Funeral Cars

Getting Your Funeral Car Ready for Summer

There are often plenty of articles and information about winterizing cars, but what about steps that need to be taken ahead the onslaught of summer?

Hearses and funeral cars for family need to be kept in tip-top shape all year round and that means preparing for long, hot, sunny summer days.  Here are some quick tips on how you can get your fleet ready to weather whatever summer throws your way.

Test Your Air-Conditioning – Run the A/C for a few minutes in each of your hearses and funeral cars.  Be sure the cold air is strong and that there are no weird or foul odors.

Swap Tires if Needed – In some parts of the country, swapping out winter tires for summer versions can help improve performance and gas consumption.

Check Those Brakes – Winter traffic patterns often mean that brakes see extra wear and tear over the colder months.  Do a full inspection of your brakes to ensure you don’t need to have anything replaced.

Top Up Wiper Fluid – Make sure you have plenty of wiper fluid in your car to handle bugs and other windshield pests.  Since the weather will be warmer, you can also dillute your wiper fluid to help your budget.  Be sure to check the specs on whatever fluid you use so that you don’t dillute too much.

Check Under the Hood – While you’re topping up your wiper fluid, do a visual check on your other fluids as well as belts.  Check for belts that look dry or cracked and get them replaced BEFORE they snap.

Double Check That Coolant – Summer means heat and heat means your coolant levels should be spot on.  A coolant tester (available through any auto shop) will let you know if the water to ethylene glycol ratio needs adjusted.

Wash and Wax – Give your fleet a good wash and follow up with a wax treatment to remove any salt that may have built up over the winter.

Taking the time to go through these simple steps will ensure your entire fleet remains reliable through the summer.  Getting ahead of potential problems also keeps your overall costs low and gives you peace of mind.  Pretty much a win-win for funeral home owners as well as the people you work to support.


Remembering Robert F. Kennedy’s Funeral Train

More than 40 years ago, Robert F. Kennedy died after being shot by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California.  This tragedy took place mere minutes after Kennedy won the state’s Democratic presidential primary election.

On June 8, Kennedy’s body passed through Delaware County on its way to the nation’s capital on a funeral train. His funeral was the only nighttime funeral in the history of Arlington National Cemetery. It was not planned that way, however. It just happened because of the delays caused by the more than one million mourners who stood alongside the tracks of the funeral train as his body went by.

One of the most amazing parts of Kennedy’s assassination was his concern for others despite what happened to him. Just seconds after he was shot, a hotel busboy heard the senator ask if everybody was alright while he was probably in anguish from the gunshot wounds.

Those words are the subject of a documentary that Oscar-winning filmmaker Jon Blair created on about the incident. He asks “Is everybody alright?” referring to the people who lined the tracks as the train’s funeral cars went by.  You can read more about the documentary here and order the documentary online.

Stories – and documentaries – like this illustrate just how important modes of transportation can be during a funeral.  While funeral trains were long retired by the time Kennedy died, reviving them for his funeral gave the country a chance to come together to mourn – and comfort.


Does In-Dash Funeral Car Technology Distract Drivers?

hearse funeral car Lincoln distracted drivingImagine getting into your funeral car or hearse and typing in the address of a cemetery you’ve never been to before on your in-dash GPS unit.  Your touchscreen interface pops a map and directions for getting to the cemetery from your funeral home. It’s a common occurrence these days but it has spawned an interesting debate.

Does that constitute a driving hazard?

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, it could very well be distracting to drivers.

New discussions at the DOT may lead to legislation that requires auto makers to block such technology inside vehicles. But you know as well as we do that in-dash technology isn’t the problem. Many drivers use their cell phones for talking and texting while driving. That is much more harmful than GPS navigation.

Naturally, the automobile industry is challenging the DOTs train of thought. As well it should.

Some in-dash technology can benefit funeral car drivers while conducting their normal business. GPS is one such technology. But what about Internet browsing? What if you have a client ask a question and you want to ensure that the information you provide is accurate? A quick Internet search would solve the problem, right?

Of course, we would caution readers against conducting the search while driving, but who wouldn’t?  Let’s not blame the technology for the irresponsibility of certain drivers – let’s find a way to give people access to technology that makes travel safer while teaching its responsible use.


21st Century Hearse: What Will Future Funeral Cars Look Like?

21st century funeral cars and the mobility internetWhat will the next incarnation of the funeral car look like? Back in 2012, authors William Mitchell, Christopher Borroni-Bird, and Lawrence Burns believe they know. A new book describes what they call the “mobility internet,” and the implications for the funeral car business are incredible.

For starters, this trio are suggesting that all cars, funeral hearses included, will not only be driven electrically but be electronically controlled. Translation: That means they’ll have a battery that needs charging, but the inside mechanisms of the vehicles themselves will be electronic.

Another idea floated by these authors is technology that allows vehicles on the road to communicate between themselves and the surrounding infrastructure. You’ll be able to see traffic ahead of you, say, between the funeral home and the cemetery, and pick alternate routes if you have to.

One implication of the interconnected infrastructure is something they call a “clean energy grid.” A reduction in auto emissions plus the entire transportation ecosystem being driven by the internet.

Just over five years later and we’ve already seen advancements that show these authors were on the right track.  Electric cars are now seen on roadways thanks to Tesla and advancements in batteries and automotive technology mean that autonomous driving features are now almost standard.  While there’s still no communication grid between cars and their environments, the idea seems less far-fetched.

Another idea that was mentioned by the authors and may come to fruition is the idea of dynamic pricing for markets such as parking, roads, electricity, etc.  Imagine your funeral customers being able to reserve their parking spaces at your funeral home before they arrive. You can have assigned parking spaces for the cars joining the procession after the service and those that won’t be going to the cemetery service. And you can have electric battery chargers as an added service.

Of course, these advancements haven’t entirely made their way to commercial vehicles such as funeral hearses … yet.  But as consumers and the general public embraces these changes, it becomes a lot more likely we will see them become a part of professional options as well.

There’s no telling how the mobility internet might affect the overall funeral business and your ability to manage your funeral car fleet, but if the vision of these authors is any indication, it will be a wild ride.

5 Tips on How To Increase Funeral Car Fuel Efficiency

funeral car fuel efficiencyAn interesting article about the auto start-stop feature got me to thinking about fuel efficiency in funeral cars. In a day when gas prices are hitting near $4 per gallon or more, fuel economy is becoming an increasingly more important concern for all drivers. It should also be an important concern for funeral directors.

When you consider that funeral cars are constantly starting and stopping in traffic, this is very important to talk about.

You park your funeral car, then drive it around to where the pall bearers will load it with a casket. From there you drive to the cemetery. From the funeral home to the cemetery you will undoubtedly stop and restart your vehicle several times – at stop lights, stop signs, in traffic, etc. The auto start-stop feature can increase your fuel efficiency.

The way this feature works is, when you sit idle in your funeral car for more than a few seconds, the vehicle’s engine shuts off. When you accelerate again it restarts. The engine shutting off and coming back on like this will save your fuel.

With Ford Motor Company offering this feature as an option for less than $300, I think this could spell a new direction for the auto industry as a whole, even funeral cars.  It’s a system that has many owners of fleet cars – including funeral home directors – taking a closer look at ways to improve overall fuel efficiency.  Here are five other ways funeral directors can improve and maintain better fuel economy:

  • Don’t Idle – This top tip is where the inspiration for systems like Ford’s Stop-Start option.  Idling your car can cost you – literally.  Idling can burn up to 2 ounces of fuel a minute – that’s 20 ounces within 10 minutes.  Funeral cars tend to idle for a long time, with some funeral homes leaving them running as they wait for families to get in.  Shut the car off if you’re going to be still for more than a few minutes and save yourself plenty at the pump.
  • Inflate Tires Properly – Checking that your funeral car’s tires are properly infalted reduces the resistance of your tires on the pavement.  This reduces drag and can make a difference in fuel economy.
  • Watch the Oil Maintenance – When dealing with a fleet of cars, some funeral homes have them serviced all at the same time – and as cheaply as possible.  This means some cars may not be getting serviced when they should while others may not be getting the specific kind of oil they need to perform.  Keeping each car to its own schedule and sticking to vehicle manufacture guidelines improves overall performance.
  • Seal Your Gas Cap – This is one that many people laugh at when they first see it, but hear me out.  I’m not talking about making sure your gas cap is on, it’s about the rubber seal around the cap.  The seal prevents oxygen from getting into your gas system.  Extra oxygen means more air getting to your engine and that means more fuel consumption.  Seals can degrade and crack over time and that’s where maintenance comes into play.  If your seal starts to go, don’t replace it with the cheapest knock-off you can find.  Invest the extra money for OEM or equivalent.
  • Shop Smart – If you maintain a larger fleet, work with a local gas station for a price break.  If you’re not able to do that, use apps to find the best prices and then strike while the iron is hot.  Double up the smart shopping by paying with a credit card that offers cash back on fuel purchases.


Financing a Funeral Car – A Basic Overview

Individuals who purchase automobiles for their personal driving often buy on credit. Auto financing is a huge business in the personal automobile category. Even businesses that purchase cars for business use, whether they will be driven by one person or shared by a team, will purchase autos on loan. But what about funeral coaches?

Yes, even funeral coaches can be purchased on loan. Auto financing for funeral coaches works pretty much the same way that it does for other cars.

Your funeral home should come prepared to leave a down payment. Figure out how much of a down payment you can afford and that will often influence your finance rate and the length of your loan term. A higher down payment, for instance, will often result in a lower finance rate and a shorter term loan.

When you figure the life of your funeral coach, you’ll be surprised at the value of buying your coach through financing. And if your company has a positive credit rating, you’ll get good terms as well.

Here are five things that influence the terms of your auto loan agreement when you purchase a funeral coach through financing:

  1. Size of your down payment
  2. Your company’s credit rating
  3. The current market rate for financing
  4. Length of the loan term
  5. Amount you are borrowing

Funeral coach financing, like personal automobile financing, moves in waves. Finance rates go up, then they go back down. The trick to getting the best deal on your coach purchase is to purchase when the rates are low. That time is right now.

According to BankRate, auto financing rates are at a low point. That includes financing funeral coaches and limousines.  These rates can vary depending on when you intend to buy as well as your area so be sure to check back often in order to get an idea for the best time to buy.

Financing a funeral coach is easy. Your funeral home can leverage its financial position by financing its coaches and spreading out the purchase price of the vehicle over the life of the coach itself. This helps you, and it helps your clients.

Heritage Coach is committed to providing funeral homes and funeral directors with the best funeral coaches at the best prices, and that includes the best finance rates. If you think you’ll be in the market for a new funeral coach any time in the next year, then start looking now. Pick your coach and finance while the rates are low.


Funeral Cars – Are They Above the Law?

Anyone who has been a driver for more than a few years knows what it is like to deal with parking laws.  Stopping outside a shop on a busy street, double parking while you run back into your house to grab something or even just misinterpreting the hourly restrictions on a side street – every driver has a story about an epic parking issue.

We rarely think about hearses or funeral cars with respect to parking laws, but a story out of the UK made headlines when those two worlds came together.  A parking attendant working in Marlborough ticketed a funeral director who had parked his limousine at the street curb to wash it before a funeral.  The curb was painted with double yellow lines, designating it a No Parking zone but, as it was the curb outside his own funeral home, the director didn’t think twice about it.

The parking attendant didn’t think twice either – and issued a ticket on the spot.  The director became so upset about it that he splashed the attendant with water from the hose he was using to wash the car.  The attendant responded by adding assault charges to the paring ticket.

Do you think parking officers should be more lenient on funeral cars and hearses when they are parked somewhere where other cars are not allowed?  Was this a case of simply enforcing the letter of the law or an example of someone abusing their position of power?

The ironic part of the story is that David Hunter, the funeral director in question, asked the city to make the area outside his funeral home a “no parking” zone because other cars were parking there and blocking his hearses from getting in and out of the parking lot. He claims he was only partly parked on the double yellow lines and he said he was not blocking anybody in where he was parked. He went on to say this: “I know the wardens have a job to do but they should use their discretion.”

How do our readers weigh in on this story? Should the funeral director be allowed to park in the “no parking” zone in front of his facility to wash his hearses or did the parking warden do her job correctly? Let us know your thoughts below.

Funeral Car Theft – Joyriders and Jokers or Thoughtless Thugs

You wouldn’t think funeral cars – specifically hearses – would be a big target for car thieves.   While the vehicles are only used sporadically, their ready access doesn’t make them exactly desirable.  They’re pretty easy to spot and attract attention wherever they are – hardly the ideal target for a thief.

Still, hearses are stolen fairly frequently and over the past few years there have been a handful of stories noteworthy enough to make national – and even international – headlines.

Back in 2009, Sammy Townsley made headlines when the Scottish teenager stole a hearse and then engaged in a high speed pursuit with local police.  Eventually the teenager lost control and crashed the vehicle.  After his arrest it emerged he had been in trouble for years and this joyride was another in a long line of offenses.

In 2014, hearse theft was back in the news, this time thanks to a man who stole a hearse during a funeral.  Omar Alejandro Gutierrez stole a hearse while a funeral service was being conducted inside a funeral home.  He was apprehended later the same day but the family in mourning was forced to deal with a sudden change in their plans as they were burying their loved one.

More recently, in Atlanta, a hearse was stolen with a body still inside.  This was another case where the thief quickly lost control of the car, smashed it and did escape for awhile.  But again, there was no real motive behind the theft.

What could these people be thinking?  not only are funeral cars fitted with GPS and tracking as the norm these days, a hearse isn’t exactly a low profile vehicle.  it’s something people are bound to notice if you’re speeding through the city behind the wheel – so why steal them?  Some say it’s all about the thrill and some say it’s just another way to flirt with death.  Whatever the rationale, it’s plain to see these thieves aren’t exactly the shiniest tools in the shed.



Types of Funeral Cars – An Overview


When most people think of funeral cars, their minds automatically go to hearses. However, funeral directors are aware that there are actually several distinct types of funeral cars, each with a unique job function.  Professional car enthusiasts clubs generally admit those who own any or all of the following vehicles.

First Call Vehicles

Technically, this is the least standardized type of funeral car. Its purpose is simply to retrieve the deceased from the place of death and transfer them to the funeral home. Some funeral homes use their hearse for this purpose, but most find that it saves wear and tear on the hearse.  As a result, many choose to reserve hearses strictly for funerals.  A work van has historically been one of the most popular options, but many funeral homes prefer to use an older hearse or an SUV instead. Custom fittings can be installed to secure the casket or stretcher.


These are the fancy cars that carry caskets during funerals. At one time, they were generally horse-drawn buggies, but now are usually based on strengthened car chassis. Hearses are available in a variety of styles and colors, tramadol though many funeral homes stick to traditional understated colors such as blue, black and dark grey.

Flower Cars

Flower cars were once a popular part of funeral processions but are infrequently seen today, due to the increased expense. A flower car is similar to a hearse in design, but features a back that is open like a pickup truck.  Some flower cars carry only flowers, while the casket rides in a traditional hearse. Other flower cars carry the casket as well, surrounded and topped by flowers.

Combination Cars

Not in use today due to modern advances in ambulance-carried medical equipment, combination cars were capable of serving as both hearse and ambulance. In many towns, it fell to the funeral director to make ambulance runs for the town, and in the interest of practicality, combination cars were developed. The most famous example in modern times may be the Ecto-1 of Ghostbusters fame.

Funeral car enthusiasts often collect multiple styles and types of funeral cars. Each has played a unique role in the history of funeral transportation.



The National Museum of Funeral History – A Haven for Historic Funeral Car Enthusiasts

Discussing historic and otherwise noteworthy funeral cars is one of my favorite topics on this blog.  Looking at the modes of transportation used throughout history as well as the evolution of funeral traditions and practices brings it all together for me.  But writing and reading about these cars is one thing, seeing them in person is quite another.  That’s why I’m adding the National Museum of Funeral History onto my summer road trip Wish List.

You might expect a museum dedicated to funerals to be housed in a picturesque Victorian manor house, perhaps surrounded by a white picket fence and a few tombstones.  But you’d be wrong.  So pack some sun screen and be sure to keep an eye out for a nondescript building.  It turns out, the museum is located in what appears to be an old industrial park. A bustling town home community of young families constitutes the area today, located in a largely shade-free area of Houston.

What the building lacks in curb appeal, it makes up for once you step inside.  The building is enormous, with a display room easily large enough to park an airplane. There are meeting rooms and classrooms as well, although these are off-limits to the public.

The Collection

The permanent collection at the museum is impressive to say the least.  The museum covers the most obvious base first with their impressive collection of antique and custom coffins which includes everything from a casket provigil adorned with real money (who says you can’t take it with you?) to Fantasy Coffins from Ghana.  A Victorian funeral parlor, embalming exhibits and the largest collection of Ghanaian caskets outside of Africa are just a few of the many rare treasures you will find.

Of course, when it comes to impressive size, the hearses and funeral cars take the cake.  The collection takes up a great deal of the display space as well as attractive plenty of visitors.  Here you will find authentic antiques sharing space with high quality replicas, although the signage does a great job of letting you know which is which.

Of course, no roadside attraction visit would be complete without the obligatory gift shop stop.  The gift shop in the museum is impressive but it’s the one thing you don’t have to travel to Houston to appreciate.  Their website offers the same merchandise shipped direct from the museum.  You can choose from books about the funeral industry and Day of the Dead merchandise to leather hearse coasters and Undertakers Root Beer.

The National Museum of Funeral History is an interesting place. Part tourist trap, part fascinating historical museum, it is a must-see for any true fan of funeral cars and related memorabilia. If you are interested in the funeral vehicles of today, be sure to visit our convenient dealership. We would be happy to assist you in finding the right car for you.