We had known for some time that the front seats of our car were relatively high EMF, and too high by our standards. In the front seat of our middle-aged sedan, the magnetic EMF readings would peak over 100 milligauss on our gaussmeter at various locations. The back seat EMF readings were lower, but it is a bit hard and totally illegal to drive while sitting in the back seat.
We were determined to find a new car or truck that was safe, reliable, four-wheel drive, and low EMF. We hoped to find a vehicle that would be significantly lower EMF in the front and back seats than our old car. We didn’t want a used car as we had some bad experiences with used cars in the past, but we knew finding a brand new low EMF car would be quite challenging.
There are a number of sources of EMF in modern vehicles. Let’s take a look at some of these:
- Alternator and spark plugs – the alternator and spark plugs perform different functions, but they work together. The spark plugs use electricity which is sent from the alternator and ignition coil. The alternator and spark plugs can emit a high level of magnetic fields and are responsible for much of the high fields found in the front seats of most cars. In a lot of cars the alternator is very close to the front seats.
- In-car electronics and wiring – Modern cars have a lot of electronics and pretty extensive in car wiring to power these electronics. Power windows, power door locks, anti-lock brakes, window defroster, air conditioning, radio system, heated seats, electric powered seat adjustments, 120V power plugs, you name it. All these modern luxuries come with the price of extra wiring and extra EMF. Typically all this wiring goes to a fuse panel located in either the driver or passenger footwell.
- Wireless radiation — Many modern cars come with Bluetooth for coupling with your smart phone. Other wireless radiation sources may include remote controls, tire pressure monitors, and radar sensors for crash prevention.
To test the EMF in the vehicles we were considering, we created a spreadsheet with 12 points inside each vehicle for testing. For each point, we tested both the magnetic and electric radiation while the vehicle was running. We also used a radiofrequency meter to test the wireless and RF signals inside the vehicle when turned on, vs outside the vehicle. We walked into each dealership with our armada of EMF meters in tow. We found a lucky salesperson, explained our situation, and asked if we could measure the EMF of each vehicle we were considering. We did our readings before we even test drove the vehicle. Many of the vehicles were so high that we didn’t even test drive them.
It took us nine months to find the make and model we wanted, and then another two months to test all of the different trim/option packages and finalize the ones we wanted. We tested over a dozen models of vehicles from a variety of brands. For our final choice, we tested half a dozen different trim level and option packages.
We ended up with a 2015 Ford F-150 XL SuperCrew pickup truck, with a 3.5L V6 FFV engine, and 101A trim package.
The measured EMF levels seemed significantly lower for this Ford F-150 for the driver’s seat compared to other cars we tested. In the truck we purchased, the highest reading in the driver’s seat is around 4 milligauss at the foot. The passenger’s side does have significantly higher EMF levels, most of which is around the fuse panel in front of the passenger’s legs. So we opted for a truck with four doors so that the passenger can sit in the back seat (and the groceries can sit in the front seat).
We ended up special ordering our truck to make sure it did not come with any undesirable features. I won’t go into the details of every aspect of our choice, but we did feel that the base model XL truck had much less electronics and wiring than the higher models. We chose the upgraded 101A equipment group even though the 100A is the base equipment group, because we found that the reading at the center of the steering wheel was much higher on the 100A equipment group and the other readings seemed similar.
This article doesn’t cover choosing a low EMF car in general, since there are some older used and diesel vehicles that are reported to work well for EHS sufferers. Since we did not want to consider older vehicles, and we decided against diesel, we only focused on finding a new gas vehicle.
Here are some tips when shopping for a new low EMF car:
- Make sure you measure all of the areas around where you or a sensitive passenger may sit before you purchase a vehicle. Do not rely on others or this article to choose a vehicle, as readings can vary across models, model years, trim levels, and even across vehicles with the exact same specifications due to slight variations when building and wiring the vehicle. This means that if you test a specific car and decide to special order one, you should still test the EMF levels of your vehicle when it arrives to make sure the readings are still good before purchasing.
- Avoid cars or trim levels that include a 120V outlet. The inverter and electricity can put off very high electric fields.
- Avoid vehicles with built-in radar. Many of the crash-prevention systems use radar, and although they are meant to point outwards, some radar radiation may come into the car.
- Be aware of cars or trim levels with Bluetooth. Some people have disabled the Bluetooth feature of their vehicle by pulling the fuse for it. DO THIS ONLY AT YOUR OWN RISK! This may affect your warranty, and may also disable other safety or other critical features in your car that may or may not be required by your local laws. We tested this in our Ford F-150 by pulling the SYNC BlueTooth fuse which caused the center multi-function display, radio, tire pressure monitor, and remote door locks to stop working. We decided to put the fuse back and live with the Bluetooth.
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