Dead Cop Car: Arlington Police Department, Spring1984
Everything would be fine until you had to put your foot to the floor, and the damned thing would die!

I had a brand new 1984 Ford LTD, Crown Vic with a 351 engine in it. It had a brand new light bar on the roof with a 100 watt, low band radio mounted in the trunk. It had bright blue reflective stripes applied on each side on white paint. It was a nice looking cop car, and it looked fast!

While patrolling around town, everything would be fine until you had to put your foot to the floor, and the damned thing would die! The engine would choke up and just stop. Kaput! And to add insult to injury, you could not restart the car for at least 30 to 45 minutes. It just would not start!

Now this is a brand new patrol car. It’s still under the manufacturer’s warranty! So we started calling the Ford Dealer to tow it in every time when it died. After the fifth or sixth time the car had to be towed in, the Ford Dealer called in a Factory Representative from Michigan to come to Nebraska to help figure out what the problem was with this brand new police car. The Factory Rep decided they were going to pull the entire fuel system out of the car from one end to other until they found the problem.

Fortunately, they started at the back. I’m watching the mechanic work through a window from the waiting room. He’s scratching his head as he’s trying to get the gas tank off. He’d go to the service manual, and then back to the car. Then back to the service manual, scratch his head some more, then back to the car. Finally, he lowers the car on the rack, and comes to ask me if I have the key to the trunk. He opens the trunk, and has an “A-Ha Moment!

When installing the 100 watt, two-way radio in the trunk, the installers had drilled right through the floor of the trunk, and into the gas tank when they were putting in the radio. Only two of their four bolts actually went through to the gas tank, leaving two open holes to suck in dust and dirt. As long as you were slowly patrolling around town with little demand on the fuel system, all was well; but as soon as you stuck your foot on the gas, the fuel pump started sucking fuel, with all that dust and dirt that came in through the holes plugging up the sending unit! Thus, the result acted almost like vapor lock! The engine would stop, and could not restart until the pressure was equalized in the fuel lines.

I think the Ford Motor Company sent a bill to General Electric for finding their install error!

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