Police Interceptor engine designation a marketing tactic

by Jim KerrBackyard Mechanic . Jun 22 2018
FordFord sells a 2018 F-150 Police Responder pickup to law enforcement agencies.


Ford sells a 2018 F-150 Police Responder pickup to law enforcement agencies.

Question: The 2010 Ford F-150 4x4 truck I am purchasing says it has a 4.6 police interceptor engine, according to the seller and it says that on a factory sticker under the hood. Just what does this mean in a light-duty civilian truck? Are all 4.6 engines labelled this way?

— John

Answer: Police interceptor is a term used by Ford to designate a vehicle designed for police duty. Typically, the vehicle will have a larger engine with heavy-duty cooling, upgraded brakes and suspension components, increased capacity electrical system and an interior that features wide cloth-covered bucket seats with hardened shields built into the bucket seat backs. It may also have auxiliary lights.

However, the designation Police Interceptor engine when applied to vehicles sold to the public is more a marketing term, indicating the vehicle is equipped with a similar engine as the current-year police cars.

There may have been earlier versions, but I do remember working on antique 1958 Ford cars with the 332-cubic-inch engine that had Police Interceptor decals on the air cleaner and a chrome script on the passenger side dash indicating the same.

These certainly were not police cars, but had the same 332-cubic-inch engine.

For 2010, the police interceptor sedan was based on the Crown Victoria and power came from a single overhead cam 4.6-litre V-8 producing 250 horsepower. Your 2010 F-150 would be equipped with a similar 4.6 litre V-8 engine, but is rated at 248 horsepower. The difference in power ratings may be because of different exhaust systems or a less restrictive air intake on the police car, although the difference is minimal.

You can use the police interceptor label to make you feel good about your truck, but it only refers to the engine. The truck does not come with the other special police car features, although Ford is currently selling a 2018 F-150 Police Responder pickup to law enforcement agencies.

Question: My 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche has a 5.3-litre V-8, automatic transmission and 4x4. Recently there has been a loud ticking noise coming from the engine and it idles rough.

This only happens some of the time. Most of the time, it runs smooth. The check engine light has come on and a friend checked for codes and found an engine misfire code. Do you have any idea what could be wrong?


Answer: The engine in your Avalanche has Displacement on Demand (DOD), which is a marketing term for the ability to operate on only four cylinders or all eight cylinders.

I suspect the loud ticking sound is coming from the valve train of the DOD system.

When the engine operates on four cylinders, there are solenoids in a plate beneath the engine intake manifold that block off oil to the hydraulic lifters for four of the engine cylinders.

This allows the lifters to collapse and deactivate the valves on the four cylinders. If a lifter is collapsing when the engine should be in eight-cylinder mode, then the engine will idle rough and the valve train will make a ticking sound loud enough to be heard inside the truck.

Dirty oil may be affecting the lifter operation. Because your Avalanche is only acting up occasionally, it would be worth trying a couple of oil changes only a couple of thousand kilometres apart to see if this will help.

If the ticking still occurs, then the faulty lifter needs to be replaced. A scan tool can detect which cylinder is misfiring — so you can narrow the repair down to the faulty lifters. You could replace all the lifters, but this then becomes an expensive repair.