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Postal Vehicle Information
Flex Fuel Vehicles - FFVs (Originally named Carrier Route Vehicles - CRVs)
Door Latch Problem

A management team recently descended on a Dallas-area post office to perform a security check on postal vehicles. (We say "descended" because the team included "Mad Dog" Chuck of Route Check Nightmare fame.) The team found five vehicles that were "unsecured" and referred the vehicle numbers to the station manager for employee discipline. Several carriers insisted that their vehicles were locked. Upon examination it was revealed that a firm push to the door latch will open the door even when locked. (To perform this yourself, stand to the front of the latch and give the latch a firm push/jab at the top with the palm of your hand. This technique was successful in opening the locked doors of a number of FFVs at this Dallas Post office.)
Fuse Box Overloaded?

Received from a VMF technician:

"I was sent out on a call the carrier called in to tell the supervisor the fuse box was smoking. It was a clear warm day and by the time I arrived in the wrecker a small fire had started in the fuse box. As a VMF Tech I have seen botched repairs, both by the contractors and by in house techs, if that's what you want to call them. I have been told by my supervisor that I'm worried about nothing and the odds of that happening are low. When are the people in safety going to wake up and get a person who understands electricity to convince management that you cannot overload the boxes with super flashers, strobes, DRLS, etc. The vehicles are not designed for all these additions!"
LLV Fire Problem?
PostalMag.com first received the below photo in about 2001. At the time, we thought the photo depicted an isolated accident. Since then, however, we have many reports of other LLVs that have burned in similar fashion. One letter carrier reported that he was "just driving down the street when his engine suddenly caught fire and burned the entire front of his LLV." (Contact us if you have related information.)

PHOTOS: A letter carrier submitted these photos to PostalMag.com of an LLV fire on December 11th, 2010. (Click photos to enlarge.)


"I just wanted to add in my 2 cents on this topic. I own a 1994 fuel injected LLV that used to be owned by a city. Fortunately I have NOT experienced a fire, but I've recently had an issue that could EASILY start one! There is a fuel line that runs fuel vapors from the gas tank to a charcoal vapor canister, when then runs through a valve to the throttle body. The canister is mounted to the left of the radiator underneath the left headlight.

One day after driving my truck, I found fuel leaking out around the left front bumper near the wheel. Even if the truck hadn't been driven, it would leak just from the change in air temperature! I first replaced the valve between the throttle body & vapor canister and also the gas cap, but that didn't fix it. The rubber fuel line from the hard line from the tank to the canister was old, so I replaced that. After replacing rubber line, I left the front panel of to see if I could see any leaking. I ran it and everything was fin, UNTIL I turned off my truck, which then fuel began spewing out the air tube (fresh air inlet) on the vapor canister. I had suspected the canister was the issue, but had been having issues finding a replacement. I found one (Standard Motor Products #CP1022 Vapor Canister). Seeing as it was the original canister, my guess is it had gotten clogged. I replaced it and so far so good......

Whether or not these issues might have occurred on the vehicles that encountered fires, the canister and rubber lines to/from it should definitely be checked or replaced if necessary!" - Andy, Seattle, WA

"I have seen several LLV's that have caught fire. As a VMF tech I have seen fuel lines that were cracked as shown on your web site, this looks like the major cause. One other potential problem is the windshield washer hoses falling off or breaking. These hoses run along the cowl in the engine compartment, and can be accidentally removed or broken, windshield washer fluid contains alcohol which is highly flammable, especially winter blends.

Yes the fuses do get hot and melt due to corrosion, but this usually just causes the plastic to melt, and would be easy to spot before the truck was engulfed, also this would not likely spread to the engine compartment from the passenger compartment.

Another cause may be that fine paper dust collects at the bottom of the steering column, on the park/neutral switch. This stuff looks like dryer lint, all it would take is an arc from the switch to start it." - Thank you, George Leszczuk, Newark, NJ, VMF

"As a VMF tech I agree that the fuel filter O-rings can leak and should always be replaced with the filter. Some of our so-called "techs" are lazy and don't do it. The fuel lines on the left side also need inspection/replacement. As far as the fuse panel goes, I have replaced many melted panels and the wire gauge is too small for the load, especially when strobes are used almost constantly as they are here in south Florida. Many trucks have windshield leaks. I have also made numerous complaints to management and have been ignored." - VMF Tech

"Look at the photo again... Did'ja notice the fender is missing on the left side? How about leaking fuel filter "O" rings from a fuel filter being replaced and leaking directly onto an exhaust manifold? Bet if you went into the history you would find a fuel filter being replaced awhile ago... Did the carrier complain of a fuel smell? May or may not..." - Bruce

"The only fire at my VMF was when the starter main positive rubbed against the upper control arm threads, grounding out the cable. Any questions email me at ktmjack35@hotmail.com."

"A follow-up (below) from the rural carrier in Vermont. We now have 4 more LLVs at this office sent to us from city routes. I drive an LLV that has a problem with a leaky windshield over the fuse panel. This has led to corroded fuses, and overheating and blown fuses at times as well as circuits continuing to be activated when shut off, such as flashers. The remedy for this was not to seal the windshield but to install a custom made box over the fuse panel. This has led to a high humidity problem inside the closed box with more overheated and blown fuses. Replacing the fuses works for a few weeks though there is no remedy for the corroded connections in the fuse panel. These poor connections lead to high electrical loads at the fuse panel and more overheating and blown fuses. On rainy days the overheated fuse panel steams for a few minutes at a time several times a day, and the familiar scent of heated plastic wiring is obvious. I just hope I am able to park and exit the vehicle in a timely manner if this problem results in a meltdown as shown in your picture."

"I work at a rural office in Vermont. This summer during a hot spell all three LLVs in the office had electrical system failures, requiring replacement of alternators and batteries. The engine compartments do get very hot as observed when checking the oil and transmission fluid levels. The vehicles are serviced regularly and yet use oil and transmission fluid, several quarts of each between regular changes. These vehicles are used for delivery from box to box and park and loop routes. The rural carrier contract carries a commitment to increase the number of postal owned or leased vehicles available for rural route use over the next five years and depending on the type of vehicle provided we may see an increase in this problem." - EP

"I work at a VMF in a major city. My experience is that the ignition switch is causing the fires. That was supposed to have been fixed several years ago, but some are still catching on fire. They get very hot during the day when they are driven non-stop several hours at a time. The LLVs are mainly made out of aluminum, and aluminum melts very easily. That's why they all appear to be melted in the front when the engine catches on fire. It's like driving an aluminum soda can." - D

"No, these are not isolated cases. South Florida has had burned vehicles also. Electrical problems are the root of the cause - caused by factors ranging from water leaks, aging  wiring harnesses, faulty original wiring design, and outsourcing LLV maintenance to lowest bid type quality. Management is certainly aware of the problems. Their comments would be interesting." - JV

"They catch fire because they have a Ford engine." - Ryan

From a USPS Auto Mechanic:

"This could be the reason for the LLV fire. The hose seems fine until you remove it and closely examine it. Some of these hoses are 20 years old. It is located on the left side where the fire seems to be the hottest and maybe started. These hoses are 2" away from the exhaust manifold."

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Mail Truck Catches Fire

Letter carrier returned to his vehicle and found it on fire. The fire destroyed all the mail inside the truck, but no one was hurt.


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