GPS Tracker: How Does a Car GPS Work?

Today, GPS technology is part and parcel of modern life. Businesses, especially fleet owners, use GPS trackers to manage their fleets. Additionally, the military, parents, and many others use the devices.

But the question is, how does a car GPS work? This article answers this and more. 

Table of Contents

Global Positioning System (GPS) Facts

The following are some interesting facts about GPS. 

  • First, the United State Government owns and operates the GPS through its Defence Department.
  • Second, GPS technology improves previous navigation systems; more accurate.  
  • Also, GPS uses a constellation of 24 satellites located about 12,000 miles above the earth. These satellites transmit microwave signals to receivers, showing the location.  
Image of space satellite

(Caption: Image of space satellite)

  • Further, international law requires the US Department of Defence to maintain GPS services worldwide continuously. 
  • Interestingly, the shooting of a Korean Air Lines jet by Russia, then known as the Soviet Union, sparked the use of GPS by the public. Otherwise, initially, only the military used it. After the incident, President Regan declared that GPS was now accessible to the general public worldwide. 
  • Today, besides geolocation and navigation, GPS is also used for tracking, mapping, and timing. Also, it has other complex applications like telling weather changes in all endpoints around the globe. 

What Is GPS Vehicle Tracking?

GPS tracking is the monitoring of a person or objects through GPS technology. Through a tracking unit, GPS satellites transmit signals that pinpoint the location. 

Image of GPS car tracker

(Caption: Image of GPS car tracker)

Today, GPs are vital for tracking motor vehicles. It can show how far and fast a vehicle traveled or where it went and when. This capability is invaluable to transportation and logistics businesses that depend on on-road assets. For example, fleet managers can use GPS vehicle trackers to monitor motor vehicles in transit.

Also, GPS is highly accurate and usable anywhere and in all weather conditions.  

How Does a Car GPS Work GPS

When you install a GPS car navigation system, the GPS can plot travel routes to destinations. It uses signals from satellites, which it combines with interactive onboard maps. 

Some vehicles come with the devices factory-installed. And for others, you must purchase the device as an add-on accessory and install it in your car. 

Depending on the device, some car GPS systems link to various sources of traffic data. And using this information, it’s possible to determine more suitable routes free of congestion. 

Also, car GPS systems update routing so that when a driver misses a turn, the system proposes a new way to get to the destination. Further, a car GPS directs drivers to their nearest service spots, like nearby grocery stores, gas stations, or restaurants. And these route instructions can be visual or voice.

How Does a GPS Tracker Work in a Car?

A GPS tracker works by the tracking device processing signals it receives from satellites. And these signals get processed by receivers which track a vehicle’s exact location by determining the GPS device. The receivers also determine the time the car travels and the velocity. 

When you connect a GPS tracker to a vehicle, you can use the software on a tablet, computer, or phone to see the actual location and time. And interestingly, the technology that uses cell phones to make calls and connect to the internet is similar to the one a GPS tracker uses to determine the location.

What Are Car Tracking Devices Used For?

For one, tracking devices let you know your car’s location. And many reasons call for this. For example, police use a tracking device to help them locate a stolen car. Also, parents can install a tracking device in their teen’s car to determine their location. With a tracker, they can tell where their teen has been, at what time, and even whether they exceeded the speed limit. 

Further, fleet owners or managers can use trackers to monitor their vehicles. By doing so, they can coordinate and manage better the company’s daily operations, including more accurate routing and dispatching. Additionally, keeping tabs. 

Image of the fleet

(Caption: Image of the fleet)

Sadly, among the many embracing car trackers is criminals. Therefore, if you suspect illegal tracking, thoroughly search for the GPS tracker planted somewhere in your car. 

How Do You Use a GPS Car Tracker?

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to use a car GPS tracker, although the procedure slightly differs from one device to another. The main difference is the power source. And it’s quite a significant difference, so you want first to check out the manual. 

For example, some obtain power from the onboard diagnostics (OBD-II) connector. Others from an accessory socket or cigarette lighter. And others use a battery, not an external power source. 

After you have installed the GPS tracker in your car, the next step is to use the software on your computer, phone, or tablet to see the vehicle’s location in real-time.

Image of tracking results displayed on a computer

(Caption: Image of tracking results displayed on a computer)


As we’ve seen, there are many interesting facts behind the development of GPS. And today, we can all benefit from several technology uses, including GPS tracking. It has several applications in businesses and elsewhere and is a technology to embrace.

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