A Big Challenge: How Do You Install Ignition Interlock in an 18-Wheeler?

18-wheeler truck waiting for Smart Start ignition interlock

We have always been proud to say that our service technicians can install Ignition Interlock in virtually any kind of vehicle. Our clients own all makes, models, and sizes – and Smart Start service technicians are prepared to install Ignition Interlock Devices in anything with four wheels.

But every once in a while, a vehicle comes in that really puts our techs to the test. For example, it’s certainly not often that the tractor portion (more commonly known as the “cab”) of an 18-wheel semi comes pulling into a Smart Start service location for an IID.

However, the Irving, Texas, location recently had the task of tackling that installation. Fortunately, nothing is too big for Smart Start.

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Not Too Big to Install Ignition Interlock

The tractor cab is the 10-wheeled vehicle that pulls a semi-trailer carrying a load of up to 40 tons (the trailer typically has eight wheels). The cab is more than 13 feet high, and about 100 inches wide.

In other words, it doesn’t exactly fit into a typical service bay of a Smart Start service center.

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Size Isn’t the Biggest Obstacle

Hector Armendariz, Smart Start area service manager, says that while the tractor was a sizable challenge, it wasn’t totally unheard for the Irving installation team. They’ve installed an Ignition Interlock Device in just about everything, no matter what size.

Semi engines are up to six times larger than car engines in both size and weight. But Armendariz says that part doesn’t present a huge challenge.

“For most of the 18-wheelers, there’s nothing fancy about them,” he said. “They’re big, but the installation is pretty much like any other vehicle.”

Armendariz said the installation took about two hours, including user training. It may get a little more sophisticated in the future, since Tesla is reportedly getting ready to enter the market with an electric semi. And Smart Start is already the expert for Tesla and other electric vehicles.

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Easy and Discreet, Without Being Cramped

One part of the installation that can be a little tricky is placing the IID in the cab, Armendariz said. For being as large as the cab is (it typically includes a sleeping berth and sometimes a small living quarters), the space around the driver’s seat can be surprisingly compact. It’s typically loaded with equipment, cables and displays.

During an install of an Ignition Interlock Device, it’s important that the unit doesn’t command a lot of attention or space. No matter what size of vehicle, it has to be discreet and easy to use.

“One of the big challenges is finding where we’re going to put the unit,” Armendariz said. “Sometimes there’s not a lot of room, especially under the driver’s side dash where we have to install it.”

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Why Install an Interlock Ignition Device in an 18-Wheeler?

Some IID installations come from a referral by a monitoring authority to fulfill terms of a DUI violation by a trucker. Others occur at the request of a trucking company, to keep track of drivers when they’re on the road.

Regardless of the size of your vehicle, schedule an appointment by calling (800) 831-3299. You can also fill out our online form or sign up for the Client Portal either on the web or through our mobile app, available for download via the App Store and Google Play.