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2008 Police Fleet Expo

The 2008 Police Fleet Expo was held in Milwaukee, WI in mid-August. Nearly 450 attendees took in four days of educational sessions and spoke with 111 exhibitors.

For first-time attendees and seasoned fleet veterans alike, the PFE was the place to learn more about police fleet management and police fleet maintenance. In both formal classroom sessions and networking afterward, more fleet management tips and techniques were discussed during the short week at PFE than at any other time during the year.

Here is just a glimpse.


Chevrolet / General Motors Corp.

The Chevy Tahoe was the first pursuit-rated SUV for police use ever made, and it shows the company’s commitment to police agencies, said Bruce Wiley, the product and marketing manager, Law Enforcement Programs, General Motors Corp. Fleet & Commercial Operations.

Despite the rising fuel prices and increased “greening” of police fleets, General Motors does not offer a hybrid vehicle in a police package vehicle because the wiring and electrical system is too complicated for all of the upfitting that needs to be done. Hybrid technology is in its infancy, and GM will not recommend rewiring and upfitting until it has had time to figure out exactly “what we don’t know we don’t know,” Wiley said.

Despite this fact, many agencies have been using hybrids, including the Chevy Malibu Hybrid, for detectives and admin vehicles. GM has, however, purposely tried to simplify its police vehicle electrical systems. The Tahoe and the Impala were mechanized the same way for easier upfitting, and they both have fully integrated electrical systems. There are only a few differences, which are noted in the owner’s manuals.

Among other changes to the Chevy police vehicles for the next model year, Wiley pointed out that the roof-rail airbags are now standard for all vehicles. Police agencies cannot opt to delete them, so they must make sure their prisoner partitions and other equipment are compatible with these airbags. He also noted that the rollover sensor couldn’t be relocated. These are safety items that must not be tampered with.

Wiley also stressed that while the 2WD Tahoe PPV can be used for traffic enforcement, the Tahoe 4x4 special service package is not pursuit rated. It has a higher ride height, which could be prone to rollovers at extremely high speeds in a pursuit situation. When asked if there will ever be a 4x4 pursuit-rated SUV, Wiley said it is unlikely.

The retail sector has not expressed a need for such a vehicle, and because the police purchases make up such a small percentage of total sales, the research and development for such a vehicle would not make financial sense for the company.

Changes to the Impala include that the trunk lock is now standard, and ebony is the only interior color available for the 2009 9C1.

Brian Tolan, GM’s engineering group manager, spoke about a few service issues. An investigation into the abnormal rear tire wear in the 2007 Impala proved that the bushings were out of spec, and a new service pad has been recommended after premature wear was being reported on the brakes. Fleet managers who have other issues are encouraged to talk to their fleet account execs because the dealerships may not be able to help them. For convenience, if an officer needs a speedometer certification letter from the manufacturer for court, one is available on the CD-ROM that was handed out at the Police Fleet Expo.

Dodge / Chrysler Corp.

With all the doom and gloom in the news about the auto industry, how is Chrysler doing? The company is right on target, according to Roxie Thomas, Chrysler Corp.’s senior manager of GSA/Government Sales. “Every year, we exceed the police sales forecast,” Thomas said. In 2006, Chrysler sold 2,500 to 3,000 police units, which included the Dodge Charger and the Dodge Magnum. In 2008, more than 10,000 Chargers will be sold to police agencies.

Partly because of the rapid growth of the police fleet sector, 2006 and 2007 were plagued with delivery “heartburn” for Chrysler. In 2007, it could have taken up to 149 days for an order to be delivered to an agency. However, with some brainstorming and redirected assets, Chrysler has lowered that number to an average of 92 days for delivery in 2008. The 2009MY should be even better for delivery times.

A new paint system, which is expected to be running by February 2009, should allow for special paint schemes in batches of five cars, versus the 50-car minimum with the old painting system. This will dramatically reduce the waiting time for smaller agencies that need a special paint scheme. New sheriff’s colors will also be added in 2009.

For the 2009 Charger, the 5.7L HEMI V-8 engine has been tweaked for gas mileage and performance issues. The new engine has variable cam timing, which boosts the power from 340 hp to 370 hp. It also gets about a 4% increase in fuel economy, according to Thomas. Chrysler is not offering any of its police package vehicles in the FlexFuel option.

In other news, Chrysler’s street appearance package has undergone some minor changes. Before Dodge Chargers were recognized as police vehicles, they didn’t need to try that hard to look stealthy. However, as the popularity of the Charger has grown, Chrysler has added high-end aluminum wheels and adjusted the fascia to be even more covert.

For people concerned about what will happen to their Dodge Magnums, Chrysler assures them that the service support and parts will remain in place. The Charger and the Magnum have a shared platform, and many of the parts are the same or similar.

George Bomanski, Chrysler’s police service manager, discussed several services issues. As has been previously covered, the Charger brake pads have been changed, which has dramatically lengthened the lifespan and virtually eliminated the noise. Meanwhile, the braking performance is still best in its class.

Many issues, such as parking lot maneuver issues and idle quality, can be fixed with software flash updates. Chrysler is still testing heavier duty motor mounts and is investigating the issue where the shifter cable pops out of place. Although the latter is a relatively easy fix, Bomanski said, “We will find out what it is and fix it.”

Bomanski and Thomas both urged fleet managers to use Chrysler’s Web site,, as a resource. It contains valuable information, including downloadable upfitters’ guides, recall information, production and order information, and most important, a list of all the government sales and regional managers, who should be the first point of contact when a fleet manager is having an issue.

Ford Motor Co.

By Michael Blackmer

Tony Gratson, Ford’s government sales manager, introduced the other Ford members: Chris Keady, modified vehicle specialist, and Jeff Metz, police liaison, Product Development Team. He noted that members of the Police Advisory Board, along with contact information, can be found on the back of the Police Sales Brochure.

A new, three-year contract with the Canadian Auto Workers ensures production of the popular Crown Victoria through at least the 2011 model year. He also noted that since the St. Thomas Assembly Plant (STAP) has scaled back to a single shift working five days a week, down weeks have been eliminated and production delays have been minimized. With the added production of the Lincoln Town Car, STAP is producing more than 100,000 units per year, ensuring steady production.

However, due to increased demand for two-tone paint options, orders with this option are currently seeing a 120- to 150-day delay before the units are built due lack of capacity at the assembly plant. Ford is working on increasing the two-tone capacity to eliminate the delay.

Similarly, orders with ballistic door panels are being delayed about 150 days because of supplier delays in the manufacturing of the panels. Production of 2009 model year units with the fire suppression system will begin in September with crash concerns now out of the way.

Jeff Metz presented a summary of the 2009 product lineup. New on the CVPI for 2009 are standard side airbags, providing both thorax and head protection for the front-seat occupants; power adjustable pedals; a revised antilock braking system (ABS), resulting in shorter stopping distances; and a revised engine-only traction control system, which no longer engages the brakes.

The confirmation flash that occurs when the doors are locked will now automatically be disabled when the Courtesy Lamp Disable option (478) is ordered. In addition, the deck lid release button on the key fobs will be operational.

New for the Expedition is E85 FlexFuel capability and the EasyFuel™ capless fuel filler system. There are no changes in 2009 for the Explorer. The special service package, comprising a 750 CCA battery, radio noise suppression package, and roof wiring prep package, can be ordered using Vehicle Special Order (VSO) code UPM.

An all-new F-150 SuperCrew XL is being offered this year. It features a standard 4.6L 2V V-8 engine mated with a 4-speed automation transmission. Powertrain options include a 4.6L 3V V-8 engine with a new 6-speed automation transmission and a 5.4L 3V V-8 FFV engine mated with the 6-speed transmission.

The new F-150 includes such standard features as the EasyFuel capless fuel system, AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control), trailer sway control, front seat side-curtain airbags, the Personal Safety System®, Safety Canopy® system, and the SOS post crash alert system. Optional features include SYNC, a built-in trailer brake controller, box side steps, stowable bed extender, and a tailgate step.

New in the Escape are two new engines that boost power and provide greater fuel economy. The new standard engine is a 2.5L I4, which increases horsepower from 153 hp to 170 hp. EPA fuel economy estimates are 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. The optional engine is a new 3.0L V-6, which increases horsepower from 200 hp to 240 hp. EPA fuel economy estimates are 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. The Escape Hybrid gets the same I4 engine with 170 hp and EPA fuel economy estimates of 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

Chris Keady addressed the most common service issues heard by Ford as well as those questions submitted via the PFM Web site before the show. Before getting into the details, he pointed out the advantages of every fleet having a FIN (Fleet Identification Number) code. He referred to them as the “keys to the kingdom,” as they provide access to sales and service information on the Web site not readily available otherwise. He also noted the help that can be found on the Ford Fleet Hotline at (800) 34-FLEET.

Disconcerting to Keady was that 40% of questions submitted indicated that they had not contacted Ford with the question or to seek direct assistance in solving a problem. The fleet hotline is staffed with personnel trained to address these questions and are often armed with the latest information that may not yet be available to dealers.

On the topic of water ingestion, only 4 ounces of water is needed to hydro lock the engine. The CVPI air intake is at an optimal position for vehicle performance and protection. Extensive testing is conducted at various speeds and depths of water. Driver education is the key to avoid this scenario. Metz added that they were investigating an optional shield. With cracked wheels, Field Service Action 07S48 replaced most 2003-2005 wheels on the CVPI. Call (800) 34-FLEET to check coverage.

Two battery concerns were expressed. First, it keeps discharging even with power timer shut-off and second, discharging even when vehicle is down for a short period of time. It would appear that the shutdown period on the timer is not set short enough and that the battery is discharging while the vehicle is off due to normal parasitic key-off loads.

Keady noted that battery chargers have improved greatly with the addition of the new generation of “pulse chargers,” generally reducing charging times to less than one hour. He noted that discharged batteries should be charged using an external charger and that the battery should not be replaced based on the eye indicator. Red indicates less than a 40% charge, yellow 40-57%, and green greater than 57%.

Rear axle bearing failures remain a hot topic. On 2002 and older units, Keady recommends replacing the lube with 75W140 synthetic gear lubricant as part of any repair. The 75W140 synthetic gear lubricant and a high temp tolerance seal became standard in 2003. Recall 04S16 introduced a revised bearing. In 2006, the bearing location moved inboard .5 inches to decrease the load on the bearing.

Momentary increase in power steering effort after a rapid deceleration and rapid turn was covered by TSB 06-23-5, published in October 2006. It covers all 2006 model year vehicles and 2007 model year vehicles built before Oct.24, 2006. It directs that he power steering pump be replaced with a higher flow pump. P/N for the new pump is 7W1Z-3A674-B.

Engine cooling fans failures are covered under TSB 07-9-5, issued for 2006-2007 units built before Aug. 31, 2006. It directs that proper cooling fan operation be verified, then that the cooling fan be replaced with a revised motor and fan assembly. P/N is 7W1Z-8C607-B. Fleets that are experiencing cooling fan failures are asked to report the issue to (800) 34-FLEET.

Low engine power is usually indicative of the fuel pump sock clogging. TSB 06-25-12 was release in December 2006 and directs replacement of a revised fuel pump assembly. P/N is 6W1Z-9H307-A. Air box warping is covered under TSB 07-22-06, issued to release a revised air box to prevent the warping. Warping allowed air to bypass the air filter. P/N is 8W7Z-9600-A.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Sep/Oct 2008

Rating : 9.5

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