How to buy patrol cars

By Jeff Wohlgemuth

There have been many vehicles over the years that have been called police cars. Some of them evoke fond memories while others have caused severe headaches. While every state and municipality has different bylaws when it comes to vehicle aquisition, there are a few points to take into account when purchasing a police vehicle:

What kind of car?
Many hours could be spent discussing what makes a police car. There is certainly no replacement in many applications for a pursuit-rated car. However, there is one outstanding fact: a rear wheel drive, 8-cylinder engine is not always the right choice. When looking at your fleet, there are many different applications that must be met. We would not use a sledge hammer to hang a picture, then why do we use a Crown Vic for construction duty, or patrolling the parks? There are many cars that could be better suited for specific application and a balanced fleet.

Vendors are a valuable resource
While a state contract is the easiest way to acquire vehicles, “piggybacking” may not get you the options you want or the best pricing for the configuration desired. It is important to know what options are available. Pre-wire packages may save some fleets a lot of time and money, but others may be better suited to utilize an aftermarket wire harness to get the functionality they need.

Have a plan
Every one who has dealt with fleets knows that no matter when you want the car, something will delay it. The truth in the matter is that there are so many pieces in getting a car from order to delivery, that it is difficult to pinpoint an exact timeline. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Order equipment at the same time you order the car. Do not wait until there is a delivery date.

2. Talk to your dealer about in stock vehicles. If there are any options that may delay production, this alternative can save a lot of time.

3. Consult all parties who will be touching your car. Order graphics and radios the same time you order the vehicle. Determine what equipment should be installed. These preparations will save time.

4. There are many different options that can keep uniformity of your fleet if you chose to buy a Ford Edge instead of a Crown Victoria. They can still be upfitted to function the same in the cockpit.

Don’t wait
This is the hardest piece of advice to follow. It may not be possible to put a purchase order in on Jan. 1 of each year. If you have done the leg work for budget stipulations, decided what options are most important, determined what your officers expect, and reviewed what changes will be happening; you will have streamlined the purchasing process. The end result will be receiving the exact vehicle desired in a timely fashion.

There are many options to think about when purchasing a police car, and it is not always easy. Consulting your dealer and equipment provider for current trends and market conditions can ensure that the process goes smoother.

Jeff Wohlgemuth is the Director of Business Development for Warnock Fleet. Jeff has had the unique opportunity of experiencing the acquisition and maintainenance of a fleet as well as supplying fleet needs.

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