HOW TO FIND A TRACKER ON YOUR CAR
Wondering how to find a tracker on your car? Or what should you do if you ever find a hidden GPS tracker on your vehicle? Learn all about GPS tracking devices and how to find these small devices when hidden on your car to track your movements.
Have you ever had that eerie feeling that you were being watched? Maybe, you've stayed at a seedy hotel or an Airbnb, where you just had this strange gut feeling that you shouldn't trust the mirrors. Or, maybe you've even heard about how easy it can be for someone to plant a GPS tracker on your car to follow your exact movements about town, and now you're paranoid about your crazy ex!
The fact is that spy and security technology can be used for the greater good of society, allowing us to protect our personal property, deter crime, and keep bad people out of good places. For instance, taxi companies often use trackers to keep tabs on their cars, ensuring their drivers' safety and providing them with a better chance of theft recovery if any of their vehicles are ever stolen.
However, in the wrong hands, people can also use trackers and spy technologies, let's say, for more nefarious purposes. So, if you're still suspicious that someone is monitoring your location using a GPS tracker, this article is definitely for you! Below, we're looking at everything there is to know about GPS tracking devices and even how to look for a hidden GPS device on your car.
HOW DO GPS TRACKING DEVICES WORK?
Example of a Hardwired GPS Tracker
It's a well-known fact that your cell phone uses GPS technology to track its current location in real-time. But did you know that your cell phone communicates with satellites way up in the sky to accomplish this? Today, it's estimated that there are roughly 2,787 active artificial satellites in orbit around the Earth.
These satellites are used for many different purposes, including space observation, broadcasting TV and radio frequencies, and allowing in-flight communications for airplanes. And, in many rural parts of the world where landlines don't reach, satellites are often the primary source of telephone communications for people living in the area.
On top of all that, satellites are also the primary timing source for cellular networks, cellphone towers, and, of course, GPS tracking devices. GPS tracking devices communicate with three or more orbiting satellites as part of the global positioning system. Using a process known as trilateration, a GPS tracking device can measure its distance from three nearby satellites to determine the local time, elevation, and location-based on its latitude and longitude.
When combined with other location mapping technologies, such as the Google Maps app that you most likely have on your phone, a tracking device can continuously track your location and follow your movements within an accuracy of a few meters, at any time, no matter where you are on the planet. Manufacturers will sometimes sell their tracking devices along with computer software or mobile applications that allow users to record or track the device's location in real-time automatically.
HOW TO FIND A HIDDEN TRACKER IN YOUR CAR
It's one thing to have a hunch that somebody has placed a hidden GPS tracking device on your vehicle, but to find a GPS tracker, that's a whole different story! Depending on how crafty your pursuer is, there are hundreds of places on a vehicle where a hidden tracking device can be placed where it won't be seen. Fortunately, most times, people won't go through all that much trouble to hide a tracker inside or outside your vehicle.
Therefore, if somebody has bugged your car, you'll probably be able to find the device hidden in a few commons spots, such as underneath the driver's side or passenger side seat or passenger door or inside the dash console or OBD. Be sure to check seat pockets on the back of the front seats and in-between back seats. But, if whoever is trying to track you did get crafty in concealing their device, you may need to rely on professional tools to help you find it.
USE AN ELECTRONIC SWEEPER
Using an electronic bug detector or a bug sweeper is easily the best and most effective method when looking for hidden devices. By scanning your car with an electronic bug sweeper, you'll be able to detect if any active GPS devices are emitting a radio frequency from inside the vehicle, no matter where the device is hidden.
Even if your pursuer has gone through the lengths of taking your vehicle apart to hide a tracker where you won't find it, a simple bug sweeper can quickly identify a hidden tracking device, alerting you that an active GPS device is tracking you.
SEEK PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE
If somebody is tracking your movements with a GPS tracker, it may be time to seek professional help and guidance on how to proceed. In some cases, if you know who is trying to track you, you may want to speak to a lawyer, local law enforcement, or a private investigator.
But if you've found a hidden GPS tracking device in your vehicle or elsewhere, and you don't have any idea who put it there, local law enforcement can help determine who the tracker is owned by using the unique IMEI number associated with that tracker, which once investigated properly should lead to who manufactured the device, who the manufacture sold it to and who the store sold it too. Often a subpoena is required to get these records.
Either way, if you've found a GPS tracker, it represents a severe breach of privacy, and whoever has placed the device on your vehicle could face serious legal consequences for their actions.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR A HIDDEN GPS TRACKER: EXTERIOR
You can easily hide both active and passive trackers anywhere on your vehicle. In other words, there are dozens of hiding spots, nooks, and crannies where somebody might place a hidden device to track you.
So to keep things simple, you should split your search for hidden devices into the outside and then the inside. In most cases, a pursuer will not have access to the inside of your vehicle. Therefore, hidden GPS trackers often end up being placed on the exterior of a vehicle, usually underneath or inside one of the wheel wells.
START BY CHECKING THESE SPOTS
Get on your hands and knees and feel around the inside edge of the underside of your vehicle. Keep an eye open for anything that looks or feels out of place, like a weatherized pelican case with magnet, these are often used because many trackers are not weatherized or magnetic. If you can't find anything within an arm's reach, check inside both the front and rear wheel wells and your bumpers for anything suspicious.
A few other common locations where GPS trackers can be placed include inside your gas tank cap, underneath your hubcaps, near your rear license plate, along the front and rear bumpers of the car (especially on minivans or SUVs where there's often a handle or latch to life the hatch open), inside the front grill or behind the radiator, or underneath the hood.
If you're driving a trucker or a larger SUV-type vehicle, you might also have a spare tire underneath the vehicle's rear, which makes an excellent spot to conceal a GPS device. Naturally, there are also many different makes and models of vehicles, which will all have other places where hidden GPS trackers can be concealed. Plus, there's the fact that whoever placed it on your car will likely have done their best to conceal their device as much as possible.
So, do your best to think of and check any spots on your car where you don't often look. And, that's most likely where you'll find a hidden tracking device. If you cannot locate anything but still feel certain there may be a tracker on your vehicle, you can reach out to a local repair shop. Some may charge a small fee to look under your vehicle, but lifting the car allows the technician to quickly ascertain if something should or should not be on the car.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR HIDDEN GPS TRACKERS: INTERIOR
Today, some of the most cutting-edge GPS trackers can be as small as the tip of your finger or a small box of a few centimeters in size, meaning that GPS trackers can be concealed virtually anywhere inside your car, sometimes even in plain sight.
To look for a hidden device, I'd recommend starting in the front of your car and then working your way toward the back. Check on and underneath your dashboard near the steering wheel, especially if your car has a data port or ODB located somewhere under there.
Then, scan everywhere around the driver and passenger seats, inside the sun visors or any other storage compartments, and then make your way into the back seat area for a thorough inspection. There's no doubt that a hidden GPS tracker might get placed in the front or rear area of your car.
But if your follower were smart about it, they would likely try to hide the device somewhere where you don't look as often, such as on the passenger side of the car or in the trunk, possibly underneath your spare tire or any breakaway panels that hold your vehicles jack.
Remember that trackers can be small, so you may want to check in the air ducts, under any interior light covers, under the seats, between seat cushions, around the doors, in your glove box, as well as any other less-than-obvious locations you can think of. Again, using a bug sweeper can make finding these trackers much easier and less time-consuming than looking for them manually.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU FIND A HIDDEN GPS TRACKER
Depending on your circumstances, if you suspect you are being followed, you may want to contact a lawyer or local law enforcement for help. In some cases, a private investigator or spy specialist may be able to help you find out who the device belongs to.
If the device you've found has any identifying information on it, you might be able to look up more about the manufacturer to see if you can learn anything. But for the most part, to prevent the device from tracking you any longer, you'll need to remove the device from your car and disable it, either by turning it off or removing the battery as some units do not have an on-off.
HOW TO REMOVE A GPS TRACKING DEVICE
Whether you've used an electronic bug detector or found a hidden tracker with your bare hands, you'll likely want to remove it from your vehicle as soon as possible to stop it from tracking your movements.
That said, there are many different types of active trackers and passive GPS devices, some of which might even be hard-wired into your car's data port or electrical system. In this case, if you're unable to unplug the device, you may need to cut any wires connecting it to your car, and recommend taking it to your local repair shop to do this as not to damage anything of importance on your vehicle.
However, in most cases, the tracker will be held to your vehicle using an adhesive like tape or magnet, the latter being most common. In either of these cases, remove anything that may be holding the tracker in place, remove it, and then disable the battery and bring it to your local law enforcement for further guidance.