How to Find Hidden GPS Trackers on Vehicles
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Many vehicles today are equipped with a car GPS tracker that uses the global positioning system (GPS) and cellular networks to monitor and report the precise location of the vehicle. GPS trackers are popular among fleet and taxi companies and individual car owners as they help with theft recovery and vehicle monitoring. Most of the trackers are added by the owner, but any person can equip a vehicle with such a device without the knowledge or consent of the owner. If you suspect that your vehicle has been outfitted with a GPS tracker without your knowledge, there are some simple steps to take to determine whether you are being tracked.
What You Need to Know About GPS Tracking Devices
GPS trackers come in all shapes and sizes, some more discreet than others, and they can be divided into two broad categories: real-time GPS trackers (active) and GPS data loggers (passive). Active trackers combine GPS location tracking with real-time data transmission using cellular towers. The main advantage of active GPS trackers is that they can be accessed remotely over the internet. Passive GPS trackers store location data in internal memory and can be accessed only in person.
While installing most modern GPS trackers on a vehicle is a very simple process, finding hidden GPS trackers is seldom as straightforward. However, because of how GPS trackers work, there are several places on a vehicle where you should always look if you suspect that someone is monitoring your location with a GPS tracker.
Inspect the Exterior
Because bumpers are made of injection-molded ABS, they’re an excellent place for a GPS tracker, making this the most likely place for a tracker to be hidden. To look behind a bumper, we recommend you use a mirror on an extendable pole while illuminating the area with a flashlight.
If you don’t find anything behind both bumpers, continue by inspecting the vehicle’s undercarriage. Keep an eye on any part that’s noticeably cleaner than the rest of the undercarriage. Don’t forget to check the wheel wells. Even though that isn’t a recommended location for a tracker to be hidden, an inexperienced user may have placed one there.
Finally, carefully inspect under the hood. Unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best if you don’t disconnect anything. That said, pay special attention to any wires connected to the vehicle’s battery as they may lead to a GPS tracker.
Inspect the Interior
The easiest GPS trackers to find are those that plug directly into either the OBD data port behind the dashboard or the 12V cigarette lighter receptacle. These will likely be visible from the cab of the vehicle and will not require any special inspection techniques. If you don’t find a GPS tracker in these locations, inspect the rest of the interior, including the dashboard, storage compartments, under the seats, and below the spare tire.
Because the interior plastic trim on most modern vehicles is easy to remove and often hides an abundance of free space, that’s where you’re very likely to find a hidden GPS tracker. If you’re not keen on disassembling half of your car to find one small box, you should use an electronic bug sweeper. Electronic bug sweepers detect the presence of GPS and radio signals and can point you toward them, helping you find a GPS tracker in no time.
When to Seek Professional Help
Some GPS trackers are harder to find than others, but with the right counter-surveillance tools, finding even the most expertly hidden GPS tracker is possible, especially if you know where to look. If you find nothing but are still suspicious, it may be a good idea to have a professional car mechanic that you trust to examine the vehicle in search of a hidden GPS tracking device.
If you have questions about GPS trackers or counter surveillance tools like bug sweepers, the BrickHouse Security team is here to help. We invite you to contact our team for more information and assistance.
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Updated July 21, 2022