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Refurbished & Reconditioned Police Vehicles, Part II

Written by Jennifer Gavigan

Used and refurbished or reconditioned police vehicles have become popular options with fleet managers as a way of saving money when upgrading or replacing a fleet. “Used,” “refurbished” and “reconditioned” can mean different things, depending on the company doing the work. Police Fleet Manager recently surveyed a number of companies from across the country to find out what types of services they offer. In alphabetic order, here is the next group. Coverage continues in the next issue of PFM.

EMERGENCY SERVICES SUPPLY

Marc Bane started the family-owned Emergency Services Supply out of his garage six years ago with help from local Sheriff Arnold Zwicke and Constable Gene Mayes of Guadalupe County, TX. The business quickly grew into police car and equipment sales. Bane is an officer by profession, and his mother runs the day-to-day operations so he can continue his law enforcement career.

Emergency Services Supply services and caters to mostly smaller departments nationwide, although quite a few taxi companies, private training grounds and private individuals purchase vehicles from them as well. Bane deals mostly with Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors. They do not rebuild wrecked units or salvaged vehicles. They work hard at finding the best cars and will not bring a car into their shop if they find any signs of past major damage to the car. “As an officer myself, I would not want to put a car on the street that could possibly be dangerous if it was not repaired correctly,” Bane said.

Once a car arrives at their facility, it immediately goes on the lift to be checked for leaks and to make sure the suspension is tight. The car is looked over from top to bottom. Mechanics are on staff to ensure a car is running and driving properly; this is not outsourced. Emergency Services Supply will not rebuild an engine. If the motor is bad or the car has major mechanical problems, they will not take it. Bane had to rebuild a transmission only once in the past three years.
Outside of outfitting and selling police cars, Emergency Services Supply is a full-service auto repair center for the general public. The company possesses the diagnostic tools and equipment that any high-end shop or dealership would have. Mechanics and installers have a two-page checklist they use for each car.

This includes fluid changes, brakes, plugs, filters, lighting, tires, alignment and anything mechanical. Their detailer will go through the interior to make sure there are no missing pieces and to ensure the inside is in good condition. The interiors are thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed, and on occasion, they have to repair a seat or door panel.
According to Bane, they do not remove decals from the cars, a process that in most cases damages the exterior’s paint. With so many decals requiring removal, 90% of their cars ultimately get a new paint job. Ninety-five percent of their cars are white and will remain that way. Bane has done several customer requests for two-tone and color changes, but he does not bring in multicolor cars and repaint.

Typically, Bane does not purchase cars from anywhere in the North. Therefore, none of the cars at Emergency Services Supply have seen snow or been exposed to salty road conditions. He will take any year car as long as the mileage is low and it is a clean, safe car. Model years currently range from 1999 to 2005 with mileages from 21,000 to 80,000. Bane said he avoids the state police vehicles due to the generally harsh conditions in which they are treated.

The price includes a six-month/7,500-mile warranty, and the customer has can opt for a four-year, unlimited miles policy. Emergency Services Supply will deliver cars anywhere in the lower 48 states. This includes putting the car on a delivery truck, having one of their drivers deliver the car to its new home, or picking up out-of-town customers at the airport.

MICHIGAN RECONDITIONING

Michigan Reconditioning & Fleet Services (MRFS) is a full-service, automotive repair and maintenance shop located in Livonia, MI. MRFS will take vehicles that a department is ready to get rid of and recondition them; that is, replace every wearable mechanical item. This includes A/C, wiring, axle, etc. MRFS does not buy the cars from the departments—it performs this service for the departments, which saves them between $12,000 and $15,000 per vehicle. PFM spoke with Michigan Reconditioning’s owner Stu Durocher.

Once a car arrives at MRFS, it is looked over, and MRFS gives the department a quote. Durocher said the company has an “a la carte” mentality; that is, if a department changed a transmission recently, he will not replace it. Every wearable item on the cars is replaced, except for fuel pumps and master cylinders. All brakes are replaced regardless of condition.

The engine oil, transmission oil and fuel filter are all changed as standard procedure. Mechanics do install factory OEM engines and transmissions. Turnaround time for the reconditioning is about two weeks. They will typically put 50 miles on the cars to make sure they run well and no “check engine” light appears.

MRFS does not repaint the cars, but it will do cosmetic or touch-up painting if necessary. Durocher said the majority of the cars’ bodies are in good shape. They can outsource a repainting job, but that adds on cost to the customer. They do clean and detail all cars upon delivery, which includes a washing, a waxing and a wipe-down. They also replace a lot of seat cushions.

MRFS provides its service to every type of agency. According to Durocher, “Size doesn’t matter.” The company once reconditioned about 20 vehicles from Lake County, IN, and the department used the money saved to implement a take-home fleet. Another customer is Wayne State University Police in Detroit. Additional clients are from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and as far as Florida and California. Shipping is $500 roundtrip.

Their cars typically have between 80,000 and 120,000 miles on them and are between 3 and 5 years old. Durocher said the cars are good for three years after being reconditioned, and then they are usually handed down to building or roads commissions. They deal with all makes and models, but prices vary depending on the vehicle. They have even done a “paddywagon” for less than half of the price of a new one.

A 2-year-old Ford CVPI with 85,000 miles would cost between $12,000 and $12,500 at Michigan Reconditioning. Durocher points out the substantial savings compared to the same vehicle brand-new, which could cost more than $21,000.

POLICE CRUISERS

Police Cruisers in Middletown, OH is one of the oldest and most trusted refurbishing / reconditioning companies in the country, according to owner Bill Kirkpatrick. When Police Cruisers receives a car, it goes through a rigorous inspection process to determine what major repairs are needed, such as new brakes, new tires, etc. Kirkpatrick said sometimes the cars come in “OK shape,” so they only replace parts that are really worn.

The engine and transmission oil as well as the fuel filter are all changed regardless. In addition, every car is thoroughly washed and cleaned, detailed and painted. The engine compartment and motor are de-greased, which takes between 40,000 and 50,000 miles off the life of the motor. Mechanics will install rebuilt engines and transmissions as needed. Police Cruisers employees paint the cars to their customers’ requests, but Kirkpatrick said they mostly do white.

Cars at Police Cruisers are purchased from all over the United States, “wherever good cars with low miles can be found,” Kirkpatrick said. City cars are hard on miles, so Kirkpatrick tends to stay away from them and holds out for the best. “It’s easy to buy junk…a lot of cars are nothing more than taxi cab material,” he said. But he doesn’t eliminate any agency whether it’s urban or rural, as there are always good cars within departments.

Police Cruisers sells to some of the biggest, as well as some of the smallest, departments across the country. Some departments have one car while others have 30 cars. Agencies’ finances change every year, so Kirkpatrick deals with many different situations and budgets. He sells primarily Ford CVPIs and Chevy Impalas. Kirkpatrick said the company will sell Dodges once the Chargers become available, but they are still too new to be recycled. Vehicles at Police Cruisers average between 35,000 miles and 65,000 miles, but the company has had cars with as few as 9,500 miles. It generally does not take any car more than 5 years old, but “there are exceptions to the rule,” Kirkpatrick said.

A 2004 Ford CVPI with 50,000 miles retails for $10,995 at Police Cruisers and includes a three-year/45,000-mile warranty. Police Cruisers ships nationally, and the farthest it has sent a car was Wallbridge, AK. Kirkpatrick guarantees the quality of his cars; if anyone is interested in one of his cars and comes to see it and for some reason doesn’t like it, he will pay the expenses of the trip.

Jennifer Gavigan is the former associate editor of LAW and ORDER, Police Fleet Manager and Tactical Response. She can be reached at jengavigan@comcast.net.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Sep/Oct 2008

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