produces thick black smoke that is visible for miles. Inner tubes can be cut up and used for water carriers, bindings and other items.
Hubcaps can be turned into snow or dirt shovels, while older solid steel hubcaps can be used as cooking pots. The vehicle’s battery can be used to power existing vehicle lights, igniting fires or, together with a headlight, can be turned into a portable, high-intensity light.
Finally, you can remove the vehicle’s hood and use it as a strong snow sled or travois to pull supplies, children or an injured companion. It can also be utilized as a hard roof for a shelter or as a safe campfire pit.