Tracking devices” unlikely to damage vehicles or drain batteries”

Brian Joss – While it is possible for a tracking unit to drain a battery, this is not something drivers should be concerned about if they follow the correct steps, said managing director of Legatron Electronics, Itumeleleng Matshego, after a reader shared his story about a tracking unit damaging his car.

Matshego, says there is a fallacy that a tracking device is most often the reason for the drainage of a vehicle battery life. “There are very limited instances where this can happen. Provided you choose a reputable tracking company and perform the necessary maintenance on your unit, a tracking device should not drain a car’s battery.

 “A tracking unit only uses one mA or less during the course of a day. The units engage ultra-low power mode for most of the day. It is only in specific circumstances that a tracking unit will draw more current such as during the perceived illicit movement of a vehicle or when transmitting signals during a stolen vehicle recovery situation.”

The design of a high-quality tracking unit prevents it from drawing too much power. “All tracking units have microprocessors and algorithms built into the units. These enable it to control their power use and charge their own backup battery.

 “When the vehicle alternator charges the vehicle’s battery while driving, the unit’s automation allows it to become more active and, thus, use more power. It goes back into low-power mode as soon as the vehicle is switched off.”

So, if it’s not the tracker, what could it be? “Bear in mind that all batteries degrade overtime and eventually reach the end of their service life. This makes it less likely to keep its charge so, while everything else functions normally, the unit’s battery might not have enough charge to enable the vehicle to start.

 “Alternatively, other aftermarket products could be causing battery drainage. The battery drainage in a modern vehicle could mean the tracking unit is faulty or the unit may have been incorrectly installed.”

Maintenance is required like any other battery. “If you believe the tracking unit is draining your battery or if a professional confirms this is so, it is best to get the unit inspected by your service provider right away.

Constant health checks on old units are advised. These units use lithium batteries which are not maintained.

 “Drivers should never leave previously installed units when moving between tracking companies or cancelling contracts. If you buy a second-hand vehicle, ensure there are no old tracking units in the car as these uninstalled units can exacerbate battery drainage issues,” advises Matshego.

CAPTION: Checking:  maintenance is required. Picture: Motorpress/George Sultan

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