Where is a GPS Tracking Device Installed on a Car?

Looking to install a gps tracking device in real time or need help finding the location of a hidden gps tracking device that may be on the vehicle? If so, this article is for you.

Whether you’re using the gps trackers for fleet management, or just want one on your vehicle for personal reasons, there are plenty of reasons why people look to install a gps tracker onto their vehicle.

However, one of the big questions many people have is where should you install the device? If you’re looking to keep it hidden, you need to find an area that isn’t visible, but also still gets a signal.

If the location doesn’t matter, then there are plenty of possible places you could add it on the car that will give you a strong signal, while still being out of the way.

In this article we’ll tackle options on both the interior and exterior of the vehicle, why you should install a gps tracker, and how someone should install it even if you have no experience.

So, let’s get into it!

Why You Should Install GPS Trackers in Cars for Fleet Management

With the new ELD compliance measures being put into place back in December 2019, it is now more important than ever to have gps trackers for your fleet of vehicles. The mandate states that all vehicles in the fleet must have an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) installed on the vehicle in order to track their use and Hours of Service (HOS).

However, complying with the rules isn’t the only reason you’ll want tracking software on every vehicle. Professional gps tracking devices are sure to offer many other benefits such as monitoring the location of your fleet, real time data to help make the best decisions out on the road for optimal routes, and many other features.

Let’s take a look at some of the best use cases you’ll get for your business once gps trackers are installed on your fleet of vehicles.

1. Lower operating expenses – Installation of GPS tracking devices allow you to choose optimal routes for your drivers. This helps reduce time out on the road, fuel consumption, wear and tear on the car, and employee costs.

2. Save Time – As mentioned above, a good gps fleet tracking system will drastically reduce the amount of time your drivers are out on the road. One of the main things a tracker can help with is directing drivers to less busy streets during busy times of the day.

3. Lower Insurance Costs – Most insurance companies will offer discounts for vehicles that are equipped with a fleet management system. Some insurance carriers will lower your premiums anywhere from 25-35%

4. Happy Customers – GPS tracking will enable your drivers to be more responsive to customers because you’ll know where all of your trucks are at any given time so you’ll be able to quickly dispatch the closest driver to the customer.

5. Manage Every Driver Effectively – With data at your fingertips thanks to gps trackers, you’re able to make smart decisions based on real time data that you’ll find may save you time and money if used properly

6. Easy to Locate Vehicles – If you find that a vehicle has been stolen or a driver has gone rogue, you’ll likely be able to find the vehicles using gps trackers once you start the search.

7. Reduce Paperwork – With gps fleet management software, you’re able to keep track of information online, thus eliminating the need for a lot of paperwork you often find from companies not utilizing a tracker system.

As you can see, there are many benefits when it comes to adding gps devices. Before buying though, make sure you look for a few things beforehand such as battery life, size (small is ideal), whether it’s motion sensitive or not, and other features like a magnetic box so it easily fastens to metal.

For more information on what some of the best gps tracking devices have, take a look at a few of our more popular models.

How to Install GPS Tracking Devices on Cars and Trucks

Wired Installation of Your Tracking Device

GPS trackers come in two different variations, either portable tracking devices or hardwired. The portable ones are wireless and easier to move around because they are battery operated.

On the other hand, the hardwired versions are powered up from the vehicle they are installed in, and need to be wired in.

Mounting Requirements

The first thing you need to do is prepare for the installation with all of the necessary tools and information. These include:

1. tracking device and wiring harness
2. Make/Model/Year of the vehicle
3. Tools such as wire strippers and cutters, screwdrivers, crimping tool, zip ties, voltmeter, and velcro strips.

Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary equipment, it’s time to install the tracking device. The first thing you need to do is decide where you want to put the tracking device. For example, if you want it hidden from drivers, a good spot might be under the dashboard of the vehicle.

Try to avoid placing the tracker under the hood of the vehicle as they can’t penetrate metal. Also, try and keep the device away from electronics, such as the radio, in order to avoid the possibility of feedback during transmission.

Installation

Once you’ve determined a location, it’s time to install a gps tracking device.

Step 1 – Locate the red wire that offers a 12 VDC power supply and cut and strip the wire

Step 2 – Strip the red wire on the tracking device and connect the two wires together, using a crimp

Step 3 – On the vehicle, locate the ignition (accessory) wire and connect that to the white wire on your tracking device. This will enable it to be able to report when the vehicle is on or off.

Step 4 – Connect the black wire on the gps tracking device to the chassis of the vehicle, which serves as the grounding for the tracking device.

Step 5 – Zip tie the gps tracking device to the dashboard so that it stays securely in place.

Wireless (Bluetooth) Installation of Your GPS Tracker

Best Places to Put a GPS Tracker in the Car

If keeping the gps device hidden in the vehicle isn’t necessary, you’ll find there are many places on the vehicle where you can install the devices.

Let’s review some of the most popular places people like to place their trackers during installation.

    1. Plug it into the vehicle’s OBD Port – Some gps trackers can be installed by plugging them into the OBDii port on the car. Typically this is under the steering wheel and is easy to install, usually only taking a couple of minutes. Once you plug it into the port, you’ll get real time system data and diagnostics like location, maintenance alerts, and harsh braking.
    2. On the Dashboard – By far the most common place to put a gps tracker if you’re not trying to hide it is on the dashboard of the vehicle. With this location, there will be minimal interference, allowing for a strong signal.

tracking a gps on a dashboard

    1. Rear Shelf – Another great place to put a gps tracker in a car is the rear shelf of the vehicle. Here, it is out of the way, but also has limited interference so again, you’re able to get a strong signal for easy vehicle tracking.
    2. Sun Visor – Attaching devices to the sun visor is also a good location because it’s easily accessible so the driver is able to check if any issues arise such as the battery running out or a loss of power.
    3. Glove Compartment – While some might consider the vehicle’s glove compartment as a hidden place someone might use for gps tracking in cars, it’s easy enough to find that we look at this as a more common location. The good thing about the glove box is that it’s out of the way. However, with items often being put in or taken out of the glove compartment, putting a gps device here may not be the best location due to increased risk of damage or interference.
    4. Attached to the Roof – If you want the best possible spot when it comes to signal strength, you should think about putting your tracker on the roof of your vehicle. Using a magnetic box, attaching devices to the roof is a great source of power aiming directly into the sky for maximum connection. However, one down side to this location is the increased risk that the tracker is stolen.

Best Places to Hide a GPS Tracker on Your Car

If you want to make sure the tracker is hidden and difficult to find, either on the interior or exterior of the car, but still gets a good signal, there are a few possible spots that will do the trick.

The main thing you need to be concerned about is the signal strength. Most gps trackers are able to pass through foam, fiberglass, wood, glass, and plastic and still hold a signal. However, putting them behind some materials can result in problems.

So, it’s important to test out each spot to make sure the device is still able to connect to a satellite, especially when dealing with a fleet of vehicles.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the more popular spots to hide a gps tracker.

Under the Car (undercarriage)

One of the most common places to hide a GPS tracker is under your car. By placing the tracker on the metal frame of either the passenger side or driver’s side, you’ll be able to get a signal when the signal bounces off of the road.

However, make sure to inspect under the car with a flashlight to make sure there aren’t a lot of wires or heavy metals in the way. This is one spot you’ll definitely want to test and see if everything is working properly once installed.

Inside the Dashboard

If you know your way around a car or truck, one of the most covert options for hiding your GPS tracker is inside the dashboard. Even inside the dashboard, the device will still be able to pick up satellite signals.

Front or Rear Bumper

Neither of these are ideal options, but behind the bumper may be an option nonetheless. The reason the bumper isn’t an ideal place is because there are a lot of wires near the bumper area that are important when it comes to your vehicle’s electrical systems, such as the lights or external sensors.

Not only does this make it difficult to install the gps tracker, but you risk getting tangled in the wires which could result in a trip to the mechanic if you’re not careful.

Wheel Well

wheel well

While you see this one a ton in movies, similar to the bumpers, wheel wells are not an ideal location for installing a GPS tracker in a car or truck. The main reason you don’t want to install tracking devices in the wheel well is because it’s out in the elements.

Debris and other things being kicked up by your wheels pose a risk of damaging the gps tracker or having it fall off of the vehicle and getting lost. Therefore, we don’t recommend putting the GPS tracker in your wheel wells.

Inside the break lights

Similar to the dashboard, you’re going to need to know your way around a car for this one. You’ll need to pop off the brake light cover and put the gps tracking device inside, behind the brake light.

However, keep in mind that if there are ever any brake light issues, there’s a decent chance the tracking devices will be found.

Under the Passenger Seat

While putting the tracker under the passenger seat may sound like a good option because it isn’t visible, but also easy to access, it may not be a good source to deliver a strong signal.

This is one spot you’ll want to inspect and test out to make sure the software is working properly and isn’t affecting the data.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for a tracking device for personal reasons or for fleet management, there are many benefits to installing gps trackers on cars and trucks.

There are also many places on both the interior and exterior that these devices can be installed, whether you want them hidden for security reasons, or in plain site.

If you have any questions about how or where to install your gps device, or need help getting started, shoot us an email and we’ll be happy to help!

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