Place a GPS Tracker in a Car

Edited by Donna, Eng

Whether you are trying to keep track of the driving behaviors of your driving teenager, a spouse that might be cheating or even if you just want to have a way of locating your vehicle in case it is stolen, is important to place your GPS in a way that it is not detected by the driver or passengers. Once detected the device can be removed or broken or discovery of the device could cause a conflict with a loved one when they conclude that you have placed it in their vehicle because you don't trust them. To save yourself time and drama, it is best to learn where in your vehicle to properly place the tracking device to avoid discovery.

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A Hard-Wired Real-Time GPS Tracker. Photo courtesy of

How Does A GPS Vehicle Tracker Work?

GPS stands for global positioning system and it is a transmitter that broadcasts real-time location data to your cell phone or computer. The broadcast is courtesy of 24 satellites that orbit around the earth and use a process called triangulation to pinpoint the location of the GPS tracker and then broadcast that information to you.

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GPS triangulation transmission to satellites illustrated. Photo by Javiersanp

The tiny vehicle tracker is hidden in the car with the antenna positioned in a way that it can pick up satellite signals just as it would with a GPS unit meant for hiking or helping you find locations while driving. You can then later view that information on your computer.

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This is an example of the type of features you will see when data is sent to you from a GPS tracker. Photo by Eclipse Technologies.

What Kind of GPS Device Should I Choose to Track A Vehicle?

When shopping for a GPS to use for tracking a vehicle you should look for the following characteristics -

  • The best type of GPS tracker for vehicle track is a small portable one that is a neutral color and will not easily be detected by drivers or passenger.
  • Choose the GPS tracking device with the longest battery that life that you can afford. Most GPS trackers will last about 15 hours a week before they need recharging but some very high quality ones can last up to thirty days without needing a charge,
  • Choose a GPS tracking device with a motion sensor so that the vehicle is only tracked when it is actually moving
  • Choose a GPS tracking device with a magnetic casing so that it sticks securely to a metal part of the vehicle without falling off
  • The smaller the GPS is the better because it will be harder to detect by the person you are tracking

Choose a tiny GPS tracker such as this Sentinel Micro Real-Time GPS Tracker that is slightly bigger than a paper clip. Photo courtesy of

Why the Battery Life of a GPS Vehicle Tracking Device Matters

The battery life of a GPS tracking device is important because there are so many factors that can cause the device to simply stop transmitting location information to you. It is the choices that you make when setting up the device that affect the longevity of its battery the most

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When setting up the unit be sure to keep in mind the following factors -

  • The more often you request it to send you information, the faster the GPS tracking device is going to burn up it's battery power so if you have the choice of having it transmit information to you every 5 minutes or 30 minutes, choose the 30 minutes.
  • Make sure the device's motion sensor is turned on as that will stop the GPS from using battery power when the vehicle is still

Where to Place GPS Tracking Units in a Vehicle

When it comes to placing GPS Tracking Units in a vehicle you have several options. Remember that these units come with tiny antennas that must be pointing to the sky where the satellites are broadcasting or they will not transmit location information to you.

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Here are the recommendations for placing the GPS in your vehicle from most recommended hiding place to less recommended (meaning it is still a good place but more likely to be discovered by a driver or passenger.

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  1. 1
    Hide it inside the dashboard
    If you have access to tucking the GPS vehicle tracking device up inside your dashboard it is unlikely the device will be discovered and the unit will also have good access to satellites trying to pinpoint its location
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  2. 2
    Attach it with a magnet to the vehicle undercarriage
    High quality GPS trackers are magnetic and equipped with a waterproof casing that resists damage from water, dust and snow.
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  3. 3
    If the car has a front or rear plastic bumper, then these are ideal places to hide the GPS tracker because it is a part of the car that is easily removable and the driver rarely has an occasion to look inside a bumper
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  4. 4
    Hide it inside the back brake lights by taking the light cover off, inserting it and replacing
    However, keep in mind that if the brakes malfunction that the GPS unit will be immediately discovered
    Try hiding the GPS tracking device inside one of the headlights. Photo by Dr. James Hughes.
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  5. 5
    Sew it inside a car seat cushion
    This can be a bit tricky as anything sitting on or covering the cushion could affect the satellite transmission but it is not likely to be discovered that easily.
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  6. 6
    Clip it to the sun visors above the front dash on the passenger's side
    The good thing about this location is that it offers the device a direct line of communication to the satellites however if a passenger decides to shade their eyes it could be easily discovered.
    Hiding the GPS tracker behind the sun visor on the passenger side might be a good idea. Photo by Christopher Ziemnowicz.
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  • When attaching a GPS tracking device to the undercarriage of a vehicle be sure to place it close to the edge so the inbuilt antenna in the device can pick up satellite signal; the antenna is usually pointing downwards.
  • If you are hiding the tracker inside of or under the front dashboard somehow make sure that signals from satellite radio will not be blocking transmission of your data to the satellites
  • Do not hide the GPS vehicle tracking device too closely to where the person places their GPS as the GPS signals could clash with the tracking device signals and confuse data as well as reveal its presence to the driver.
  • Hiding a GPS tracker between the seats is a bad idea because that is often the first place people look for hidden or lost objects and the device could be revealed or removed when the car is cleaned at the carwash
  • Avoid hiding the device inside the front grill of the car bumper as the GPS tracking device could heat up and malfunction or melt

Questions and Answers

Will the tracker work inside the rear bumper , its plastic?

Will my tracker work inside rear bumper, its plastic. Its not easy to find information on my new car its a Hyundai i30

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Article Info

Categories : Automotive | Road Safety

Recent edits by: Donna

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