Looking at a Police Car to buy: Should you get it?

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So you have found a police car you want to buy, it looks like a great price and seems to be in great condition, but something it nagging at you that you would to research the car a bit more! Sound like you? Well this article is written for you.

So should you buy a used police car? Based on my experience, a police car is not worth the price when you consider in factors like wear and tear and the fact that police cars run constantly while sitting (which can’t be reflected in the mileage). The risk is considerably higher with these vehicles than others on the market that might be slightly higher priced than a police vehicle.

Let’s dig in a little bit more about the upsides, downsides, and even what vehicles you could be finding for sale that might be police cars!

Upsides of a Police Car

1. Inexpensive

Police cars are some of the most budget friendly (up front) vehicles to purchase. They tend to be a good 20% less than their non-police-vehicle counterparts. This is also why you likely have pursued so many of them over time, as they show up at the top of your lists when you are shopping.

This price really is the primary reason that most people will be considering buying one, as their price to mileage generally looks great!

2. Highly rated vehicles

Police Departments don’t mess around with reliability! Because of this they tend to only purchase vehicles that are known to be highly reliable, can be easily maintained and have plenty of power.

Because of this, those models of vehicles also fall into exactly what a normal person would like, which again puts a police car at the top of your list to purchase.

3. Documented maintenance

If you have ever purchased a police car like I have, you likely have been handed a ridiculously large packet of paperwork with years of maintenance records. Everything is generally done on these vehicles when it is needed, regardless of the cost needed.

You generally don’t have to worry about if the oil was changed, if it needs new struts, or even if the rear hatch opens correctly. If it was needed, the department likely did it.

The last thing they need is a vehicle breaking down when they need it most, so these small maintenance items get done.

Downsides of a Police Car

1. Sitting while running

I think this is the biggest factor that people overlook when they are buying a police car! Many departments require police cars that are on-duty to stay running at all times, and this means that they are running with no mileage technically being added to the odometer.

Sure, a vehicle running for long periods of time may not affect things like the suspension, interior, or even the transmission, however it does affect the engine.

Things like the water pump, gaskets, and other internal components get constant wear on them that you don’t see until a while of owning the vehicle.

This gives you a ton of risk, and is the top reason why I would not buy another police car, and wish I had known beforehand.

2. Wear and tear

Police cars are used, and used hard! Whether this be getting in and out of the vehicle constantly, to the wear and tear on the seat belt, it just gets used.

If you plan on getting a police car, even if it has lower mileage, you should definitely take a close look at everything throughout the vehicle to make sure it is up to the standard.

Just because a vehicle is a good deal, doesn’t mean you should necessarily buy it.

3. Modifications

These vehicles require quite a few modifications to become a police car! Some police cars are even modified at the factory, which may not even be a good thing for you as a normal person.

Things to keep an eye out for are holes in interior pieces, missing roof racks, holes for cords that would have gone to exterior lighting and more.

A common issue with police cars is water leaks, as the equipment that was installed on the vehicle leaves being weak points in the form of holes, and water is able to get in through that.

Should you buy a police car?

I personally believe that a police car is not something you should consider. The risks outweigh the benefits by far for me going forward.

Sure, there is a possibility that you may buy a police car that works for years to come, however you do also have an increased risk of needing to replace larger components like engines.

Can you buy a police car without knowing it was a police car?

People generally think of a used police car as being one with black paintwork, and white doors. However many departments actually don’t utilize that paint scheme which results in many police cars looking just like a normal vehicle.

Because of this, you can easily buy a police car without knowing it, if you don’t pay close attention!

As everyone knows (or at least you should), you should be running a CARFAX before ever making a purchase. If you are looking at a common car that police use, you may see “fleet” or “government” vehicle on the CARFAX. This is a great indicator that it may have some of the issues we have discussed.

Another great way to tell if it was a police car, is to look for holes on the interior of the vehicle where things were mounted. A tail tell sign of a police car would also be the fact that they utilize steel wheels.

Legally speaking, I don’t believe it is required that a past police vehicle be disclosed, so paying close attention to this is important for your future ownership.

What kind of cars do you see as police cars?

Most police vehicles you see on the roads here in the USA are going to be vehicles made in this country, for obvious reasons. Because of this, you will see Ford Explorers, Crown Victorias and Tauruses. On the Dodge side you will see Chargers and Durangos, and of course the Chevrolet Impala.

If you are shopping for one of these vehicles, and it seems too good to be true on price, there is a good chance it has a past of being a police vehicle.


If you are shopping for a used car, and stumble upon a police car, I highly recommend you doing your homework before making that purchase.

I don’t believe they are a good deal, however you might! There is nothing wrong with that.