Friday, May 24, 2024

How To Buy Used Police Cars

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Chevrolet Caprice Ppv 9c1

Here’s What I Think About Buying a Used Cop Car

It was only a few years ago that Chevy gearheads scratched their heads over this: GM was bringing the Australian Holden Caprice to the United States with the RPO L77 355-hp 6-liter V-8, calling it the Chevy Caprice PPV , but there would be no civilian version. Eventually, Chevy did import a civilian model in 2017 as the Chevy SS at the too-high cost of $49,000, but with so many other choices at a lower price point, it went over about as well as a fart in church.

All this matters not, because between 2011 and 2016, Chevy imported thousands of Caprice PPVs to the States, and now you can get what amounts to a stripped-down SS for a fraction of the cost. You’ll also have something that is relatively rare out in the wildan Australian Holden V-8. As for the power disparity, the range of LS-specific aftermarket parts is huge, and blowing past the 415-hp mark with a 6-liter L77 is insanely easy. Chicago Motors has several in stock, and we picked this white 2011 Chevy Caprice PPV with 105K miles and an asking price of $9,795 as typical.

Can You Legally Drive An Ex

Youd think the police wouldnt put their old cars up for sale to the public if they werent legal for civilians to drive on public roads as it is illegal to drive a retired cop car that still resembles a law enforcement vehicle.

According to a notice put out by a branch of the California Highway Patrol, in order to make a retired law enforcement vehicle legal to drive on roadways, it needs to be painted to no longer have traditional black and white paint, police logos or markings and no red and blue lights or light bar.

The actual letter of the law regarding what constitutes still resembling a police car varies from state to state, but dont assume they will be fine to drive in the condition theyre offered for sale in. Although most police departments will remove stickers and other insignia of the department, some wont.

Some buyers want used cop cars for collection pieces with all the markings, lights and other police symbolism intact. Collectors of old cop cars who want to retain or recreate the original signage have to obtain special permits or cover the artwork when they traveling on public roads.

Without doubt, the most controversial feature of ex-cop cars is the light bar mounted to the roof. Regulations about them vary from state to state with some not allowing front-facing red lights at all, some allowing roof-mounted lights as long as theyre not actually used, while others will not allow any roof-mounted lights whatsoever under any circumstance.

Police Vehicles Are Generally Kept In Good Condition

Dont assume that just because police work is so intensive that the used cop cars that are up for sale are all beat-up clunkers.

Because vehicles are so essential to the job, cop cars are usually well maintained. After all, you wouldnt want to be in hot pursuit of a criminal, only to have them slip away because your engine overheated.

Take it from Josh Bailey of the Canadian Black Book: Typically, the vehicles that are retired from heavy-duty service like police work, are generally, perhaps wrongly, viewed as being heavily abused. In fact, theyre probably highly maintained vehicles.

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You’re Gonna Need To Figure Out The History For Yourself

CARFAX can be somewhat valuable, but only if the agency had a dealership or an independent repair facility handle the maintenance needs — and larger cities are less likely to do that. Looking at the pictures online can help you quickly cross out the cars that look like they got into a fight and lost — so long as you’re reasonably sure the photos are of the right car. The remaining cars can all be inspected and verified for their condition by you or a mechanically inclined person. That takes a bit of planning.

People Will Think You Are A Plain

Should You Buy a Used Police Car?  Car Buying and Selling

Pro: Drivers of other vehicles always slow down and drive more safely around police cars. As the owner of a used police car, you will find that people will mistake you for a plain-clothes cop driving an unmarked vehicle. As a result, they will slow down around you. They will probably show you more curtesy, will let you in when you want to change lanes, and will generally be less aggressive toward you on the road.

Con: Having everyone slow down around you, come to a complete stop and every intersection, and continuously drive more carefully can become really annoying. When drivers get spooked by a police car, they can become erratic. They may also have difficulty making decisions, and this can make getting around town considerably more frustrating.

Also Check: Why We Should Not Defund The Police

Used Police Cars Come With A Bunch Of Unique Features

Generally, there are three types of police vehicles: pursuit cars, patrol cars, and suspect transportation vehicles.

Pursuit cars are the most common types of police vehicles, so youre most likely to see these in a used car auction or listing. These cars are made for high-speed chases, carrying loads of weaponry, transporting passengers, and basically just handling a lot of strain on a day-to-day basis. Theyre souped-up to keep up!

Here are some of the cool features you might find on a used cop car:

  • High-performance engines, usually either V6 or V8 engines
  • Upgraded radiators and fans to regulate heat more effectively
  • Upgraded alternators to accommodate the kind of power required to keep roof-mounted lights, emergency vehicle lights, radios, and sirens running all at once.
  • Run lock ignition, which keeps the engine on even when the key is taken out of the ignition. This system also protects the vehicle from being stolen once the parking brake is disengaged, the system kills the engine automatically.
  • Push bumpers or grille guards
  • Rear window bars or rear cages
  • Sirens and spotlights
  • Heavy-duty suspension and enhanced brake pads to accommodate the extra weight of all the equipment
  • Bullet-proof doors
  • Police pursuit tires

If you get a Ford Police Interceptor, it also comes with built-in steel intrusion plates in the front seats for added protection.

What Are The Rules For Owning A Decommissioned Police Car

Photo:Highway Patrol Images

Have you looked in your rearview mirror to see a cop car following you, only to glance a second time and realize it wasnt an actual police cruiser it was a decommissioned cop car? People dont like mistaking an unofficial police interceptor with the real thing, so theres a fierce debate over the rules of owning a decommissioned police car. Unfortunately, the guidelines are surprisingly undefined.

Old cop cars have certain features that are what skeptics criticize for having: a spotlight, huge antenna, bullbar, certain body colors/pattern, and a light bar. Are ordinary citizens allowed to have these on their privately-owned, retired squad cars?

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How To Buy A Used Police Car

Most police cars that are no longer required by the department are sold at government auctions. You might know of one near you, but if you dont you can find out about every police and other government vehicle auction going on around the country right here. This is a definitive guide that will tell you much of what you need to know as well as when and where auctions are taking place.

As well as ex-police cars some of these auctions sell vehicles from other federal and local agencies as well as vehicles confiscated from criminals. Regardless of the origin and provenance of any vehicle you see for sale at one of these auctions, you really do need to know what youre doing before you contemplate buying any vehicle at an auction.

Although an ex-cop car wont have a murky past like many other auction cars can have, the one thing you know before you buy one is that it will have a had a pretty hard life before you buy it. You have to approach buying these cars with realistic expectations. Some of these vehicles will have been sitting undriven for weeks, months, even years after they were decommissioned, and that means youll almost certainly have to replace the battery. If you want to inspect the vehicle in person before you bid, which you absolutely should do if at all possible, a jump box would be a useful piece of kit to have with you unless the auction can help in that direction.

Conduct Your Own Forensic Investigation


Has the transmission been recently replaced? Has the engine received recent repair work? What about the suspension? These are the three big expense components of most police vehicles, and to figure them out, you need to contact the official who posted the online listing. Or, if the government agency in question isn’t online quite yet — yes, that still happens — contact the maintenance department and find out who keeps these records.

Either way, ask the official when you can come by and see the records in person, and whether there is a specific time of day when you can inspect the vehicle. Every place has rules and policies that are set in stone.

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Police Vehicles Are Almost Always Well Maintained

Pro: Most police agencies take good care of their fleet and follow the manufacturers maintenance schedule. Police cars are an essential and expensive piece of equipment and are typically maintained with high-quality spare parts.

Con: One of the most popular, and recognizable models of police cars, the Ford Crown Victoria is no longer being manufactured.

Since being discontinued in 2011, many police agencies have been hanging onto their vehicle fleet for as long as possible. Some larger police agencies also bought hundreds of new cars and placed them in storage for future use before Ford stopped making the Crown Vic. While some other, smaller and less financial departments couldnt afford to do this, a whole industry has developed around refurbishing these cars. As a result, instead of selling their vehicles, many agencies are now refurbishing their old cars and putting them back into service.

And ultimately, this will mean that when Crown Vics do come up for private sale, they will be considerably older than in the past.

A Lot Of People Are Wary Around Cop Cars

Depending on where you live, a police car might not elicit positive responses from your neighbours. And as you drive around town, you may notice civilian drivers acting differently around you. Typically, people tend to drive slower and more safely around cop cars out of the fear that they could be pulled over.

This might be good news for cautious drivers and folks who get impatient about stoplights and switching lanes. However, it could also be annoying if you just want to get around like an average person.

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Dodge Charger 57l Hemi

It’s hard to believe Dodge has been building Hemi-powered Charger cop cars for 15 years now, and they are everywhere. The first-gen cars had the 340-hp early version of the third-gen Hemi, but the 2011-to-current version has the 370-hp 5.7L Eagle Hemi and is the one currently in service. The midcycle face-lift in 2015 brought an upgrade from the five-speed NAG1 automatic to the eight-speed TorqueFliteboth of which are solid performers. We are, however, fans of the earlier 2011 to 2014 nose. Also of note is that two wheel styles were availablethe standard passenger-car 18-inch alloy five-spoke and the 18-inch cop-car steelie.

Years ago, we spent a week driving a 2015 Charger Pursuit and discovered its AWD setup to be a bit buzzy relative to the RWD version. The AWD variant does suck up some power, which you can feel in the seat of your pants, and the mandatory NAG1 five-speed transmission is shifted from a column lever so that the console is left barren for the installation of police gear . Our advice would be to search for the RWD model since it’s simpler, lighter, and faster.

Old Police Cars Are Significantly Discounted

Should You Buy a Used Police Car?  Car Buying and Selling

Used police cars often are listed for a lesser price than a similar car that hasnt served in a police department.

The best way to get a deal on a police car is to examine auction results for the car you want, get as much information about any cars of interest prior to the auction and then perform a thorough inspection of the cars in-person.

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What Are The Disadvantages Of Buying A Police Car

With all this in mind, you might be eager to pull up to your nearest auction and buy the cheapest available police car. But buyers be warned: there are some trade-offs youll have to endure if youre really dead-set on a police vehicle.

Here are the four most significant disadvantages of buying a police car:

Most Used Police Cars Come With High Mileage

One of the reasons why cop cars are so cheap is high mileage. Police cars are used day-in and day-out in many ways from slow, meandering neighbourhood patrols to the stop-start driving cops do when responding to calls throughout the day.

But mile count doesnt really paint much of a picture regarding how its driver handled and maintained it. Even if you can score a car with low mileage, you wont really know how hard it was pushed until the police department retired.

Tip: When buying used cars, always bring a mechanic along to perform a detailed inspection. This will help you identify potential problem areas and money pits.

Recommended Reading: Why Would The Police Call Me

Police Cars Do A Lot Of Miles Over Their Lifetime

Pro: If you are purchasing a vehicle that has spent its life on the highway, there is a good chance that most of its miles have been racked up on long, continuous hours of cruising. This type of driving is much better for a cars engine than the constant stop-start that is typical of the short trips that many civilian drivers do daily.

Con: The total number of miles on a used police car isnt an accurate indication of the work the engine has actually done. If you think about it, highway patrol cars dont just cruise about all day. They are often parked up at the side of the road in a static speed trap, and during these times police leave their vehicles standing with the engine idling. Hence, the actual amount of work the engine has done may be many times the number of miles shown on the odometer.

Con: Vehicles used by patrol police in urban and city areas are involved in a lot of short stop-start trips. Patrol often involves police responding to, and driving to and from, one job to the next all day.

Not All Police Interceptors Are Created Equal

Heres Why You Should Buy a Used Police Car

Cars that are used by the police in the line of duty will usually have cloth front-seats and a vinyl back-seat combination and you should expect to find wires and holes wherever there was police equipment that has been removed. This also applies to the dash where police computers, radios and other equipment will have been installed and removed without any thought to the cosmetic mess left behind.

Black and white versions of these vehicles will usually be cheaper at the auctions than all black models, or other single color variations such as white, gray or silver. Most retail buyers prefer all-black police cars if they can get them so be prepared to pay more for any model that isnt the traditional black and white.

If you fancy something a little swankier you will be able to find Police Interceptors that have a full cloth interior and none of the hanging wires or gaping holes that blight active duty models. These models also tend to been abused far less than their active-duty counterparts and have probably been used previously by government employees or, in some cases, police officials that dont tend to find themselves engaged in high-speed pursuits on a regular basis. Due to their lower mechanical wear and interiors that are a lot more retail-friendly, these models inevitably command higher prices at auction.

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Experts Advise Getting The Vehicle Inspected Professionally Before Parting With Any Money

Buying a used car has traditionally been seen as a more affordable alternative to obtaining a brand new model straight off the production line.

These days, due to a global slowdown in new vehicles being produced as a result of a microchip shortages, prices of used cars are rising.

So, if you are in the market to buy a second-hand car, what should you look out for?

The National talked to industry experts about how to buy a used car and what pitfalls to avoid when choosing your next vehicle.

Used Cop Cars Have Lots Of Interior And Trunk Space

Officers need all sorts of equipment to do their job. As such, theyre often issued cars with roomy cabins, comfy rear seats, and massive trunks far more spacious than what youll find on your typical sedan. So whether you need to haul your kids , groceries, or camping gear, police cars will get the job done.

For instance, the Crown Victoria one of the most popular police sedans of the 90s and 2000s has a high roofline that can comfortably seat even the biggest and burliest of football players.

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