A lot of people think that tracking devices are for people involved in criminal investigations, but the truth is that these things could come from someone closer to home.
For instance, a suspicious partner or a crazy ex could be the one tracking your car. However, they do tend to use cheap trackers that stick out like an elephant in a room—most small GPS tracking devices can be found if you know how to make a thorough search.
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Inspect the exterior
Get a flashlight and your car’s manual. The cheaper trackers are usually large magnetic boxes. While most of the time these devices are not too obvious to the naked eye, there are a few tell-tales, like an out-of-place wire, for example.
Before you go yanking out wires, however, make sure you know cars; and if you don’t, make sure you have your car’s manual with you to keep you from yanking out actual car parts.
Check the undercarriage, get on your back and shine your flashlight on the underside of your car. Most gps trackers link to GPS satellites and won’t function where the metal blocks the connection, so focus on the perimeter of the underside, looking out for suspicious boxes, taped-on objects, or antennas.
If you find something odd, give it a light tug; most tracking devices are magnetic and are easily detachable.
Also remember to check the gas tank, the large metal surface makes it an easy spot to attach a magnetic device.
Inspect the wheel. Check the plastic guard of each wheel, especially if it feels loose. Any GPS device could be obvious here because obviously, your car did not come with any weird boxes by the wheel.
If someone has extended access to your car, check the tires and look behind them, but it’s not too likely a location; however, if you do insist on checking the tires, be aware that some brakes have wired sensors and most cars know if there’s something that shouldn’t be there.
Also look into the bumpers. Front and rear bumpers are the last exterior locations to place a cheap tracker, so check them to see where anyone could slip in a device. Under the front bumper is the car’s electrical system, so always compare the wiring to the manual before you remove anything—you don’t want to wreck your car on plain suspicion.
Take a look at the roof. This is a feasible location for two reasons: first is that an SUV or tall vehicles can host a device even when it’s hidden in plain sight and second, the sunroof could hide a small device in the retraction slot.
Leave the hood for last resort. The front of the car is a hot, solid metal box that is regularly inspected by a driver, so it makes for a terrible spot for a tracker. It’s not entirely impossible, but even the average jealous partner or paranoid neighbor may be unlikely to try this. Give it a quick glance and move on to the interior.
Out-of-place wires to the car battery may lead to a tracker device, but make sure that compare the wiring to your manual’s diagrams before jumping to conclusions.
Take a look inside the upholstery. Unzip seat cushions and headrests if possible, including checking the removable parts.
Also check the seats and the carpet. Shine your flashlight up onto the underside of the seats, most of them have heating mechanisms built in, so compare the appearance of the front seats to find anomalies.
Access beneath the dashboard—most car models allow you to unscrew the glove box compartment and the panel underneath the steering wheel. Look for a loose wire that isn’t taped or tied to others and try to trace it to the source. To do this, run your fingers on the underside of the dash and feel for an antenna that has been glued or taped on.
Look in the back of your vehicle—remember, most car trackers cannot receive signals through metal, so focus on areas underneath the rear window before going to the trunks, remove the spare tire, and check thoroughly for illegal trackers in your vehicle.
Hire a professional. If you haven’t found a tracker, chances are that there isn’t one. However, if you’re still suspicious, hire someone to sweep your entire vehicle, and you can take your pick from any of these professionals:
- A car alarm installer that sells GPS trackers
- A mechanic with experience finding trackers
- A private investigator
Get an electronic car sweep. Devices that actively transmit locations can be pinpointed with handheld detectors. There are also GPS locators that store info for later and can hide from these sensors. If you’re willing to spend some extra cash, look for a company that sells technical surveillance counter measures (TSCM)
Other trackers could only transmit information regularly or when the car is moving, so test to see if the tracker is working by driving somewhere remote—nearby cellphone transmissions could interfere with the device.
Lock your vehicle at all times and keep it at a safe location when it is not in use. This will eliminate the risk of being tracked and will lessen the danger as well.
Most trackers need to be retrieved on a regular basis to remove or replace the battery of pick-up data. Keep a camera near your parking space and you might be able to see the culprit. Advanced trackers have long lifespans, though, so you may have to wait a while.
Most trackers are visible without having to disassemble parts, so do not cut or damage your vehicle unless you know exactly what you’re doing. Hire a professional otherwise.
Remember that jealous spouses and crazy ex-relationships could cause for a GPS tracking device to be installed in your car, but don’t push it—sometimes, your own paranoia could get the best of you. Check your car for trackers a couple of times, and if you can’t find it there, chances are that there may never actually be one.
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