Why the expiration date on your I-PASS transponder may be wrong

Does anyone actually look at their I-PASS transponder once it's mounted on the car window?

Not I, until a toll gate hiccup in Indiana this July caused me to glance up and realize the device expired in June 2022.

Or did it? Turns out my transponder is among 3.5 million with incorrect expiry dates falling between 2020 and 2026.

"All customers with expiration dates from 2020 through 2026 have two more years before they will be prompted to exchange their transponders," tollway spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis explained.

"Regardless of what the expiration date is on your transponder, customers will always receive a letter from the tollway when it's time to replace their transponder."

Customers in the 2020 through 2026 cohort eager to know when their transponders are ready for retirement can add two years to the expiry date, officials said. For example, if your device lists June 2022, the actual date would fall around June 2024.

Also, "the expiration date is predicated on the potential for failure from battery and age, and nearly all transponders last much longer than their expiration date," McGinnis said.

The glitch occurred when the agency was transitioning between transponders with life spans of eight years to ones with 10 years. It affects devices issued between 2012 and 2018. The tollway procures the devices from Kapsch TrafficCom through a bulk purchase with the E-ZPass Group, a consortium of toll agencies in 19 states.

"Eight years ago, the tollway's fulfillment vendor set the expiration date at eight years, when the actual life span of the transponders was 10, thus the tollway is extending the expiration on this lot of transponders by two years," McGinnis explained.

The tollway began using expiry dates over 10 years ago in an effort to better inform drivers, she said.

"We've definitely had customers who are diligent and pay attention to expiry dates and contacted us immediately with concerns. There are others who keep driving until they get the letter from us," McGinnis said.

In general, "any customer with issues with their transponder should contact customer service at (800) UC-IPASS and the tollway will send a replacement," McGinnis added.

The tollway "will work with them to dismiss any fees and/or adjust the toll rates paid in the event their account begins video tolling," a reference to extra fees triggered when I-PASS users accumulate over five missed tolls in a month.

She also advised drivers to check their I-PASS accounts at least once a year to ensure contact information and credit cards are up-to-date as well as check for notifications.

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Don't worry if your I-PASS transponder has an expiration date between 2020 and 2026. Those are inaccurate, officials say, and the device is valid for two years beyond the given date. Daily Herald File Photo
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