Why GPS Tracker Detectors are Relevant
Once thought of as a device to spy on your spouse or used by private investigators, GPS trackers have become a common tool for the shipping industry, taxis, and truck drivers for the purpose of relaying back important information on location and driving performance. Families also use them to track teen drivers. They even hook portable ones to their children’s backpacks to make sure they are safe and track their location. Even pets are being tagged with GPS trackers in order to track them if they wander too far from home.
GPS trackers are certainly helpful when used with consent but with such easy access to them online and their increasingly smaller designs, it’s become easy to track anyone without their knowledge. If you suspect you are being monitored with a secret GPS tracker, there are some steps you can follow using counter-surveillance techniques and GPS tracker detector products to find out if you are indeed being tracked.
What Does a GPS Tracker Look Like?
Before you start your investigation to find out if you are being tracked, you should know what a GPS tracker looks like. There are a few types on the market and each one looks different depending on the manufacturer and purpose.
Most GPS trackers for cars will be a small box with a magnetic side on the bottom, typically three to four inches long and two inches wide. They will be only about an inch thick. It may or may not have a tiny antenna and/or a small light. There are two main types of GPS trackers that are used on vehicles:
Monitored GPS Tracking Devices
These are typically battery-operated trackers but can also be hardwired. Battery operated GPS tracking devices have sensors to determine when the car is moving and then starts to transmit the data. Once the vehicle has stopped moving, the battery will wind down to the lowest setting to save energy until the car is in motion again. Similar to cell phones, they transmit real-time data about its location.
Unmonitored GPS Tracking Devices
These tracking devices do not transmit data like monitored GPS tracking devices, but they will collect waypoints at set intervals. The information must then be downloaded and plotted on a computer. Unmonitored GPS tracking devices are less expensive than monitored GPS tracking devices, but due to their excess amount of work, they are less common for everyday use and more for industrial tracking.
How to Find a GPS Tracker on a Car
Now that you know what a GPS tracker looks like, you can start inspecting your vehicle. You will need the following items to aid your search. While you can use just your eyes, these tools will make it much easier to spot a hidden tracker:
- Electronic sweeper or bug detector
- Extendable mirror – If you have problems bending, this will save your back.
- Creeper or mat to slide under your vehicle
- Car jack if your car is low to the ground
Step 1 – Perform an Exterior Inspection
Using the flashlight, mat, or extendable mirror, inspect the outside of the vehicle. Check the wheel wells and under the vehicle, paying close attention to anything that looks out of place.
Inspecting under the vehicle can be tricky since it’s dark and the grim might make the GPS tracker blend in. Make sure to examine with a flashlight carefully and use your hands to feel in areas that are easily accessible. A GPS tracker will stick out often with a plastic cover to hide it.
Remember to inspect under the hood as well. Check for a tracking device by the firewall, radiator, or hidden among air ducts and the battery. A GPS tracker is unlikely to be found under the hood because the temperature is too hot and would damage the electronic components, but it’s still worth a look.
Finally, don’t forget the bumpers and back of the car. It’s an unlikely spot, but there might be space to hide a tracker on some models of vehicles.
Step 2 – Search the Interior of the Vehicle
The interior of the car is where hardwired GPS trackers are more likely to be found, typically under the dashboard. Battery-powered trackers can be hidden between seat cushions or in the trunk under mats, so it’s important to take your time when searching.
Start with the data port on the driver’s side where one might be plugged in. If there is nothing there, move on to the underside of the dashboard. This is where most wired GPS trackers are located. You may need to remove the cover of the dashboard to get a good look. Look for a wire that doesn’t match the rest of the car or isn’t neatly tied up with the rest of the car’s wires. If you see an unusual wire or a small device, you have more than likely found a GPS tracker.
The trunk is another place to inspect, especially the spare tire area. Depending on your car’s model, the vehicle may also have other compartments under the floor where a GPS tracker could be tucked away.
Under the seats is another excellent place to hide a tracker. Most people don’t bother looking there unless their phone falls between the cracks or they are doing a deep cleaning. Use a flashlight to look for any loose hanging wires or a small box. Pull up all mats and run your hand over every surface to feel for any strange bumps that shouldn’t be there.
Step 3 – Use a GPS Tracker Detector
Searching your vehicle with your hands and eyes is a good start. To make sure there isn’t a tracker, use a GPS detector, often called an electronic sweeper or GPS tracker locator. They can be bought online or in a surveillance supply store. They scan for radio frequency transmissions or cellular transmissions, depending on the one you purchase.
To use an electronic sweeper to find a GPS tracker, walk slowly around your vehicle with the GPS tracker finder. If you think there is a GPS tracker in a specific location, such as the wheels, set the device near them to double check the signal. The electronic sweeper will beep and alert you of any signal.
Additionally, try having someone else slowly move the car while you walk around it because many battery-powered GPS trackers need to have the car in motion to be activated.
Step 4 – Seek Professional Services
If you didn’t find a GPS tracker after doing an extensive search and tried an electronic sweeper, but you still believe you are being followed, you should enlist the help of a professional service.
If a GPS tracker is present, professionals will be able to find a GPS tracker with ease. This is due to the fact that they will have access to better GPS tracker detectors. To find a service, search one the following terms:
- Remote Start Installer
- Licensed Professional in Electrical Systems
- Alarm System Installers
- Private Investigators
What to Do if You Find a GPS Tracker
If you find a battery operated GPS tracker, you can simply remove it by pulling it from its spot. Most are attached with a magnet or tape making it easy to remove it from your vehicle. You will need to turn it off to prevent it from giving away your location but there is no need to fully destroy it.
If you find a wired GPS tracker, you will want to contact a professional. You could cut the wire or try to remove it yourself, but it may cause damage to your vehicle. A professional will make sure what you are cutting is the tracker and not something else.
Keep Yourself Safe with a GPS Tracker Detector
GPS trackers can be useful for companies and law enforcement but for the everyday person, a tracker can be an invasion of privacy. To find one, do an external and internal search on your vehicle. To be extra safe, use a GPS tracker detector or bug detector. It will alert you if there is a signal emitting from a GPS tracker and it will be able to find a tracker even if you miss it on your inspection.