In every zombie movie to ever hit the big screen, there is certain to be at least one scene depicting a cluttered highway full of abandoned cars. Regardless of what the root cause is for this vehicular abandonment, it is possible that these vehicles are not necessarily a total loss. Sure, they are probably out of gas and perhaps some may have flat tires, rendering them inoperable. Although one might be quick to write off a vehicle that doesn't run, such vehicles can at times be a sort of survival treasure trove.
Photo: The Walking Dead
We all pretty much know better than to expect to find a car that is fully functional in the midst of TEOTWAWKI but what we can find are useful items inside of the car. All you have to do is ignore the big picture that is the car itself and instead look at the smaller picture, that being the contents or parts of the car you can salvage. It is these items that can prove useful to you, be it by furthering your own survival or repairing a vehicle of your own. Here are 10 things to look for when poking through abandoned vehicles:
1. Food is something a lot of people carry in their cars. Even those who are not necessarily survivalists tend to toss the occasional granola bar or beef jerky in the center console. Once the SHTF and people are forced to bail from their cars in a hurry, it is precisely this type of item that can help pull you through a hunger crisis.
Photo: Edible Antics
2. Water is another item commonly found in vehicles. It could be a bottle of water purchased from the gas station as a refreshment or perhaps a gallon jug for emergencies such as an engine running hot, either of which could be of great use to those struggling to keep going.
3. Tools are often found in cars whether the vehicle is new or an old jalopy that is always in need of periodic coaxing to keep it going. Whether it is a fully stocked kit or even a couple of odds and ends, tools are good to have.
4. Aftermarket seat covers are also useful in a survival situation. These can serve as a protective barrier against the elements or can even be used as a sack to carry items. In the absence of aftermarket seat covers, you can always cut up seats themselves in order to create emergency clothing or shelter.
5. First aid kits are sometimes found in the vehicles of outdoor enthusiasts or even those who are prepared for minor issues that could arise at any time. Even if you don't find a fully stocked first aid kit, you could find other useful items such as Band-Aids or tissues.
6. Cigarette lighters were a common item in older cars that are not always present in newer models. It is possible, however, that a little searching will yield a vehicle that still has one, and these items tend to work even if the vehicle itself is inoperable. If you have kindling and a means of transporting it such as in a metal pail, a vehicle's cigarette lighter can be used to get your fire started, provided you can safely relocate it to another location for burning.
7. Belts, hoses, and other engine components from under the hood can be removed for use in another comparable vehicle. Batteries that still have a charge may be of use as well when it comes to fire starting.
8. Mirrors can be removed from the inside or exterior of vehicles to use for signaling. Internal mirrors in newer vehicles often have wiring in them, so the removal of one from an older automobile might be an easier task.
9. Wires from throughout cars or trucks can be bundled together for later use as cordage. Once accumulated, this wire can be used to create makeshift rope, splint broken bones, or even to hold your pants up in the form of a belt.
10. Glass from door windows may take some care and effort to break, but fragments could prove useful. If you do not have a cutting tool but need one, a carefully handled piece of broken glass could get the job done. If you have a cutting tool that is dull, find a car with manual windows and roll them partway down, using the rounded top edge to breathe life back into your knife.
Photo: Bill Lawrence Online
Though it is possible to use car components as listed above as well as for various other purposes, it is important to remember that scavenging cars is not legal and should be practiced only in dire situations. Although the lawmen may not be around for enforcement purposes, you are not being encouraged to break the law but instead to merely survive as you see fit, operating under possible consequences you are willing to accept. In situations such as this, it is still important to only take items you absolutely need and even then you should not take more than you will use.
Have you any other car parts to add to this list that can be used in a survival situation? Let us know in the comments.