What You Need to Know About Bug Out Vehicles, Fuel, and the Energy Matrix

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As many of our readers are definitely going to need a vehicle to arrive at some bugout location, I could foresee the need of explaining some considerations that such bugout vehicle should have.

The only person able to identify what vehicle you need is you, but here are some factors to consider, based on my experiences.

There are various factors to consider when choosing a bug-out vehicle.

Maybe an SUV is too expensive to maintain, indeed, as a daily ride. But you could find a decent, simple but reliable rig if you have space enough to park it. (Be aware that the daily ride perhaps will have to be left behind in a hurry, if it can´t make it to the BOL) Or, if you can´t afford either of these, maybe you could find a bug out location in a safe place where you can get safely to without an SUV, just with your small little car – easy to maintain in a tight budget. It´s a little like the military. You need the proper equipment to complete the mission. You can´t open a breach in a stone wall without rocket fire. And it´s good planning to go overkill, instead of remaining short. I know it because a large car gives you a good degree of safety. But, a small car gives you maneuverability and stealth, good fuel economy after the event, and can hide it easily. It´s kind of a compromise, and your particular situation has to be assessed carefully. For me, in the open, MadMaxian roads in Venezuela, would feel much better in an armored car. But my SUV will have to make it, once repaired.

Be sure to store enough fuel for your vehicle.

OK, trust me on this now, please. Unless you have fuel enough stored, with the proper precautions, you´re not going anywhere. The blackout in Argentina made people desperate the 2nd day because there was no power for any gas station, and people with gensets found that replenishing was impossible. Go figure. (Stay tuned because I will write something and make a video about that in the next few weeks after I receive and research with more detail). If your tank is half empty and you need a quarter, unless you drill the tank of that neighbor you hate in the middle of the night (assuming you don´t get shot in the process) to complete your tank, you´re not going anywhere.

Is it worth the investment in a rig with a second tank, if you only need a full tank, to arrive at your BOL? That´s up to you. I had the strong feeling of things going on to hell. I don´t know how many times I woke up at 3 am with that bitter sentiment, about everything crumbling around. Slowly, but patently. Anyway, I could make still some money, cover expenses, and get an extra job to prep. But could have managed my mobility issues much better. I know, many of us have a family. A shared responsibility in the home economy, so to speak. Maybe is not that easy to convince our partner about if it´s better to re-shape our budget to cope with the maintenance of a much different vehicle. I was weak and paid the price. Time told me, I knew better.

But trust me, you never know what you really need, UNTIL you need it desperately. In our case, it was driving the motorcycle through one of the worst storms of the year to go buy some food at night. 30 cms of water in the road made me see how big my mistake was. Windy and with lightning falling all around, just like any good tropical storm. Loaded with two large backpacks with food including glass jars. After some moron in a car started to honk to make me pull over because was in a hurry, I think maybe she understood we could have been in much better shape. Arriving at our home soaked up and down, I told my (now ex) wife “remember when I told you I wanted to change that junk for a diesel truck?” She nodded silently, with water dripping off her hair and tip of the nose and shaking because of the cold and the effort of the two heavy backpacks. I remained silent too. Didn´t want to push my luck though.

Depending on the stage of the evolution of your prepping itself, this is not something that will need a high degree of money to invest in. It´s more about the proper timing of the investment, just as it is usually the norm. I am pretty sure that a large underground biodiesel market will spike once some difficulty for finding regular fuel is in place. Therefore, my choice for 4 wheels vehicles from now on, are Diesel engines.

Consider keeping these supplies in your bug-out vehicle.

Automatic transmission, I don´t pretend to win any races. I care about reliable vehicles, and you never know if you are going to get hurt and have to drive with just one foot and one hand. A good set of modifications are going to provide good clearance. I have been in the need to make some maneuvers that in my former, shiny and brand new 4 doors sedan were impossible, and with the taller SUV we could get through the side curb, around the obstacle like nothing. For some reason, Venezuela is plagued with all types of 4x4s. So get your rig a body lift. Get a second tank, too, if there is space enough. You could need it someday. Get a nice HAM radio, and find or makeshift a good console to install it, but don´t leave it inside. Radio must be detachable because it could get stolen.

There are several options in boxes to keep some permanent stuff like some oil cans, tire repair cans, tools, and some devices. I would get a sturdy one, not very big but capable, and fill it with equipment that MUST be there. A 2nd spare wouldn´t be bad either. This is economy, too: once you need tires, you may extend the lifetime by just changing two. I usually noticed that my front tires were wasted much before the rear ones. By buying them by the couple, I always had two spare tires in good shape, one in the truck and another one at home. Something that can extend the cargo capacity is a need: a good quality roof shell is great, and you can just stuff some duffel bags inside quickly and silently. But take the pets inside! Don´t use those roof pet pens. Please.

Oh, and a last suggestion. Save some money for brand new tires. Once things get hairy, you may buy them and store them under good conditions. You´re going to need them if things go bad. Once we go back we´re going to need them, and they´re much more expensive now because factories are not producing.

Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind.

The first of these considerations is something called the energy matrix. We can define roughly that, on a country, or a state, this matrix is composed of all the energy types produced: wind, solar, oil derivatives, hydro, biofuels, and so on. Therefore, the more diversity there is, as it is evident, the lack of one of the elements of the matrix will not impact our energy needs. We can interpolate and treat every homestead as a place with a determined energy matrix. I am sure it is much better treating the homestead as an isolated system: totally off-grid. No matter you have power lines big enough for a refinery. If you are still reading this, it´s because, or you are in your golden years and have plenty of time, or because you want to be really independent, self-reliant and prepped for whatever life comes along with.

This said, and being my subdivision home a VERY small energy matrix and almost entirely reliant on grid power, I bought a small solar panel after another, saved my used batteries for a rack and use it to light a LED setup, and similar little projects, got myself a used HAM radio, and so on.

One of the most important effects (and yes, this is a proven fact) I have identified in Venezuela in the last months are the difficulties that are facing both producers and consumers to transport themselves.

If you don’t know it yet, our gasoline is being sent to Cuba, the few barrels produced and the one imported from Russia, paid with gold. The few barrels a day our only working refinery is producing, and whatever other crappy fuel they can beg from Russia, no matter its anti-freezing additives, totally useless for the tropical countries destroy our engines, who cares? No matter our people are dying because there is no gasoline for the ambulances, but Cuba’s shipments must be sent.

Yes, I am p—d off enough, and please excuse my French. These days have not been good for me.

Rant finished, let’s continue.

No matter which vehicle you choose, watch out for this.

This side effect of the consequences of a flawed energy matrix (electric scooters and cars are just nonexistent in Venezuela: those were toys for kids, if you even though having something electric and non-contaminant for commuting you’d be ridiculous) that relied uniquely on fossil fuels. I know, having several energy sources in our homestead can be tricky. But I am a fan of simple systems because they are reliable. Instead of having a sophisticated electronic relay to change between your arrangements, whatever it’s a combination of solar, wind, and hydro turbine, a steam engine with Peltier effect devices all around, or your pig-sized hamster wheel in the pigsty, just have a simple circuit box.

Lightning nearby could fry all the electronics in a time where you (or those who come after you) will not be able to replace it, and that could be costly. I have been in a truck, a modern one, 2000 and something, when lightning struck about 50 meters of us. The overload of the systems almost left us stranded: the lights in the dashboard blinked, and the engine almost stalled. Driving at 50 kmh in a flooded road with 15 cms of water under the wheels. The EPM is real, people. I’ve seen the sparks in all the sockets once lightning struck the building I was in. It had concrete roofing, and the discharge blew off one of the corners like a sledgehammer. It seems the rebar was very close to the surface, and the sharp roof corner was the most adequate part to discharge. Amazing. I had seen other effects of discharges, but not this close.

This said, I must mention, life taught me to NEVER underestimate two things: the power of lightning, and PMS.

Please stay tuned for the next article.

Thanks for your much-needed support! Good things coming in.

What do you think?

What kind of vehicles do you think are ideal for bugging out? Are there aspects you think are important that we missed? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About Jose

Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

Picture of J.G. Martinez D

J.G. Martinez D

About Jose Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

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  • Good stuff. Yup I use PRI-G for gas and the (D) is for diesel. It claims up to 6 years for the gas. I’ve gone 5 and it was still god then I just couldn’t take it anymore and had to use it.

    • Dear Canadian,

      Definitely, I would go diesel. With an engine wisely selected, without lots of previous operations you can use even burned engine oil.

      Hope to visit your wonderful country some day in the near future!


  • Just bought a 30 year old contractor’s truck, well-maintained with two tanks — for a quart of Noble Oak bourbon. Still needs a little work and looks like heck on the outside. But figure the power is what is needed not the styling. Yet. The pokey little around town car is always ready for anything that happens around town.

    Deals are out there!

    So sorry for the lightening and PMS, Mr. Martinez. This is a caution to me that my relationships also need to be maintained and prepared for stressful times. I hope you can get it mended.

    • Those are great, and universally widespread deals! I was very close to get a similar one, but then, unforeseen events happened and lost it. A car with a battered outside should not be an attention caller, something good if turmoil is starting in the streets (and you won’t care to ram some aggressive driver looking for trouble out of your way, if needed, too).

      Thanks for your kind words. Just for some food for thought to those younger dudes, I have a meme in my collection folder that still makes me laugh, mostly because of my personal experience (and we Venezuelans laugh of everyone including ourselves): A Scarlet Johansson’s picture in all her beauty and sweetness, with the legend “when you just fall in love with her”, and another with Harley Quinn that says”After 2 years of marriage”. LOL. This kind of things happens, and will continue happening. It’s part of the human nature. Just being authentic is the only way to be happy, even if that means to hurt yourself loving someone.

      Just have to keep moving forward! 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

  • Whatever your vehicle, you want to invest in the strongest, most puncture proof tires you can get. The last thing you need during SHTF/BOV is to be immobile on the side of the road while you jack up your vehicle to replace a flat. Trucks and most SUVs should go with Light Truck (LT) tires for this reason.

    Your tires should have the best off road capability available, even if your BOV is not 4WD. Anyone who cannot imagine any scenarios where they ever would have to leave paved roads is dangerously delusional.

    • Dear Harbour,

      As we used to travel half of the country one weekend a month, through some dangerous (there was a gang leaded by a guy they called El Picure roaming around) roads, my emergency box included (with some nasty surprises just in case I had to use it) 2 cans for quick tire repairs. And I used to have one in my motorcycle saddlebags, too.

  • I have a 2013 Ford F150 4×4 four door, we also have a Dodge Journey 2015 it is all wheel drive, but front end clearance is not that great. The truck has 20 inch tires and a front skid plate which gives excellent front end clearance and additional protection to the engine. This is my primary BOV.

  • I know someone who bought a 1080 Chevy pickup. There’s no computer in it. Would this be a good idea?

    • Dear Marlissa,

      Please excuse me for such a late response. From a prepper’s viewpoint, in my experience, after having my hitech, status of the art, japanese-made-but-God-knows-assembled-where fuel injection engine blow up in my face (Thanks God I was in the house garage) …I can say NO.

      It is not a “Good” idea.

      It was a GREAT Idea. And I am jealous now. I could have sold that truck for a bunch of money when it was in good shape, bought something from the recent 90s with a bulletproof diesel engine, and still have had lots of money left to finish the preparation of our house in the mountains. Of course, my lovely Harley Quinn told me she was NOT going to drive a monster truck like that because it was smelly and noisy, and she would need a car of her own. Jeez…

      Please allow me to clear this up a little bit. I had my entire life cars with carburetors, without computers. I could detect (after all I am a maintenance engineer) basic failures, and say if it was electrical system, or fuel system.

      I stood stranded once (with a girlfriend who was a mechanical engineering student) and pulled over to the side of the road, manly lifted the hood (of course without any idea of what was going on) and after pulling some cables here and there, burning my knuckles, the girl leaved her comfortable spot inside the car and asked me sweetly “Honey, let me check what can be happening, would you?”.
      She tapped with her little fingers the gasoline filter over the carburetor, and asked me to start while she kept tapping it.

      Of course the stupid thing started right away.

      That car never left me again stranded until sold, adding shame to the injury.

      The problem with too much electronics is, once it fails, IT FAILS. Unless you have some identical computer, and the right time to put it in place (provided it is the piece that failed), or the proper OBD (on board diagnostics) scanner, with a good assort of spare parts, and the skill to identify the part that the scanner says it’s failed, the time to disassemble everything to reach it and change it, the car is now a monument.

      No matter what mechanics fan can say about modern systems being extremely reliable, or whatever. My car needed an specialist after the collapse started, and the guy never fixed it. The price of repairs were (still are) way beyond my reach. Just because it’s a modern car, and I used to be an engineer.

      A simpler car could be fixed with a couple of my friends, a case of beer, a grill and some meat, in my garage, and just keep going while there was gasoline available. Or diesel. 🙂

      This was a very important comment! and a heck of a contribution to make me remember why I won’t come back to gasoline fuel injection again ever in my life.

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