Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Will an EMP or Solar Flare Affect My Car?

There is a lot of speculation as to whether an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) event or a solar flare would play havoc on our cars. This is just an opinion, but I just experienced a problem with one of my vehicles that leads me to believe that just about any car with a computer will most likely be toast upon one of these events.

I was driving the car, almost home, and the engine quit. After trying unsuccessfully to get the car running, I called AAA and had the car towed to the dealer. After a few days in the shop, they called me with the bad news. Apparently this is not an isolated problem. A lot of vehicles are doing this. They told me that the spark plugs through its normal wear cycle, began giving off a radio frequency that fried the electronic circuits in the PCM (power control module, or computer). The PCM then fried the coil packs (older cars used to have one coil that supplied spark to all the spark plugs. Some genius decided it was better to give each spark plug its own coil, mounted directly on top of the plug. So, with my six cylinder engine, instead of the computer wiping out just one coil, it wiped out all six!). So, $2,100.00 later, I'm back up and running.

My point is that if the computer in the car is so sensitive that radio frequency from a spark plug can wipe it out, what will a major current spike from an EMP or solar flare do? Bzzzzzzzzzzt!!!

The moral of this story is... If you want any form of transportation after an EMP terrorist attack or  the big solar flare that's expected sometime in the next year, you may want to invest in an old car or truck built before the computer days. Hint, if it has an OBD (onboard diagnostics) connector under the dash, it has a computer. If you have to get your emissions checked, they plug into that connector. It is a trapezoidal connector (top is wider than the bottom).

Good Luck!