When it comes time to replace an ambulance you have two options: buy new or remount your existing body on a new chassis. The philosophy behind remounting an ambulance isn’t much different than remodeling an existing home. If the ambulance body still has “good bones” but the chassis has worn down, a remount might be the perfect option. It provides plenty of flexibility to keep certain features you like, upgrade to new technology (such as four-point restraints, LED lights or a new electrical system), and repair or replace certain components that are showing their age. A remount is also a great option for those concerned about sustainability, as it consumes fewer resources and produces less waste than a new build. With some coordination a remount can be updated and back in service in a shorter time than it takes to build a new ambulance. All while upgrading your fleet in a cost-effective manner.
Lifespan of an Ambulance
By their very nature, many ambulances operate in severe duty environments and endure a lot of abuse. It’s not uncommon for an ambulance operating in a major metropolitan area to be replaced every few years. They are often driven “gas to the floor, brake to the floor” to arrive at an emergency and transport the patient to the hospital as quickly as possible. In certain metropolitan areas, the engine is left running for a good part of the day. All of this can put a tremendous amount of stress on the vehicle, particularly the engine, chassis and suspension, leading to a shortened life of the vehicle.
On the other side of the spectrum, ambulances operating in more rural locations may not be used as often. It’s entirely possible the ambulance sees more parades than emergencies. In these situations, an ambulance could last around a decade before a replacement is necessary.
In either case, when it comes time for replacement, there are many benefits to remounting an existing ambulance, and some important factors to keep in mind.
An Ambulance Remount is Faster and More Cost-Effective
Although each remount is unique and depends on requested upgrades and their availability, as a general rule of thumb you should expect a remount to take about half as long to complete and can save 25% on average on the price vs buying new. At Life Line, we average about eight weeks for a full remount, although the timeline is dependent on the amount of work that is required for a specific project.
Not All Remounts Are the Same
You may have heard of bad experiences with an ambulance remount, because not all ambulances or ambulance manufacturers are created equal. At Life Line, we believe “Quality Saves Lives,” and that a well-built ambulance body allows EMS personnel to do their job better while protecting passengers in the event of an accident. This quality also means our ambulance bodies last longer and can be remounted multiple times. In fact, we have an entire department that specializes in reworking and mounting an existing body onto a new chassis. With every job, we replace the HVAC system, trim pieces, vinyl cushions, and more. We also media blast the paint back to bare metal, repair any issues, and repaint. Our comprehensive remount process focuses on the body, exterior compartments, interior, electrical system and paint, all of which are replaced, repaired or upgraded. Some Life Line ambulance modules have over 1,000,000 miles on them thanks to well-executed construction from the beginning.
On the other hand, there are some ambulance manufacturers whose bodies just barely meet the standards for ambulances and struggle to last five years before needing to be replaced. Some manufacturers don’t even offer a remount program because it would cost more money to keep their body going.
Pay Attention to the Warranty
Before purchasing any ambulance, you should review the fine print of the warranty closely and resolve any questions with the dealer. There are plenty of warranties that appear to be phenomenal on the surface, but only apply to the original owner. If you’re a municipality that replaces your ambulance often, such as every two years, the warranty may no longer apply if you have it remounted. In that case, you realistically have a two-year warranty, not the “lifetime warranty” you were expecting. At Life Line, our body warranty lasts as long as the vehicle is used as an ambulance. However, not every company takes ambulance remounts as seriously as we do, so if someone else remounts a Life Line body, it voids the warranty.
Ambulance remounts save you time and money and should be given strong consideration when it’s time to replace your ambulance. If you are trying to determine if an ambulance remount is the right approach for your situation, or have any questions about our process, please let us know.