Beefing Up the BOV
In a perfect world we would all have a supped up, off road capable vehicle to use as a BOV. Unfortunately the world is far from perfect and for lots of us such a vehicle is unattainable, forcing us to make do with what we have. Although your daily driver is still better than nothing, the fact of the matter is that it simply may not be up to the challenges you may face after the SHTF.
In order to go over it, under it, or around it as the saying goes, the bottom line is that your wheels are going to need to be up to the task at hand. For some vehicles, true off road capabilities may never exist, but that doesn't mean your vehicle is useless. What it does mean, however, is that you should take some steps to beef up your BOV so it can perform at top capacity when you need it most.
Just like we prepare in other areas of our lives, preparing our vehicle is something we should also do and a good place to start is with the tires. If you are rolling on tires that came stock from the factory, you might want to consider replacing them with something more substantial to get you across long miles. The tires on your car or truck when you picked it up from the dealer are most likely meant to save money and look pretty. Sure, they will get you by for a while, but in the long term they can't be relied on as heavily to perform over rugged terrain. Once you do acquire a set of more durable tires, it is beneficial to inflate them to the maximum recommended PSI. This will create a better fit on the rim and make the sidewalls less likely to puncture should they come into contact with debris.
A vulnerable spot on many modern vehicles is the undercarriage. It is not common to see a skid plate on the average commuter car, but if you're planning to use yours as a BOV, you might want to invest in one. This is something you can possibly bolt on yourself or have installed by someone else if you're not too savvy at this type of task. The goal is to protect vital components such as the radiator, oil pan, gas tank, brake lines, etc. as these things will be hard to repair or come by once TEOTWAWKI is here. Just be sure your skid plate, whether purchased aftermarket or DIY, does not interfere with your engine's ability to get adequate airflow or prohibit regular service.
Have you ever looked under the hood of a car or truck and seen a battery kicked off to the side, unbalanced and unsecured? This can pose a real problem in that batteries that are loose can bounce about, contacting metal and creating an arc between the terminals. Additionally, loose batteries can interfere with other moving parts or the connections can break completely. To prevent all of this, batteries should be properly secure. Though straps and bungees (avoid metal contacting terminals) can be used in a pinch, it is better if you fix it correctly while the opportunity still exists. Using the proper hardware to secure a battery in place is the way to go because DIY fixes may apply pressure to the battery, squeezing it and causing it to fail prematurely. Be sure to stay on top of corrosion removal as well.
Being able to see where you're going is extremely important, especially in a world that has gone dark. Working headlights will help you get around without running into obstacles that damage your car. Consider replacing factory headlight bulbs with higher wattage bulbs in order to be able to better see. Some of these bulbs can get pricey, but they last longer and shine brighter which makes them worth the added expense. Don't forget to keep spares on hand. If you're feeling particular handy, you can always add aftermarket fog lights or KC lights as well. Though KC lights may not work with all vehicles, flood lights can often be adhered with little to no modification.
All in all, the best ally in having a vehicle that is ready to bug out is going to be keeping it in good working condition and up to date on maintenance at all times. If you are already neglecting it now, that is not going to bode well when the time comes that you must push it to its mechanical limits. Therefore if you love your car ahead of the SHTF and it will love you back after.
What vehicle preparations have you made thus far? What is on your list to accomplish in the future? Share your ideas with us about it in the comments.