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How do I detect if a gps if on my car

Posted on 2008-10-08
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-10
How can I find out if there is a gps attached to my car?
Question by:Buckie63
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LVL 38

Accepted Solution

lherrou earned 500 total points
ID: 22675367

First of all, do you have any reason to think someone would have planted a GPS tracking device on your car? (I presume this is what you are asking about).

If the answer to the above question is yes, then perhaps it's time to take a look at the behavior that led to someone perhaps wanting to do that.

Now, to your actual question: The answer is that for most people, it's pretty diffucult. Most people do not routinely have access to equipment that can detect radio signals and home in on them to check your car, nor do all GPS tracking devices emit signals. You can search your car, paying particular attention to the underside, inside of the back bumper, etc. Again, most people do not have the capability to do a complete search without being destructive to the car.

So, I guess the answer to your question is that it would be pretty hard to find out, especially if the device was placed by professionals.

LVL 55

Assisted Solution

by:Jaime Olivares
Jaime Olivares earned 500 total points
ID: 22676888
well, if a GPS was furtively installed at your car, there are 2 choices:
1) GPS saves positions at a memory for later extraction
2) GPS sends positions at real time with some radial/satelital signal
The first one is harder to detect since a radio scanner (like won't help you to detect.
Both will need a connection to the car's battery. A standalone battery will be unfeasible, since GPS comsumes much charge from battery.
Also, the gps antenna should be placed in an area not covered by metals.


Assisted Solution

boulosj earned 500 total points
ID: 23562382
I know very little on this topic, but was reading out of curiousity.  Jaime_olivares' comments made a lot of sense to me.  I thought "of course, it would need to be somewhere not covered by metal, and it would need power".  Then today I found these two products::

The fist one works for 7 years without recharging the battery!!!  And the second works INDOORS (or through obstructions).  So there go both ideas.  Most all other types of tracking device would probably be tied into the vehicle's electrical system as the previous commenter said.  That is for extended things like tracking your fleet or tracking your teenage driver.  So chances are if there really is one on your car, the first step is to look for something wired into the electrical system.  But that could be hard too since it could be almost anywhere.

Since it seems like they probably broadcast a quick burst signal repeatedly at some interval, maybe you can use a scanner to monitor over the course of an hour or a day with the car parked in a remote location where you wont pick up anything else.  It all depends on what means of wirelesses communication the device uses to transmit your location.  Here are a bunch of detectors:

LVL 14

Assisted Solution

Geisrud earned 500 total points
ID: 24033704
If factory and you're not sure, I'd call a dealer and have them run the VIN - I'm assuming you have a in-dash screen that would make you suspect of GPS?

Also, consult owner's manual in the glove-box.

Otherwise a quick search turned up many articles like this:

Expert Comment

ID: 25952885
If when you nick the car and you suddenly get busted in some strange remote location that they could not have possibly known about.... that usually indicates there was a GPS on the car :-)

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