How to Detect a Car GPS Tracker

Do you feel watched? Do you suspect that there is a hidden tracking device in your car? If so, this article interests you. We will teach you how to detect a GPS tracker easily and simply. Keep reading!

What is a Car GPS tracker?

A Car GPS tracker is a device that allows you to determine the exact position of an object, vehicle, or person. They are usually synchronized with tracking platforms but can also be configured to send the positions to a mobile phone via SMS.

How does a Car GPS tracker work?

To detect a GPS locator it is important to know how it works. A GPS locator consists of two well-differentiated parts. A GPS antenna, internal or external, that determines the exact position of the device and a GSM / GPRS modem that sends the position by data to a tracking platform or a monitor phone

GPS trackers are devices that send positions in bursts, that is, periodically from time to time. They are usually in an interval between 10 and 60 seconds.

What types of GPS locators are there?

There are many types of car locators depending on the use, autonomy, and transmission they have. In order to detect a GPS locator, we must classify them mainly according to the data transmission they have:

GPS tracker with SIM card

They carry out data transmission using a sim card that is carried inside. Most use the 2G network, although the latest models allow the position to be sent via WIFI, Bluetooth, or the 3G network. Its advantages include the cost of the device and the wide coverage they have. These GPS trackers are the most commercialized.

GPS satellite locator

They work without a SIM card and their main advantage is that they work in places where there is no GSM coverage, such as in the middle of the sea. The GPS satellite locators are usually used for tracking shipping containers or vehicles running on remote locations such as deserts.

GPS tracker logger

Detecting a GPS locator is very complicated since it does not send data. The positions are stored on a micro SD card that must later be downloaded to a PC. They are impractical since they do not allow real-time monitoring.

Where is a GPS locator installed?

GPS trackers can also be classified according to whether they require installation or not. Let’s see some examples:

GPS tracker with installation

They need to be connected to a 12V power source. It does not have to be direct to the vehicle battery. They are normally installed inside the dashboard although they can also be hidden in the fuse box or in a rear turn signal.

These locators have a small internal battery so they can work even if the car’s battery is exhausted.

These devices are installed in a professional workshop.

GPS Locator without Installation

They are placed in just a few seconds. At the bottom, they have high-power magnets to easily adhere to the underside of vehicles. These types of locators are called GPS beacons or limpets.

This magnetized GPS is characterized by having a lot of autonomy. There are even 30 days of autonomy.

There are also GPS locators without installation with an integrated microphone that is placed under the seat or even camouflaged in cigarette lighter adapters.

What frequencies does a GPS tracker work with?

To detect a GPS locator we must know what frequencies they work with. As indicated above, most GPS trackers send their positions over the 2G network and to a lesser extent over the 3G, WIFI, or BlueTooth network. In the following table you will see the approximate frequencies:

  • 2G / GSM Europe: 900 and 1800 MHz
  • 2G / America: 850 and 1900 MHz
  • 3G / WCDMA: 2100 MHz
  • 4G / LTE: 1800 and 2600 MHz
  • WIFI and Bluetooth: 2400 MHz

How to detect a GPS locator?

Now that you know how a GPS tracker works, it will be very easy to detect them. You can use a detector or a frequency counter. We explain the differences:

Frequency detector

Most frequency detectors have a screen where they show the different commercial frequencies. The signal strength is determined by a bar indicator. The higher the intensity, the closer we will be to the device.

When the device detects a frequency, it will display it directly on the screen, indicating the network it belongs to. Its operation is very simple.

Frequency detector in gps locator

Frequency counter.

The frequency counters detect the exact frequency being much more precise and versatile. They will serve you not only to detect GPS locators but also UHF microphones and any other spy device that works between 30 MHz and 8000 MHz.

gps locator Frequency counter

What is the best device to detect a hidden GPS locator?

There are many frequency detectors on the market, although most of them look like toys more than anything else. Buying a cheap frequency detector will not only not help you but you will be wasting money as it will make detections when there is nothing and will not make them when there is something.

If you suspect you have a hidden GPS tracker installed you can scratch your pocket now.

The devices that we recommend are not toys, but real work tools used by professionals. They are much more expensive but these detectors work really well with an excellent quality/price ratio.

Depending on the knowledge you have, we can recommend two models:

project 1207 frequency detector

The Digiscan Labs iProtect 1207 Detector is very easy to use and intuitive device. With a simple glance, you will know what you are detecting. It allows locating the car and all kinds of devices that work by GSM, 3G, 4G Wifi, and Bluetooth such as GPS locators, GSM spy microphones or wireless cameras.

It has as an accessory a high gain antenna that will give you more sensitivity, that is, you will be able to detect devices at a greater distance.

Digital frequency counter

It is possibly the best device to detect a hidden car GPS locator. It has all the advantages of the above arrangement and, also has the function of a frequency counter. You can locate all kinds of hidden transmission, not only the GSM, 3G, 4G, WIFI, or Bluetooth networks, but also the 5G or UHF band that wireless microphones use.