Has the thought ever crossed your mind that someone could be tracking your vehicle without your knowledge? You may dismiss it as paranoia, but vehicle tracking is more common than you think.
Determined individuals with ill intent can easily purchase small GPS trackers online and covertly attach them to your car. A tracking device allows them to monitor your every move, posing serious risks to your safety and privacy.
While alarming, you can take steps to detect if a tracker has been placed on your vehicle. By performing regular scans and inspections, you can identify any unauthorized devices and disable them.
This guide will walk you through how to thoroughly scan your car for GPS trackers or other hidden monitoring technology. We’ll also look at common signs that point to your vehicle being tracked.
Table of Contents
- Conducting a Physical Search of Your Vehicle
- Using RF Detectors and Apps to Search for Signals
- Recognizing Signs Your Car is Being Tracked
- What to Do If You Find a Tracker
- Stopping Tracking With a Faraday Bag
- Securing Your Vehicle From Future Tracking
- When Vehicle Tracking Investigation May Be Necessary
Conducting a Physical Search of Your Vehicle
The most direct way to check for trackers is to physically examine your vehicle’s exterior and interior. Trackers can be magnetic, adhesive or placed in concealed areas.
Scan the following zones:
1. Under the Chassis
Crouch down and slowly scan under the chassis of your car using a flashlight. Look along the metal frame and steering components for any attached devices.
Inspect wires running beneath the car in case their routing has been altered to connect a tracker. Follow them to see if they lead to anything suspicious.
2. Wheel Wells and Bumper
Open each wheel well and use the flashlight to illuminate inside. Check along the plastic liners and metal shocks and springs.
Examine the front and rear bumpers top and bottom for any wires, boxes or unusual items. Use your fingers to feel for bumps, holes or newly drilled areas.
3. License Plate Area
Remove the license plate if possible and shine the light behind it. Look for any indication of drilling or attachment points.
Check that your VIN on the dashboard matches the license plate record. Mismatches could reveal a swapped plate used to hide a GPS tracker.
4. Interior Cabin and Trunk
Search under and around seats, dash components, trim panels, sun visors and the spare tire well for suspicious devices. Look for any silicone remnants or adhesive if a tracker was removed.
Check for tiny holes or marks in the upholstery that could indicate a pinhole camera was present. Examine rearview mirror backs as well.
5. Additional Search Areas
Also inspect the engine bay, gas tank, trailer hitch and roof racks. Check any aftermarket electronics like dash cams in case their wiring was tampered with.
Once you’ve scanned high probability areas, you can be more confident no trackers are physically attached. But also consider running electronic sweeps.
Using RF Detectors and Apps to Search for Signals
Beyond visual checks, you can use technology to scan for tracking and recording signals:
- RF detectors – Handheld devices that pick up radio frequency transmissions from tracking bugs. They emit tones when activated, letting you pinpoint sources.
- Detection apps – Apps like SpyDetector analyzes local WiFi and Bluetooth signals to identify surveillance devices. They match MAC addresses against known tracker IDs.
- Camera detectors – Spot hidden lenses using infrared light. The cameras will reflect back, exposing pinholes or tiny spy cams.
Walk slowly around the parked car with the tools active. Mark signal spots and then investigate them thoroughly. This electronic sweep catches hard-to-find trackers.
You can also drive the detection tools around while moving to check for tracker signals. Just stay attentive to driving safely.
Recognizing Signs Your Car is Being Tracked
In addition to physical and electronic searches, certain signs can indicate tracking devices or snooping software:
- Strange wires going under chassis
- Unexpected battery drain
- Odd clicking sounds in dash or wheel wells
- Finding glue spots or drilled holes during inspection
- Changes in handling or balance of vehicle
- Problems starting engine or electrical issues
- Unknown Bluetooth or WiFi signals detected
Ensure you park securely and out of sight whenever possible. Use camera detection at hotel valets or repair shops to check for pinholes after servicing.
Trust your instincts. If something seems off, thoroughly inspect again. Don’t ignore the subtle clues.
What to Do If You Find a Tracker
If your detailed scans and sweeps uncover a tracking device, remain calm. Carefully note its type and placement. Photograph it from all angles but don’t remove it yet.
File a police report on the discovered tracker and show officers the evidence. Provide serial numbers and MAC addresses from detectors.
Only after filing the report should you remove the device. Handle minimally and place in a signal-blocking bag. Give it to police to aid investigation.
Inspect your whole vehicle again after removing a tracker. There could be additional devices installed.
Discuss increasing security with police like cameras, motion sensor lights, private parking and routine sweeps. Protect yourself from further tracking attempts.
Stopping Tracking With a Faraday Bag
A “Faraday bag” is a special signal-blocking enclosure made of layered metallic fabric. It prevents all external signals from penetrating while sealed.
After removing any discovered trackers, store them in a Faraday bag immediately. This blocks the signal so they can’t track location as evidence for police.
A bag also protects against remote tampering that could erase data. Suspects may try wiping incriminating evidence off the device.
Faraday bags are affordable counter-surveillance tools you can keep in your car at all times. Quickly blocking signals can help obstruct unwanted tracking.
Securing Your Vehicle From Future Tracking
Finding a tracker on your vehicle indicates someone wants to monitor you without consent. That’s a major red flag.
Besides dealing with the specific tracker found, you’ll want to take precautions to prevent additional tracking attempts:
- Install motion-activated cameras on driveway or parking spots to deter and capture installs.
- Purchase and routinely use RF or camera detectors to keep finding trackers.
- Watch for cars following you and take evasive routes. Note license plates.
- Carefully limit who has access to your vehicle alone – valets, mechanics, family.
- Upgrade home security and keep the vehicle locked in monitored garages when possible.
- Add aftermarket locks on easily removed panels, wheels or the battery. Protect access points.
- Research restraining orders or anti-stalking laws in your state if you suspect who’s responsible.
- Never confront suspected tracker installers yourself. Involve the police immediately.
Unfortunately there’s no guaranteed way to prevent all tracking attempts. But making it difficult with routine countermeasures can help protect your location privacy and safety.
When Vehicle Tracking Investigation May Be Necessary
Hopefully scanning your car will come up empty, or only reveals minor threats like opportunistic thieves.
But deeper tracking involving multiple devices or software tampering may indicate serious stalking. Take such discoveries as a dire warning and investigate thoroughly.
Some cases that may require professional tracking investigation and intervention:
- You suspect an ex-partner or spouse of domestic abuse. Vehicular stalking often escalates to violence.
- An acquaintance, stranger or unknown perpetrator continues to plant devices on your vehicle.
- Audio or video recording equipment is discovered in your vehicle.
- Tracking persists after moving residences, changing vehicles and altering routines.
- The individual monitoring you blatantly admits to the tracking or flaunts having your location.
- Threats on your life are made related to the tracking.
In these scenarios, do not simply keep disabling trackers. Engage help like private investigators, lawyers and the police to uncover the source, press charges and end the harassment.
Finding a GPS tracker on your vehicle can be extremely unsettling. But you’re not powerless to detect or prevent their spying.
This guide provides a thorough approach to systematically scan your car for any unauthorized tracking devices. Combined with secure parking practices, you can hopefully identify and remove any existing trackers.
Don’t let paranoia stop you from driving freely. But do stay vigilant. Performing routine physical and electronic sweeps keeps your vehicle and location private. Detecting trackers early limits the data a perpetrator can gather on your movements.
Knowing your car is clean of intrusive surveillance provides significant peace of mind. You can once again feel free and safe while driving around.