Ford NextGen Police Interceptor Tech Training - Part 1

Dealer tech training for police shops

The NextGen PI Sedan – PI Utility Operation and Service training is a two-day course with the same content as dealership tech training. Some police-unique material is covered, specifically the All Wheel Drive systems. However, the Ford Tech Training is not a police-specific, police-interface course. It may be conducted in a police garage, but the content is virtually the same as given to Ford dealerships.

The training is divided into six major sections: Vehicle Overview; Electrical-Electronics; Engine Operation-Components; Engine Diagnostic-Service; Automatic Transaxle; All Wheel Drive.

The first day the big differences between these two NextGen vehicles and the Ford CVPI are pointed out and explained. This is obviously the All Wheel Drive components, the Ti-VCT engines and the 6-speed transaxle. But it also includes an overview of the optional EcoBoost engine, and the High Speed-CAN, i.e., the totally different electrical architecture.

Same But Different

The first day also includes an overview of both new vehicles, the PI Sedan and the PI Utility, again, both the differences and the similarities. The PI Sedan and PI Utility share common service parts including tires, wheels, oil, oil filter, brake pads and brake rotors. Other common components include the battery, alternator, brake calipers, rear differential unit and seats. That means the first day is good for the fleet manager, shop superintendent and foreman. It is also worthwhile for members of the police admin on the operations and special service side and for upfitters.

The second day is quite different. It is very diagnostic-oriented, very hands-on, and very tech-oriented. This aspect is essential for the tech, of course, but just doesn’t apply to those not directly involved with the vehicles. Shop foremen and techs who raise the hood and grab the scan tools to fix driveability issues will find this two-day course extremely valuable. If you are moving from the Ford CVPI to either / both the PI Sedan or PI Utility, this course will keep you up to speed on Ford’s 30-year jump in technology.

Perfect Balance

The training has a perfect 50:50 balance between classroom and hands-on. However, the hands-on is strictly fingers on a keyboard, not hands on a wrench. In fact, not a bolt or nut was turned either day. While this is definitely mechanic-focused, it assumes two things about the tech. First, it assumes the tech is already familiar with Ford’s diagnostic tools and systems. Second, it assumes the tech knows what to remove / replace once the proper diagnosis has been made.

This two-day course is, by design, geared for diagnostics on the new PI Sedan and PI Utility. As such, it is ideally suited for techs who do significant fleet maintenance, whether or not their shop is a warranty repair facility. While this is a drivability diagnostics course, the only tool used is a laptop. No parts are replaced / removed with wrenches.

This course is perfect for, and should be required for, police shops that go beyond preventative maintenance jobs of oil, tire and brake changes. If you do PM but send all the other work to the local dealer, this two-day course may be more tech-oriented than you need.


The course quickly touches some of the police-specific harnesses, modules and connectors important to upfitters. Another nod to upfitter’s during the course was the emphasis on the Ford Modifier’s Guide. This is available for all years, including the 2013 police cars, online in an unrestricted area of Ford’s website. Go to, click Police Cars, and then look at the right side of the screen.

The online 2013 Modifier’s Guide has 300 megs of information, which is more than twice the content of the older Modifier’s Guides. The Guide has five sections: General Information; Electrical; Installation considerations; Trunk Mounting Considerations; Reference Information.

The first area of interest for upfitters? The police-interface 14-pin connector and the 6-pin connector are in front of the center console mounting place below the instrument panel. Both inline connectors come with mating pigtails. The 14-pin connector has vehicle speed sensor, park sense, battery positive, the four steering wheel buttons (mappable) and similar connections. The 6-pin connector has three 34-amp fused circuits and three grounds.

Maintenance Manuals

Ford’s world of automotive maintenance may be guided by two very different manuals. The Workshop Manual (WSM) contains detailed repair information on components and systems. It contains diagnostic information on non-OBD II automotive systems. On the other hand, the Powertrain Control / Emissions Diagnosis (PC/ED) manual contains drivability and OBD II systems diagnostic information. The companion to both these manuals is wiring diagrams. These show wiring charts, component and connector locations, and connector face views.

Each tech was given a 300-page manual with all the PDFs used in the course. The manual has three pages of Ford-speak acronyms and what they mean. Frankly, this is critical because each automaker has their own terms. Every tech knows DTC is diagnostic trouble code and PCM is powertrain control module and PID is parameter identification.

However, try these: APP (accelerator pedal position), CJB (central junction box), FMEM (failure-mode effects management), OSR (On-board System readiness), PWM (pulse width modulation) and SIG RTN (signal return, the common ground wire to the PCM for the sensors).

Walk Around (and Under)

The classroom portion began with a quick overview of the 3.5L (base engine) V6 PI Sedan AWD, the 3.7L V6 PI Utility AWD and the 3.5L EcoBoost (twin turbo) V6 PI Sedan AWD. Then a walk around (and walk under) was conducted with the PI Sedan and PI Utility.

Both the PI Sedan and PI Utility operate as FWD vehicles until wheel slip is detected. Only then does power transfer to the rear wheels. Of the most importance, the transaxle with water-cooled (police-only) AWD Power Transfer Unit was located. And then the rear axle mounted Active Torque Coupling Unit attached to the Rear Differential Unit was pointed out. On these AWD vehicles, power is continually fed to both the front half-shafts and the rear driveshaft. The driveshaft is constantly engaged and rotating even if power is not fed to the rear wheels.

The Front Wheel Drive system and the Power Transfer Unit send torque back to the rear clutch pack all the time. Any time the vehicle is moving, the driveshaft to the rear is turning. The Active Torque Coupling mounted on the Rear Differential Unit only passes on torque when needed. But it is literally right there when it is needed.

The Powertrain Control Module sends a signal to partially or fully engage or disengage the Rear Wheel Drive part of the AWD. Based on input from the four wheel sensors feeding the ABS module, the steering-angle sensor module, and the instrument cluster module, the PCM sends a signal to the AWD really module and the 4x4 lock solenoid in the Active Torque Coupling. As this progressively locks up, power is sent to the Rear Differential Unit and on to the rear wheels.

The ATC, in turn, is controlled by the PCM. The amount of torque is infinitely variable, not just engaged-on and disengaged-off. It can deliver zero percent to the rear, like it does in the default FWD condition. Or it can deliver anywhere from 1 percent to 100 percent of the engine torque to the rear wheels.

Police-Only Power Transfer Unit

Since the Power Transfer Unit operates all the time to spin the driveshaft to the rear, the PTU can get hot. On the police version, a number of steps are taken to assure reliability and durability in police use. First, a cooler is added to the front of the PTU housing. The police-only PTU housing has an integral water jacket connected with water lines that run to the bottom three coils of the radiator. The jacket receives engine coolant from the radiator to maintain the correct PTU oil temperature.

Second, the PTU has a gear lube temperature sensor. A module keeps track of the gear lube temp, and how long / how often it was at that temperature. When a threshold is reached, a change PTU Oil light activated.

Finally, the AWD system has a two-stage way to protect itself from damage during extreme, prolonged use. The ATC as a heat protection strategy based on a number of factors, including wheel speed and duration of activity, to determine if overheating is occurring. If the ATC detects overheating, it will lock the clutches together to cool them. Clutches that slip to provide partial torque transfer get hot from the friction of the slippage. Locking the clutches stops the slip and cools the entire unit. In a locked condition, power is transferred to the rear wheels.

If the temp continues to rise even in a locked condition, the PCM disables the coupling altogether. The vehicle operates only as a FWD. AWD OFF is displayed. On the Police Interceptors, the PCM will automatically exit heat protection mode and clear the AWD OFF message when the temp returns to normal. This whole process is sped up by turning the ignition off and allowing the vehicle to cool for 10 minutes.

The ATC/RDU used on the Police Interceptors uses fluid-filled “wet” clutch packs. The retail Taurus and Explorer use dry clutches. The PI wet clutches can withstand higher temps and withstand higher temps longer than the retail unit. The ATC and RDU are not field serviceable. In case of a problem with either system, the whole unit is replaced.

Hands-on Exercises

After the walk around came the first of many hands-on exercises. The class of 18 techs was divided into three groups that rotated from task to task. The first was to find a wide variety of solenoids, sensors, modules and components on either the PI Sedan or PI Utility.

Where is the PTU? Right hand side of the transaxle. A PTU leak is suspected. Fluid is visible on the right-hand half shaft. What else could it be? A trans seal leak and vice versa. This can be confusing since the right half shaft goes through the transaxle. Check the color of the fluid. Trans fluid is red, while the heavy PTU lube is brown.

Where is the MAP sensor? Top center of engine. Where is the Police Trunk Relay Center? Left hand side of the trunk. Where is the Powertrain Control Module? Engine side of the firewall, right side, under the wiper mesh fascia. There were two dozen other modules, sensors and relays to find.

The next exercise was going online, pulling up the Modifier’s Guide, and answering common upfit questions. What is the maximum output of the alternator during ideal ambient conditions? 220 amps. What color are the circuits that run between the Lighting / Siren Control Module and the siren speaker? Yellow and Blue with White stripe.

You are going to attach a device to a 20 amp fuse in the Power Distribution Box. What is the maximum draw that device should pull? Using the 80 percent rule, 16 amps. What pin on the 14-pin connector is the output circuit for the Police Four-Button Controller Button 3 Output? Pin 4.

The next exercise was looking up Ford’s diagnostic tools, accessing some information and selecting other programmable parameters from various menus. In Ford-speak, that means attaching the Rotunda Vehicle Communication Module (VCM) that uses Ford’s proprietary Integrated Diagnostics Software (IDS).

The hands-on exercise was to check for Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC). The brand-new PI Sedan and PI Utility had none. Go to the Tools Menu; select Electrical-Charging System Test. What IDS component is required to perform this test? Vehicle Measurement Module (VMM). Go to the Module Programming Menu, select Interior Lighting. Place the vehicle in Dark Car mode. This feature is enabled through which control module? Body Control Module (BCM).

Fee-based Training

Unlike the Dodge Charger Pursuit and Chevy Caprice PPV tech training, Ford’s NextGen Police Interceptor tech training is fee-based. A charge is required due to contractual clauses with the dealership franchise and Ford intellectual property. The two-day course has a flat fee of $4,200 with a class size ranging from 12 to 18 techs. That is about $280 per tech.

Since it is a flat fee, it is possible for fleet managers and police admin to sit in on the first day. They can audit the vehicle overview, walk around but pass on the diagnostic exercises. Fleet managers will learn a great deal about these new Police Interceptors: new Ti-VCT engines; new 6-speed transaxles; the FWD-default, AWD drivetrain; general PM and even a bit about upfitting options. They can pass on day two and the serious gear head diagnostics.

The host department should have one each of the 3.5L (base) V6 P1 Sedan AWD, the 3.7L V6 P1 Utility AWD, and the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 P1 Sedan. If the host department is not running this mix of NextGen PIs, they can borrow units from fleet-oriented dealerships or nearby departments. To get the most out of the investment in training, all three vehicles must be on-hand. These vehicles are for scanning exercises only; none are disassembled.

For more information, contact Chris Keady, Ford Commercial Vehicle Operations at You may also contact your regional government account manager.

Ed. Note: Ford NextGen Police Interceptor Tech Training, Part 2 will be in the next issue of Police Fleet Manager. This covers the 3.5L and 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 and the 3.5L EcoBoost turbo V6…and a bunch of DTCs!

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Sep/Oct 2012

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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