What Is A Car Tracking Device?

GPS tracking device

Tracking technology confirms when our packages will be delivered, navigates us when traveling and even keeps an eye on our pizza orders.  One of the most useful applications is also one you hope to never need: a car tracking device to locate a stolen vehicle.  Although it has commercial and fleet applications, let’s look closer at what this is as it applies to our everyday cars.

Simple to sophisticated.  On the simple and inexpensive end of the spectrum, smartphone apps log and track your car’s whereabouts, which you can monitor from another device.  Of course, the smartphone has to be in the car with power and a signal.

At the other end, dedicated car tracking systems are more effective and less prone to unwanted intervention.  They are permanently installed in the vehicle and use more reliable GPS or radio frequency (RF) for tracking.

Can integrate.  Because a car tracking device is not dependent on being mounted in a visible location (just the opposite is the desired application), it can be used in practically any vehicle with an electrical system.  Or not.  One portable option is magnetically-mounted and runs on “AAA” batteries.  Another, from LoJack and promoted especially for classic cars, is a twist on their hardwired products and boasts a self-powered configuration.

Out of sight.  Or, at least they’re capable of being invisible once installed.  Philosophies and opinions of device manufacturers and owners vary, but the prevailing idea is that car tracking should neither be seen nor heard.  If the device’s presence is known, like with an alarm, the thief will disable it before driving off.  Even a stern sticker on a window proclaiming the car is equipped with tracking can make a thief tear into the car in hopes of finding the randomly-placed device.  Instead, the intent is to catch up with the car within hours of its disappearance.

Always on duty.  When a car tracking device is installed in a vehicle, you don’t have to remember to activate it every time you park.  Considering how easily we can forget to lock doors, this is not such a bad thing.


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