Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Diesel for SHTF: 5 Big Advantages

Hi Fernando,
I re-read one of your blog posts (Surviving Argentina) where you were very pleased with your diesel Honda.  You said that diesel is cheaper and available in all gas stations where you live.  I'm in the U.S. and I understand only about half of all gas stations have diesel and I have observed prices vary and may be more expensive.  In a SHTF scenario, would you still recommend us in the U.S. to drive a diesel engine vehicle given all the positives but in SHTF will be even harder to find diesel.

My diesel Honda CRV, manual 6 speed transmission.
Hello Dan,
Indeed, here in Europe, every single gas station has both diesel and gasoline at the pump, one right next to the other (yes, you gotta be careful)

Diesel has several advantages.

1&2)Cost and efficiency. At times it’s even cheaper per gallon than gasoline, but what’s even more important, it’s a lot more efficient. This means you do more miles on the same money, a lot more (50% more) and also important for SHTF, you cover more distance per gallon. What I mean is its cheaper as a daily driver due to price but if SHTF and you need to cover miles, you’ll cover a lot more of them on the same number of gallons in your tank. These two are key advantages.

3)Diesel is also a LOT safer. A lit match thrown in a puddle of diesel will extinguish itself, unlike gasoline which is downright explosive. Remember Paul Walker and that terrible death in a burning inferno…

4)Torque. Diesel has almost twice as much torque. This means it crawls uphill a lot easier, deals better with off road, pulls a trailer better, you can push stranded or blocking cars better too. Last year I was caught in fast flowing flood waters while going uphill. Having had a similar CRV in gasoline I can say the difference was big.

A car that got caught and dragged by the current that same day.

5)Diesel has more “compatibility”. By this I mean its found in different places “hidden” and its available in unexpected places.  Airplanes use diesel, Jet A fuel. Heating oil? tinted diesel. In farms you’re likely to find diesel for tractors.
Finally, diesel stores much better. It will hold for many years in a well sealed container. Even in less than ideal ones diesel is more forgiving.

Disadvantages? Its not as common in USA. During recent storm disasters in Texas and Florida gasoline was resupplied much faster than diesel. In other cases it has been reported that diesel was still available when gasoline was sold out, so I suppose it’s a toss disaster-wise. Cars are more expensive too and mechanics that know their way around diesel in USA are not as common.
Still, with an older reliable car, diesel is still hard to beat as a SHTF car.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”


B said...

THe issue with diesel cars in the us is that there are, effectively, nearly none. The EPA has squelched nearly all diesel cars. I own a diesel pickup truck, and LOVE it, but there are no diesel Hondas in the US. I also drive a Subaru, and there are no diesel Subarus here either. Nor Toyotas, nor Kias, nor Hyundais. They have, effectively removed all the VolksWagons, so with the exception of cars that are about 10 or more years old, there are no diesel cars in the US, period. Those that are out there are older, and hard to find parts for to keep in good repair.

I agree that diesel is cheaper per mile, stores better, and yes, there are many "substitutes". IN a pinch you can use kerosene, jet A, you can find diesel on farms, construction sites, locomotives, etc. You can also extend it about 20% with motor oil. Or use vegetable oil in mixes up to 70% in warmer weather.

But again, there are essentially no diesel cars in the US.

Anonymous said...

I've mentioned this before but I will repeat it. Older (i.e very old) diesels will burn pretty much anything including Jet-A and maybe even kerosene. But new, modern common-rail diesels with piezo injectors are way more fussy. They are a joy to drive with up-to-spec fuel but my 4x4 has a relatively new BMW diesel engine and it does not do well with anything but auto diesel. Not all gas oil is created equal. Which is why I also keep an ancient 4x4 with a 1950s era Buick-derived diesel engine for emergencies. It will burn anything and it also has a lockable diff instead of traction-control--another plus in truly shitty conditions.

Unknown said...

The only problem is in the US they are not available... Import one from Canada and you pay about 3K in import fee because they don't pass emissions testing.

Anonymous said...


I agree, diesel seems a better alternative than gas in SHTF. Nonetheless I'm not sure how long that Honda common rail diesel would run on jet A1 as its viscosity lower than the diesel thus lubrication problem may occurs.

I'm sure an old VW TDI or a Mercedes TD would run without any problems with Jet A1, or a mixture of (exhausted) cooking oil and diesel, plain transformer oil.

Thanks for your thoughtful advises, keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Hi Fernando, I'm a reader from Brazil. I want to report what is beginning to happen to the banks because of the crisis. I work at Correios, a state-owned post office that also provides banking services and is the only company that does service in all cities in Brazil. However, the branches of the Post Office in Brazil are gradually no longer having Banco Postal services, linked to Banco do Brasil. The service will be totally suspended on October 11.

The first measure was taken by the National Institute of Social Security (INSS), which already in the payment of its retirees and pensioners this month, started last Monday (25), suspended the service in the post offices.

In a note sent by the press office of the Post Office, the pension plan advises retirees and pensioners to contact the institution to know in which bank the payment is available.

The situation should further worsen the banking service, since, according to data from the Post Office, hundreds of pension beneficiaries received their salaries per day at the post offices, a demand that will be distributed to other banking agencies, which should further increase the queues.

SAM said...

Off topic I hope no one minds.
From Matt Bracken via Twitter
My first Dan Kilmer novel Castigo Cay will be on a Kindle “free run” on Sunday October 1st through Monday the…