Vehicle Checklist

Own a vehicle and want to make it a SHTF certified BOV? Prepping doesn’t come with a warranty. Prepping is insurance for your life! Make sure yours is up to the task with these checklists.

Although 90-95% of American households own or have access to a vehicle, car ownership is steadily declining. Americans are driving less, moving to urban areas in greater numbers and choosing to not own a vehicle (and to own fewer). This is especially true among young people. Although owning a vehicle in a suburban area has obvious benefits, many city dwellers find ownership more of a hassle than it’s worth. The unavailability of parking, high costs of parking and permits, and risks of a ticket can be infuriating, especially given the widespread availability of public transportation, taxis and Uber in metro areas.

That said, the expense of vehicle ownership is money well spent for many preppers. Provided your vehicle is adequately maintained and supplied, it can be one of the best tools in your arsenal. If you use it to commute daily, you have combined enhanced mobility with a rolling supply cache. Even if you don’t use it daily, your vehicle can be at home, prepped and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Although the purpose of this section is to help you get the most out of your dependable, prepped vehicle…we can’t depend too much on it. Extraordinary events cause unpredictable effects. And the high population densities of metro areas can magnify the duration and extent of those effects. Traffic jams, roadblocks, checkpoints, accident, or breakdowns can change the situation in an instant.

If you have a vehicle, how can you use it to create maximum advantage and value?

Although not the most exciting prep in the world, keeping your vehicle adequately maintained is obviously crucial. And rather than coasting into a gas station on fumes prior to refills, try to get into the habit of never letting your tank fall under half full. In an emergency situation just as many people will run to the gas station as to the grocery, as happened most recently after Hurricane Sandy. Get ahead of the crowd by not having to join them in line.

So your car is in good shape with gas in the tank, fluids at level and tires at the proper PSI…what next?

It’s time to prep for sure, but the right answer to that question depends on your individual circumstances, your needs, your location, your plans and the season. Rather than a giant list, let’s break things into manageable chunks.

Vehicle Basic Checklist Preps:

  • Spare tire properly inflated, tire iron and car jack (periodically test PSI)
  • Jumper cables (at least 12+ ft. in length)
  • Battery jump pack (charged monthly) – Many offer additional capabilities such as tire inflation and USB/AC/cigarette charging capabilities…just make sure it will safely charge sensitive electronics such as your phone.
  • Gas can (1-3 gal. capacity)
  • Fix-a-flat canister
  • Coolant / Oil / Fluids / Fuses – Keep in mind some vehicles require special fluids that aren’t readily available at gas stations or even chain auto stores. If that’s the case, you’ll need to have those with you as the closest dealership may be incredibly far away, closed, etc.
  • Tool set (including at least a small ratchet set, pliers, screwdriver, adjustable wrench, and tire pressure gauge)
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Storage bin

Vehicle Additional Checklist Preps:

  • Strong rubber mallet – This is incredibly useful if your wheel is locked/frozen tight. You can’t change a tire if you can’t remove the wheel.
  • Road flares and/or reflector triangle
  • Power inverter
  • Enhanced tools (based upon your level of skill)
  • Tow line/chain
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Pen or pencil and paper
  • Flashlight with extra batteries (if not crank/solar)
  • Duct tape
  • Gas siphon kit or tube
  • AAA (or similar) roadside assistance membership

Vehicle Seasonal Checklist Preps:

  • Collapsible snow shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Deicer
  • Traction mat or kitty litter
  • Tire chains

If you would prefer to not purchase these items individually, there are also many emergency vehicle kits sold on the market. As none of these kits include all necessary items, they’re not ideal. But buying a pre-made kit now is better than getting your personalized vehicle kit finished a year from now.

Personal Basic Checklist Preps:

  • Backpack – If your car becomes immobile, you must have a way to take some preps with you.
  • Food – Temperature tolerant, calorie dense, ready-to-eat and long shelf life.
  • Water- 1-3 gallons
  • Escape tool – Used to quickly cut seat belts and break windows.
  • First aid kit
  • Knife – Full tang fixed blade is preferred. Check local laws to determine legality of possession of certain types of knives. Some jurisdictions prohibit folding / collapsible blades while others may outlaw blades by length.
  • Whistle – Absolutely essential. Someone robbing you? Whistle. Lost and need to call out? This travels much farther than your loudest scream, which your body can only produce for a short time.
  • Sturdy boots / footwear
  • Blanket
  • Cash – Well hidden under a console, trim or in trunk.
  • Insurance and registration
  • Atlas / Maps – Absolutely essential to locate alternative routes. Do not depend entirely on your phone!
  • Mylar blankets – Have at least one for every possible car passenger.

Personal Additional Checklist Preps:

  • Water filter and purification tablets
  • Soap, wipes, hand sanitizer and moist towelettes
  • Toiletries
  • Paper towel and toilet paper
  • N95 masks and latex/nitrile gloves
  • Firestarter kit
  • Paracord, bungees or cable ties
  • Sunglasses
  • Trash bags
  • Phone charger
  • Radio – hand-crank, solar or battery powered
  • Can opener
  • Extra eye glasses

Personal Seasonal Checklist Preps:

  • Hot weather gear – Metal water containers (high temperatures increase risk of plastic leeching chemicals into water)
  • Cold weather gear -Wool blanket(s), sleeping bag(s) or bivvy, long underwear, snow boots, gloves, hat, socks, hand warmers, and snow shoes
  • Wet weather gear -Umbrella, poncho, waterproof / water resistant footwear

Knowledge / Skills Checklist:

  • How to change a flat tire.
  • Steps to take when in a car accident.
  • Defensive driving.
  • How to administer first aid.