A car tracker is a useful device that allows you to monitor the location and movement of your vehicle remotely.
However, like any technology, car trackers can sometimes stop working or become unresponsive. When this happens, it can cause stress and frustration, especially if your goal is to keep tabs on a loved one’s driving habits or recover a stolen car.
Don’t panic if your car tracker stops updating its location or seems frozen. There are several troubleshooting techniques you can try to get your tracker working again. With some strategic troubleshooting, you can often identify the source of the problem and find a solution to get your tracker back online quickly.
Table of Contents
- 1. Check the Car Tracker’s Battery Life
- 2. Verify the Tracker’s Cellular Data Connection
- 3. Look for Mechanical or Installation Issues
- 4. Consider Software Glitches and Updater Errors
- 5. Try Resetting the Tracker and Vehicle Connection
- 6. Switch to External GPS Antenna (for Hardwired Trackers)
- 7. Examine Account and SIM Card Issues
- 8. Consider Switching to a Different Car Tracker
- 9. Enlist Help from Customer Service
- When to Give Up and Replace the Tracker
1. Check the Car Tracker’s Battery Life
One of the most common reasons a car tracker stops working is because its battery has died. Most trackers are powered by an internal rechargeable battery that provides power when the device isn’t connected to the vehicle’s battery. Depending on the tracker model and usage, the battery may only last a few weeks or months before needing a recharge.
If the battery has completely depleted, the tracker will be unable to provide location updates. Begin troubleshooting by checking the battery status in the tracker’s companion app or website account, if available. The battery status will indicate if the level is getting low or is empty.
You can also remove the tracker from the vehicle and check for a blinking light or error message that may indicate a dead battery. Recharging the battery through a USB cable, AC adapter, or plugging it into the car itself will often get the tracker communicating again. Just be sure to give it ample time to charge before testing if the location updates have resumed.
2. Verify the Tracker’s Cellular Data Connection
Cellular car trackers rely on a data connection to the cellular network to transmit location information. Problems with the cellular service can interrupt this connection and cause frozen location reporting. Start by checking the companion app or account portal to see if a cellular network error is indicated.
If you don’t see an obvious error, you can manually verify the cellular connection by removing the tracker from the car and checking its signal strength app. A weak or absent signal could be the culprit behind an unresponsive tracker.
Try moving the tracker to different locations and orientations to see if you can obtain a cellular signal. Higher elevations and placement near windows may help. Also check if your cellular plan has lapsed or is out of minutes on a prepaid plan. Resetting the tracker or contacting customer support can help identify and troubleshoot connection issues.
3. Look for Mechanical or Installation Issues
Sometimes a car tracker stops working due to a loose connection or mechanical problem. Carefully inspect the tracker device and verify that the casing is intact and ports are clear of debris. Especially check that the built-in antenna has not become damaged or obstructed, as this can degrade the cellular and GPS signal reception.
Also examine the tracker’s wiring and connection to the vehicle’s battery and diagnostic port. Over time, vibration can loosen the connections. Improper initial installation can also prevent solid electrical contact.
Reset any loose OBD-II or other connections and check that converter cables and wire harnesses are firmly attached per the manufacturer’s instructions. A faulty installation means the tracker may not receive consistent power to operate and transmit.
4. Consider Software Glitches and Updater Errors
App and firmware problems can sometimes interfere with a tracker’s operation, preventing location reporting. Start by checking for any pending app or firmware updates that may resolve software bugs. Updates often add features but also fix problems that can cause responsiveness issues.
If an update is available, install it and check if the tracker begins working properly again. Along with updates, consider uninstalling and reinstalling the smartphone app to clear out any corrupted files. Signing out and then back into the app or resetting it to default settings can also fix glitchy behavior.
For advanced users, digging into log files or running diagnostics tools may provide clues about any error messages occurring at the software level. Consulting customer support can also determine if known software bugs are impacting certain car tracker models.
5. Try Resetting the Tracker and Vehicle Connection
If you’ve verified the basics like battery life and cellular connections, try resetting the tracker as a next troubleshooting step. Most trackers have a reset function accessible through a small pinhole or button on the device — refer to the manual for instructions. Resetting will clear any temporary memory glitches.
Also, reset the connection between the tracker and vehicle by temporarily unplugging the tracker and disconnecting the battery as well. Let the tracker and vehicle sit for 15 minutes before reconnecting everything. This clears stored memory and often resolves unresponsiveness problems.
6. Switch to External GPS Antenna (for Hardwired Trackers)
Some hardwired trackers rely on a built-in antenna for GPS signal, while others support connecting an external antenna. If you’re experiencing GPS connectivity problems, switching to an external antenna can help capture satellite signals better for improved responsiveness.
Choose a high-quality GPS antenna designed specifically for vehicle tracking rather than a generic antenna. Mount it to the dashboard or roof where it has a wide view of the sky for optimal signal reception. Run the connecting cable to the tracker’s external antenna port to start utilizing the stronger external antenna.
7. Examine Account and SIM Card Issues
Cellular trackers require an active SIM card for communication and location data reporting. Irregularities with the SIM card or account management can disrupt this process and cause a tracker to become unresponsive.
First off, double check that the SIM card is properly inserted in the tracker per the manufacturer instructions. Improper insertion or a partially dislodged card could lead to connection problems.
Also verify that the SIM card is active by checking the account status through the provider. An inactive SIM due to non-payment or expired service will render the tracker offline. Confirm the IMEI number associated with the SIM for the tracker matches what is on record.
Some trackers use multiple SIM profiles that must be properly managed for continuous operation. Work with customer support to check the assigned SIM profiles are correctly configured to avoid connectivity problems.
8. Consider Switching to a Different Car Tracker
If you’ve thoroughly tried all troubleshooting tips but your tracker remains unresponsive, it may be time to switch to a different tracking product. Consumer-level trackers can be glitchy, while premium trackers for fleet management are more reliable long-term.
Consider a tracker designed for professional use if dependable location tracking is a must. Opt for a reputable brand known for quality construction and responsive support. Buying from a supplier specializing in fleet tracking can provide more customization and knowledgeable assistance as well.
Some vehicle management platforms even offer their own proprietary GPS trackers designed specifically for their software. This integrated approach can enhance reliability compared to mixing and matching separate consumer trackers and dashboard software.
9. Enlist Help from Customer Service
For continued troubleshooting assistance, enlist the help of professional customer service. Provide details on the tracker model, vehicle connection specifics, troubleshooting already attempted, and the ongoing unresponsive behavior.
Manufacturer tech experts can walk through additional diagnostic steps tailored for your specific tracker and setup. They can pinpoint potential problems based on the tracker’s error logs and may provide firmware updates that you can’t access yourself.
Depending on warranty coverage and customer loyalty, the company may even replace a persistently glitchy tracker if they are unable to resolve the connectivity problems through troubleshooting. Getting a technician involved can help recover location tracking capability.
When to Give Up and Replace the Tracker
Despite your best efforts, some car tracker problems can’t be resolved through troubleshooting. If you’ve tried every technique and recommendation with no change in the unresponsive behavior, it may be time for a tracker replacement.
Warning signs include trackers that work intermittently or only in certain locations, old models that have stopped getting software support, or devices that have suffered obvious water damage or physical trauma. In these cases, replacement may be the most cost-effective option versus continued wasted time spent on troubleshooting.
Before replacing the tracker, be sure to document the problems encountered and contact customer support one last time in case they want to retrieve diagnostic information from the malfunctioning unit. Then research new tracker options that fit your budget and avoid the shortcomings of your previous model.
An unresponsive tracker can be immensely frustrating when you are relying on location updates to keep tabs on your vehicle. But in most cases, consistent and thorough troubleshooting can isolate the problem and get your tracker functioning again.
Checking the basics like battery life, cellular connectivity, and physical installation is a great starting point. Updating software, resetting components, and enlisting customer service can provide additional solutions for an uncommunicative tracker.
With patience and persistence, you can often get a glitchy tracker back online and restore peace of mind about your vehicle’s location. Just be prepared to replace repeat offender trackers that remain problematic after troubleshooting. By methodically eliminating potential points of failure, you can confidently determine the source of problems with your unresponsive tracker.