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2016-2018 police suv interceptor general questions


ChrisBayfire

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Hey I'm new to the forum but noticed this place is update pretty regularly so I thought I'd give this a shot.

I'm looking at buying a 2016 Explorer Interceptor and have read all the dealer information brochures about the differences between the police explorer and the retail Explorer and I'm convinced it would be a good buy as a project car (I like the police calibrated transmission and other upgrades, alternator, rear impact ratings, beefed up control arms, sports suspension, larger oil cooler, etc) but haven't taken one for a test drive.

A few questions for anyone that can weigh in :

1. Is the center infotainment system compatible with a retail Explorer? For example can I install a Phoenix display (
) screen with the interceptor wiring harnesses?
2. Has anyone towed anything substantial with the interceptor? If I wanted to tow a large (say 4000 lb) boat with it would the transmission downshift constantly because its police calibrated? Say if I'm towing uphill?
3. This is not a specific question but I want to know what kind of reliability issues people have had with the interceptors? I've looked at about 8 at a local retail car auction and have seen really good ones and ones that were beat to sh*t, but am trying to see if theres some recurring mechanical issues that may be consistent between vehicles.

If these questions are too vague let me know what you need to help answer them, but otherwise I'm looking to see what people think of the used cop explorers (2016-2019).

The car auction that I usually go to is closed because of coronavirus but I'm hoping that in the next few weeks it will open and have at least 8 to 12 police SUVs that I can look at and hopefully pick one up.

In the meantime any help is appreciated.

- Chris
 


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peterk9

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Welcome to the Forum Chris. :wave:
I don't know if the PIU comes with the factory towing package. If not, and you have to add a hitch, the limit will be 2500 lbs.
Also, it looks likes an addition wiring harness is required.

Peter
 




bmrrwolfe

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Hey I'm new to the forum but noticed this place is update pretty regularly so I thought I'd give this a shot.

I'm looking at buying a 2016 Explorer Interceptor and have read all the dealer information brochures about the differences between the police explorer and the retail Explorer and I'm convinced it would be a good buy as a project car (I like the police calibrated transmission and other upgrades, alternator, rear impact ratings, beefed up control arms, sports suspension, larger oil cooler, etc) but haven't taken one for a test drive.

A few questions for anyone that can weigh in :

1. Is the center infotainment system compatible with a retail Explorer? For example can I install a Phoenix display (
) screen with the interceptor wiring harnesses?
2. Has anyone towed anything substantial with the interceptor? If I wanted to tow a large (say 4000 lb) boat with it would the transmission downshift constantly because its police calibrated? Say if I'm towing uphill?
3. This is not a specific question but I want to know what kind of reliability issues people have had with the interceptors? I've looked at about 8 at a local retail car auction and have seen really good ones and ones that were beat to sh*t, but am trying to see if theres some recurring mechanical issues that may be consistent between vehicles.

If these questions are too vague let me know what you need to help answer them, but otherwise I'm looking to see what people think of the used cop explorers (2016-2019).

The car auction that I usually go to is closed because of coronavirus but I'm hoping that in the next few weeks it will open and have at least 8 to 12 police SUVs that I can look at and hopefully pick one up.

In the meantime any help is appreciated.

- Chris

Welcome! I was in the same boat, on a strict budget and I really like the 3.7 power the added HD features. I picked up a 2018 PIU that only had 33k on it for cheap, unfortunately it was previously wrecked and the repair job was not the greatest, but still a good deal to me. One big regret is that the PIU I got does not have the SYNC system, so I can not find any way to replace the factory unit without a big headache (If you find a PIU with Sync, its the same 4.2" system that comes in the civilian units and can be upgrades to a factory 8" or an aftermarket unit the Phoenix listed)

In regards to towing its "rated" to 2500 lbs, which seems way to low for it. I had an old 99 Jeep Cherokee and an 05 Jeep Liberty that were both rated to 5K, that didn't the power, wheelbase, weight or brakes that the Explorer has, and even my current Wrangler is rated to 3500 lbs.. So if you install a factory Class III hitch I am not sure why they rate it so low.
 




ChrisBayfire

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@peterk9 - Thanks for the installation video - and as far as I've seen on all the PIU's in Southern Ontario, they all have a class III hitch, larger oil cooler and both 4 pin and 7 pin trailer connectors - which means I should be able to tow up to 5000 lbs with them. This is according to the same specs as the retail Explorer that is equipped with the Class III towing package (the package only includes a frame mounted hitch, 2 connector types, and a larger oil cooler - as far as I've read)

My original question about towing was more about how the transmission reacts to larger loads - because I've read that the cop calibrated tranny will quickly downshift with little throttle pressure. Probably not a deal breaker for me but good to know anyway.

@bmrrwolfe - Thanks for the Sync connection info - didn't know that. And ya, not worried about towing, these things are built extremely tough, especially with the PIU reinforced rear welded cross members for rear impacts.

Questions for Bmrrwolfe - as I've yet to test drive one:
1. How do you rate the road noise and handling? anything outlandish about how it handles or sounds?
2. How can you tell the difference between a civilian "Sync" infotainment system and the stock PIU one? I'd obviously like to get one with the Sync wiring harnesses, but again, if the price is right at the car auction I go to then I won't hesitate to pick one up.
3. Are there any issues or things you'd wish you knew about before buying it that would be good to know?

Thanks!
 




bmrrwolfe

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@peterk9 - Thanks for the installation video - and as far as I've seen on all the PIU's in Southern Ontario, they all have a class III hitch, larger oil cooler and both 4 pin and 7 pin trailer connectors - which means I should be able to tow up to 5000 lbs with them. This is according to the same specs as the retail Explorer that is equipped with the Class III towing package (the package only includes a frame mounted hitch, 2 connector types, and a larger oil cooler - as far as I've read)

My original question about towing was more about how the transmission reacts to larger loads - because I've read that the cop calibrated tranny will quickly downshift with little throttle pressure. Probably not a deal breaker for me but good to know anyway.

@bmrrwolfe - Thanks for the Sync connection info - didn't know that. And ya, not worried about towing, these things are built extremely tough, especially with the PIU reinforced rear welded cross members for rear impacts.

Questions for Bmrrwolfe - as I've yet to test drive one:
1. How do you rate the road noise and handling? anything outlandish about how it handles or sounds?
2. How can you tell the difference between a civilian "Sync" infotainment system and the stock PIU one? I'd obviously like to get one with the Sync wiring harnesses, but again, if the price is right at the car auction I go to then I won't hesitate to pick one up.
3. Are there any issues or things you'd wish you knew about before buying it that would be good to know?

Thanks!

I have only put a few hundred miles on my PIU so far, and currently have the interior half apart (swapped in a civilian console, just need to figure out the wiring, and swapped the second row and added a third row) I normally drive a 2018 Wrangler 4 Dr so this drives smoother to me, corners pretty well and feels stable for a larger SUV. It pretty quick, and does have a decent exhaust note which is a little louder then I expected (guessing less insulation) but not too loud that its annoying. The transmission does want to downshift quicker, and hold gear longer, but you get use to it, and learn the pedal. Going 75-80 on the highway it sits at a higher RPM then I expected (again I am used to an 8 speed in the Jeep so could just be that) and not the most fuel efficient about 22-23 MPG on the freeway.
My biggest issues: Sync, if you get one without, from what I can tell, you can not add it so your limited to AM/FM/CD. This also seems to not allow for an kind of easy head-unit swap. I am use to Sirius and Apple/Andriod Auto in my Jeep and hate not having it.
Most do not have rear HVAC (you can tell by the dash not having rear controls) this results in no functioning vents in the rear, luckily mine is white so I hope its going to be OK for the kids back there on hot summer days.
Other nit picking things like the headliner has a cut out section where they had the AUX light removed, no auto headlights (have already swapped out the switch and added the sunload, just need to enable in FORSCAN) Has an old style key with a 90's looking key-fob, which I would love to update to what the civilian style uses and push button start, rear door panels cover up the speakers so sound is lacking.

Not sure if this is specific to all PIUs or just an issue with mine, but it does not coast well. It seems as soon as you let off the gas it wants to slow down pretty quick.
 




Livernois

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I've not had any experience with the stereo systems on them to have much input there. Usually needs a wiring harness adapter as Peter had mentioned. The reliability / longevity factor from what I've seen is on par with the usual Explorers , so the lower mileage the better as with all cars typically.

We've had a great deal of customers with the Explorer PIU's that purchase our tuner to help further improve performance and dial in the transmission as well. We offer tuning for the 3.5L / 3.7L N/A Explorer , PIU, and also the Ecoboost models also. Custom tuning allows us to improve the transmission's performance by modifying shift points, firmness, torque management decreased, improved throttle response, dyno proven air fuel adjustments, etc. So we can tune the PIU to make it behave more similarly to the standard explorers and also towing specific tunes for guys with the trailer tow package as well. Feel free to give us a shout if there's anything we can help you with and good luck with the new vehicle!
 




ChrisBayfire

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Thanks guys, really appreciate the info. Because everything is shut down because of the virus the next auto auction I'm heading to is on May 30th. I'm hoping because they haven't had a cop auction in about 8 weeks there will be a good selection of PIUS available. I plan on test driving a few next week to get a feel for it but if the price is right I'll be picking one up soon. Then it'll be right into stripping things out and putting in new stuff (head unit, seats, center console, etc.) I figure between buying a cop SUV and doing a lot of work myself I can save about 10 grand so the work is worth it. It'll be a 2016 or 2017. Those have the trim refresh and are new enough that putting in upgrades will be worth it.
 




peterk9

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Chris, the 2500 lb towing capacity is for an aftermarket installed tow hitch. If yours has the factory package than I believe 5000 lbs would probably apply.
As for the transmission concern, the tow/haul feature helps with that. The tow/haul mode reduces shift cycles. It can also boost torque and engage an engine braking mode to help maintain control while driving up and down hills. Basically, the tow/haul mode changes shift points to higher RPM limits.
There is also a trailer sway control. The system applies the brakes to the individual wheels and reduces engine torque to aid vehicle stability. If the trailer begins to sway, the stability control warning lamp flashes and a message appears in the information display. The retail Explorer with the tow package also has a different transmission.

Peter
 




ChrisBayfire

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Feel free to give us a shout if there's anything we can help you with and good luck with the new vehicle!

Hey, I have a 2016 PIU that I would put an offer on but the dealer couldn't tell me if the head unit was SYNC enabled. I looked through all the settings I could find in the head unit and on the speedo cluster, but couldn't find anything that even mentioned SYNC, let alone what version it might have.

Question - is there a definitive way to find out if a 2016-2018 explorer PIU has SYNC enabled? I don't want to buy one only to find out I can't replace it.

At the moment this is the only thing holding me back from buying the interceptor - because, as mentioned I'd like to put a Phoenix aftermarket head unit into it.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
 




peterk9

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Livernois

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Hey, I have a 2016 PIU that I would put an offer on but the dealer couldn't tell me if the head unit was SYNC enabled. I looked through all the settings I could find in the head unit and on the speedo cluster, but couldn't find anything that even mentioned SYNC, let alone what version it might have.

Question - is there a definitive way to find out if a 2016-2018 explorer PIU has SYNC enabled? I don't want to buy one only to find out I can't replace it.

At the moment this is the only thing holding me back from buying the interceptor - because, as mentioned I'd like to put a Phoenix aftermarket head unit into it.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
Our custom tuning is usually geared towards the engine and transmission areas of the vehicle. Not sure if we'd be able to tell from your stock cal read of the engine and trans anything specific to the Sync unfortunately. You could always check out that link Peterk9 posted or also check with a shop that specializes in car audio since they probably have more knowledge specific to that area.
 




ChrisBayfire

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Thanks for the links guys. I looked through the website but it doesn't say anything about PIUS. Then I though there would be some details in the owners manual but after reading through the entire 'sync" section there is nothing that outlines when or if SYNC is included in the PIUS, just a header on each page that says, (if sync is included).

I still have 2 options
There is a number to call in Canada about general sync info
And
If sync is included you can press the "phone" icon or the "media" icon on the head unit to see if it exists.

Going to keep digging because I found one that I will buy if sync is included. If not, no deal.
 




bill32399

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For the guys who say you cant Add SYNC to a PIU that does not have it, You can. Its a bit of wiring but it's pretty straight forward. I have done this and it's 100% doable.
 




bmrrwolfe

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For the guys who say you cant Add SYNC to a PIU that does not have it, You can. Its a bit of wiring but it's pretty straight forward. I have done this and it's 100% doable.

Any chance you had some more details on how you were able to get it working?
It seems everyone is pointing towards it can't be done without major work including a full new dash harness, and a license from Microsoft/Ford which is tied to the VIN. Also I noticed your signature shows you have 2015 PIU, if I am not mistaken they changed the system for the 2016-19 models.
 




peterk9

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Thanks for the links guys. I looked through the website but it doesn't say anything about PIUS. Then I though there would be some details in the owners manual but after reading through the entire 'sync" section there is nothing that outlines when or if SYNC is included in the PIUS, just a header on each page that says, (if sync is included).

I still have 2 options
There is a number to call in Canada about general sync info
And
If sync is included you can press the "phone" icon or the "media" icon on the head unit to see if it exists.

Going to keep digging because I found one that I will buy if sync is included. If not, no deal.
Shouldn't you be able to see if you have Sync by trying some of those features/items that the Manual shows as "If Sync is included"?
Hey Chris. The ManuaI has a telephone number for the Customer Relations Centre in Oakville 1-800-565-3673 (FORD) They can also be contacted via Twitter @FordServiceCA (English Canada). This info is on page 163 of the Manual (3rd print). Whether or not they can provide you with the info or direct you to the people who can help, is another thing.
This is the info the Ford IVT rep always had on her post when she was here. They may be able to help.
FORD IN-VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY TEAM
p:
800.392.FORD (Prompts 1 then 3)
t: @FordService @Ford
f: facebook.com/FordExplorer facebook.com/Ford

Peter
 




bill32399

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Shouldn't you be able to see if you have Sync by trying some of those features/items that the Manual shows as "If Sync is included"?
Hey Chris. The ManuaI has a telephone number for the Customer Relations Centre in Oakville 1-800-565-3673 (FORD) They can also be contacted via Twitter @FordServiceCA (English Canada). This info is on page 163 of the Manual (3rd print). Whether or not they can provide you with the info or direct you to the people who can help, is another thing.
This is the info the Ford IVT rep always had on her post when she was here. They may be able to help.
FORD IN-VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY TEAM
p:
800.392.FORD (Prompts 1 then 3)
t: @FordService @Ford
f: facebook.com/FordExplorer facebook.com/Ford

Peter

Easiest way to tell you have SYNC is the phone button on the steering wheel. The non SYNC units don't have it.
 




bill32399

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Any chance you had some more details on how you were able to get it working?
It seems everyone is pointing towards it can't be done without major work including a full new dash harness, and a license from Microsoft/Ford which is tied to the VIN. Also I noticed your signature shows you have 2015 PIU, if I am not mistaken they changed the system for the 2016-19 models.

I do have a 2015 PIU and no they did not change the wiring. I actually put the APIM and ACU from a 2016 in mine.

The plug for the APIM to get SYNC is pretty simple. The 6 most important wires outside of power are the 3 CANBUS's. HSCAN, MSCAN and ICAN. These are what it needs to communicate with everything. ICAN & MSCAN is already there in the small 4" harness. HSCAN needs to be added unless I have that backwards. They can be pinned to the plugs right below the keyhole behind the dash.

Next if you want you can run the Sat wires between the ACU and APIM which is pretty easy. You will also need to run the wires from the USB/SD card hub to the APIM which is also pretty simple. I also choose to add the Center channel speaker which ran straight down to the ACU.

There is a bunch of wiring involved and it can be rather intimidating which is why most people will say it's impossible.

There is no licensing involved and the APIM pulls the VIN from the BCM so you don't have to do anything with that.

Edit: Forgot to add that you would want to replace the SWC to the SYNC ones on the right side. This will require Forscan to edit the SCCM values.
 




ChrisBayfire

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Perfect, thanks guys. When I checked out the 2016 PIU I pushed every button on the head unit to try and figure out if sync was enabled. I honestly can't remember if the phone icon button worked, but at the time I didn't know that that would let you know if sync was included, and nothing said SYNC anywhere in the head unit or speedo display, regardless of what buttons I tried. I'm pretty confident now that I will be able to replace the head unit.

Thanks to all that weighed in, this has been a big help.

Chris
 




bmrrwolfe

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I do have a 2015 PIU and no they did not change the wiring. I actually put the APIM and ACU from a 2016 in mine.

The plug for the APIM to get SYNC is pretty simple. The 6 most important wires outside of power are the 3 CANBUS's. HSCAN, MSCAN and ICAN. These are what it needs to communicate with everything. ICAN & MSCAN is already there in the small 4" harness. HSCAN needs to be added unless I have that backwards. They can be pinned to the plugs right below the keyhole behind the dash.

Next if you want you can run the Sat wires between the ACU and APIM which is pretty easy. You will also need to run the wires from the USB/SD card hub to the APIM which is also pretty simple. I also choose to add the Center channel speaker which ran straight down to the ACU.

There is a bunch of wiring involved and it can be rather intimidating which is why most people will say it's impossible.

There is no licensing involved and the APIM pulls the VIN from the BCM so you don't have to do anything with that.

Edit: Forgot to add that you would want to replace the SWC to the SYNC ones on the right side. This will require Forscan to edit the SCCM values.

Thanks for the reply, that really doesn't sound too bad. Any chance you had a wiring diagram, or color coding? Also would you have a pic of the plug below the keyhole that the wiring need to be pinned too?
When you say ACU, is that the Audio Control Module (I think I was looking at it as ACM, or is that something separate)
Did you end up swapping in an 8" screen or just another 4" with SYNC? My ultimate goal is to swap in the 8"
Other then changing the SCCM value for the SWC, is there any other Forscan programming needed?
 


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bill32399

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Thanks for the reply, that really doesn't sound too bad. Any chance you had a wiring diagram, or color coding? Also would you have a pic of the plug below the keyhole that the wiring need to be pinned too?
When you say ACU, is that the Audio Control Module (I think I was looking at it as ACM, or is that something separate)
Did you end up swapping in an 8" screen or just another 4" with SYNC? My ultimate goal is to swap in the 8"
Other then changing the SCCM value for the SWC, is there any other Forscan programming needed?

ACU=Audio Control Unit so yea the same as ACM.

I swapped the 4" w/o SYNC to and 8" SYNC w/Nav. I just looked at the wire diagrams and I stand corrected, the FCDIM connector #C2123 only has the ICAN bus in it. That means I had to add both the HS & MSCAN to the APIM plug #C2383. It's not hard just make sure you twist the wire pairs. The same power and ground wire is for both plugs.

I can get a pic of the connectors I pinned into if you want. If you look to the right of the steering column kind of behind the Key area you will see a White and Brown plug with wires going into only one side. Very important that if you take the plug top off you must put it back on as if you look inside you will see where this ties the wires all together. The White plug is HSCAN and the Brown in MSCAN.

I would recommend buying a Ford Wire Diagram Manual on Ebay if you going to do this. I can help you but this makes it a lot easier as if you look at mine it has Pencil written all over it. They are $30 at most. I also would find a U pull it place near by and cut all the plugs out with the most wire you can get attached to it. I was lucky to have 4 Explorers at the one near me. You will need the GPS module also if your going to do NAV. This was an easy 4 wire job to.

I'll get some pics when I get a chance as I am pretty busy till Thur. You want pics of just the plugs or the plugs in the Rig?
 




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