How To Detect a GPS Tracking Device on Your Vehicle

A GPS Tracking device is commonly used for tracking and navigating the whereabouts of assets. It is all too commonly used to spy on people without their consent.

We get many calls each day from folks who feel they are being followed wherever they go, and without their knowledge.

If you have the suspicions that you are constantly under surveillance and being followed, trust your instincts.
You may be followed for many reasons…….
  • Jealous Spouse
  • Stalker
  • Employer
  • Insurance Investigator
  • Private Investigator
  • or many other reasons that are alarming and securing your vehicle is easier than you think.

GPS Trackers are usually very small, easy to conceal and can be hidden just about anywhere on a target’s vehicle or property. GPS Tracking devices come in different sizes and budgets. A concealed GPS is usually Battery Powered, so whomever has placed a tracker on your vehicle, needs to have access to remove and recharge. Some units are smaller than smartphones, you can see examples here:

Typical GPS Tracking Device

If you suspect that someone has placed an unauthorized GPS tracking device on your car, truck or other belongings, here are some helpful tips to uncover that covert GPS tracking unit. If you are targeted, we will help you uncover the truth and location of tracking device, to protect yourself.

First, you need to Inspect the Vehicle Thoroughly. While inspecting the vehicle, do include the tire wells, quarter panels, inside bumpers, especially soft bumpers. GPS tracking devices can be secured inside soft bumpers with Industrial strength Velcro.

Check any crevices of the vehicle, where a device can be concealed. Especially those areas that you cannot visibly see, try to run your hands and fingers and feel for small devices that should not be there. Remember a GPS Tracker is intentionally placed, so you do need to be thorough.

Try and search manually ALL of these locations:

  • Inside plastic bumper of vehicle (front or rear – Tip- Leave at edge of
  • Under Bug Shield if present in front of vehicle
  • Inside Rear Speakers or Under Rear Dash
  • Behind Glove Box – Possible if device facing up through front area through gaps of hood OR Simply Under Dash facing Up thru Windshield
  • Top of roof
  • Inside plastic bumper
  • In between window and hood showing through gaps of hood
  • Under back or front seat
  • Inside glove box
  • Rear Seat Pockets
  • Tire Wells, Quarter Panels, Grills, Trunk. Are ALL possibilities.

A hidden GPS tracker can be secured with a strong magnet under the car such as this.

What kind of hidden GPS trackers are there?

There are Passive and Active Trackers. Passive trackers, also known as GPS Loggers,  collect data and store location information to an internal drive. Active GPS trackers will immediately let someone know your exact location at all times.

This is what a typical GPS logger looks like

These do NOT transmit signals and can ONLY be found manually without the assistance of a GPS Bug Sweep Detection tool. In other words, these are usually small and don’t communicate with the outside world. Someone needs to physically return and recover a passive gps tracker in order to know its location history.

Then there are the LIVE, real-time GPS Trackers.

These are what most people are truly concerned about.

Here is two well known GPS tracking devices

Active GPS trackers that track in Real-Time, allows anyone to know where you are at all times. These Live GPS Trackers communicate your location, through the internet utilizing outbound cellular signals. It is those signal transmissions that are detectable by GPS detectors.

While inspecting your vehicle, for a GPS Tracking device, see if you can see or locate a waterproof black box attached to vehicle with magnet. If you can pull it off, the odds are it is not a factory-installed part of the car. Hidden inside is where you will find the GPS Tracker.

If you find one, contact your local police immediately with the evidence, and do not tamper with it. Also both passive and active GPS surveillance devices can be hidden in car cushions and/or headrests, map pockets, under seats. So a thorough inspection is needed to regain your privacy.

Active trackers send real time data information back to the person who is spying on you and these are easy to locate with a GPS Tracking Detection device such as the Pro-10G below.

The BEST GPS bug sweeper is the Spy Hawk PRO-10G. This unit is a Law Enforcement favorite because it is powerful and easy to use that will find all active GPS trackers.

Spy Matrix® PRO-10G GPS Bug Sweep Finds Hidden GPS Trackers


Learn More About The Pro-10G Bug Detector

Live GPS tracking devices are either attached into the vehicle’s electrical system, requiring a constant power source and consistent operation.
Or, Battery Powered units are concealed inside or around the vehicle under carriage perimeter.

Though a bit obvious and usually not conducive for covert tracking, a Spouse or Employer would have a GPS installed directly to the vehicle power system.  Otherwise, Law Enforcement, Private Investigators, Spouses or Stalkers would mount a unit outside perimeter under carriage with a Portable GPS Tracker.

Using a GPS Bug Detector will help you to CONFIRM and LOCATE the presence of an unauthorized Tracker.

Detecting the existence of a GPS tracking device on a vehicle usually requires the aid of another electronic device called a GPS Bug Detector.

GPS tracking devices are usually not affixed within metallic parts of vehicles

…due to the fact “Metal blocks inbound GPS Signals from the sky”.  So first inspect those areas with parts made of what is called as “GPS-friendly” materials such as glass, plastic, rubber, fiberglass etc.

GPS Bug Detectors use the radio frequency signal that is sent by a GPS Tracker to “detect” a GPS device.

So it “confirms the presence” of radio signals being transmitted by the device to the cellular networks used to communicate status and location with.

Use of this device allows you to uncover if someone has bugged your car, it not only confirms the presence of such outbound signals, but also helps to locate location of tracker hidden on vehicle.

In some cases you’ll need the help of a mechanic, to locate if indeed a GPS Tracker is hidden and concealed. Only a trained mechanic knows how to properly dismantle the dashboard, to locate if unit is a hardwired unit.

Finding A Hidden GPS Tracking Device Rules

Rule # 1

Attention: Before using your device the following pre-sweep actions are required.

Please turn off the following electronic devices that you know to be within about 500 feet

  • Wi-Fi Router, Routers and or Portable WiFi Hot Spot
  • Cordless Phones
  • Cell Phones
  • BlueTooth Devices
  • Etc.
Now that you have turned off the above listed electronic devices, this should help to prevent or minimize false positive signal detections. Avoid using any device that may transmit a signal within the giving detection range of your detector during a TSCM sweep.
Note: Knowing your environment and eliminating any device that may cause a false positive signal detection is the first step towards a successful TSCM sweep.

Rule # 2

You can ONLY detect a LIVE TRANSMITTING GPS each and every time it sends your location.

 A data logger that only records history of travels cannot be detected but can be easily found manually as typically they will be hidden the same way a Live Tracker would be concealed. Live GPS Trackers only emit their location while vehicle is in motion……. so here is how to find one hidden on your car. Live Trackers send location signals at a rate of either 10, 30, or 60 seconds apart. That will be the pattern you are looking to confirm presence of Tracker.

Step 1

Take vehicle to a Park or Ball Field where there are no overhead wires, no other folks on cell phones nearby. An empty parking lot is always best.

Step 2

Turn on Bug Detector and Drive around for about 15-20 minutes slowly and in BIG CIRCLES around the parking lot. While driving in big circles, you will be watching the detector to see if it LIGHTS UP ALL 10 Bars and SPIKES then drops. Every time it does that is has detected an ACTIVE Signal. If in the 15-20 minutes while driving in circles, if PRO-10G Redlines & Spikes at that time pattern of 10, 30, or 60 seconds apart and continues to do so… have confirmed that there is a Live Tracking device on vehicle/car/truck.

Step 3

Look at attached sheet of where Trackers are either installed or hidden covertly.

Step 4

To locate where on vehicle know that if Spouse or Employer had access to keys and ability to bring to mechanic, the tracker may be installed. Usually concealed under dash hidden behind glove box. Connected and Powered off of fuse box, ignition and ground. Otherwise, hidden around outside undercarriage perimeter, tire wells, quarter panels or inside bumpers with a Portable Magnetic Tracker. Usually Black so as to conceal item disguised as part of vehicle not to raise suspicion.

Step 5

Now PRESS the HOMING SWITCH on PRO-10G, This cuts the sensitivity of bug detector by 50%, so you now have to be twice as close to source of transmission to get the same result as Step 2.
With that said, you will now need to DRIVE for a few seconds, STOP and Hold PRO-10G by Rear Bumper each quadrant for that same pattern found in step 2. If nothing, do it again and again drive, stop and sweep…… this keeps GPS Live with no time to go back to sleep. You will sweep until figuring out which side of vehicle the GPS is concealed.

Step 6

Time to take to a mechanic and put car up on lift, to further manually inspect the areas where you have found live signals transmitting from.

Step 7

If unauthorized GPS is found, consult with your attorney or law enforcement immediately. Do not touch if a prosecutable offense, bring vehicle to Police and show them where you found it.
Threat neutralized!
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