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Old 03-08-2007, 16:51   #1 (permalink)
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Buying a used P71

I'm looking at possibly picking up a P71 as a daily driver to replace my truck. I've decided I need more room than my regular cab truck has to offer, and I like the look of the crown vics. What should I look for when checking one out? I'm very thorough and would like to know all the trouble spots to keep my eye out for. How do these make as DD's? What kind of mileage can I expect? How are they for long road trips? Will everyone think i'm a cop?!?!? Thanks everybody


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Old 03-10-2007, 08:50   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Buying a used P71

Here are some things to consider/look-out for:

- The front suspension and brakes may need to be rebuilt depending on the mileage (ball joints, tie rods, a-arm bushings, etc.). Good info at the links below on how to do it...

Autoclinix.com - Ford Crown Victoria / Mercury Grand Marquis Front Brake Rebuild Instructions
Autoclinix.com - Ford Crown Victoria / Mercury Grand Marquis Tie Rod Replacement Instructions
Autoclinix.com - Ford Crown Victoria / Mercury Grand Marquis Upper Ball Joint Replacement Instructions

- 2000 model years and older had all-plastic intake manifolds (some early 2001's had them as well). These tend to rupture and need replacing with an upgraded unit with an aluminum crossover. It's about a $200 repair if you do it yourself (see Autoclinix.com: Ford/Lincoln/Mercury Intake Manifold Repair for detailed info on this problem).

- Leaking heater cores are a common problem. Check the passenger side floorboard for wetness. This a common problem for LOTS of Fords; not just Crown Vics.

- 2001 and up cars have the PI (Performance Improved) engine which provides about 20 more hp than the 2000 and older models (both civilian and P71 models).

- P71's and civilian models have the same engine. There is no such things as a "Police Interceptor" engine. The police cars and grandma's Crown Vic have the same engine...period. The P71 does have dual exhaust which adds some horsepower but the civilian models were also available with dual exhaust as part of an option package (Sport package or HPP package). My '97 Grand Marquis GS has the "sport" package and thus has factory dual exhaust and rear air suspension.

- These cars are great daily-drivers and are a excellent long-trip car. They are big, comfortable and quiet and handle pretty good if you get a P71 or a civilian model with the "sport" package. You can get 17mpg around town and as much as 25-26 on the highway depending on which rear end gears your car has. Mine has 3.23 gears and gets 24-25 on the highway.

My personal preference would be to buy a civilian Crown Vic (or Grand Marquis) with the "sport" package and stay away from a P71. The "cop" cars are often worn out (hours of use; not just mileage) and are low-option (no power windows, no power seat, no cruise control, etc.). As mentioned above, they don't have any more horsepower than their civilian counterparts. They do have a heavier-duty suspension but that's not enough offset the above deficiencies in my opinion. Others will surely disagree but that's just my opinion.

Hope some of this helps.
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Old 03-12-2007, 12:40   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Buying a used P71

I picked up my 2000 CVPI 6 months ago for a daily driver and I love it. I did have to replace the brakes all the way around, put new end links on the front sway bar, and put a new heater core in it (and a CD player... beware of the base model AM/FM stereo). All told I put about $500 of parts into the car and did the labor myself.

In addition to the beefier suspension and dual exhaust, the interceptors come with a factory external transmission cooler, power steering cooler, and a liquid-to-liquid engine oil cooler. I really like having that extra "longevity" equipment, and being a no-frills guy I like the fact that the car isn't loaded down with a bunch of options that I don't need. It does have power locks & windows and nice cold A/C.

I get around 16-17 mpg in city and 22-23 on the highway. Mine has 3.55 rear gears, which don't help the mileage but do give it a little more pickup. All in all it's a very comfortable car with a really nice ride. I'm 6' 7" and have all the headroom and leg room I could ask for.

As for people thinking you're a cop, it does happen and it can be a blessing or a curse. On small back roads people in front of me always slow down and hold me up, but on the highway people do tend to get out of my way when I come up behind them.

Anyway, I'm really glad I got one and I say you should go for it!
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Old 03-12-2007, 18:09   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Buying a used P71

I believe the P71s also had different transmission control, so that the shift points are a bit higher, meaning the performance ought to be slightly better, but other than that, as sheebeehuh said, there's zero difference between a civilian 4.6 and a police 4.6.

My dad has a '96 CVPI and he likes it really well. His has 3.27 gears and he gets about 16 in mixed driving and 24 on the highway with the AC blasting. If the mixed figure seems a little low, just keep in mind that my dad is kind of an aggressive driver. It handles great, runs great (he bought it with 202,000 miles on it and it runs like brand new), all in all a great car.
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Old 11-17-2007, 18:57   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Buying a used P71

Some issues you have to watch out for on the vics are cracked coil packs and slipping trannys. When you go to buy one i would assume the tranny is cooked or there are other problems, by this i mean allow a extra couple grand on top of what you paid to make it road worthy. If you dont need it then you were lucky. These cars are built tough but they are built that way for a reason they have had a tough life. I would suggest buying a car from a large force with a big maintenance budget. If you can test drive it first the best deals you will get though are at a auction and you cant test drive it so bid accordingly. As for daily driver they are great if you live in the north you will need good winter tires and some weight in the trunk as they can get a little squirley on ice without it. I own a 05 ram and a 05 magnum rt and i prefer the vic over both of them. It is a simple car and parts are always available. As for the cop issue as you are going down the highway you will definetly freak out a few people, just dont be a tool and add all kinds of lights and antennas and you wont have a problem.
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Old 11-19-2007, 11:57   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Buying a used P71

Great info posted thus far. In addition, with Police Interceptors and their high idle times, they are prone to worn timing chain guides and tensioners, which if they fail will cause catostrophic damage. Listen for any odd noise coming from the front cover, especially any tapping noise. The best ones to find are ex highway patrol vehicles which will have little idle time on them and/or any street appearance package P71. Those are generally given to detectives or higher-ups and don't see the same abuse as a regular patrol vehicle. Things to know - as metioned above 2001+ have the PI motors which have more hp than the previous years. 2004s are regarded to be the best overall, with the most hp at 250hp and rack and pinion steering. 2003 is when rack and pinion steering was introduced, but those models suffered from issues with it. 2005+ are still rated at 250hp but have throttle by wire. A lot of people are not fans of this. 2000-2003 are the years most often with the timing chain & component issues I mentioned above. 1999-2000 models come with a 3.55 rear end and metal matrix driveshafts stock. All other years have a 3.27 rear end as standard and alluminum drivesfats. The metal matrix drive shaft is very good, especially if you ever decide to go with a lower gear. Most regard the 1999 model to have the best factory tuning, although that year is still the non PI motor. 1999+ have a higher stall torque converter as well for better launch.
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'99 Crown Vic Police Interceptor
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-ADTR ported plenum
-Steeda Intake Spacer
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Old 11-19-2007, 12:20   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Buying a used P71

What is the "metal matrix" driveshaft?

Also, I've been told 2000 Vics have a poor computer tune, though I've never heard any of the specifics on that.
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2bbl Carbureted 351W V8, ported and polished E7TE heads, Edelbrock cam
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Old 11-20-2007, 10:17   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Buying a used P71

Yes, the 2000 CVPIs have the weakest factory tune.

The MMC (metal matrix composite) driveshaft is designed to handle higher rotational speeds (lower gears) and is lighter and more durable than the stock driveshafts. In '99 and '00, 3.55s came stock with no speed limiter on the CVPIs. Ford was trying to give the Vics extra punch off the line, hench the lower gear, but didn't want to sacrifice high end for pursuits. The drivetrain rotational speed obviously was much higher with the lower gear, so they added the higher quality MMC Driveshaft. In 2001 they went back to 3.27s and set the speed governer at 130mph. The '99s and 2000 model with 3.55s could only get to around the same speed with the motor revving out. When I first got my '99, I could only get 120mph out of her stock. I believe beginning in 2005, Ford gave the option for departments to order either 3.27s or 3.55s, but they governered the models with 3.55s to 119mph. They put the speed limiter on them because they came with the stock driveshafts that couldn't handle the high rotational speeds and engineer types calculated 119mph to be the highest they could safely go before the would begin to come apart. Ford decided it wasn't worth the money to put MMC driveshafts in the CVPIs anymore.


An article on metal matrix composite:
Metal matrix composite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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My Fords:
'98 Crown Vic LX
-167k miles and counting. Still used as daily driver.

'99 Crown Vic Police Interceptor
-Completed full PI swap
-Marauder Airbox & 80mm MAF
-'04 CVPI Ziptube
-ADTR ported plenum
-Steeda Intake Spacer
-BOC tune
-J-Mod tranny
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