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How do Vehicle Tracking Devices Work

Mukul Deshpande
GPS uses 24 satellites in a particular arrangement to find out the location of a vehicle. If you're interested to gain more information about these devices, including their working mechanism, read the following story.
GPS tracking for cars is used by companies, such as car dealers and rental agencies, wherein they can see their cars in real-time on an interactive map on their PC.
All the vehicles can be tracked on the map, be it a bus in Texas or a truck in Alabama. The map allows zooming in for a closer look.
The vehicles appear on the map as dots; the red, green, and yellow ones represent parked, moving, and idling cars, respectively. This system stores the vehicle's position that is tracked throughout the day, and shows them in the form of a breadcrumb trail.


Courier companies can track large and expensive items, which are being moved from one place to another. They can follow the delivery of their mobile assets and inventory. Taxi service companies can keep a check on which of their drivers are lazing around, wasting gas, or doing side-jobs.
If a car dealer sells a vehicle to a customer, who hasn't paid the full amount, the dealer can use the GPS system to track the car, in case the customer absconds with it. Similarly, rental agencies can fine the car renter, if he breaks the speed limit.
This device allows you to disable the automobile self-starter; another person cannot start a car, even if he is able to break into it, or tries to steal the vehicle.
The rental agency can check the on/off activity of the ignition, and remotely cut off the car engine with the use of the GPS vehicle tracking. If a car is impounded because the driver didn't carry a valid driving license, it can also be traced using this tracking system.
GPS are also used for personal reasons by individuals. For example, a parent may want to track his teenage child who is driving his car. A spouse may want to spy on her husband, whom she suspects is having an affair.
With these devices, you can check the amount of fuel in gallons. You can also know when the car is coming up for an oil change, and the amount of fluid level in the car. GPS devices are also used to compute insurance rates by auto insurance companies.


A person may go online, and enter the user-name and the password into the system. He or she then selects a car, and clicks the 'locate' button. The navigation system passes the request to the GPS device, which replies back with the vehicle's position, in terms of longitude and latitude.
This system can find out the vehicle's speed and also the direction in which it is traveling. You can get an email or an SMS, if the vehicle enters or leaves a perimeter, or a designated area. The data can be plugged into Google Maps, and reports can be made using the associated software.
You can see topographic, aerial, and satellite photos on this device.
It takes around 20 minutes to set the system up under the dashboard. Some receivers are small, and are present in the form of plug-and-play devices. Sometimes, the receiver is built in the smartphone.
A separate GPS receiver is better than a GPS phone, because the latter can run out of battery or go out of coverage. A special type of GPS vehicle tracking device is a magnetic logger that is battery-operated, and keeps a log or a record of your track in its memory.