How to Install Vehicle Tracker Equipment for Secure Monitoring [2024]

how to install vehicle tracker equipment

Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly where your vehicle is (or vehicles are, if you have a fleet) located at any given point in time? Did we say, “Nice to know?” It’s really rather essential, isn’t it? GPS tracking devices offer security and provide you with valuable data you can use to optimize your vehicle’s usage and keep up with its maintenance. In this guide on how to install vehicle tracker equipment, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of installing a GPS tracker in your vehicle(s).

You’ll learn which tools you’ll need, the best location for the device itself, how to connect the tracker to your vehicle’s power source, and everything else you need to know about the process. So whether you’re a fleet manager, own car rental company, or are simply a private car owner, get ready to get educated about installing GPS vehicle trackers.

Key Takeaways

  • Proper GPS tracker installation, necessary for vehicle monitoring, requires a power source, collecting the necessary tools, disconnecting the vehicle battery, and verifying that the tracker works after installation.
  • GPS installation includes locating the best placement for the tracker, connecting it to the power source, securing the device in place, and taking the vehicle for a test drive.
  • Regular maintenance checks and prompt troubleshooting are important to ensure the GPS device remains functional.
  • Especially for fleet managers, legal considerations regarding privacy and consent must be observed when installing GPS trackers.

Installation Requirements Overview

GPS vehicle tracking devices are designed to give you precise location details and vehicle performance data. Whether you want to use them for your personal vehicle, fleet management, or something in between, their effectiveness depends on correct installation. You’ll need to have the right equipment and follow the correct procedures for a secure and efficient installation.

Selecting a Power Source

You have two options for choosing the power source for your GPS tracker: the OBD-II (Onboard Diagnostics II) port or hardwiring to the vehicle’s electrical system. Both options have their advantages.

Using the OBD-II port for your GPS tracker makes for a convenient and straightforward installation process. If you connect the device to the OBD-II port, it can be easily detached, which can be a security problem for fleet owners.

Not sure where to find your OBD-II port? This video should help:

If you hardwire the GPS tracking device to your vehicle’s electrical system, you’ll get a reliable power connection, and you’ll conceal the tracker from car thieves. You’ll need a bit more technical expertise to implement this method, but it’s still doable.

Preparing for Installation

Preparing to install vehicle tracker equipment

After deciding on your power source, you must then gather the necessary tools and safely disconnect the car battery. Depending on the specific GPS device you bought and the installation method, the tools you’ll need will vary. Some common tools that you’re likely to need are a screwdriver or wrench, wire cutters/strippers, and electrical tape.

Gathering Necessary Tools

Gather these tools and hardware for installing your GPS tracking device:

  • Screwdriver, probably a Philips
  • Pliers, perhaps more than one size to be safe
  • Wrench, adjustable or socket might be best
  • Wire cutter
  • OBD-II port adapter, if you’re installing through the OBD-II port
  • Mounting hardware such as brackets or adhesive tape (may be needed to secure the device)

Additional tools you may need are the following.

  • A digital multimeter for verifying the accuracy and safety of the electrical connections.
  • Wire strippers to remove the insulation from electrical wires, so you can connect them from the power source to the GPS device.
  • Zip ties to securely fasten the device and to organize cables and wires.

Disconnect the Battery

To disconnect the car battery safely, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the ignition.
  2. Locate the battery.
  3. Identify the negative terminal (normally black).
  4. Use a wrench to loosen the nut on the negative terminal and detach the cable.
  5. Make sure that the negative cable is not in contact with any metal on the car.

We suggest you wrap the disconnected terminal with a cloth to prevent accidental contact which could cause a short circuit. Don’t let the sparks fly!

Installing the GPS Tracking Device

Securing GPS tracking device

Now it’s time to actually install the GPS device. You’ll find the ideal location for the tracker (if hardwiring), connect it to the vehicle’s power source, and secure the device.

Finding the Ideal Location (Hardwiring Method)

You’ll want to keep the device away from metal, protect it from the elements, and hide it as best you can. Ideal materials to attach it to for maintaining a good signal transmission include plastic, wood, glass, and fiberglass. Mount it in an area that’s protected from excessive heat, cold, or moisture, as these could damage the device or hinder its performance.

The optimal location for installing your GPS tracker is high underneath the plastic dashboard or near the base of the windshield. The best locations will ensure a strong signal and unobstructed view of the sky with the tracking module oriented upwards.

Alternatively, you could install the device under the seats or above the pedals, as long as the signal remains strong.

Connecting to the Vehicle’s Power Source

To hardwire your GPS tracking device to your vehicle’s power source, follow these steps.

  1. Access the ignition and power wires (red, white, and black) located under the dashboard.
  2. Use a digital multimeter to identify the correct wires.
  3. Connect the red wire to the ignition wire for power when the vehicle is running.
  4. Connect the white wire to a 12-volt power supply for constant power.
  5. Connect the black wire to the ground wire to complete the circuit.
  6. After connecting the tracker, secure any loose wires with electrical tape and carefully tuck them away.
  7. Reassemble the dashboard as needed.

If you’re connecting the GPS tracker to the OBD-II port, locate the port under the dashboard on the driver’s side, plug the tracker’s connector into the port, and ensure it is securely attached.

Regardless of the method you choose, be sure your GPS tracker is securely connected to the power source so it will work properly.

Securing the Device

You don’t want to leave the device dangling in the breeze, so you need to tie it down to something. You can use zip ties or velcro tapes to firmly secure it. It’s best if you can fasten the tracker using two zip ties, placing one in each of the grooves on both ends of the device, if available.

If zip ties or velcro tapes won’t work, try velcro straps and/or silicone tape instead. Velcro straps are reusable and adjustable, while silicone tape provides durability, although you may find it more challenging to apply neatly.

Activation and Testing of the GPS Tracker

Securing GPS tracking device

You should always test the installation of a new GPS device to ensure that it’s working correctly and that it’s accurately tracking your vehicle’s location. To activate the GPS tracking device, follow these steps.

  1. Gather required information, such as the device’s ID or SIM details.
  2. Power on your GPS tracking device.
  3. Make sure that your tracker has a clear view of the sky (or at least can receive a GPS signal).
  4. Test your tracker’s location tracking using a compatible platform (Windows or other operating system, depending on the model) or mobile app.

When the LED lights on the GPS tracker light up, your device device is connected to power. To check signal reception, you can a GPS Test app to see the signal strength.

Syncing with Software

To synchronize your tracking device with its associated software, follow these steps.

  1. Make sure your device’s location services are active.
  2. Open the tracking software in a web browser or app.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to connect your GPS tracking device.

Different types of GPS tracking software require different syncing processes due to their distinct features and functionalities, so this is as far as we can take you down this path.

Once the device is synced with its associated software or mobile app, you can locate your vehicle using (cloud) GPS software on your PC, tablet, or smartphone.

Verifying Signal Reception

After syncing, check that the GPS lights on your device near its intended installation location and validate the accuracy of the location displayed on the GPS software. A strong GPS signal gives you accurate location positioning and good satellite coverage.

Note that rain or snow may have a minor impact on GPS signal strength, but they don’t have a significant effect on GPS reception. Extreme weather conditions and terrain obstacles could potentially disrupt communication with satellites temporarily.

Conducting a Test Drive

As we mentioned earlier, you should always take a test drive to confirm your GPS tracking device is accurately tracking your vehicle’s location. Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Actually take your vehicle out for a short test drive or cycle the ignition a few times.
  2. Idle the vehicle for 2 to 3 minutes to allow your GPS device to get a position fix and establish a connection.
  3. Check the GPS software to see if the location displayed is accurate.

A test drive should be no less than 30 minutes to guarantee that you’re getting a consistent connection and accurate tracking of the vehicle’s movements. If the tracker is not accurately tracking during the test drive, try the following.

  • Check that you have a proper connection and the antenna is in a good position
  • Check for obstructions and remove them or move away from them, as the case may be
  • Reset your GPS tracker

If none of the above fixes the problem, contact the manufacturer for further assistance.

Professional Installation vs. DIY

Professional vs. DIY installation

Should you do this installation yourself or hire a pro to get it done right? What we’ve described above makes it sound pretty easy, but there can be bumps along the way. And maybe you’re not all that handy with tools and cars or trucks. If you’ve got a whole fleet of vehicles, we think you’ll almost certainly want to hire help, just because of the time it would take you to do them all personally.

If you lack confidence in your DIY skills or the time in which to make the installations, consider reaching out to a professional (electrician) to handle the installation for you.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Do maintenance checks on your tracking device(s) regularly. You’ll be glad you did.

Here are some routine checks we recommended that you should perform.

  1. Check the battery level. A dying battery could be a problem on an extended trip.
  2. Make sure the device is still attached securely. Again, no flopping in the breeze, please.
  3. Test GPS signal reception. Reposition the device if the signal is poor.
  4. Inspect the device itself for physical damage.
  5. Update device firmware and software as needed. Manufacturers may or may not actively prompt you to do so.

Common challenges you may experience with your GPS tracking devices include inaccuracy, location jumps, incorrect travel routes, poor cellular service, cold starts, and low battery. If you have problems with signal interference or the power source, check nearby electronic devices for potential interference, make sure there are no physical obstructions blocking satellite signals, avoid high-interference areas, consider relocating the device, and/or use signal amplifiers or external antennas as needed.

Routine Checks

Routine checks for your GPS tracker should include regular physical inspections to confirm its secure mounting and to ensure that no one has tampered with it.

You device may be malfunctioning if you notice any of the following:

  • Inaccurate location data – your vehicle isn’t really where the device claims
  • Difficulty downloading data – you get no data or garbled data
  • Poor signal strength
  • Incorrect time or time zone settings – compare to your watch or a wall clock
  • Erratic location movements – no one can really move like that
  • Problems with the tracker’s battery life – a new battery should last a long time

You could skip these checks, but then you’re setting yourself up for security risks such as unauthorized access or tampering, compromised tracking accuracy due to malfunctions, overlooked maintenance or repair requirements, and potential legal repercussions for non-compliance with GPS tracking regulations.

Legal Considerations and Best Practices

Generally, you’re allowed to install devices on company-owned vehicles, such as those of car rental companies, but you may need to get consent for private vehicles. It may be obvious, but you have to respect individual privacy rights and adhere to legal mandates, such as the requirement for law enforcement to obtain a warrant for GPS installation.

We suggest the following strategies for fleet management with GPS trackers.

  • Make sure you have real-time visibility into your fleet
  • Register your vehicles’ assets
  • Set clear tracking goals and objectives for your drivers
  • Educate your drivers about the GPS system
  • Optimize routes and dispatching to save money
  • Monitor driver behavior to improve their safety and the safety of others on the road


We’ve walked you through the steps of installing a GPS tracking device in your vehicle, from selecting a power source and preparing for installation to conducting a test drive and troubleshooting common issues. We’ve also highlighted the importance of routine checks and maintenance, discussed legal considerations, and suggested best practices in using GPS vehicle tracking devices.

Installing a GPS tracking device in your vehicle not only offers a layer of security but also provides valuable data that can help optimize vehicle usage and maintenance. Whether you’re a fleet manager, a car rental company, or a private car owner, we hope this guide has equipped you with the knowledge you need to install a GPS tracker properly.

So go ahead and start tracking. Your journey to a more secure and optimized drive starts now.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I disconnect the car battery safely?

To safely disconnect the car battery, turn off the ignition, locate the battery, and identify the negative (black) terminal. Use a wrench to loosen the nut on the negative terminal and detach the cable, making sure it doesn’t come in contact with any metal on the car.

What are the legal considerations when installing a GPS tracker?

When installing a GPS tracker, consider ownership, privacy, and law enforcement. Make sure to get consent for private vehicles and respect individual privacy rights while adhering to legal mandates.


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