These days, GPS car trackers are used by more people, more frequently than you might think. It isn’t just insurance companies or law enforcement that use these devices. Instead, more spouses, parents, and private investigators have started to use GPS tracking devices to keep tabs on the whereabouts and actions of a person- many times without consent. As such, it’s important to know exactly what a GPS car tracker looks like, so you can spot one on your car or truck more easily.
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There are lots of types of trackers in use, so knowing what a car tracking device looks like can make a huge difference. Whether we’re talking about child safety, car safety, or personal safety, it’s important you know what to look for, and how to quickly and easily spot if there’s a tracker in your car.
Car trackers can take many forms and now come in a range of sizes and shapes. While some hidden GPS trackers are small and discreet, there are others that take on the appearance of a smartphone. If someone like a private investigator is using real-time GPS trackers, they’re likely to be a little savvier about the placement compared with an inexperienced parent who wants to keep an eye on their teen driving habits.
GPS Tracker Types
There are two main types of vehicle trackers that are widely used. These are known as either active or passive GPS trackers. Both types of GPS detectors work a little differently from one another.
Active GPS trackers will track a GPS location using satellite signals. Once known, the active tracker will relay the data back to the vehicle GPS tracking app that it’s been paired with. This could be a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. So, if somebody has decided to use an active GPS car tracker on your vehicle, they’ll be able to know your exact whereabouts at any time of day. To the point, they’ll know when a vehicle is moved, at what time; where it went from and to, and for how long.
For passive trackers, this type of tracker doesn’t transmit any information between devices. Instead, it’s stored in an internal database on the tracker device itself. What this means is that to get any data from the car tracker, a person will need to have physical access to the tracker on your car. For many, this type of vehicle GPS tracker isn’t practical.
5 places to hide a GPS tracker
The most common places GPS trackers are hidden in vehicles include:
1. Under a car seat
Using a flashlight, check for hidden GPS trackers under both the front and back seats of your vehicle. They usually look like some form of electrical object and are in a black box to appear discreet. If not here, it could be hidden under the carpet, with or without wires attached.
2. On or inside the dashboard
Hidden trackers that are placed here are usually installed by a person with access to your vehicle. As such, they require a few tools to unearth. Grab a screwdriver and detach the underneath of your dashboard. Again, it’s usually a small black box that won’t typically be connected to any other wires. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t try to disconnect anything that’s wired in. if you suspect a car tracking device is present, seek professional guidance from an engineer first.
3. Rear bumpers or in the trunk
Here, you want to be fully inspecting these areas to look for something that appears out of place. It’s likely to be a cheap-looking piece of kit, black in color, and situated towards the outer edge of a bumper or just inside the trunk.
4. Wheel wells
Not the most ideal place to locate a vehicle tracking device, but it’s still common due to a person not needing to have physical access to a vehicle to install it. It’s important to check both the rear and front wheel wells and make you use a flashlight as these areas are typically quite dark. Also, use your hands to feel around any areas you cannot reach with the light.
5. The undercarriage of the vehicle
For this final stage of checking if there’s any vehicle tracking system in place, you’re going to need a mirror and a pole. Attach the mirror and pole, then use them to inspect the underside of your vehicle. GPS trackers located here tend to get dirty, fast; so be extra vigilant with your checks.
What do GPS trackers look like?
A car GPS tracker looks like a small box and is often referred to as a tag. These boxes can either be connected to your vehicle’s power source or powered by a battery. These days, most GPS tracking devices are battery-powered as this makes it easier and quicker to install. Depending on the brand used, the vehicle tracker can work with or without an antenna. As discretion is usually paramount, most types of trackers are compact and black and are not typically more than 3-4 inches in length, by 1 inch wide. One side of the device will usually be magnetized, as this allows for easy connection.
Compared with other tracking systems, the GPS tracker or tag, will send signals via satellites in the form of location co-ordinates, which are then transmitted to a cellular network. Using a connected app, the data is then easily accessed by the person who set the tracker up.
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