Originally published Nov. 8, 2018, updated January 31, 2022.
Once your interlock device is installed, you will have the freedom to drive and get where you need to go. The devices are easy to use and built to withstand temperature fluctuations. However, extreme heat or intense cold can impact your device negatively. Luckily, there are ways to combat any potential issues that might crop up. Intoxalock has several suggestions you can use to help protect your interlock from extreme weather.
How Can I Keep My Interlock Functioning in Winter?
Using an interlock during the coldest winter months can be challenging, but there are many things you can do to make sure your device is functioning despite the chill in the air. Intoxalock recommends taking the following actions to ensure your device stays in good working order.
Choose a parking spot that protects your vehicle
Even an unheated structure can still protect your car and IID from cold-weather damage. Intoxalock recommends parking your car in a place that protects from the wind and precipitation. A parking garage, carport, or any place that protects your vehicle is recommended. If you are parking outdoors, point the windshield toward the sun during the daytime. Despite chilly temperatures, the sun can still help keep your dashboard, device, and front seat warm.
Create a barrier for your windshield
A barrier can prevent ice and snow from gathering onto your windshield. Large deposits of precipitation can make it more difficult to warm up your car. You can use a black snow guard or a frost guard overnight during periods of snow and ice to protect your windshield. If you don’t have one handy, you can use household items like tablecloths, curtains, sheets, or shower curtains to create a homemade barrier. Even this type of barrier will prevent the snow and ice from piling up directly on your windshield. Download our fact sheet: Vehicle and IID Weatherization for Extreme Cold
Keep your Interlock Device Insulated and Elevated
Intoxalock does offer sleeves for devices that protect against extreme weather, but you can also use objects from your own home to provide insulation. Wrapping the device in an oven mitt, a thick woolen sock, towel, glove, mitten, or anything that will fit snugly around the device and keep it warm. Once you’ve wrapped your device and insulated it to your satisfaction, you can store it upside down in your cup holder, passenger seat, or console so that moisture doesn’t collect inside.
Elevate your IID
Elevating the device is also key. You should ensure it is off the floor, where it is going to be colder. Additionally, keeping it off the floor will prevent it from getting dirt, debris, and snow from your shoes from getting onto the device. Storing it in a cup holder or console is a great option.
Give Yourself Time Before a Trip
While many people are used to warming up their cars before driving, the device will require you to take a test before you can start the engine. However, you may want to warm up your device before the test by blowing warm air into it (without waking it). When you do activate your interlock, wait a few minutes before you take the breath test so the device has time to warm up. The extra few minutes can help the device function more smoothly. You can also remove the mouthpiece when your car is parked, so it does not get uncomfortably cold.
Start Your Car Every Day, Even if You’re Not Going Anywhere
Cold weather can cause car batteries to get drained, but starting the car will ensure it does not die. Starting the car and taking a short drive, or leaving it running in a safe space, will cause the starter motor to charge your battery. This will help your device and your vehicle because letting a vehicle sit for many days in the cold can cause car trouble.
Cold Weather Don’ts
You may be tempted to try a creative solution to warm up or protect your device, but you should not. Trying unorthodox methods may result in damage to the device, which will end up costing you a good amount of money to replace.
Avoid the following tricks
- Don’t disconnect your device and bring it inside*. This will register as a power interruption which could be considered tampering. It will be reported to your monitoring authority as well. If your state’s interlock program is compliance-based, this could result in a longer interlock term requirement.
- Do not pour hot liquid down the air tube. Don’t attempt to warm up your device using hot liquid. The liquid will damage the device, and it will not help the device warm-up.
- Don’t attempt to heat your interlock by microwaving it, holding it over a stove, radiator, or any other heat source.
*Please note that in Minnesota, the device can be removed from your vehicle during colder months, because the weather in that state is so severe.
Have More Questions about Cold Weather? We can Help!
If you have a question about protecting your device from extreme weather that we haven’t answered, our state specialists can help. They know the process in each state and can help you with tips on how to keep your device safe. If you need help or information about installing an Intoxalock ignition interlock device, call our state specialists at (833) 623-0200..