Beefing Up the BOV

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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.

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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.

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Photo: Piloteers

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.

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September 28, 2015  •  04:05 PM
Also invest in a high end battery.
Optima or NorthStar or Odyssey are all a huge cut above a "normal" battery and will be much more reliable when you push the limits.
Another Area not to be cheap on is tires.
Just because it says X amolunt of miles "rated" doesnt mean the inside carcass is strong.
Premium brands like Michelin or as a very minimum, proper name brands are your friend
September 30, 2015  •  11:04 PM
Re: fully inflated tires off road.
Tires that are at maximum pressure do not flex as much as those that are at lower pressures. As such a fully inflated tire is MORE susceptible to being punctured in both the sidewalls and the tread, than a tire at lower pressure which will flex around the object where as the fully inflated tire will hit it harder and sustain damage from it. On a hard surface such as a road, a fully inflated tire puts the tread flat on the road for maximum traction. But on a soft surface, such as found off road, the fully inflated tire will cost you the much needed tire flex, that generates maximum traction in mud loose soil, sand, clay and other off road surfaces. Owning a vehicle capable of traveling off road does not mean YOU are ready to go off road. First you must LEARN to use the equipment you have off road, it is not like driving in snow or on a wet road, every surface has different techniques that are needed and the different conditions for each surface even change that. Ive been off roading for over 40 years, It isn't as simple as the author of the article implies or seems to think
October 1, 2015  •  04:17 PM
Best bang for your buck is bigger tires. Bigger tires raise the vehicle. More ground clearance is a good thing.
October 4, 2015  •  03:46 AM
I've put larger tires on truck without cutting fender wells or getting a lift kit. I have studded tires for winter. All the modifications mentioned are nice, but with newer vehicles the big problem is, will it start in case of an EMP? So a good BOV should start with an older vehicle. Of course that's another expense.
November 14, 2015  •  09:10 PM
Good quality tires are a must. Along with proper inflation for the conditions you are in.
Another big thing to me is to keep the vehicle properly maintained. You won't have time to do anything once the ballon goes up. What you have is what you'll deal with.
December 1, 2016  •  08:32 PM
Read your owner's manual. An automatic transmission has gears too. Loaded to the max, you may find the transmission will take some of the "work/stress" off the engine when headed up hill or off the brakes when headed down hill. Since most car's heating system are tied to the engine cooling system if your engine begins to overheat because of overload or being stuck in traffic, it is often possible to bleed off some heat by turning your heater and fan on high and your AC OFF. Yes. you may open your windows.
Trailers are nice but there is a tendency to overload them. Trailers with taller tires- the tires make fewer revolutions. This is easier on the tires and bearings. If your "trailer load" is reasonably light you might want to consider a "car topper". With a trailer you will loose some maneuverability and with a topper you won't. The carriers that slide into your trailer hitch are viable, however, they change the handling on most vehicles and decrease the departure angle.
You can add overload springs, transmission coolers, air shocks, or increase cooling with a flex-fan.