How Do Car Trackers Work?

How Do Car Trackers Work?

The number of motor vehicle thefts in the US has increased swiftly since the pandemic, with nearly 37,560 reported stolen in 2022 alone. Such thefts also facilitate indirect crimes, like grand larceny and drive-by shootings, costing the economy approximately $7.4 billion. This makes safeguarding your car paramount. But how can you effectively protect your car?

You can install a GPS tracker in your car. This device employs satellite navigation information to offer instant updates about your car’s location, distance, and even speed to let you keep an eye on it at all times. So if it goes missing, you could inform the police of its exact location to help them find your automobile. 

But how do car trackers make it possible? What is their tracking process, and what are their components, features, and benefits? Keep reading this blog to understand the working of such devices and learn the benefits of installing a car GPS tracker in your automobile.

How Do Car Trackers Work? – Understanding GPS Technology

Car GPS trackers typically work by utilizing a combination of GPS (Global Positioning System) technology and cellular networks. The GPS component determines the location of the vehicle, while the tracker communicates this information to a remote server via cellular networks, allowing users to access real-time tracking data through a dedicated mobile app or web interface. 

GPS, or the global positioning system, facilitates access to real-time location data of an object or a person by transmitting signals between satellites orbiting Earth and a network of ground stations or receiving devices.

Initially employed in the 1960s for military purposes, this GPS navigation technology was eventually made accessible to the general public in 1983 and  gained popularity in the US in the early 2000s

GPS tracking is used on land, sea, and air for various purposes, including worldwide military training exercises, locating, navigation, and mapping of the globe

Components of Car Trackers

The majority of car monitoring systems rely on GPS technology to do their jobs efficiently. To obtain the current automobile location, a car tracking system integrates automated vehicle location tracking, for individual vehicles, with robust software to gather data.

However, what are the components of the car tracking solution? What systems or networks does it rely on? Let us take a look:

  • GPS receiver and antenna

The antenna is in charge of capturing satellite signals. It offers exact positional data, which is necessary for precise vehicle tracking. On the other hand, the receiver analyzes the signals the antenna has picked up from the satellite. Signals from the receiver are converted and amplified by the GPS antenna, which also decodes signals from the orbiting satellite network.

  • SIM card and cellular connectivity

Track trackers show location data to another device to view the coordinates on your phone or computer in real-time. This information is typically transmitted through a SIM card and cellular network, mandating the presence of a SIM card. But what is the advantage of this component? SIM cards allow for real-time, long-distance location tracking of objects.

  • Internal battery or power source

Power is necessary for all such devices. They have electrical components for receiving and sending location information. These circuits require electricity to operate, heavily relying on a power source.

Now that you’re clear on the three components of automobile trackers, how about we check out the tracking process and understand their functionality?

Tracking Process of Car Trackers

Car GPS Tracking Devices combine cutting-edge tracking technology with adaptable, sophisticated mapping and reporting software. Each vehicle has a GPS-enabled monitoring device fitted to gather and transmit tracking information over a cellular or satellite network, depending on which is most practical.

But how precisely can a car be tracked using this technology? Let’s check out the step-by-step process for vehicle monitoring:

  • Collection of GPS data: The attached tracking device uses GPS data to gather the required data, such as the car’s speed and current location. 
  • Transmitting data to a central server: Once the vehicle’s data has been collected, it is stored on the internal device via a cellular network. 
  • Data interpretation and visualization: The stored data is made accessible to you on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Though the tracking process looks simple in theory, trackers are nifty devices that work round the clock and have multiple benefits besides location tracing.

Features and Benefits of Car GPS Trackers

One of the greatest tools needed to track a vehicle’s whereabouts while it’s on the road is a GPS tracking device. The advantages of an automobile tracking device range from real-time location tracking to increased productivity. Listed below are some important features and benefits for you to ensure the safety of your loved ones via such solutions: 

  • Real-Time Tracking and Monitoring

By processing information from previous travels using the position history map, GPS trackers assist in identifying the best and worst roads or highways through real-time tracking. They use location-based historical data to identify congested roadways and optimize routes to enhance your navigation experience.

These devices provide real-time tracking data and support route optimization to increase the productivity of drivers. Moreover, this data can be accessed painlessly via mobile apps and dedicated web-based platforms.

  • Geofencing and Alerts

With geofencing, you may establish and build a virtual area of any size on a map to track your loved ones’ vehicles and trigger alerts when they exit or enter the marked area. 

For instance, an alert will be sent to you if the vehicle carrying your child enters or exits the geofenced region. Vehicle tracking software is used to set up geofence alerts in cars, and the system relies on GPS location trackers in the monitored cars.

  • Historical Data and Reporting

With the historical data and reporting feature, you can generate reports based on the vehicles’ activity and routes. Since you can use this data for personal tracing and analysis, you’ll always know the route your loved ones take to reach their destination based on their vehicle.

You can even access an interactive map to see the current location of your loved ones’ vehicles. As a parent, you can also see the vehicle’s location history to see exactly where your child was at any given time by retrieving and analyzing the historical tracking data.

  • Battery Life and Power Management

Car trackers aren’t just useful for personal tracking. Many businesses, including transportation and fleet management, now depend heavily on GPS monitoring devices. However, one of the difficulties with using GPS trackers is the requirement for frequent battery replacement. The location of an asset becomes unclear if a GPS tracker’s battery runs out, which can result in missed productivity and potentially lost money. 

But don’t worry. You can easily lower the frequency of battery changes needed by utilizing GPS devices with longer battery life. Over time, there would be a considerable cost saving both in terms of the cost of the batteries themselves and the cost of labor to replace them. You can also check out the power-saving features and options available for your tracker to fully optimize its battery life.

  • Data Security and Privacy

If GPS trackers are used without the required authorization or security precautions, privacy may be threatened.

Although privacy is important, there are occasions when safety concerns take precedence. For instance, locating an Alzheimer’s patient who has walked off the house without informing. Similarly, finding someone’s vehicle location, like a lost hiker or a domestic abuse victim, might be essential for ensuring their safety under dangerous circumstances. 

In these situations, it is vital to balance the potential safety advantages against privacy concerns. If tracking is required for safety purposes, it is crucial to be open and respectful of the privacy of the individual. Users should have complete control over their data and how it’s shared.

Moreover, encrypting user data and undertaking secure communication protocols are essential for respecting data security and privacy regulations.


The biggest advantage of Investing in a GPS automobile tracking device is its anti-theft technology along with geofencing alerts. But it’s important to keep in mind that different car trackers might have varied features, functionalities, and data transmission strategies. Additional sensors like accelerometers for motion or impact detection and internal batteries for power backup may also be present in some trackers.

So it’s crucial to compare the various car trackers on the market, comprehend their features, and pick the one that best meets your location tracking requirements before making a purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a car tracker determine its location?

Car trackers determine their location using GPS (Global Positioning System) technology. They receive signals from multiple GPS satellites and use trilateration to calculate their precise location based on the time it takes for the signals to reach the tracker.

How is car tracker data transmitted?

Car trackers typically use cellular networks to transmit their data. They have a built-in SIM card that connects to the cellular network, allowing them to send location and other tracking information to a central server. This data can then be accessed by the user through a mobile app or web-based platform.

Can car trackers work in areas with poor or no cellular coverage?

Car trackers rely on cellular networks for data transmission, so they may not work in areas with poor or no cellular coverage. However, some advanced car trackers can store location data internally when a signal is unavailable and transmit it later when a cellular connection is restored.

Can car trackers be hidden in a vehicle?

Yes, car trackers can be discreetly installed and hidden within a vehicle. They are typically compact and can be placed in inconspicuous locations such as under the dashboard or behind interior panels. This allows for covert tracking without drawing attention to the presence of a tracker.

Can I track multiple vehicles or assets with a single-car tracker?

No, a single-car tracker can typically track only one vehicle or asset at a time. However, some car tracker systems offer fleet management solutions that allow you to track and manage multiple vehicles or assets simultaneously using a centralized platform. These systems provide a comprehensive view of your entire fleet in one place.

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