Help! My Ignition Interlock is Draining My Battery!

When you first get your ignition interlock, you are given instructions on how to pass tests and keep yourself on the road safely and legally. But there are a few more things you should know to make sure that your ignition interlock program goes smoothly.

battery-indicatorOccasionally an interlock user will have problems with a battery that seems to drain too fast. The fault could be a defective device, but 99 out of 100 times it’s caused by an old battery or defective alternator. The problem might not have been noticed until the interlock was installed. Fortunately, the situation is easily avoidable. Here’s what you need to remember:

Your Vehicle is Always Awake

Even when parked in the garage, your vehicle is using power. Most accessories (including your clock and your radio) draw a tiny amount of electricity. An alarm or GPS unit will also draw power. That means that eventually your battery will die if you don’t charge it regularly by driving.

Battery-Drain-On-Ignition-InterlockAn Ignition Interlock is Just an Electronic Accessory

Just like a car alarm, an ignition interlock is an accessory wired into your car’s electrical system The device draws about the same amount of power that your car radio does in order to keep your station settings. It’s a tiny amount, but that amount is nonetheless vital.

Your Battery Needs to be Good

This is true whether or not you have an ignition interlock, but if you do, it’s even more vital. Any new battery should give you four years. If you live in a very cold climate, replace it after that. If not, you should still keep an eye on it, because a failure can lead to hassles.

Your Alternator Needs to be Good Too

If your starter isn’t cranking as quickly as it should, or if battery power is down, it might be the alternator, the part of your car that charges the battery as it’s running. Both the battery and the alternator have to be in great shape if you’ve got any extra electronic accessories in your car. Have the alternator checked.

You Must Drive Your Vehicle 2 – 3 Times a Week

Even if you haven’t planned on driving, you’ll need take a spin in your vehicle 2 or 3 times a week, to keep the battery topped up. This applies whether you have an ignition interlock or an inboard DVD player. Accessories use a little power, and while your battery is up to the task, it must be charged regularly.

That’s it. Treat your interlock like any electronic accessory, keep your battery charged, and you’ll never have a problem starting up.