K-9 vehicles have a number of special needs, but one involves life and death. We’ve all heard of instances where a K-9 Officer’s vehicle has been left idling, it overheated, the engine cut off, and/or the air conditioning quit working, and the K-9 Officer’s Partner died.
We have also heard of–or experienced–days so hot that, with the engine idling, the temperature rises so high under the hood that the air conditioning just blows hot air into the vehicle—and our K-9 Partner suffers severely.
Over recent years, this situation has gone from bad to worse. This is for two reasons. First of all, today’s engines operate typically 30° hotter than two decades ago, 210° versus 180°. And the problem is getting worse rather than better as emissions standards get more stringent–higher engine temperatures burn off more pollutants. Those higher operating temperatures mean that under-hood temperatures–where the heart of the K-9 vehicle’s air conditioning system resides–are also up at least by that amount, further raising the temperatures of the A/C compressor and A/C lines, straining and reducing the efficiency of the air conditioning system. Also, the heat from the engine compartment radiates into the interior of the vehicle making it hotter inside which, in tern, means the A/C needs to work even harder!
The second reason heat is becoming a greater problem is that–for whatever reason–our climate is definitely getting hotter in the summer, and this trend could also continue.
These two patterns–both heading in the same direction–should be real concerns for a K-9 Officer, because the health–no, the very life–of his K-9 Partner is at stake. Humans can tolerate high temperatures, but K-9s can’t.
Enter patented RunCool Hood Louvers. These are shaped aluminum panels with formed louvered openings so the heat in the engine compartment escapes. Inside the engine compartment, it is, literally, as hot as an oven. Hot air rises; if you cut the top off of an oven, the heat escapes. That’s what happens when hood louvers are installed on a K-9 vehicle hood. This is assisted by the engine’s cooling fan, which blows air across the engine and out through the louvered openings. By discharging the hot air, which, without the Hood Louvers was bottled up under the hood, more cool air can come in through the radiator, to lower under-hood temperatures. On a summer day, the escaping air is so hot, you can’t hold your hand over the louvers for more than a second without getting a severe burn!
The Pelion, S.C. Police Department had their Fire Department test RunCool Hood Louvers, using sophisticated infrared heat monitors, and were overwhelmed with the results. Police Chief Chris Garner’s report? “PHENOMENAL…a 47° drop in underhood temp!!!” The Chief ordered RunCool Louvers for all his vehicles.
The good news for K-9 Officers is if the air conditioner compressor and lines are running 47° cooler, that means the air conditioning system in the vehicle can produce cooler temperatures and for longer periods. In this regard, a RunCool Hood Louver owner wrote in from one of the hottest places in the world — the United Arab Emirates. He said: “Ambient temperature is 117° on average these days, and having a black Tahoe is a death wish. The A/C has never been so cool, even after idling in the sun for an hour.”
The Law Enforcement Division of RunCool Hood Louvers started operating with the U.S. Border Patrol. The Border Patrol station in El Centro, California is the center of the hottest part of the Mojave Desert, where temperatures can exceed 140° in the sun in the summer. The USBP has K-9 units using these hood louvers, and they also help keep USBP Agents cool while they are on duty in their vehicles in the middle of the hot, dry desert.
Bruce Rucker, Fleet Manager for the U.S. Border Patrol at the El Centro Station, found out about these and started using them on some of his vehicles. “[In this] kind of heat, our Border Patrol Agents, and especially our K-9 units, must have air conditioning operating in the vehicles. That drives up the operating temperatures of engines beyond the point of what automakers envisioned for them. We found RunCool and purchased some of the louvers and installed them on some of our vehicles”, Rucker said, “and they made a big difference.”
Through the USBP testing and use in the desert, RunCool developed enlarged louvered panels and precision formed more louvered openings in each panel to come up with the Size Large, Hi-Flow™ model, and this is now their “standard issue, USBP-spec model” for law enforcement vehicles. This size has also become popular with a number of city and county K-9 units, on Crown Victorias, Chargers, Impalas, Tahoes, Expeditions, Explorers, Durangos and pick-up trucks. The louvered aluminum panels measure 11” x 17” each (two panels are affixed per vehicle), and these feature 19 louvered openings per panel, for a total of 38.
K-9 Officer Chad Robinson, with the Bureau of Land Management in Arizona, says: “The Run Cool Hood Louvers make the critical difference! Here in the Arizona heat, you have to keep the engine cool if you are going to keep the A/C cool, and you have to keep the A/C cool if you are going to keep the dog cool! These do the job! I liked the Run Cool Hood louvers I put on our 2007 Tahoe, and now I’m putting a set on our 2010 Tahoe.”
Even up north in Pennsylvania, the hood louvers are sought out and prove themselves. K-9 Officer Jeff Wijnen-Riems, of the Beaver Area, Penn. Police Department, reports: “About a year ago we put the RunCool Hood Louvers on all our Chargers. We like them because they keep the engine temperature noticeably cooler–by about 17 degrees. They really do the job! We just put them on my K-9 Tahoe, and its engine, too, is now running about 17 degrees cooler. I keep it running non-stop, 6 – 7 hours a day, and we really need to keep it cool!”
K-9 Officer Matt Grubb of the Ross, Penn. Police Department reports: “My lieutenant recently told me: ‘It kills me to cut holes in the hoods of our vehicles, but if these Hood Louvers work that well for you, go ahead!’ It is said that Ford doesn’t recommend opening the hood of a Crown Vic when idling, as that reduces the flow of cool air that is brought in through the radiator (which can cause the engine to overheat). We’ve noticed with hood louvers, and the hood closed, the flow of air through the radiator increases because it can escape from under the hood through and out of the hood louvers, which lets the engine run cooler.
“We have also found that, without hood louvers, the heat can keep building up under the hood to the point where the A/C will only blow out hot air. If you open the hood–or, in our case, install hood louvers–the heat can escape from under the hood, so the A/C keeps blowing cool air. In fact, we have noticed that the temperature of the air coming out of the A/C vents is noticeably cooler with the hood louvers. Everywhere we go, people ask us about them. We tell these people, ‘Hold your hand over these vents and feel how hot the air is coming out.’ They are always amazed!”
Officer Tommy Nicholson of the Pittsylvania County, Va. Sheriff’s Office also reports: “The hood louvers make a noticeable difference–they really get the heat out. We are just adding another K-9 vehicle, an I asked the other K-9 Officers who have used your hood louvers for the past two years if we should get hood louvers for the new car, and they said: ‘Definitely!’”
Equipment Coordinator Randy Bills of the City of Naples, Fla. Police reports: “South Florida gets very hot during the summer and stays that way for most of the year. Keeping our K-9 Partners healthy and safe is very important to us. We have used hood louvers since 2002. We just swapped out our old 2002 CVPI vehicle with close to 8,000 hours of city driving and idle time on the original engine. When we participate in joint agency training exercises we are the only ones to have our hoods closed. We found that hood louvers keep our vehicles running cooler by dissipating idle heat like no other method we have found.”
Officer Mikell Jones of the Aston Township, Penn. Police Department finds: “As a K-9 Officer in southeastern Pennsylvania, the weather can get pretty crazy, and the car is always left on. I can already tell a big difference in the vehicle, especially when the A/C is cranking. While sitting at an intersection one day, I could see the heat vapors pouring out from the hood louvers. I would recommend this for all police cars. They are awesome–and easy to install.
“Unfortunately, I have seen a K-9 car overheat and nearly catch on fire. If the handler did not check on the vehicle (with the dog in the car) when he did, his partner would not be here today. I am sure that kind of problem would have never happened with these hood louvers. These are a must have for all K-9 vehicles. I don’t know why all police cars don’t have them.”
Managers of Fleet Maintenance Shops will be pleased to know the lower underhood temperatures extend component life. For example, Consumer Reports magazine observed (Oct. 2006), “Chilling cold isn’t the hardest environment for batteries; hot temperatures actually cause more damage…heat saps more life over time…increased underhood temperatures in hot weather is especially taxing.” Similarly, the Car Care Council reports: “Rubber hoses can become hard and brittle, deteriorating with age and exposure to heat…Belts also break down with heat.”
Two questions–and the answers–sometimes arise:
(1) Q. What about their use in the winter?
A. Lower temperatures under the hood are a benefit year-round – extending the life of critical, sensitive components located there, including rubber hoses, belts and the battery. Heat is an enemy all year! Cooler always is better.
(2) Q. What about rain or snow entering the vents?
A. Not a problem. The only water-sensitive component under the hood is the alternator, and that is on the front of the engine, located far forward of the hood louvers. Think about it – many shops regularly wash down their engines to keep them clean – using 1200 p.s.i. pressure washers!
The best testimony for RunCool Hood Louvers is that the biggest source of new Law Enforcement orders is from Police Departments and Sheriff’s Offices that started using them a few years ago. Now they are adding new vehicles to their fleets – and calling up and ordering more hood louvers. For example, Chief Don Madger of the Beaver, Penn. Police just called in the Spring when it started getting warm and said, “We’ve been successfully using them on our Chargers, and they really let the heat out! Now we’re adding a Tahoe as a K-9 vehicle, and we need a set for it.”
The hood louvers discussed here are professional grade, made in the U.S.A. of formed aluminum, which is as thick as the sheet metal of the vehicle. They are available in powder-coated white or black, to match most law enforcement vehicles. The correct-size drill bit and pop rivets (which are supplied painted in the color of the hood louvers), are included. These panels blend right in with the rest of the hood, so they are hardly noticeable. Self-explanatory installation instructions are included. Most departments install them in their own shop, but some go outside (i.e., one K-9 unit in California has a local tire retailer install them). “The installation was straight forward,” said Edgar Jaime, El Centro, California, Border Patrol Shop Manager. “We followed the instructions, and after we installed the first set, the technicians had no difficulties. The hood louvers are affixed with pop rivets, which are provided with the hood louvers. The riveted-in panels are quite secure.”
With engines operating at 30° higher than two decades ago, and with summers getting noticeably hotter, hood louvers are beneficial for all vehicles – - and, especially, for K-9 Partners – - in communities where summertime temperatures regularly get into the 80s and beyond. And if a unit’s patrol area includes mountainous terrain, they are practically required for climbing long or steep hills – especially in warm weather.
They are successfully in service on all kinds of law enforcement vehicles and a whole host of other vehicles from giant gravel-hauling quarry trucks to racing boats. Anytime and anywhere an internal combustion engine gets hot, the vehicle – -and its users – - can benefit by lowering those under-hood operating temperatures! And that includes, in particular, K-9 Officers and their K-9 Partners!
For more information, call RunCool at (804) 355-1758.
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