June 5

The Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor History

Last Updated on October 30, 2023

From its introduction in 1990 to the eventual discontinuation in 2011, one vehicle has made an impact that is still felt today, both on pop culture and especially law enforcement. Here’s a look at one of America’s most beloved cars, the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. First Generation
  3. Second Generation
  4. Crown Vic by Model Year
  5. In Comparison
  6. Problems
  7. Recalls
  8. Discontinuation
  9. Personal Perspectives
  10. Pop Culture
  11. FAQs

Overview of the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor

Valued for reliability, durability, and performance, the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor was the law enforcement version of the Ford Crown Victoria sedan. This vehicle was introduced in 1990, and sold from 1992 to 2011. It was widely used by police departments and other law enforcement agencies in North America during those years, including the New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor was based on the Ford Panther platform, the same platform used for the Lincoln Town Car and Mercury Grand Marquis. Designed to meet the specific needs of law enforcement agencies, it included features such as heavy-duty suspension, a powerful engine, and a reinforced frame.

During these early years, the first generation of the Police Interceptor was equipped with a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produced 190 horsepower. The second generation came in 1998 and featured a more powerful 4.6-liter V8 engine that produced up to 200 (or 215) horsepower.

Crown Victoria on Municibid image

Though production of the Police Interceptor ended in 2011 when Ford discontinued the Crown Victoria sedan, these sedans are still in circulation today. Law enforcement still employs them and even after they’ve been decommissioned, civilians can even purchase them second-hand.

Crown Victoria on Municibid image 2

First Generation

The first generation of the Crown Vic Police Interceptor was produced from 1992 until 1997, and with this first generation came some key features and specifications:

Engine: equipped with a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produced 190 horsepower, 260 lb-ft of torque, and was paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission.

Suspension: featured heavy-duty shocks, springs, stabilizer bars, larger brakes, and was designed to handle the rigors of police use; beefed up compared to the standard Crown Victoria. 

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Frame: reinforced structure designed to withstand high-speed pursuits and other demanding situations.

Interior: featured heavy-duty cloth seats, vinyl flooring, and an easily cleaned rubberized dash.

Safety: included features like dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, and a steel safety cage.

First Generation Crown Victoria Police Interceptors infographic

Second Generation

The second generation of the Crown Vic Police Interceptor was introduced in 1998 and remained in production until 2011. Like the first generation, the second was based on the Panther platform and shared many components with other Ford automotives.

One of the biggest changes with the second generation was the introduction of a new engine. In 1998, the 4.6-liter V8 engine was revised to produce 200 horsepower (sometimes 215), an increase of at least 10 over the previous model year. This engine was also mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. By the end of the second generation, horsepower would reach 250!

Other changes for the generation included a redesigned fascia, grille, and headlights, as well as improved brakes and suspension. This particular Crown Vic also featured more advanced safety features such as side-impact airbags.

Second Generation Crown Victoria Police Interceptors infographic

Second Generation Model Years

1998

This year marked the introduction of a new 4.6-liter V8 engine to the Crown Vic, improved horsepower, and other aforementioned features of the second generation.

Changes

  • 4.6 liter V8 engine
  • Greater horsepower

Recalls

  • No info available

Complaints

  • No info available

1999

The 1999 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor was very similar to the previous model year. Though, this time buyers could add a new optional package called the Handling and Performance Package. This deal included stiffer springs, higher-rate shock absorbers, a larger rear sway bar, and a limited-slip rear axle. The Handling and Performance Package made the 1999 Police Interceptor even more capable in high-speed pursuits and emergency situations.

This police car also continued to feature dual front airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and side-impact protection from the previous generation. All of these components made for one of the safest police vehicles on the market at the time. 

One major complaint that came this year was about fogged rear windows. However, this was addressed in the next model version.

Changes

  • Handling and Performance Package
  • Stiffer springs 
  • Higher-rate shock absorbers 
  • Larger rear sway bar 
  • Limited-slip rear axle

Recalls

  • N/A

Complaints

  • Fogged rear windows

2000

The 2000 model year came with the addition of a standard rear-window defroster. The defroster was a response to complaints from police departments who operated in colder climates. Fogged rear windows often caused visibility issues, and thus hindered job performance.

Changes

  • Standard rear-window defroster

Recalls

  • No info available

Complaints

  • No info available

2001

When the 2001 model year came into being, an electronic throttle control was added. This offered an improvement to throttle response and allowed for more precise control of the engine. This year of the Crown Vic Police Interceptor also featured a redesigned front suspension system, along with improving handling and stability. The suspension upgrades included stiffer front springs and monotube shocks, as well as a larger front sway bar.

Other changes included the addition of a trunk release button on the key fob. With this button, officers had easier access to equipment stored in the trunk. There was also a new headlamp design with clear lenses instead of the previous amber lenses.

Unfortunately, with the improvements came some issues. One common problem with the police car was the transmission. Some drivers found the transmission to be slow to shift or prone to slipping. Another complaint was with the vehicle’s brake system, which some drivers found to be underpowered and prone to fading.

There were also reports of problems with the car’s steering and suspension systems, particularly with the steering gear and tie rods. These issues could lead to poor handling and control, a major concern for police officers who relied on the car’s handling during high-speed pursuits or navigating tough terrain.

Changes

  • Added electronic throttle control
  • Redesigned front suspension system
  • Improved handling and stability
  • Stiffer front springs and monotube shocks 
  • Larger front sway bar
  • Trunk release button (on key fob) 
  • Redesigned headlamp with clear lenses

Recalls

  • No info available

Complaints

  • Defective transmission
  • Underpowered brake system
  • Faulty steering gear and tie rods

2002

When this model year rolled in, one of the most significant changes was the addition of a trunk-mounted light bar. This was a popular option for many police departments. Other changes involved an updated grille design, revised exterior mirrors, and a new interior color option. Updates to the car’s suspension and brake system occurred too, although these were relatively minor and did not significantly affect the car’s performance.

While the 2002 model was generally well-regarded, there were some complaints and issues reported by drivers and police departments. One of the most common woes was with the car’s fuel system, which sometimes caused the engine to stall or fail to start. Then there were drivers who reported problems with the car’s electrical system, particularly with the alternator and battery.

Another issue for the model year was with the police car’s brake system, just like the previous year. Drivers still complained about the brakes fading and being underpowered during heavy use. Complaints even came in about the car’s handling and steering. Those complaints stated that both could be unpredictable and difficult to control during high-speed pursuits.

Changes

  • Trunk-mounted light bar
  • Updated grille design
  • Revised exterior mirrors
  • New interior color option
  • Updated suspension and brake system

Recalls

  • No info available

Complaints

  • Faulty fuel system
  • Defective electrical system
  • Underpowered brake system
  • Difficult handling and steering

2003

In 2003, the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor’s exterior saw some updates: revised tail lights and a new grille design. The interior received the same treatment with updated instrumentation and controls.

Ford even introduced a unique trim this year, the LX Sport Trim. This package came with a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels, and unique exterior styling.

Regarding performance, the 2003 model year introduced a new transmission – a 4-speed automatic that replaced the previous 3-speed version. This new transmission provided better acceleration and improved fuel efficiency. A new brake system was also added with larger front brake rotors and upgraded calipers. This improved braking performance and reduced the likelihood of brake fade during high-speed pursuits.

Other changes for this year included an updated engine control module (ECM) and a revised rear axle ratio. These helped to improve overall performance and drivability of the car.

Some of the common issues reported by owners consisted of the suspension, transmission, and engine. Plus there were some reports of electrical problems and issues with the car’s cooling system.

Changes

  • LX Sport Trim
  • Revised tail lights
  • New grille design
  • Updated instrumentation and controls
  • New 4-speed automatic transmission 
  • Better acceleration
  • Improved fuel efficiency. 
  • Larger front brake rotors
  • Upgraded calipers

Recalls

  • No info available

Complaints

  • Faulty suspension, transmission, and engine
  • Electrical problems 
  • Cooling system issues

2004

A year later, this police car continued to be powered by a 4.6-liter V8 engine, now producing 250 horsepower and 297 lb-ft of torque. One change, however, was the addition of a trunk release button in the passenger compartment. Just like the previous button included on the key fob, this option allowed officers to easily access their trunks.

The 2004 model year also saw the introduction of a new electronic throttle control system. This replaced the traditional throttle cable, but the systems operated the same. Its design improved engine response and fuel efficiency, and allowed for better integration of other electronic systems in the vehicle.

In terms of safety, the 2004 iteration came standard with dual front airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system. It also had an optional side airbag system, providing additional protection in the event of a side impact.

Changes

  • Increased horsepower and torque
  • Trunk release button (in passenger compartment)
  • New electronic throttle control system  
  • Improved fuel efficiency

Recalls

  • No info available

Complaints

  • No info available

2005

The 2005 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor received a minor facelift that included a new grille, front fascia, and headlights. Additionally, it had improved front seat side airbags and an updated suspension system. The engine was the same as in previous years, but with some minor improvements to increase horsepower and torque. The car also continued to have a rear-wheel drive layout and a 4-speed automatic transmission.

This year did offer a new electronic stability control system as an option for preventing skids and slides, along with a new advanced steering system. This latter mechanism adjusted steering response based on vehicle speed. Even better, this model year had an updated electrical system that provided more power to the battery and alternator.

There were some cons that came with the vehicle. Specifically, problems in the form of recalls. In 2006, Ford issued a recall for certain 2005 Crown Victoria Police Interceptors due to a risk of fuel tank leaks in high-speed rear-end collisions. Ford offered to replace the fuel tank for affected vehicles.

In the next year, Ford issued a recall for certain 2005 Crown Victoria Police Interceptors due to a risk of brake light switch failure. The failure could cause the brake lights to stay on or not work at all, potentially leading to a crash. Ford offered to replace the brake light switch for affected vehicles.

Then in 2010, Ford issued another recall. This one targeted Crown Victoria Police Interceptors for model years 2005-2010. There was a significant risk of steering shaft separation, which could cause a loss of steering control and potentially create a crash. Here again, Ford offered to replace the steering shaft for affected vehicles.

Changes

  • New grille and front fascia
  • New headlights
  • Front seat side airbags
  • Updated suspension system
  • Slightly increased horsepower and torque
  • New electronic stability control system 
  • Advanced steering system 

Recalls

  • Fuel tank leaks
  • Brake light switch failure
  • Steering shaft separation

2006

A new Street Appearance Package was available for the 2006 Police Interceptor. This package included features like 17-inch styled steel wheels, chrome exhaust tips, a gloss black honeycomb grille, and body-colored exterior mirrors. On the subject of safety, the 2006 Crown Vic featured standard side-impact airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system. The monitoring feature alerted drivers when tire pressure was low, helping prevent dangerous blowouts or other tire-related accidents.

An optional Safety Canopy System was also introduced. Included in the package were side-impact airbags for front-seat occupants and side-curtain airbags that covered the front and rear side windows.

Internally, the engine was revised to meet new emissions standards, resulting in a slight decrease in horsepower from 239 to 235.

What did not continue this year was the LX Sport trim level, which had been offered since 2003.

There were some complaints regarding the 2006 vehicle. Drivers commented on the car’s suspension system and reported premature wear and failure of the front suspension components. Left unaddressed, these faulty parts could result in a loss of vehicle control. Other people added reports of transmission issues and electrical problems.

Unfortunately, this particular year, the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor was involved in a high-profile controversy with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The organization launched an investigation into the potential failure with the fuel tank in rear-end collisions. Ultimately, this issue led to the recall of millions of Ford vehicles, including the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.

The compressed natural gas engine (CNG) option was available for the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor from 1996 to 2006, but was not very popular. The option was primarily designed to appeal to fleets that were looking to reduce fuel costs and emissions. However, the CNG engine was more expensive than the gasoline engine option, and there were concerns about the limited availability of CNG refueling stations. As a result, the CNG engine option was only chosen by a small percentage of police departments and other fleet customers.

Changes

  • Street Appearance Package
  • Safety Canopy System
  • Standard side-impact airbags
  • Tire pressure monitoring system
  • Slightly decreased horsepower
  • Discontinued LX Sport Trim

Recalls

  • Fuel tank leaks
  • Brake light switch failure
  • Steering shaft separation

Complaints

  • Premature wear on suspension system
  • Failure of front suspension components
  • Transmission issues
  • Electrical problems

2007

The year of 2007 was the last year that the 4.6L V8 engine was offered without being flex-fuel capable. This version of the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor had a top speed of 137 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 8.2 seconds!

One major change for the 2007 model year was the addition of a passenger-side airbag, making it the first Crown Victoria model to feature one. Other changes included new seat fabric, redesigned cupholders, and revised door panels.

Safety features for the police ride included side-impact airbags, stability control, and four-wheel anti-lock brakes. An additional and optional package was also offered. It included front and rear side-curtain airbags.

The 2007 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor featured improvements to its suspension, brakes, and powertrain. The sedan also had a redesigned instrument panel and center console, as well as an optional Electronic Stability Control system. 

Changes

  • 4.6L V8 engine made flex-fuel capable
  • Added passenger-side airbag
  • New seat fabric
  • Redesigned cupholders
  • Revised door panels.
  • Improved suspension system
  • Improved brakes and powertrain 
  • Redesigned instrument panel and center console
  • Electronic Stability Control system

Recalls

  • Fuel tank leaks
  • Brake light switch failure
  • Steering shaft separation

Complaints

  • No info available

2008

In terms of design, the 2008 Police Interceptor had a similar look to previous models with a large, imposing front grille and a boxy, utilitarian body style. The interior was spacious and designed with police work in mind, with durable materials and easy-to-use controls. The suspension and steering system were revised and the brakes were upgraded. 

Also featured was an optional trunk package that included a redesigned spare tire cover and a metal partition that separated the trunk from the rear passenger compartment for added safety. 

There were several recalls on the 2008 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. One of the most significant issues related to the front suspension. Some drivers experienced issues with the ball joints and control arms. The lower control arm would fracture, causing the vehicle’s steering to fail and increased the risk of a crash. In 2009, Ford recalled approximately 312,000 Crown Victoria Police Interceptors from the 2005-2008 model years. Other recalls on the car pertained to the fuel tank, airbags, and malfunctions in the electrical system, specifically door locks and windows. 

Changes

  • Revised suspension and steering systems.
  • Upgraded brakes.
  • Optional trunk package.

Recalls

  • Fuel tank leaks
  • Brake light switch failure
  • Defective ball joints and control arms
  • Steering shaft separation
  • Faulty airbags
  • Electrical system malfunctions

Complaints

  • No info available

2009

This year, one of the Crown Vic’s most notable safety features was Ford’s AdvanceTrac electronic stability control system. After its introduction, this feature became a standard for all future models. AdvanceTrac used sensors to detect when the car was experiencing skidding or other unstable driving conditions and applied the brakes to individual wheels to help keep the car under control.

One of the major recalls was for a potential issue with the steering gear. Failure with this mechanism resulted in a loss of control with the vehicle. Another recall for this model year was the same as the previous year, a problem with the front suspension. That issue could cause the lower control arm to fracture and potentially result in a crash. Moreover, there were also recalls for issues with the fuel tank, door latches, and the speed control system.

Changes

  • Introduced Ford’s AdvanceTrac system.

Recalls

  • Fuel tank leaks
  • Brake light switch failure
  • Steering shaft separation
  • Door latches
  • Speed control system
  • Defective lower control arm

Complaints

  • No info available

2010

Once 2010 came about, the Police Interceptor introduced a new 3.27:1 rear axle ratio, replacing the previous 3.55:1 ratio. With the change came improved fuel efficiency and reduced engine noise at highway speeds. Other changes for the 2010 model year included new rear axle seals, an updated transmission software to improve shift quality, and a revised speed control system. Also improved was the corrosion protection and new seatbelt pretensioners.

This year’s Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor did have a recall, but far less than other model years. In 2013, there was a recall for certain 2010-2011 Police Interceptors due to a potential issue with the steering column. The recall affected approximately 355 vehicles, and dealers were instructed to replace the upper intermediate shaft on the affected vehicles.

Changes

  • New 3.27:1 rear axle ratio.
  • New rear axle seals.
  • Updated transmission software. 
  • Revised speed control system. 
  • Improved corrosion protection.
  • New seatbelt pretensioners.

Recalls

  • Fuel tank leaks
  • Brake light switch failure
  • Steering shaft separation

Complaints

  • No info available

In comparison with the standard Crown Victoria

The Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor and the standard Crown Victoria are based on the same platform, but there are some key differences between the two, primarily due to the specialized needs of law enforcement. Here’s a comparison between the two models:

Police Interceptor vs Standard Crown Victoria infographic

Engine & Performance

In this category, the Police Interceptor boasts a more powerful engine than the standard Crown Victoria. The police version typically has a 4.6L V8 engine with enhanced performance characteristics like an improved intake manifold, a more aggressive engine control module, and a dual exhaust system. This results in increased horsepower and torque, allowing for faster acceleration and reaching higher top speeds sooner compared to the standard model.

Durability

The Police Interceptor’s engine is built with durability in mind to withstand the rigors of police work. Often, usage involves extended idling, frequent acceleration, and high-speed pursuits. The engine has to be strong to achieve this and thus, features stronger internal components such as more durable connecting rods, and is equipped with a more robust valve train system.

Tuning

The engine control module of the Police Interceptor is tuned to provide more aggressive performance characteristics. This includes a more aggressive ignition timing and fuel mapping. Both help the engine produce more power and torque, especially at lower RPMs. With the tuning, the Police Interceptor can accelerate quicker and achieve better overall performance compared to the standard Crown Victoria.

Intake System

Within the police version, an improved design to the intake manifold allows for better airflow into the engine. The consequence is more efficient combustion and increased power output.

Exhaust System

A dual exhaust system comes with the Police Interceptor, helping reduce back pressure and improve exhaust gas flow. The engine “breathes” more efficiently, contributing to better performance and a slight increase in power output too.

Fuel Delivery

Compared to the standard Crown Victoria, the police version’s engine is equipped with a higher-capacity fuel pump and fuel injectors. What’s ensured with these is that the engine gets an adequate fuel supply during high-demand situations or extended periods of hard driving.

Engine Idle Speed

The Police Interceptor’s idle speed is higher when compared to the standard type. This higher speed ensures that the engine generates enough power to support any electrical loads from police equipment while the vehicle is idling.

Suspension and Handling

With an upgraded suspension system, the Police Interceptor has a clear design for high-speed pursuits and more aggressive driving. This includes heavy-duty shock absorbers, springs, and sway bars. All of these parts provide better handling and stability during high-speed maneuvers. The standard Crown Victoria, on the other hand, has a softer suspension setup optimized for passenger comfort.

Braking System

Police Interceptor’s have a heavy-duty braking system designed to handle the rigors of police work. They are equipped with larger brake rotors, heavy-duty brake pads, and a more aggressive anti-lock braking system (ABS) for improved stopping power and heat dissipation. The standard Crown Victoria has a less robust braking system, one more suited to everyday driving.

Cooling System

Unlike the standard counterpart, the police version has an upgraded cooling system, capable of handling the extra heat generated from high-speed pursuits and extended idling periods. Component features include a larger radiator, an additional transmission cooler, and an engine oil cooler. The standard Crown Victoria has a more basic cooling system.

Electrical System

Within the Police Interceptor, a heavy-duty electrical system supports the additional power requirements of police equipment. That equipment includes emergency lights, sirens, and radios. The electrical system itself is made up of a high-output alternator, a heavy-duty battery, and additional wiring to accommodate any added equipment. The standard Crown Victoria has a less robust electrical system.

Interior and Exterior

The police type usually comes with a spacious interior, featuring a rubber floor instead of carpeting, heavy-duty cloth or vinyl seats, and the removal of some comfort features. In place of those comfort features is room for equipment like radios, firearms, and emergency equipment. The exterior may have a push bumper or spotlights to assist in police duties. On the contrary, the standard Crown Victoria has a more comfortable and plush interior, with more amenities for passengers.

In summary, the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is undoubtedly a specialized version of the standard Crown Victoria, tailored to meet the rigorous demands of law enforcement. It features several performance and durability enhancements, making it more suited for high-speed pursuits, aggressive driving, and the additional equipment used by police officers. The standard Crown Victoria, on the other hand, is designed for everyday driving and passenger comfort.

Problems with the Police Interceptor

Problems with the Police Interceptor infographic

Rear-end collision fires

In the early 2000s, a number of police officers and civilian drivers were killed in fiery crashes after their Crown Victoria Police Interceptors were struck from behind and the fuel tank ruptured. This created high-profile controversy surrounding the vehicle, stemming from concerns about the safety of the fuel tank location in the event of a rear-end collision. 

This controversy received widespread media attention and marked an intense debate over the safety of the Crown Vic. Ford faced mounting criticism and pressure from safety advocates, law enforcement agencies, and government officials to address the issue. In response, the automotive company made several changes to the design of their police car’s fuel tank and related components. 

The company added a plastic shield to protect the tank and modified the filler neck to prevent overfilling. They also redesigned the suspension to make the car less likely to be punctured in a rear-end collision.

Wheels:

Ford’s Crown Victoria Police Interceptor experienced some issues with its wheels, particularly concerning the steel wheels many of these vehicles had equipped. Some commonly reported problems were:

Wheel Cracking

Certain steel wheels experienced cracking, specifically around the center hub area or along the rim. This problem was most likely to occur in vehicles subjected to rough driving conditions, such as frequent curb strikes or high-speed pursuits on rough roads. Cracked wheels could lead to air loss in tires, compromised vehicle stability, and potentially unsafe driving conditions.

Wheel Deformation 

In some scenarios, the steel wheels on Police Interceptors became deformed due to curb impacts, potholes, or other road hazards. Deformed wheels caused vibrations while driving, uneven tire wear, and handling issues.

Tire Bead Seating Issues 

Problems were also reported of  the tire bead seating on the steel wheels. If the bead was not seated properly, the result was air leaks, low tire pressure, and compromised handling.

Lug Nut Loosening

There were instances where the lug nuts on the police sedan’s wheels would loosen over time, potentially leading to wheel separation from the vehicle. This problem was exacerbated if the lug nuts were not torqued to the correct specification during installation or if they were over-tightened.

The solution to this problem for fleet operators and individual owners was to maintain their Police Interceptors properly. This included regular inspections of the wheels and tires, ensuring that lug nuts were torqued to the correct specifications, and promptly addressing any signs of damage or deformation.

In some cases, owners opted to upgrade their wheels to more robust aftermarket options or Ford’s heavy-duty steel wheels designed to withstand the rigors of police work. Other fleet operators chose to equip their police cars with aluminum alloy wheels, which generally offer better durability and lighter weight compared to the standard steel wheels.

Intake Manifold

Aside from wheels, the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor also experienced some issues with its intake manifold. This was especially clear in the 4.6L V8 engines used in the late 1990s and early 2000s models. The main problem was related to the use of a composite (plastic) intake manifold, which was prone to cracking and failure over time. The following were issues related to the intake manifold:

Cracking and Leaking

The composite intake manifold used in these engines was susceptible to cracking, especially around the thermostat housing and coolant passages. As a result, there were coolant leaks, overheating, engine damage, and possible coolant mixing with engine oil. The latter created further internal damage.

Gasket Failure

The intake manifold gasket, which seals the manifold to the engine, failed over time for several vehicles. Vacuum leaks and coolant leaks were the outcome. Both led to poor engine performance, rough idling, and potential overheating.

Ford acknowledged the problem and issued a recall for certain vehicles equipped with the 4.6L V8 engine, including the Police Interceptor. They used the recall as an opportunity to replace the composite intake manifold with an upgraded version. The new rendition featured an aluminum coolant crossover, a design that addressed the cracking issue around the thermostat housing.

To prevent initial or further intake manifold issues, owners and fleet operators needed to perform regular maintenance and inspections. That included checking for coolant leaks and monitoring engine temperature. If the intake manifold had not yet been replaced with the updated version, then they upgraded to an improved design or moved to an aftermarket alternative to prevent potential problems.

Present day owners of the Police Interceptor should note that the intake manifold issues were more prevalent in the late 1990s models than in those that were produced during the early 2000s and later.

Steering Shaft:

Ford’s iconic police vehicle experienced some issues with its steering shaft, notably with the intermediate steering shaft. This part connects the steering column to the steering gearbox. Some common problems reported are as follows:

Intermediate Steering Shaft Wear

Over time and with extended use, the universal joints (U-joints) in the intermediate steering shaft wear out and become loose. This wear can result in excessive play in the steering, produce a sloppy steering feel, make maintaining a straight line difficult, and generate clunking or rattling noises while turning the wheel.

Steering Shaft Binding

In some cases, Police Interceptor owners have reported steering shaft binding, a term that describes when the steering feels stiff or notchy. This also relates to the U-joints, specifically when they become tight or corroded, restricting their movement and causing the steering to bind.

Steering Column Coupler Wear

The steering column coupler, which connects the steering wheel to the intermediate steering shaft, wears out over time too. When that happens, the steering starts to feel loose. That excessive play is very noticeable at certain steering angles or when turning the wheel back and forth.

In addressing these issues today, drivers should perform regular maintenance and inspections of the steering system. Check for excessive play in the steering wheel and listen for any unusual noises while turning the wheel. If problems with the steering shaft are identified, replacement of the intermediate steering shaft or other worn components will be necessary to restore proper steering function and feel.

Recalls with the Police Interceptor

Several recalls have been issued for the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor over the years, addressing various safety and performance issues. Some of the more notable recalls include:

Police Interceptor Recalls infographic

Intake Manifold Recall (late 1990s and early 2000s models)

The composite intake manifold of certain models with 4.6L V8 engines were prone to cracking and leaking coolant. Ford addressed this issue by replacing the faulty intake manifold with an upgraded version that featured an aluminum coolant crossover.

Steering Gear Bolt Recall (1999-2002 models)

These bolts sometimes fractured and caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Dealers were instructed to inspect and replace the steering gear mounting bolts as necessary.

Fuel Tank Shield Recall (2002-2004 models)

As previously mentioned, in the aftermath of high-speed rear-end collisions, sometimes the accident produced a fuel tank rupture. Ford added a fuel tank shield to reduce the risk of puncture and subsequent fuel leaks in these situations.

Lower Control Arm Ball Joint Recall (2003-2005 models)

An issue with the lower control arm ball joint sometimes caused the ball joint to separate from the arm and decreased steering control. Dealers were instructed to replace the lower control arm on affected vehicles.

Exterior Lighting Recall (2005-2011 models)

Vehicle headlights malfunctioned and would not illuminate when the lighting control module failed. Ford advised dealers to replace the lighting control module on affected vehicles.

Discontinuation of the Crown Vic Police Interceptor

The almost two-decade run of the Police Interceptor ended in 2011 due to a variety of factors. One of the main reasons was that the car was becoming outdated, both in terms of its design and technology. There was a shift towards more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicles, for which the Crown Vic was not well-suited. That factor was coupled with a decline in demand for large, rear-wheel drive sedans. The automotive industry was also moving toward increasing safety regulations and safety features in vehicles.

Personal Perspectives

Despite all the complaints and recalls throughout the years, there’s plenty more good that can be said about the Crown Vic. In fact, people all across the country are impressed with the vehicle and they have plenty to say about it too! Here are some first-hand accounts from people who bought their very own through Municibid.

Jacob's Crown Victoria auction win
Jacob's Crown Victoria auction win 2
Jacob's Crown Victoria auction win 3

After bidding on “several vehicles,” Jacob had a single purpose in mind. “They have been put back to service in my Private Security Company.”

– Jacob J. won a Crown Victoria and several other police vehicles

Erik's Crown Victoria auction win

“We won a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor in December of 2021. It was purchased as a first car for my oldest son, who has since added a front push bar, CB radio, a loudspeaker and other improvements that he’s learning how to do himself. I am about to inspect another municipal vehicle for my younger son and possibly bid on it for an auction.”

– Erik H. won a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria

Some media personalities like Zack Pradel purchase or lease cars, then offer their own personal reviews for the public. In this video Zack talks about the pros and cons of a Crown Vic from the 2008 model year.

“I think they’re fantastic used car purchases with the main emphasis on being reliable.”

“The parts are easy to find. They’re cheap. These cars are easy to maintain.”

Pop Culture

In spite of the recalls and discontinuations, the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has become a symbol of law enforcement and an iconic part of American pop culture. With a distinct appearance and widespread use by various police departments, the vehicle is both a recognizable and memorable presence in various forms of media. Here are some examples of the police car’s pop culture impact:

Crown Victoria in Movies

The Crown Vic has appeared in many films, including action movies, comedies, and dramas. Notable examples include the “Lethal Weapon” series, “Bad Boys,” “The Blues Brothers,” “The Dark Knight Trilogy,” and “Rush Hour.” These appearances have contributed to the vehicle’s iconic status in popular culture.

  1. The Blues Brothers (1980)
  2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  3. Men in Black (1997)
  4. Rush Hour (1998)
  5. Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
  6. Training Day (2001)
  7. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  8. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  9. The Dark Knight (2008)
  10. End of Watch (2012)

Crown Victoria in TV Shows

Aside from movies, the icon has been featured prominently in numerous police and crime dramas, such as the “Law & Order” franchise, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “The Shield,” “NYPD Blue,” and “The Wire.” Its presence in these shows has helped cement the image as America’s quintessential police car.

Crown Victoria on Television

The X-Files: In the episode “Badlaa” (Season 8, Episode 10), the FBI agents Mulder and Scully drive a Crown Vic Police Interceptor while investigating a series of murders.

The Wire: The Baltimore police department primarily uses Crown Victoria Police Interceptors as their patrol cars.

CSI: Miami: Many of the police vehicles used by the Miami-Dade Police Department are Crown Victoria Police Interceptors.

Crown Victoria on Television 2

Criminal Minds: In the episode “A Beautiful Disaster” (Season 13, Episode 4), the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI uses a Crown Victoria Police Interceptor while investigating a string of murders.

Southland: The Los Angeles Police Department primarily uses Crown Victoria Police Interceptors as their patrol cars.

Crown Victoria in Video Games

The Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has been featured in various video games as a playable or non-playable vehicle, particularly in games focused on law enforcement, racing, or open-world exploration. Examples include the “Need for Speed” series, “Grand Theft Auto” series, “L.A. Noire,” and “Midnight Club.”

Crown Victoria in Gaming

A 2008 Ford Crown Victoria made an appearance in Need For Speed Unbound (2022). Within the game, players have the option of customizing their vehicle and racing with what they create.

Crown Victoria in Gaming 2

This Crown Victoria image comes from Grand Theft Auto V (2013) where the car can be customized, and operated as a civilian vehicle or a police cruiser. However, in game, the car is actually called the Stanier and is just based on its real-life counterpart.

Crown Victoria in Gaming 3

In the video game series Midnight Club (2003) the Crown Victoria is featured as a police vehicle available for players to encounter in the virtual world and operate themselves.

Crown Victoria Overseas

Aside from media appearance, the Crown Vic has appeared overseas too, being exported to places like the UK.

Joe's Crown Victoria auction win

“The first car I bought from Municibid was a 2011 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor about 3 years ago…The looks on my neighbors faces when they saw a police car in my driveway in the morning!” 

“I enjoyed removing the residue from the police stickers and restoring the rims. I posted the car on eBay; where I learned how many scammers there are.”

“I sold the car to a Guy named Chris Sweetman of Sweetcorn American Autos who sells collectors American cars in Great Britain. You see the Crown Victoria is the iconic American Police car as seen in most police movies etc.”

– Joe H. won a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria for $2,000

FAQs

Why was the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor discontinued?

A variety of factors contributed to the discontinuation of the Crown Vic. For starters, the car was outdated in terms of the technology the vehicle used and its design. Vehicles were increasingly becoming more environmentally-friendly, a trend that still holds today. Moreover, there was less demand for rear-wheel drive sedans.

How fast is a Crown Vic Police Interceptor?

The top speed varies depending on the year and model, but the top speed of the 2011 model year is around 140 mph.

How much horsepower does a 4.6 Police Interceptor have?

Here is an average of horsepower ratings for various model years:

1992-1997: 190 horsepower

1998-2002: 200/215/235 horsepower

2003-2011: 239/250 horsepower

How much horsepower does a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria police interceptor have?

250 horsepower.

How many Crown Victoria Police interceptors were made?

Some estimates suggest that up to 80% of all Crown Victoria vehicles produced during the 2000s were used for law enforcement purposes as Police Interceptors.

How many Crown Victorias were made?

Crown Victoria Production History infographic
YearProduction Volume
199295,195
1993101,776
1994129,044
1995144,122
1996143,045
1997150,515
1998142,353
1999122,513
200084,239
2001112,282
2002102,225
2003109,901
2004102,372
2005102,428
200680,198
200750,311
200837,869
200932,244
201022,380
20117,835

In Conclusion

Much can be said about the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, and as history and sales prove, the vehicle has much to offer. Not every vehicle gets employed by the police, or makes appearances overseas and on the big screen. And not every vehicle boasts an almost two-decade production.
Though the Crown Victoria has been discontinued, the memory lives on along with some used models still in circulation. If you’re looking to procure your own or maybe you just want to peruse other police vehicles, then take a look at Muniicbid’s extensive catalog today where you can find Crown Vics and plenty more.


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