UPDATED February 10, 2022 This piece has been updated to reflect the emergence of new technology
Christian Mathews Security Writer
GPS trackers on vehicles are wonderful devices that are extremely useful for both personal and professional purposes. On a personal level, it helps you track the whereabouts of your loved ones for their safety. While in professional settings, they are used for tracking company vehicles, especially in the transport and logistic sectors. Additionally, they are used by employers to track the whereabouts of their employees. Many people wonder where is a GPS tracking device installed on a car?
Like most technologies, GPS trackers are used for unethical purposes as well. Someone can easily plant it in your vehicle without your knowledge, which is a direct invasion of your privacy. If you suspect that your vehicle has been bugged by a GPS tracking device, you want to perform an inspection. However, you might not know where to start and what to look for.
So we’ve put up this post where we explain what GPS trackers look like and how does GPS tracker work. We explain the most probable places they can be installed in your car by someone. And we discuss how you can get rid of them when you find one.
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1How to Identify a GPS tracker
What do tracking devices look like? A GPS tracker comes in different varieties, and they have varying designs. First, you need to know the types of GPS trackers, which are listed below.
Wired and Battery-Powered Devices
These are small devices that are usually rectangular or oval in shape. A wired GPS device needs to plug into your car’s power supply and will have wires leading out of them. A battery-powered GPS device has its own built-in battery, so there won’t be any wires.
It’s not likely that you’d find a battery-powered GPS tracker in your car as it needs to be charged. Otherwise it runs out of power. It’s impractical for someone to plant it on your vehicle. If someone plants a wired GPS in your vehicle the wires themselves are the biggest giveaway.
OBD refers to on-board diagnostics, which is the system that controls the automated functions of your vehicle. It is usually located in the dashboard of the car, somewhere under the steering wheel. An OBD tracker is a GPS device that plugs into the OBD port of your vehicle. It is easily concealed behind the dashboard. Since these devices are only operated from the OBD port you will already know where to look for them.
Hard-Wired GPS Trackers
Hard-wired GPS trackers are professionally installed beneath the dashboard of your car. These cannot be detected with the naked eye or general inspection, unless you are a trained mechanic yourself.
These devices are the most difficult to detect out of all the devices we have discussed so far. They are also equally difficult to plant as they must be professionally installed. It wouldn’t make sense for someone to have that much access to your vehicle. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely for anyone to go through the trouble of planting a hard-wired GPS tracker in your car. But you still shouldn’t rule out this possibility if you want to be sure.
2How to Detect a GPS Device on Your Vehicle: Where Are GPS Tracking Devices Placed On Cars
To answer where is a GPS tracking device installed on a car, you can perform a physical inspection yourself. You can use a GPS detector or hire a professional to inspect the car thoroughly. Let’s explore each of these options in detail.
You need to examine your vehicle based on the type of device you are searching for. Wired GPS devices are planted in the front bumper, somewhere around the dashboard area or under the hood of your car as these locations are close to the car battery.
If there is some space around your front bumper to peek behind it check if you can find wires that seem out of place. Open the hood and see if there’s any device or wiring that you don’t recognize or that looks out of place. Don’t mess with anything unless you have experience with the parts and mechanism. Also, look behind your dashboard if you can spot a wired or even an OBD tracker.
Battery-powered GPS devices can be placed anywhere in the vehicle, so they are a bit difficult to find. The most common places to look for these devices are your glove compartment or any storage space, under the seats, the rear bumper and wheel wells.
Using GPS Device Detectors
As the name suggests, GPS tracker detectors can detect the signals emitted from tracking devices. They emit a sound or beep when they are closest to the device. These devices are easy to use as you need to sweep them through the vehicle. They will emit a sharper sound the closer they come to the device. So, they give you a clue on the direction you should check towards.
Hiring a Professional
If your personal inspection and even a detector don’t yield any result, but you aren’t fully convinced, the best way to detect GPS devices is to hire a professional mechanic. They have the training with all ins and outs of vehicles. They can certainly find a GPS device on your vehicle if there is one.
3Removing A GPS Tracker From Your Car
When you do find a GPS device planted in your car, how exactly do you remove it? It depends on the type of device.
If you have successfully found a wired device, do not to tamper with it immediately or try to unplug it. You could confirm which wires are protruding from the device and simply cut them off. Only do this if you can clearly see the device and are absolutely sure that the wires belong to the device. Otherwise, cutting the wrong wire can damage your vehicle or even prove dangerous when driving a faulty vehicle. The best course of action is to seek professional help in such cases.
If you locate a battery-powered GPS device, it is easy to remove. This is because they are usually attached to the vehicle by some adhesive and not wired to any part of the vehicle.
OBD trackers will always be on the OBD port of the car so you can simply unplug them if you do find one. For hard-wired devices, you probably won’t find them in the first place, so both detecting and removing them requires professional service.
4The Wrap Up
The best course of action when you find a GPS device in your car is to call a mechanic right away. Never try to take things into your own hands if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Your privacy is important, and no one has the right to intrude on it. If you have doubts about being tracked, we hope that this guide would have educated you on understanding. This should help in answering where is a GPS tracking device installed on a car and more specifically on your vehicle.