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Update: Dodge Police Advisory Board

The big news from the mid-year FCA/Dodge Police Advisory Board was the announcement of the California Highway Patrol contract. The nation’s largest state police/highway patrol, the CHP has selected the V6 Charger Pursuit as its main patrol (Enforcement-class) vehicle.
Dodge has a long history of building ‘special’ cars for the CHP. Starting in the late-1950s, Dodge put engines in CHP sedans that were not necessarily available in other Dodge police cars. Or they put special higher performance cams in engines headed to the CHP. Or larger Leece-Neville generators. Or larger tires and wheels.
These were not new powertrain or suspension parts. Instead, it was generally a matter of putting parts from a larger or more powerful Dodge, or even something from the Chrysler line, on the CHP police cars. This was way beyond a Dealer Special Order, but that is the right idea.
For 2016, Dodge did the parts bin thing again. This time, instead of improving horsepower or handling as in the 1950s and 1960s, it was to increase the Charger’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) by 200 pounds. Dodge installed the rear axle from the 5.7L V8 Charger in the 3.6L V6 Charger. That swap allowed Dodge to meet revised CHP specs for GVWR. Specifically, the CHP-spec Charger uses the 220mm rear differential and half shafts.

This $115 (MSRP) option, which is ordering code DR3, is available on any V6 Charger Pursuit. Called a V2 (mid-model year) option, and available in May 2016, this raises the GVWR from 5,250 pounds to 5,450 pounds. Since the V8 differential is used, the only axle ratio available with this option is the 2.62:1. The 3.07 axle, previously an option on the V6 Charger, is not available with the GVWR-increasing V8 axle.

The other subtle change for the CHP is something all mixed fleets can take advantage of. For departments running both the Ford PI Utility and the Dodge Charger, and there are many, opt for the P245/55R 18-inch tires on the Dodge Charger Pursuit. That means both the Ford SUV and the Dodge sedan will use exactly the same tire. No need to purchase or inventory two different tires.
The Charger Pursuit uses the same wheel width and diameter regardless of the OE tire size. That means the Charger Pursuit that came with 225/60R-18 tires from the factory can use these 245/55R-18 tires at replacement time.

Chelsea Proving Grounds

The Dodge Police Advisory Board was held at the FCA Chelsea Proving Grounds. The purpose of this location was to give PAB members insight into reliability and durability testing that goes into the Charger Pursuit. PAB members experienced first-hand some of the on-track durability testing. The exact protocol (number of test cycles) is proprietary but the nature of the tests is not. These include Wide-Open Throttle runs; both threshold and ABS-controlled braking; and lock to lock, Figure 8 turns.

This also includes miles and hours of driving on unimproved roads, dirt/gravel roads, washboard roads, roads with precisely engineered random and sequential potholes, and both diagonal and perpendicular trenches. Testing includes driving over roads made of large cobblestones and driving right over 4-inch curbs.

While the specifics are business confidential, think in terms of thousands of curb strikes and road course laps, and tens of thousands of pothole impacts. Similar testing is conducted in frigid cold conditions, blistering hot conditions, high altitudes, and high humidity.
Dodge PAB members then had the chance to drive the V6/RWD, V8/RWD, and V8/AWD Chargers around the Chelsea Evaluation and Handling Road. This is 1.7 miles of tight turns, elevation changes, sweeping turns, and short straights. This road course taxes virtually every aspect of the car: acceleration, braking, handling, steering responsiveness, and throttle response. Dodge Charger police trivia: 42 percent of all new Charger Pursuits are All-Wheel Drive.

Accelerated Durability Testing

Durability is always an issue with any vehicle. Dodge runs two kinds of durability testing. One is accelerated testing while the other is reliability testing. Last year, the FCA proving grounds in Michigan, Arizona, and Florida logged 11 million test miles.
The accelerated testing is to the 95


percentile driver, which specifically includes police use. This is 30,000 miles of testing that equates to 150,000 miles of end use. This testing includes both structural testing, i.e., lots of pounding from the proving ground roads, and powertrain testing, i.e., aggressive driver inputs to through the steering wheel, accelerator, and brake pedal.
The reliability testing is to the 50


percentile driver, which is by definition, the average retail driver. This is 36,000 miles of mile-for-mile driving on public roads, obeying traffic laws. This is not accelerated testing. Instead, one mile of driving in this test equals one mile of driving in retail use. This 36,000-mile reliability testing is typically 500 miles of public roadway driving per day.
In developing their overall test protocol, Dodge also includes the results from JDPower surveys, both Initial Quality Study and Vehicle Dependability Study. They use warranty claims and results from vehicles upfitted with data loggers in use with select police departments. Finally, Dodge uses some fully instrumented, data acquisition vehicles. In these vehicles, force transducers measure the slightest stress in the X (left-right), Y (front-back), and Z (up-down) axis.
Like all automakers, Dodge performs more testing on police package vehicles than is required for retail vehicles, and performs some testing unique to police vehicles. For example, they performed three times the wide-open throttle tests and hard ABS stops. Unique tests include curb strikes, road course laps, and deep median crossings.
Finally, and of major significance, the Dodge police vehicles are tested using the exact test protocols used by the Michigan State Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff–Los Angeles Police Department. From acceleration and braking performance to tire and brake pad life, Dodge police sedans are specifically developed to pass these two test events.

Big Brakes and Strut Bushings

So, what is the design life? Like most passenger cars, the design life is 10 years/150,000 miles. That fact alone may be a clue to how long police sedans could be kept in service.

Some accelerated wear testing later proves to be too severe. Some accelerated wear testing proves to be not severe enough. The ultimate measure of any accelerated testing is how it correlates to reality. If there is a miss-match, the automaker changes the test, obviously.

Dodge made a major upgrade to their PXV structural durability testing in 2012 for their 2014-½ model year Chargers. The two most obvious results of this were the massive BR9 brakes, the Big Brakes, and the redesigned tension strut bushings.
The BR9 brakes, which are standard on all 2014-½ and newer Dodge Charger Pursuits, are a slam-dunk solution. These are designed to answer any lingering questions about Charger brakes: pad life, rotor life, brake jutter. MSP testing has proven these to be the best brakes on any make of police vehicle. In addition, brake pad and rotor life has doubled in many cases and tripled in some cases.
Front tension strut bushings have been a nagging problem. This symptom is a click or clunk when braking low-speed. You may even see the tire/wheel shift by ¼-inch during parking lot speed braking.
A design change was made for the NextGen 2011 Charger, but this still was not enough of a fix. The changes based on the upgraded PXV durability test, implemented on the 2014-½ Chargers, have greatly improved the tension struts. Dodge believes the problem has finally been fixed. To date, Dodge has not seen premature tension strut bushing wear on any properly installed, 2014-½ or newer Charger Pursuit.

The new solid bushing is part number 68234847 AB. Be sure you get the new parts, and not New Old Stock. These Gen3 bushings now come as pairs, one left and one right, where the original replacement parts would work on either side. If you replace one side, of course replace the other side. The Gen3 bushings are backward-compatible to the 2011 Chargers.

That said, proper installation of the Gen3 tension strut bushings is critical. The suspension components must be tightened and torqued at the standard right height. The bolts cannot be tightened or even snugged up with the suspension dropped or hanging.

Technical Service Bulletin #02-007-14 makes this installation procedure crystal clear. The suspension must be tightened and torqued at the normal curb height. To do otherwise, will twist the captive bushing and accelerate its wear. Even snagging it will twist it, a situation made worse when it is torqued. The bushing cannot have any pre-twist at all.
Depending on the racks at the repair facility, you may need to raise the tire/wheel with the floor jack to achieve the proper ride height. Of course, a tension strut bushing replacement means the front tires must be closely inspected and the alignment verified.

Improved Hemi Cams and Lifters

Dodge also announced a Gen3 upgrade to the 5.7L Hemi V8 lifter service issue. The Eagle version of the 5.7LV8 was introduced in 2009. The big improvement then was Variable Valve Timing. However, with long hours of idling or high miles, the hydraulic lifters could get noisy and eventually cause a misfire code. The Gen2 lifters were introduced on the 2012 model year engine. These were an improvement, i.e., they extended the life of the lifters, but on very high mileage or high hours engines, misfire codes still occurred.
In early-2016, Dodge implemented their Gen3 lifters for the 5.7L V8, a more aggressive solution. The service advice is to replace all the lifters if one goes bad. In the past, the directions were to just check the cam lobes. With the Gen3 lifters, the procedure is now up to replace the cam. Service parts are backward-compatible with all 5.7L Eagle Hemi engines and were available in mid-summer.

New for 2017

For the 2016 model year, a few subtle changes were made to the Charger Pursuit. As of March 2016, a dealer-installed NAV is available for the Chargers with the UConnect 12.1 System, the Big Screen. The use of the V8 rear axle in a V6 Charger to increase the GVWR is also an option.
For the beginning of the 2017 model year, the Charger Pursuit will have a water-fording intake system as standard. On both the 3.6L V6 and 5.7L V8, the airbox has been modified with holes that allow airflow even when the intake is submerged. These airboxes are backward-compatible to 2011 Chargers.
The new airbox will allow the Charger Pursuit to drive up to 30 mph in water up to 9 inches deep and up to 5 mph in water up to 16 inches. Some of the validation testing for the new airboxes involved driving forward through 16 inches of water, driving backward through 16 inches of water and coming to a stop in 16 inches of water, shutting the engine off and restarting the engine to drive away.

For the 2017 model year, the optional 3.07 rear axle for the 3.6L V6 (sales code DMM) has been dropped. There was a minimal take rate from police departments. There were negligible performance differences between the standard 2.62 rear axle and the optional 3.07 ratio. Perhaps the opposite of what gearheads would expect, based on the Michigan State Police tests, the 2.62 axle performed better off the line than the 3.07 axle.
Secure Park was improved slightly for 2017. When Secure Park has been activated, an output signal is now available through the Vehicle System Interface Module (VSIM). This can be used to manage gun locks and secure other devices while at idle.
Finally, the hands-free functions have been improved. The microphones that pick up voice commands have been moved from the inside rearview mirror to the overhead headliner. This increases driver voice recognition accuracy from 75 percent to 86 percent and improves Bluetooth functions. It also allows for hands-free operations for police departments that replace the OE rearview mirror with an aftermarket rear view mirror.

UConnect 12.1 System

The 2016-½ Charger Pursuit is available with the UConnect 12.1 System, i.e., the Big Screen. The Auburn Hills, Mich. police were the first to put the 12.1 screen into service. The Michigan State Police; North Carolina Highway Patrol; Fresno, Calif. Police; Ohio State Highway Patrol and Carol Stream (Chicago), Ill. Police all have these Chargers in route.
Just as importantly, nearly two dozen police departments have had a two-week, hands-on evaluation with the UConnect 12.1 System Portable Training Unit. This PTU is essentially the 12.1 screen in a briefcase. Simply hook up the department’s laptop to the 12.1 screen using an Ethernet cable and set up the PC. This will serve as a double-check on the software compatibility. The screen resolution (orientation) may need to change as you go from landscape (desk) mode to portrait (car) mode.
The programming software doesn’t need to change, but the visibility of the software display, i.e., resolution, might need to change. If not, you might have to scroll right and left to see the complete display. You won’t want to do that. Some software seems to automatically change screen orientation. The leaders in software compatibility with the 12.1 screen include Intergraph (Hexagon), Motorola Solutions, Spillman, and SunGard.
Peripheral software compatibility is still a question. Tablets seem to work better than laptops in this application. Windows 10 seems to be a good fit. For the 2017MY, the pricing for this officer safety, officer efficiency system is $2,240 (MSRP).

For a lot more information, go to

and click on “UConnect 12.1.” Watch the pages of

Police Fleet Manager

as we follow an early build of the Carol Stream, Ill. Police Charger Pursuit fitted with this UConnect 12.1 System.





15-City FCA Fleet Tour

Again for the 2017 models, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) opted for regional events for commercial, government and rental fleet customers to showcase their vehicles, instead of one large fleet preview. This strategy involved a 15-City, 5-week tour by two FCA fleet teams.

One FCA team covered the East and Midwest, while the other covered the West and South. The 15 cities included Boston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Detroit, Charlotte and Orlando.

Simply put, compared to one centralized event, FCA feels they can reach more fleet managers, in a more personal and direct way, requiring less travel and out-of-office time for the fleet managers. They also think they get a lot more people driving their vehicles, like five times as many seats in seats compared to a single, centralized event.

The 15-city regional fleet previews were mostly about mid-size admin sedans, RAM ProMaster vans and a wider variety of RAM pickups. In other words, all the “other” vehicles many police fleet managers purchase and maintain. Each regional fleet preview included product overviews for 2017, service presentations, driving routes and face-to-face with the FCA Fleet team.

Each half-day event will provide in-depth fleet product overviews, product walk-arounds, service presentations, driving routes and ample time to talk with the FCA Fleet team. The vehicles on tour include several that have been upfitted for specific vocations.

Each of the local fleet previews included a five to 10-mile street drive and dozens of fleet vehicles to pick from. All FCA brands were represented at each half-day event. FCA Fleet current and prospective customers across the nation had the opportunity to drive a wide variety of Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, RAM truck and FIAT vehicles.

The star of this year’s preview was the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which is redefining the minivan segment. Each tour stop included a Pacifica Experiential Drive to showcase the new minivan’s capabilities, including ParkSense Parallel / Perpendicular Park Assist. These events were the first opportunity for fleet customers to drive the all-new Pacifica.

While FCA does not have a single, large fleet product preview, they do have a What’s New day for the media. Mainstream and enthusiast press from around the world gathered at FCA Chelsea Proving Grounds to drive virtually every FCA vehicle. From the Charger Hellcat and Charger Pursuit to the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee, from the Chrysler 300S and Chrysler Pacifica to the RAM 1500 SSV and RAM Rebel, from the FIAT 500 Abarth and all-electric FIAT 500e to the Alfa Romeo 124 Spyder.

The driving events took place on the wide open Evaluation & Handling Loop, on the tight and twisting Vehicle Dynamics Facility / Autocross course and on the rock-crawling Lyman Trail off-road course. It is all about capability – and a proving ground is where the proof is.











Help us build you a better pursuit vehicle.



Dodge Charger Pursuit Survey

By Vernon Southwell


FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) is asking you to help us better understand the unique use of a police pursuit vehicle. This is an engineering survey, a needs assessment, and not a marketing survey. All information is completely confidential. 

Our goal is simple, to listen to you the customer and use this information to improve the testing of our pursuit vehicles. What improvements would you like to see? The survey will take from 5–10 minutes to complete. Please follow the link below to start the survey. Please feel free to share the survey link with the rest of your department.

If you work with a large organization (union, retirees) and would be willing to help us reach out to past and present pursuit vehicle users to be part of our survey, please contact us.


Vernon Southwell is an engineer, Test Schedule Development, at FCA Chelsea Proving Grounds. He may be reached at or (734)475-5141.


Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jul/Aug 2016

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