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”


Diesel for SHTF: 5 Big Advantages — 3 Comments

  1. You make all good points FerFal, but there is a small disadvantage. Newer diesel engines seem to care alot for diesel quality. Over here, that bio-diesel quantity exceeds 12%, modern diesel cars have trouble eventually. Granted, the chances of having your pump or valves knocked off during an emergency is slim. But in every day use runnign into these trouble negates the benefits.

  2. Don’t forget that if you have an older diesel, every single part of its function is 100% mechanical. Whether the car is flooded or exposed to a massive solar storm or the norks decide to throw up a nuke in the upper atmosphere, the car will turn over and run.

    Of course, with newer diesels, you are just as reliant on electronics as every other car.

  3. Greater range is a big benefit of greater efficiency, as the fuel tanks tend to be the same size. So even if only half the stations have diesel, you may be able to make it to one that still does. Range becomes even more lopsided, when you add how much easier and safer diesel stores, as you can comparatively safely carry jerrycans with you, even in the heat of Death Valley. For diesel pickups in particular, there are also large capacity aftermarket plug-and-play diesel tanks available, giving you 1000-1500 mile range between fill ups. After market gasoline tanks are either flat out banned, or noone dares make them for liability reasons.

    At the opposite end of the temperature spectrum; gas does have advantages in really cold climates, where you’ll need winter blends of diesel, and those can still gel up if it gets cold enough.

    Another advantage of newer gasoline cars vs newer diesels, is the gassers tend to be far more reliable in the face of neglect, and less than ideal fuel. Old, pre emission diesels ran on anything forever; but the new ones are finicky as heck. If you can get hold of a port injected, normally aspirated, moderate compression gasser of a reliable make, those things are almost everlasting, and simple to fix if anything should happen to them. As for the newer direct injection, turbocharged, sky high compression gas engines, who knows. They’re almost as complex as the diesels much of their tech is derived from.

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