Formed in mid-2006, DaimlerChrysler (DCX) Police Advisory Board met for the first time in September. The goal of the Police Advisory Board is a frank and honest two-way discussion between police fleet professionals and DCX Fleet representatives from sales, technical support and service.
This group is specifically interested in the police and special service package Dodge Charger and Dodge Magnum. However, the Dodge Intrepid is still in service in many fleets, and maintenance and service issues remain legitimate topics. In a similar way, the Dodge Durango and Dodge Ram are not police package vehicles, but many departments use these vehicles in police service.
The very first order of business involved the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), the DCX stability control feature. Stability control is a safety device that includes ESP, all-speed traction control and four-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with brake assist. The retail version of ESP has two settings, while the police vehicle has three settings. Both the retail and police vehicles default to the ESP being on, i.e., full stability control is engaged. This limits wheelspin, corrects for understeer and aggressively corrects for oversteer...automatically.
Both the retail and police vehicles have a partial off setting for ESP. In partial off, the ESP thresholds are raised, i.e., the stability control allows more understeer and more oversteer before engaging. In partial off, the traction control function is disengaged, but the ABS function remains fully intact. This mode allows some wheelspin for more aggressive driving, getting out of snow, etc.
Unique to the police vehicle, the ESP can be turned to full off. Full off means just that. Both the stability control and traction control are completely disengaged. This allows the police officer to operate the vehicle without assistance from these safety systems. The DCX Police Advisory Board was also almost unanimous against the full off position. Expect future DCX police cars to use the retail settings of on and partial off.
Much discussion was held on the small relative size of the Charger trunk, and the placement of the full-size spare. The trunk tub (floor pan) of the Charger was designed for the mini-spare, and this sheet metal is not expected to change for quite some time. DCX Fleet officials understand that the full-size spare in a Charger is a significant issue for law enforcement agencies. They are looking at options now and will report back.
DCX is also working to improve front brake pad life. The police Charger brake pad compound was originally developed specifically to pass the Michigan State Police (MSP) and Los Angeles County Sheriff vehicle tests. As a result of racetrack simulation and actual testing, the rear brake rotors were increased in both diameter and thickness compared to the retail Charger. The goal was best-in-class braking performance. In each of the two years since its introduction, the Charger has, indeed, produced the shortest stopping distances of any vehicle tested by the MSP.
Having achieved best-in-class braking, the next goal was to improve pad wear and decrease noise. The brake noise is caused by a variation in compressibility within the pads. New pads with tighter limits on material variations went into production this October. Agencies that are experiencing issues with brake noise should contact Larry Baber, Fleet Government service manager at (248) 512-8494 or their area representatives.
DCX engineers are also working on a brake issue called jutter. This is basically uneven or accelerated rotor wear. It can be caused by over-torquing the wheel onto the rotor, improper tightening sequence, excessive rotor runout, excessively aggressive pad compounds, or a caliper not centered over the rotor. The exact cause of jutter, being experienced by a few police departments, and the resulting brake pedal pulsation and rotor wear, is being researched now by DCX. A solution is expected soon.
DCX will report back to the Police Advisory Board on the following suggestions : 1) the possible use of a police or special service package Charger with the 2.7L V-6 engine for maximum fuel economy, 2) the capability for one of the Charger’s engines to run on E85 ethanol required by some state contracts, 3) additional upfit wiring in the trunk, 4) an upscale, “street appearance” package, and 5) the option to display idle hours (operating hours is already available.)
The advisory board also asked DCX to look into a non-pursuit, special service package for the four-door Dodge Ram 1500 pickup and to look into a pursuit-rated, police package for the 4x4 Dodge Durango. Please contact your regional DCX account manager for any suggestions you have for improving any of the Dodge police vehicles.
Roxie Thomas is the senior manager of GSA/Government Sales at DaimlerChrysler. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.