Piston Slap: Upgrading The Fleet?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Anonymous writes:

I have a question about fleet replacements. Currently, we have a vehicle fleet that includes:

  • 2010 Ford Explorer, 103k miles
  • 2006 Ford Crown Vic, 78k miles
  • 2006 Buick Lucerne, 82k miles
  • 2005 Chevy Impala, 76k miles
  • 2014 Ford Explorer, 40k miles
  • 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan, 65k miles
  • 2008 – Ford Crown Vic, 70k miles
  • 2011 Chevy Impala, 18k miles
  • 2014 Jeep Patriot, 28k miles
  • 2014 Jeep Patriot, 18k miles
  • 2014 Jeep Patriot, 23k miles
  • 2011 Chevy Impala, 46k miles
  • 2007 Dodge Caravan, 123k miles
  • 2012 Chevy Impala, 24k miles
  • 2012 Chevy Impala, 22k miles

Our budget only allows to replace nine vehicles with a 2014 equivalent version of each.

What would you decide to keep and replace? What guidelines would you consider?

Personally, I believe that Bluetooth should be a required feature now on all cars especially ones that have employees driving them. I want to use it as the first requirement and then move on to mileage and year — but what say you? What criteria would you use to decide order of replacement?

Sajeev answers:

Son, let’s first address the perimeter-framed elephant in the room.

I’m dumbfounded at your lack of Panther Love: sell the riff-raff to get seven more 2011 Crown Vics!

Seriously though, Bluetooth isn’t tough to add. New units are cheap and older stereos with CD-changer inputs are covered. Let’s stick with the mechanical/electrical bits that keep a fleet running, earning their masters that sweet, sweet federal green.

Assuming you’re a stereotypical fleet owner that partakes in religious vehicle maintenance, here’s my take:

  • 2010 Ford Explorer, SELL: Do you need a body-on-frame truck? Sell, especially before gas prices go up.
  • 2006 Ford Crown Vic, KEEP: Put this in a museum, preserving its instant classic status.
  • 2006 Buick Lucerne, SELL: Sell immediately if it’s a Northstar, even if it’s the improved version. Sell it if it has a 3.8L. It’s no fleet-sweet W-body.
  • 2005 Chevy Impala, KEEP: Somewhat low miles, cheap, easy to keep running, and heavily depreciated. Keep it until it dies.
  • 2014 Ford Explorer, KEEP: Or sell? You’ll buy a lot of Panthers with the proceeds. Just kidding. Probably.
  • 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan, SELL: I’d keep it, but a newer Caravan with lower miles sounds appealing if this needs even modest repairs.
  • 2008 Ford Crown Vic, KEEP: Seriously, how is this even a question?
  • 2011 Chevy Impala, KEEP: Low-mile W-bodies are a balance sheet’s best friend.
  • 2014 Jeep Patriot, KEEP: Concerned about long-term durability of the CVT gearboxes, but it’s new and valuable.
  • 2014 Jeep Patriot, KEEP: But do you know how many Panthers you could buy?
  • 2014 Jeep Patriot, KEEP: Or how many W-bodies?!?!
  • 2011 Chevy Impala, KEEP: No need to sell a well-maintained W-body.
  • 2007 Dodge Caravan, SELL: At some point a newer one needs less work, but it’s cheap considering depreciation.
  • 2012 Chevy Impala, KEEP: Again, W-bodies are great fleet machines.
  • 2012 Chevy Impala, KEEP: See above comment about cheap Bluetooth upgrades.

Sorry, I can only (hypothetically) sell four from the fleet. Maybe you could unload more of the older units if your fleet exists in the rust belt … but never sell the Panthers.

What are your thoughts, Best and Brightest?

[Image: Shutterstock user Sergey Kelin]

Sajeev Mehta
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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on May 03, 2017

    I think in order to properly answer the question we really need to know the mission of the fleet. If the mission is simply longevity I would do something to this effect: Keep 3800 Lucerne Keep all 60V6 W-bodies. Keep one or both Panthers Keep 2010 Expy Keep one or both vans. Sell all Jeeps. Sell MY14 Expy. Why? -The keeper vehicles will not fetch as much as the Jeeps and new Expy. -The sell vehicles are not durable and I don't think they will fare well in long term fleet use. -The vans despite known Chrysler Kwality and transaxle issues are useful to move large or bulky cargo. The MY10 Explorer as well. Jeep Patriot cargo capacity is much less than these. -Ford supposedly exiled the Exploder out of Explorer by the final refresh. The current Explorer has been exploding in police use in my city. -I would probably only keep the better of the two Panthers, although if your climate permits perhaps keep both and drop the lesser of the Ws. -The Lucerne serves as the foreman/manager's car, and 3800 will grant believers eternal torque.

    • Gtem Gtem on May 03, 2017

      Sorry 28 but I think that's the most ass-backwards way of looking at it. Reselling anything newer because you'll get more money for it is highly flawed logic: the resale on any one of those Patriots will not buy you anything equally new/low miles in return. The 2010 Explorer with 103k miles is a liability IMO, given the litany of things that likes to break on them with regularity. Caravans are the definition of disposable vehicles that need to be used up while under warranty then discarded as soon as possible. Regardless of reputations for ruggedness and reliability dal is right, higher miles and age will always catch up to you in terms of maintenance cost, downtime for repairs and such. I'd stick everyone in firesale Prius Cs for the rock bottom TCO and excellent reliability, but I'm not THAT mean, and OP never specified what the vehicles are used for. Perhaps a few Prius Vs for cargo hauling (67cu ft), 2 new AVP Caravans, and the balance in whatever midsize gas 4cyl sedan is cheapest. There's also something to be said for a consolidated manufacturer/drivetrain, in which case a Prii and Camry Hybrid fleet would make some sense.

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