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Update: Chrysler Police Advisory Board

Written by PFM Staff

Chrysler’s Police Advisory Board met in fall 2009 on the 100th day after Chrysler exited bankruptcy. Dean Magnuson gave an update on the Charger Technician Training course. This is a two-day, on-site course with half the time spent in the classroom and half the time spent hands-on. This covers the 2006-2010 Chargers in three separate phases: 1. Maintenance & Overview, 2. Vehicle Electrical Architecture and 3. Upfitting.

The course is oriented to a variety of police tasks including fleet management, fleet maintenance, installers and upfitters, and technicians-mechanics. The two-day course is an overview only. Advanced two-day and three-day courses are available at no charge for fuel injection, ABS brakes and ESP stability control, airbags and safety restraints, and body electrical, which is probably the most critical advanced course.

The training is free and there are no prerequisites. The host agency is asked to make at least one in-service Charger available for the hands-on portions. If the department is running both 2006-2007 Chargers and 2008-2010 Chargers, a car from both year ranges will be needed. The electrical architecture on these two versions of the Charger is very different.

Purchasing tip: If you don’t have a scan tool to electronically access all the computer modules on the Charger, you are back to using wrenches and an amp-ohm meter in a car loaded with very sensitive computers. Put the cost of one scan tool per service location in the bid price.

The maximum class size for this factory training is 20, and one in-service Charger is needed for every 10 technicians. This is exactly the same training given to dealership technicians. See the March-April 2009 issue of Police Fleet Manager for a detailed review of the course. While Raytheon is the contractor for this training, the training coordinator is Dodge National Fleet Service Manager George Bomanski. He can be reached at GMB5@Chrysler.com.

Service Issues

Bomanski gave the update on police Charger service issues, both past and present. Most service issues in police use have been completely resolved: premature brake pad wear; broken V8 motor mounts; trans cable bracket; premature tie rod wear; low speed, low rpm steering effort.

The delayed shift from Drive to Reverse or Reverse to Drive has been improved by flashing on the 2008 3.5L and the 2009 3.5L and 5.7L. A flash will be available in late 2009 for the 2008 5.7L. The shift delay on the 2006-2007 Chargers cannot be changed.

A DTC may be thrown after a battery replacement or a full drain on all model years. A reflash will correct the problem.

In a few cases, police radio interference has been noted, especially with Motorola radios. The original fix was to replace the coils and plugs, but now replacing only the resistor boot seems to have the same effect. A police-specific Technical Service Bulletin became available in January 2010.

On a few 2009 Chargers, the car will not come out of Park, the number 8 is displayed in the PRNDL and DTC U103 is thrown. Cycling the key fixes this about half the time. In the other cases, the Electronic Shifter Module (ESM) needs to be replaced or reflashed. By late 2009, a flash will be available for this issue.

On some 2008-2009 Chargers, a vibration occurs at high speed which starts off slight but grows more evident over time. The cause is the driveshaft to rear axle flange bolts losing torque and backing out. The fix is to re-torque the bolts to 50 foot-pounds and use “blue” Loctite™ on the threads. The root cause is the bolt quality, and the fix is already in production. Expect a field action (recall) by late 2009.

On a few 2006-2007 Chargers, the fan blades separate and damage the radiator. The problem is the fan material itself, and the correction was made for 2008 model Chargers. No inspection procedure exists for this issue. The blade separation can happen at any engine speed, including idle.

On some 2007-2010 Chargers, the wig-wag function and other police inputs (horn mute, radio mute) may become inoperative. A quick fix is to disconnect the Ground from the battery to reset the Police Taxi Interface Module (PTIM). There is no need to replace the PTIM. This quick fix works about 90 percent of the time and is a permanent fix about 60 percent of the time. TSB 08-016-09 explains the reflash, which is the long-term solution.

The 2006-2007 Charger tie rod issue was resolved for 2008, and the replacement parts for these years are the 2008 parts. However, lower control arm wear remains a nagging problem—NOT a safety issue. The concerns are being handled on a case-by-case basis based on 100K mile depreciation. More robust tie rods and lower control arms will be designed into the 2011 Charger.

Trans Fluid and Lug Nuts

The NAG-1 5-speed trans used on all Charger police cars (V6 and V8) is just about bulletproof. The legacy of the 3-speed Torqueflite from the 1960s and 70s lives on in today’s police Charger. However, the NAG-1 is extremely sensitive to the right trans fluid and debris and is very sensitive to overfill. That is why the trans oil filler tube does not have a dipstick! You cannot check the trans fluid, nor can you change the trans fluid without a diagnostic tool. This is just Chrysler’s way of saying that ALL trans service should be done by a tech.

Wheel lug nuts: The decorative, chrome-capped lug nuts may be rounded during removal. Check out TSB 22-003-07. These are 21mm nuts, and a 21mm socket should be used. When the wheels are hot and the nuts expand a bit, it may be easier to use a 22mm socket or a 7/8-inch socket. Don’t do it! The chrome caps are not a robust design, and the 22mm or 7/8-inch socket is almost guaranteed to round the hex. A new lug nut design is in the works.

On some 2006-2009 Chargers, the gas filler nozzle shuts off when the tank is only half full. This is almost always the case when the Charger has just been driven aggressively, i.e., when it has used a lot of fuel in a very short period of time. The Charger uses twin saddle tanks, and it takes about 60 seconds of idle time for the tanks to level left to right. Basically, after a lot of full throttle driving, one saddle tank has been emptied, and not enough time has passed for the two saddle tanks to equalize the fuel level. It only takes a minute, but that minute is necessary.

Glimpse to the Future

What can be said about the next generation of Dodge Chargers? First, they exist and they are on their way into production. If you didn’t know the financial nightmare in mid-2009 took place, you could not tell it by what you see now. In many regards, including the future of police vehicles, as far as police departments are concerned, nothing has changed. Dodge will make the police Charger indefinitely.

Second, in an early-November press conference, the nation received confirmation that the 2011 Charger is on the way. It will be significantly restyled. However, everything that makes the Charger popular for police use has been retained, and many features have been improved. Look for the announcement with the details in the next few months.

Also, expect the Dodge brand to transition from the muscle car spirit of brute force to driving dynamics. The Dodge brand will remain sporty with an emphasis on performance, but also on better fuel economy. The first of the refined, powerful and fuel-efficient drivetrains in the police fleet is likely to be the Pentastar 3.6L V6, which may be available with Fiat’s MultiAir technology.

In addition to the police package Chargers, Chrysler Group has plans for a wide variety of special service vehicles. These include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Dodge Ram, the Jeep Wrangler (to a lesser degree) and a new sedan-based crossover, also mentioned briefly in the November announcement.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jan/Feb 2010

Rating : 5.0


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