US Mail Truck Specs

usps mail truck specs engine post office grumman llv random automotive dylan benson

If you live in the United States, you see these everywhere: the US Postal Service Mail Truck. Recently, I have been very curious about what these things actually are. I mean, no one else uses them, so I had to know what makes them so special. Turns out they actually have a name: the Grumman LLV. 

LLV stands for Long Life Vehicle, and that is exactly what they were designed to do. The USPS (back in the 1980s) presented a list of requirements to anyone interested in making the next postal vehicle to replace the Jeeps they used before. The Smithsonian Postal Museum has that list:

  • Drive 5,760 miles on a closed loop 5-mile-long paved road at 50 to 55 mph 
  • Drive 11,520 miles over a gravel road at 30 to 45 mph 
  • Drive 2,880 miles over a road with a shoulder, stopping every 250 feet and accelerating to 15 mph in between 
  • Drive 960 miles over cobblestones that ranged from 3 to 4 inches high at 10 to 14 mph
  • Drive 960 miles over potholes at 10 to 14 mph 
  • Haul a 1-ton pound load during one half of the road test 
  • Haul a man and a 400 pound load during one half of the road test 
  • Drive over potholes ensuring that each wheel hits a pothole 35,000 times 
  • Make one hundred consecutive stops from 15 mph 

If you think about it, these things basically had to be tanks, and they had to be tanks for a long time. Eventually, a company named Grumman Corporation won the contract, and the first LLV was placed into service in 1986. The last one was made in 1994. Yes, that means every mail truck (LLV style) that you see on the road is at least 22 years old. 

The lifespan was originally slated to be 24 years. In 2009, the USPS changed that to 30 years. 

While these were made by an aircraft engineering company that doesn’t exactly exist anymore (it is now part of the well known Northrop Grumman), they are pretty much a Chevy S10/Blazer under the aircraft-like, sheet metal exterior. 

The chassis was made by General Motors, and based off of the 2WD Blazer and S10. The front suspension and instrument cluster are similar to the S-10 as well. The engine first put into the trucks was the 2.5L “Iron Duke”, and then later a General Motors 2.2L I-4 iron block/aluminum head engine. This is paired with a 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic 180 automatic transmission. 

One would think that these would be a little more fuel efficient, but apparently they are only supposed to get around 17 miles per gallon. With the constant stop a go they are put through, it is said they get closer to 10. I guess that we have to keep in mind that these were designed at a time when MPGs were not the most standard three letters in average conversation. Let’s also keep in mind that we are talking about the US government. They always have money.

usps mail truck specs engine post office grumman llv random automotive dylan benson

Here are some basic specs: 

Engine: GM Iron Duke
Transmission: 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic 180 automatic transmission 

Horsepower: About 90hp
0-60 MPH: Approximately 17 seconds
Top Speed: Supposedly about 75 MPH 

Wheelbase: 8 ft 4.5 in (2.553 m)
Length: 14 ft 7.5 in (4.458 m)
Width: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Height: 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)
Curb weight: 2,700 lb (1,200 kg)

usps mail truck specs engine post office grumman llv random automotive dylan benson
Best picture I could find of the engine.  It's of the one I found for sale.
The power and speed specs were gathered from random sources like forums, but they seem accurate. These trucks were built for reliability, hauling, and stuff like that, not quarter mile drag racing. Though, that would be interesting to see. 

Fun fact: I found one for sale online, and the VIN was supplied. When I looked up the VIN, it came back as an S10 pickup. Most places I looked it up though, it said something along the lines of, “please enter a valid VIN”. 

These little trucks will be going away though. In mid 2015, the US Government started looking for a contract to start replacing the long serving Grumman LLV. Canada, which apparently uses these as well, has started replacing them with Ford Transit Connect vans. The USPS has been starting to use more minivans in its fleet, but the LLV is slated to go bye-bye. 

I am curious to see what will happen to them. Who knows if they will be trashed or scrapped, sold at auction, or none of the above? It would be interesting to see these US government vehicles sitting next to Humvees also being sold at an auction. Time will tell. Until then, where’s my mail? 

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  1. Is the turning radius specified?
    Are trucks equipped with safety beepers when in reverse?

  2. no they only go straight and never backwards so no beeper thank god

  3. Great article! So these mail trucks are the same age as most of the millennial generation lol.

  4. Good point! But one of them has a better work ethic. ;)

  5. The body of the LLV is aluminum. I'd be interested to know what gauge and type of aluminum was used.

  6. Exactly, what IS the turning radius in feet?

  7. Hello. Do you know where I can buy a used one in great condition in New York State?

  8. Hello, do you know where I can buy one in NY State? You also said they don't back up?

  9. Nope... They go straight ahead. Backing up would mean mail would be late. They also stop for nothing, except mailboxes. Hence, why so many dogs get run over by them... Turning radius is not important. As long as they can turn most street corners, even if leaving a deep rut in the ditch because they turn too sharp.
    Fun fact #1.
    Postal workers us excess bubblewrap found in the vehicle and place it on their dash and steering wheel, to take the place of airbags, since they weren't available when first put into service.
    Fun fact #2
    They have sensors for detecting a person running out to the mailbox with outgoing mail, and will automatically accelerate in order to not have to wait for said person and delay his return to the post office.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Some cool facts about Grumman, they're a very storied American corporation. They practically pioneered naval aviation. We couldn't have won the Pacific in WW2 without their aircraft. The thing that landed men on the moon, the Apollo Lunar Module, they designed and built that too. They were so dominant that a few aircraft carriers in the 80s sailed with an all Grumman air wing.


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