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    25 Things You Can Scavenge from Old Vehicles

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    25 Things You Can Scavenge from Old Vehicles

    Old vehicles are a treasure trove of salvageable items in an emergency or crisis. If you happen across an old car or truck, there are many things you may want to look for to bring back to your homestead for emergencies. You can use these items for repairs, crafting, building, lighting, and more. 

    In this article, we’ll look at a number of different items you could scavenge from an old vehicle. Of course, you’ll always want to make sure it is safe and legal to do so, but finding an old car could lead you to some life-saving pieces of equipment in an emergency.

    Want to know more? Check out these 25 things you can scavenge from old vehicles. 

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    1. Gas

    When SHTF happens, gasoline will be in short supply. You’ll be incredibly lucky if you come across an old vehicle with some fuel left in it. You’ll need to siphon the fuel into a safe container, carefully. Also, you’ll need to be very careful not to cause sparking if you need to access the fuel tank or fuel line to get the gas.

    Keep in mind that old gas can go bad – it can degrade in quality or become contaminated and simply might not work. 

    Gasoline can also be used as a solvent, so even if it is too old to run your vehicle, it can remove grease and oil from metal surfaces. 

    2. Oil

    Old cars are likely to have some old motor oil, too. You can use motor oil for a number of uses, such as lubricating tools, treating wood, and even making a torch. 

    If the oil is clean, you can save it to put it in your vehicle the next time you need to change the oil. If you have an old tractor, you might be able to mix the motor oil with gasoline to run the tractor. 

    Motor oil could also be burned in an oil-burning furnace to heat your house if you run out of heating oil, but you’ll need to find a guide to do so. 

    3. Car Battery

    Old car batteries may not have enough juice to start up the car, but they might have enough juice to run some lights or small appliances in your home. If you have the equipment, you may be able to recharge the battery with solar power. And with the right power inverters, you could use the battery to charge cell phones or other electronic devices. 

    4. Mirrors

    Car mirrors can be used for a number of small purposes, including personal hygiene, signaling, and starting fires. 

    5.. Car Mats

    Car mats are handy for all kinds of purposes. For example, you might use them as extra insulation from the ground when camping outside. You could pile car mats to the roof of chicken coops to prevent leaks, or you could use them as door mats to wipe your feet so you don’t track dirt or mud inside your house.

    In addition, rubber-backed mats will be somewhat waterproof, so you may be able to use them to replace missing shingles in a pinch. 

    6. Windows

    Car windows have an unfinished edge that can be used as a knife sharpener. You can easily break the car windows into smaller chunks and wrap them with duct tape, so you don’t get cut.  If you are able to remove the front or rear windshield, you could use them to create cold frames to start spring vegetables. 

    7. GPS

    If you have a means of powering the car's GPS unit, you can take it with you for navigation. You can also access stored maps so you know where to find important places in town. 

    8. Seatbelts

    Seatbelts are extra strong and sturdy. They make excellent tie-downs, cables, and cordage. You can use them for securing tarps, equipment, or anything else you might need to tie down. You can sew pieces of seatbelt into your clothes as patches or even use them to make belts to hold up your pants. 

    9. Wires

    You’ll find all kinds of wires in an abandoned car. These are pretty handy if you need to wire lights, make tripwires, or even use them as wire ties for fence posts. Be careful not to get shocked if you are removing wires from a car. 

    10. Tires

    If the tires fit your vehicle, you’ve got a set of spares for when yours wear out or get a puncture. If not, you can still use them as raised planters, to build a wall, or even make playground equipment for your children. 

    11. Rims

    Car rims are extremely sturdy. You can use them for building walls, creating raised garden beds, or fire pits. If you can fit a board over the top, you can use them to make benches or tables. 

    12. Radio

    A car radio can be wired to the battery if you remove both, giving you a means of hearing news or getting a little entertainment. You’ll need to make sure you bring along the car speakers so you can hear the radio, too. 

    13. Lights

    Lights, cabin lights, headlights, and taillights can be removed and wired to the car battery to give you some emergency lighting. In addition, you may be able to repurpose the bulbs to fit small light fixtures in your home. Store extra bulbs to replace the ones in your car or tractor. 

    14. Hubcaps

    Older metal hubcaps can be used for a variety of purposes. For example, if you can get them clean, you can use them as skillets. You could also use them as trays for carrying and storing small items or as feed troughs for livestock. Hang them on the outside of your home or shed as an extra layer of protection or to cover over holes. 

    15. Upholstery

    If you can’t carry the entire seat, you might be interested in the upholstery. It can be used as insulation, cover, blankets, or rugs. 

    16. Spare Parts

    If you find a car that is compatible with your own vehicle, you’ve found a warehouse of spare parts. You can save any parts that you might possibly need to keep your own vehicle running, such as spark plugs, catalytic converters, nuts and bolts, and even windshield wipers. 

    Abandoned Truck in Nature

    17. Car Hood

    The hood of the car can be used for lean-tos, roofing on smaller sheds, and even as siding to repair a wall. 

    18. Car Doors

    Car doors can be used as sleds to pull equipment or people.

    19. Airbags

    If the airbags have deployed, or you can safely deploy them, you can cut them loose and use them to make bags to carry items or use the fabric for clothing, blankets, and even curtains. 

    20. Belts and Hoses

    There are plenty of tubes found in the engine area of a car. Of course, you wouldn’t want to use these for food or drink purposes, but you could use them to transport water for other purposes. For example, you might collect the hoses in an old car to replace yours or use the belts to fix small appliances, such as your washing machine or even your tractor. 

    21. Car Fluids

    Car fluids, such as antifreeze, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, or transmission fluid, can be used to top off your own vehicle’s fluids. For example, windshield wiper fluid can be used as a glass cleaner for your home.

    22. Car Seats

    Abandoned trucks and cars will have their seats bolted in. If you can get these bolts loose, the seats can stand in for furniture such as chairs, sofas, and even beds, if necessary. 

    23. Child Seats

    Child safety seats can be used for all kinds of things, such as emergency beds for babies, in place of highchairs, or as a type of ‘bucket’ to carry items. For example, you could use the foam inside as insulation and the straps as cords. 

    24. Car Body

    If you can haul it, a car, van, or truck body can be used as a small shelter, a chicken coop, or even a storage shed, especially if you can find the keys to lock it up. 

    25. Car Items

    People carry all kinds of items in their vehicles, such as car jacks, spare tires, first aid kits, flashlights, batteries, emergency food, mylar blankets, masks, books, toys, clothing, and blankets. You never know what you might find in an abandoned car, so keep an open mind and make sure you look in the trunk, glove compartment, and under the seats. 

    Of course, if you are scavenging items from an old car, you might need to have tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and knives, to help you pry off parts. In addition, you may need containers to carry fluids and a vehicle or wheelbarrow to transport the items back to your homestead.

    While it might be a lot of work to remove parts from an abandoned car, the things you find may be worth all the effort if it saves your life or makes life a little bit more bearable. 

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      2 thoughts on “25 Things You Can Scavenge from Old Vehicles”

      1. trying to siphon from the modern vehicles is almost impossible now – cars in the US have “throat blocks” in the tube leading to the gas tanks >>> you need to punch a hole in the tank and capture the flow in a plastic shallow pan like one for oil changing – use a hard poly mallet and a lengthy brass punch to prevent any possible sparking ….

        in regard to fluid salvage – the transmission, power steering and brake fluid are all combustible – they can be used to thin out motor oils – burn as fuel in a DIY heater or lantern ….

        in regard to tires – if you have a vehicle and fuel look for mounted tires to match your vehicle >>> the streets & roads will be one huge puncture obstacle course …..


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