Your opinions on purchasing a surplus town police vehicle?

I may have the opportunity to purchase a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria (police version) from a local town. The car has about 120,000 miles on it.

I know that police vehicles would probably receive regular maintenance, but on the other hand, they would probably have been idling a lot, and would probably have been driven hard at times.

What are your opinions on buying one, and have any of you had good or bad experiences with doing so in the past?

The CrownVic/GrandMarquis/TownCar platform is virtually indestructible. That’s why they are the choice for so many police/taxi/fleet/limo applications. Simple, durable, parts are readily available and anyone anywhere can fix them (except maybe rear shocks. They’re a pain).

The downsides are they are not really economical–you might get 22mpg on the highway–and not nearly as roomy as you’d think. And police cruisers are often equipped with the spotlight at the driver’s front and seats that are upholstered in burlap. But for the money if you want a large car, V-8 power and rear wheel drive they’re hard to beat.

I have bought and owned 3 former Colorado State Patrol cars…They all have been great, trouble-free vehicles. But I was careful in inspecting them before I bid on them…These cars were used out on the open road, cruising along at 80-90mph…City cars are something else…Lot’s of hard usage careening around city streets…idling hours are important…On a 2006 and newer, the idling hours are recorded on the odometer readout…Just push the trip button to cycle through the readouts…I figure 1000 hours idling equals 30,000 miles on the road…Some police cars are used for traffic control at construction sites, parked all night, engine running, their light-bar flashing…Once and a while you find a cream-puff…The Chiefs car, cars used by accident investigators, the unmarked detectives cars, back-up vehicles used to fill in for cars out of service…

Look at the drivers seat and steering wheel to get an indication of over-all wear…But I would avoid the ones that have obviously had a hard life…

Thank you for the replies and detailed info.

My current car gets about 24 mpg on the highway on long trips, so it wouldn’t be much of a difference there. I don’t really want another large car, but I want a reliable car above all else.

Most of the cars that I want (such as a Honda Civic/Accord, Toyota Camry/Corolla, Lexus, Infiniti, etc.) of a model year that I would be able to afford (somewhere from 1995-2000) are priced absurdly high around here.

From the spreadsheet that I’m keeping, the average private party asking price of 10 vehicles that I would be interested in is about 175% of KBB value (such as $1,000 cars with an asking price of $1,750).

I would expect the police Crown Vics had a heavier duty suspension and brakes, versus the civilian versions

As such, wouldn’t the parts be slightly more expensive?

Police special vehicle parts may be more expensive than their civilian counter parts.

Call a local parts store and ask them the price for brake pads and rotors for the police special Crown Vic and a civilian Crown Vic.


In my 10 year love affair with P-71 Crown Vics, I have purchased 2 sets of brakes (nominally priced) and a couple of COP’s destroyed when I foolishly pressure-washed an engine…Oh, and a pair of front oxygen sensors…A set of P71 shocks would be expensive but I have never needed any suspension work. Yes, everything is heavy duty. You can look up the list of goodies installed on all P71 models…Different police departments can order different rear-end gear ratios. 3:56, 3:27 and 3:00…Mine have all had the 3;27 axle but some cities prefer the 3:56 gears for better acceleration. Mine get 25-26mpg on the road and 19-20 around town. Here is one Colorado is selling now…This one is pretty beat…They post a new batch of vehicles every week…

Buying one for the sake of owning one without a real need for what they can do is not good car buying strategy. Yes, they are solid but they are relatively inefficient. Gas prices being what they are, I would buy something else like a used Corolla. To me as an example, it’s like buying a truck when you don’t need a truck. I suppose if you like driving this type of car, sure. I drove one at work for ten years. Great for the work I did, but I had no desire to take one home and commute with it. Now, a civilian version, yes. I would consider it but it might cost more to operate then I was willing to pay too. There is a reason why they stopped making them for civilian use.

They have stopped making them period…The last civilian models were sold in 2010. Fleet sales continued (with brisk sales) until 2012…I like them for the heavy-duty body and frame construction and stout suspension that can survive on poorly maintained gravel roads. They are basically an F-150 with a sedan body…Trailer towing? No problem…The two other variants are the Grand Marquis and the Town Car…The TC is 6" longer, which shows up as increased rear-seat legroom…Basically unchanged since 1992, they enjoyed a fantastic 20 year run. Taxi fleets frequently got 350K miles out of them. The true believers have their own web-site and forums found at

One thing I would mention is to check underneath for rust. Cop cars driven in the rust belt might get good overall maintenance, but they don’t get washed much, especially underneath, and they are driven all winter in salt and snow. I had a 92 Caprice police vehicle that the floor pan rusted out and a Crown Vic that wasn’t far behind. Both cars were only about 7 years old at the time.

That's why they are the choice for so many police/taxi/fleet/limo applications.

I’ve been off and on the budget committee for our town. Last time I was on the committee we contemplated replacing the Vics with something else. They had some problems. The MAIN reason we didn’t was because of the Police Car setup that we were able to transfer from one Crown Vic to another. This includes the plastic and cage shield from the back seat to the front. And the back seat is replaced with a hard plastic seat. This costs us about $5000 PER VEHICLE. So when you buy a new police car you have to either buy new police car setup for $5000 or transfer from another car that’s you’re selling for $0. It’s a no brainer for small town budgets.

The cars are driven hard. Our town looks at getting rid of them at 100k miles. For a couple of years we didn’t want to spend the money…so we tried to stretch the cars to 150k and even 200k miles. That turned out to be very expensive. We started running into some major problems. The vehicles should be fine if you don’t drive it like our police do.

Like I was saying, town and city police cars have a MUCH tougher life than highway patrol cars. But there are always some gems mixed in with the rubble…In the past, Colorado sold them at 90-100K miles. But with today’s budget constraints, they are keeping them 120-130K miles…

The frame is a good mounting platform for rwd and allows easy repair for “small” accidents. Though they can tow, they were seldom used for it as a police car. So, if you do some towing but don’t want a truck and plan on getting into a lot of small accidents with it, buy one. Otherwise, there is little advantage to having one. What ever you can do with one, you can do better with other unibody cars and regular trucks as a private individual. What municipalities will miss over time is their over all durability and easy repair.

As far as actual use as a cop car is concerned, I have made a point of asking every cop I have encountered what they like best for a police car after the Crown Vic. They are almost unanimous. They like the car based SUV that replaces them…usually around here a Ford Explorer with AWD which all who had them, preferred over the CV.

These are reasons why they just don’t make them any more. Are they an f150 ? Try getting a CV WITH high ground clearance and 4wd, plow attachments and a plethora of other options that make the f150 the biggest selling vehicle in the US.

Thank you for the replies. I’m not considering it because I think it’s cool to have an ex-police car, but rather because the people in my area of Virginia have a ridiculously inflated opinion of the value of their cars that I mentioned above that I actually want, and because I figured the Crown Vic police version would have some heavy-duty parts due to what it would have to put up with.

It appears that it was an unmarked car, if that matters any, as I believe it is a different color than the rest of the town’s fleet.

Here in Colorado, yes, there are a few SUV’s replacing cop cars but the majority of the highway patrol cars are Dodge Charger Police Interceptors…Much faster and quicker handling but in police trim there is absolutely no room in them…Awkward to get in and out of…When they convert them back to civilian use to sell them, removing all the police equipment, the interior is a mess of cut wires and missing center consoles…But they sell for twice what the Vics sell for…

@MikeInNH‌ I imagine rust is a problem where you live, did that contribute to the troubles? Who did the maintenance on the cars?

But yeah, I’d guess 100K of police service would be like 300K of regular driving. I’m sure a pursuit vehicle is driven harder than the supervisors car. Around here I see the taxi and fleet cars go 300K with few exceptions. One notable one was a Crown with 35,000 miles that needed new control arm bushings. It belonged to security at the community college. It spent 20 hours a day going over all the speed bumps and driveways at the campus with some not-so-gentle drivers.

I can see why taxi fleets are switching to Priuses over Crown Vics. The savings in brake pads alone would be sizeable.

The story I read some years back stated that Ford was phasing the CV out not because of lack of demand for them but due to the astronomical cost of basically re-engineering the car to make it conform to newer SRS regulations, rollover standards, and so on.

The retired PD Crown Vics that are auctioned off around here usually get snapped up by a small taxi company. They send them down for a quicky, non-standard repaint with some hideous pastel color and continue their service as people carriers; without the cuffs… :slight_smile:

98Caddy, how does your town sell it’s surplus vehicles? Some type of auction? Sealed bid sale, dealers auction? If it doesn’t look like a cop car then it probably never was a cop car…

A sharp eye should tell you if it was ever a cop car or just a city fleet car. Certified speedo, spotlight, patched holes where light bars, rear seat divider, radios, etc mount, police cars used different wheels than regular cars.

As to the inflated prices of the cars you actually want, if that’s what they’re selling for then that’s what they’re worth. A car is worth as much or as little as someone will buy it for. Now just because they’re advertised for, say, $4000, doesn’t mean that they’re actually selling for that.

@Caddyman‌ they sell them at auction. It looks like it was an unmarked car, and it has “certified calibration” on the instrument cluster.

@asemaster the absurdly priced cars end up being reposted over and over. Craigslist now includes the original date that an ad was posted, so some of them say “Posted 17 days ago”, etc.

The desirable older cars that are priced at KBB value and don’t need an engine or a transmission replaced are often sold within hours.