A Car Failure Taught Me The Danger Of Relying On Technology

The writer of these posts is a middle-class Venezuelan prepper, in a country which has the world’s highest inflation rate at more than 4000%. Venezuela is an economic collapse nightmare with extreme shortages of food, violent crime, severe hunger, a crippled economy, crumbling infrastructure, collapsed healthcare system, and a failing government.

One of the topics I have been considering, as a product of my own experience with this collapse, is keeping the provision of some basic resources with the lowest technology available: water, energy, mobility, and passive defense setups. In this day and age, relying on technology can be a risk to mine and my family’s survival.

In everyday life, your car might break down, you might have a power outage or your mobile phone network drops out. These are just a taste of what it is like when an entire country’s economy and normal life collapses. Since my country has collapsed, I have spent the past several years keeping my family safe and healthy in everyday life and have learnt some important lessons to survive. But one of the biggest things I have realized is that we are all relying on technology far more than we should.

Why do I say that we are relying on technology too much? Simple. Technology has come to a point where we need a specialist to service our car, phone, and water system. In a country like mine, where it is a literal SHTF environment, where the economy has collapsed and companies, services, and specialists have either left the country or have closed down, there is no way I can possibly rely on those people to fix my car or anything else. And trying to learn how to fix them myself is out of the question.

Basically, our technology reliance has held our ability to be self-sufficient in a compromise, and our reliance on that advanced technology is only growing more and more, as technology and innovations progress. Once upon a time a person could pull apart their own car and fix it. Now, it’s out of the question.

The real risk of technology reliance

Why have I taken up this stance against relying on technology? Because my fancy Japanese SUV has been busted for almost two years. The expensive repairs need a highly skilled, certified mechanic, with the right tools and knowledge to do the job. Had I bought a more mechanically simpler and easier car to work on, it would be already done.

And this isn’t just a problem for me, it’s the same for all of us and our vehicles when the SHTF. Sure, if you have the tools and skills to, say, to detect when your TPS sensor, or RPM crankshaft sensor is busted, and replace it, excellent. But if your electrical fuel pump fails in the worst possible moment, like when you try to leave behind a suspicious car that has been following you, that is an entirely different issue, and it can get you in deep trouble.

I am telling you this because I have experienced this same thing myself. My SUV pump failed once while we were going to our mountain house, stalling and kicking. Loaded with our luggage, food and beverages, my dad, my wife, and our 3-year-old sleeping like a little angel in the backseat. We barely made it to the house, and prepared ourselves to check the failure the next day. I had my laptop and the pdf service manual, so I was able (I used to work as a maintenance engineer) to discard and detect the fuel pump problem. My dad is an electrician, working with this stuff almost since Tesla and Edison years, so we were confident this was the issue. Getting the tank down was a real pain, as I have always preferred to have it full all of the time. But we had enough time and beers to rehydrate ourselves from time to time.

Once we got to what we were looking for, I was surprised to see the terminals had burned up. The vapors corroded them, and there were just three or four wires conducting the electricity. Had they broken, we could have been prey for some thugs on a lonely road – remember, this is post-collapse Venezuela where gangs and crime has one of the highest increases in the world at the moment. I promised silently I never would risk my family again with these kinds of things. After getting the pump and the tank out, welding it was a breeze, with my dad’s expertise. After that I bought a brand new pump and stashed the repaired one just in case.

What did I learn in this circumstance? The less complex your systems are and the less reliant you are on technology, the less exposed you will be when the SHTF.

Why having a network of skilled people is helpful

Tip: have a friend who is a mechanic.

Sometimes, just sometimes, we all have that moment where we just don’t know how to do something. And it’s completely normal, I am not superman and I don’t think many of us can be. But what we can do is have a network of people that can help us out with their special skills should we need it. I have skills to help out some people as much as others have skills that I might need now and then.

This was again proven in another (yes, another) car breakdown. On this trip, a branch tore one of the gas lines that came out of the tank, leaving us stranded in the middle of the road. My dad, and my now 5-year-old child were with me. This was a message from God to remind me he exists. We parked in front of a cottage and the owner helped us replace it with a piece of pipe he already had. How are the odds of this happening on a Saturday afternoon?

This said, I could see while the guy worked on the replacing, lots and lots of older cars drove by, and I remembered the electrical pump issue. We finished the trip, 1800kms round, without any other problem, thankfully.

So how am I going to fix this? My goal is to replace the engine with a much simpler one, within a reasonable amount of time, and build a propane gas-powered generator for our mountain home with the old engine.

Rather than having a nice car, my priority is reliability on the road. I cannot afford to practice technology reliance like I once used to. The car needs to keep going without any major failure that could leave my family and I stranded and possibly at risk. 

I know there are a lot of advantages to modern technology. Especially with cars, such as fuel efficiency, better performance and all of that. But when it comes down to it, there are no modern garages open to offer service, the parts are never available and most main manufacturing places and dealerships that do services are closed.

I have a technical background strong enough to be aware of that. But after all my experience with high tech devices and how they love to fail at the worst possible moment, there are times when less is more. The maintenance cost of that high tech engine became prohibitive in the SHTF situation. And I am not the only one that has realized this post-collapse, there are lots of people selling their similar SUVs and houses. Most of them are sold at half price because they can’t afford the maintenance and need the money to migrate and leave the country.

Going on from here…

There are a lot more changes we can all make when it comes to relying on technology for everyday life. For the most part, in order to stay in touch with the world, with family, and even for me to write this post for The Prepping Guide, I have had to keep a lot of technology implemented into my life. That’s the way the world is and there’s no real way to fight against it, for me at least.

What I will do is try more to cut back and simplify the technology that I use, so that it can be easily repaired, fixed or modified, should the need arise.

The Venezuelan Prepper is Jose M. A middle-class Venezuelan professional with a family who, before coming to live in a societal collapse, enjoyed holidaying, hiking, outdoors and evenings with his family. Now, he’s a prepper trying to survive in the world’s highest inflated economy. You can support him through his Paypal donation link here.

Technology reliance

2 Comments

  1. Jerry

    April 2, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    I have what you may call lack of technology envy, when I talk to people and they say I don’t own a computer, I hardly ever watch TV and those who in the summer use alternative methods of transportation such as bicycles I envy them, I as so many have come to depend on technology too much, the funny part is I hate it, I often think of trashing my computers, destroying my TV, chucking my cell phone and going back to the days when you did everything the hard way, the problem is I’m in my mid 60’s in not the greatest health, I still try to build what I can, to make things I need rather than just purchase them, I believe technology has made people less smart and more lazy, I use to say if someone can do it so can I but today things have become so easy you want something don’t build it print it, things are just a buttons push away, if I had but one wish to be granted it would be to go back in time to start over and leave technology behind.

  2. Jose, Your writer

    April 4, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks for your interesting comment Jerry. I am not what you could call anti-technology, not at all. I have always been a supporter of technology…but applied in the right places. My point is, that motor vehicles, specially cars have become extremely hard to work on, just because the manufacturers need a steady supply of money from services that are increasingly getting more and more expensive. With modern materials and designs, a car that could last 5 million of kms. would be possible, and at an affordable price. But that would be the end of that money draining. I am going to start a business as soon as I can get on my feet again, and with a high technology equipment I already have and have not being able to sell (no one is buying with this economy); but my motorcycle and car will be very basic ones, and with expeditionary reliability. The technology is good, only if applied to those areas where it is most needed. If you have low income, and a couple of injectors of your car, or the computer, or the electric fuel pump failures, and you need the car, would not be much better to have a simpler engine?. I would be left stranded without my GPS. I found once a pharmacy in the middle of the night in a vacation to an unknown city, with my family, when the kid needed a medicine in 2009. The point of the issue, is to use it WISELY, and not to rely heavily on technological devices.
    Cheers!

Tell us what you think