This post comes from Autoblog Open Road, our contributor network. The author is solely responsible for the content, and any opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Autoblog and its editors.

Low mileage on a retired law enforcement vehicle does not mean it was used less. Allow me to explain. When a police officer is on patrol during a shift, they don't literally patrol and drive the vehicle nonstop. They usually drive around their assigned sector once or twice, and park somewhere while they wait to pull over someone or wait for a call. If nothing is happening, they drive around once or twice ever few hours and park the car again. This is repeated until its lunchtime, or it's time to go home. While they are parked in the car, they are sitting down, putting the weight of a full-grown adult and utility belt on top of every nook and cranny in the seats. They will blast the heat if it is cold, blast the air conditioner if it is hot, run down the battery with the lights and radio, open and close the trunk or glove box to get stuff or to kill time. In short, every button and feature in the vehicle will be used during that shift even though the odometer is not rolling.

At the end of that shift, the vehicle is then passed off to the officers in the next shift who repeat the process, because most police departments do not have an excess of vehicles. This is repeated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until the vehicle is retired. Does continued usage of all the features of the vehicle nonstop contribute to excessive wear on its electric, HVAC system, and interior that would not occur in a personal vehicle? I am sure it does. This is not even including how hard they are driven when they are used to chase down bad guys. This is not to say these vehicles are a bad deal per se, but due diligence is needed in evaluating the mechanical worthiness, even if the vehicle has low miles. Some of these fleet vehicles might have hour meters which indicate the time it spent idling, but that is not always the case.

Of course, there are vehicles reserved for higher ups that just sit on the lot all day and night. However, those vehicles are few and far between. My advice if you want to buy a fleet vehicle: Look for a vehicle sold by government agencies that do not require its operator to sit in the vehicle all day. These are better choices since these vehicles are most likely used for traveling from point A to point B. Or you can buy one used by an old lady who goes to town to buy groceries once a week, those remain the best bargain.

Visit Open Road for more opinion, insight, advice, and experiential writing from our readers and industry insiders. We're always looking for new viewpoints. If you'd like to be a part, sign up today.

Share This Photo X