Scavenge a Vehicle

You should always have an emergency kit of some kind in your vehicle. This could be a dedicated kit for your vehicle, you Get home bag, or a combination there of, but there are some scenarios where this is either not enough. Maybe you’re in a long term survival scenario and your kit is depleted and you come across a vehicle that has been abandoned. Maybe your kit was stolen as the incident kicked off, or maybe your vehicle is broken down in a remote location and you need to take what you can before you try to make it out your self.

If you enjoy our site take a look at our TRUSTED RESOURCES page. If you decide to use any of the links and purchase anything we may get  a small commission that helps support the site.


Whether it’s your own vehicle, or one someone has abandoned, there is a host of items that can and should be scavenged from a vehicle in a survival situation.

Now you wont have to worry about legal issues when it is your own vehicle but before you go and tear apart a vehicle you think is abandoned be sure that either the entire system is collapsing and you wont have to worry about legal repercussions anymore anyway or the situation is bad enough that your actions will be justified. In the event that they are not you may face criminal charges or have to deal with it in civil court for destruction and theft.

First things first, check the floors, under the seats, the trunk and the glove compartments. Glove compartments can be found in the dash between or under seats and some times built into the rear seat of cars. Depending on time span and how fast and the bad the emergency came on there might still be good things left out in the open or in the glove compartments.

Start picking it a part.

Start with the battery if you can, this can help prevent in accidental sparks or depleting it by crossing wires as you take other parts out. You will need either a wrench, players or wire cutters in order to disconnect the battery. The battery can be used to start fires, charge devices,
jump another car, or even weld if you have multiple batteries. Make sure to look for and take the jumper cables if there are some.

Next is the jack and tools. You probably found these when you were doing your first pass through but look for them now if you havn’t. The lug wrench can make a decent pry-bar or a blunt weapon. You will need it and the jack to remove the tires. The jack can also be used to lift or spread apart objects in an improvised rescue or to gain entry or exit form a building. You may also find an assortment of other tools that could come in handy depending on what the vehicle came with or what the previous owner had in the vehicle.

Once you have some tools you can start pulling out the rest of the good stuff

Fuel can be worth its weight in gold in a survival situation. From a great barter item in long term catastrophes or less developed countries to an aid in fire starting in a more short term incident. Obviously if your vehicle shares the same fuel type you can use it there. Gasoline can also be used as a solvent. In order to get the fuel out of the vehicle you will need to either siphon it out with a hose/tube or a purpose made shaker siphon or pierce the tank and let the fuel pour out. Either way you will need a container of some kind to capture and carry the fuel.

Tires beyond the obvious possible use as another spare tire, tires make great smoke signals when burnt. You will need the Jack and lug wrench from earlier to remove the tire, the fuel you scavenge earlier can be added to aid them along as well. Make sure to puncture or let the air out of the tire before lighting them to avoid an explosion that can lead to injury or extinguishment of your fire.

Carpet from the floor boards, trunk liners, and floor mats as well as padded fabric from seats can be used for sleeping mats, blankets, or shelter insulation in cold environments. A knife will be necessary in order to remove most of it in a timely fashion.

Mirrors whether the rear view or side mirrors can make great rescue signals due to their typically high quality. Some survivors have also used them as a fire starter. If you are by your self they can also be used to aid in a self medical examination such as looking for ticks, leaches etc. They could also be used to check corners, or over walls in an urban survival scenario.

Lights and Wire may take longer to remove in some cases but if you have the extra time could be a good get. Pliers, wire cutters or a screwdrivers could be necessary. If you can harvest both the bulbs and the wire you can provide lighting either for signaling or just to make life easier at night. if you can remove the head light assembly intact it can use as an improvised spot light.

Seat belts can easily be cut free with a knife but are still extremely strong. They make great straps or cordage with a limitless list of uses. Make sure that you pull them as far out as possible and cut them as close to the end as possible in order to get them as long as possible.

Oil like fuel will need a container to carry it in and can be added to fire for smoke for signaling or to lubricate equipment if its relatively clean.

Spark plugs can be removed if you have sockets or wrenches depending on the engine. You can break the ceramic off the ends and use them as throwable for window breakers to prevent injury to your self if you need to break a window.


Given enough time ad the proper tools you could potentially take an entire vehicle a part. But some extra odds and ends you should consider is bolts, screws, and other pieces of hardware. That are easily removed or that could serve an immediate need. body panels for shelter or possibly making a sled. The only limitations to what you can do are your needs, tools, ingenuity and available time.

If you enjoyed this post take a look at our TRUSTED RESOURCES page. If you decide to use any of the links and purchase anything we may get  a small commission that helps support the site.

Sign up for our email list and you will receive exclusive content that adds to the articles we post here.

Get the most out of our posts by subscribing to our telegram.