GPS Tracking: How Accurate Is It?

Did you know that tracking is one of GPS’s most common applications? Fleet managers worldwide rely on it to improve the operational capacity of their businesses. GPS tracking allows them to locate their fleets in real-time. Moreover, it streamlines their management processes and makes the system more efficient and cost-effective. However, how accurate is GPS tracking? How often do you use it every day? Read on to find out more. 

Table of Contents

What Is Gps Tracking and How Does It Work?

GPS tracking refers to the means through which a portable monitoring device relays the time, location, and position information of a given object. This object can range from personal cars to vehicles like trucks or buses. Moreover, it can be a special cargo like imported goods and cash in transit. 

GPS trackers connect to a series of satellites to identify a location. How many satellites does it take for GPS to register an accurate location? Besides, it takes 3-4 satellites to establish a strong connection that relays exact location, position, and time data (LPT). 

Satellite-sending data exchanges

Satellite-sending data exchanges

How Does GPS Determine Location?

Finding a location happens through a process called trilateration. First, the GPS receiver uses the position of three satellites, calculating its distance from them. And then, it measures the elevation, time, latitude, and longitude. Radio waves travel at a constant speed. Therefore, the receiver uses time measurements in its calculations.  

Digital sound wave background

Digital sound wave background

Calculating the distance from only one satellite will only give you the exact distance from the satellite. Therefore, the more satellites linked in a network, the more accurate the data received. Each satellite uses an atomic clock that keeps time accurate. 

It happens within a billionth of a second. Finally, the ground segment uses even more accurate atomic clocks to ensure precision. The clocks correct any errors in calculations.    

How Many Satellites Does It Take to Register an Accurate Location

Though GPS can function with one satellite, it takes a minimum of four satellites to get an accurate fix on your location. Besides, the GPS needs to compute the longitude, latitude, altitude, and time. 

How Accurate Is GPS Tracking?

GPS tracking is highly accurate. Provided the receiver has a power source and remains connected to the satellites. Therefore you’ll get LPT information in real time. 

Factors That Affect the Accuracy of GPS

Improper Installation

Suppose your GPS device isn’t on the centerline of your machinery if it’s away from obstructions to the line of sight between the antenna and the GPS satellite. In that case, you’ll experience issues with timing and accuracy.

Antenna on the roof

Antenna on the roof

Position of Satellites

Satellites must get spread out as much as possible. Moreover, if they’re clumped too close together, it compromises the accuracy of data transmitted to receivers. 

Quality of GPS Receiver

Some GPS receivers vary in the number of frequency bands and GNSS systems they can support. Moreover, the devices supporting a wider range of GNSS systems and frequencies have greater accuracy than those that don’t. 

Antenna on the roof

GPS receivers

How Do You Improve the Accuracy of GPS

Switch on Mobile Data

You can improve the location accuracy of your GPS through apps like Google Maps. What’s more, all you have to do is use mobile networks or wifi to give more accurate readings of your location,

Activate wifi and Bluetooth Scanning

Activating scanning enhances GPS accuracy. It lets apps and services detect wifi networks at any time. GPS can accurately determine your location by comparing the signal strength of nearby networks.

Recalibrate Your Phone Compass

GPS and navigation apps use your phone compass to determine your location. Calibrating your compass to point in the right direction can improve GPS accuracy. In addition, it compensates for environmental factors like trees and tall buildings. 

Install It Perfectly

In vehicles, installing the GPS device under the front window helps improve accuracy. It does this by giving it an unobstructed view of the sky. Moreover, always keep the battery charged and replace the hardware with the latest technology to ensure maximum accuracy. 

How Accurate Is GPS Speed?

GPS speed varies based on external factors, like a clear sky view. Canyons and trees frequently affect this. Generally, GPS speed is more accurate than vehicle speedometers. 



Using real-time GPS trackers on vehicles and assets you own is perfectly legal. There’s nothing wrong with fitting your car or fleet with them. Using GPs trackers on other people’s vehicles and property is much more complex. Furthermore, state, federal, and local laws vary and change with every case that comes up in the legal world. In all 50 states, using GPS on a vehicle you do not own is illegal. 

Generally, it’s legal to use GPS trackers if:

  • You or your business own the asset or vehicle fitted with the tracker
  • Your employees know that they’re getting monitored while using the car fitted with the tracker
  •  Your vehicle tracking solutions only get used for work-related reasons

Therefore, law enforcement and licensed private investigators require warrants before using GPS on the cars of suspected criminals.    


Do GPS Trackers Need a Power Source?

It depends. GPS trackers in cars get their power from your electrical system. Others have rechargeable batteries with long life meant for one use only. 

What Happens When You Unplug a Car’s GPS Tracker??

When you unplug a GPS tracker, it sends an alert message to the tracker’s management app. The fleet manager can take action to track the car.  

Can You Detect a GPS Tracker?

Certain apps, like Apple’s Tracker Detect, allow users to scan for trackers collecting their location information. They do this from their devices without their knowledge. Handheld electronic bug sweepers can also detect GPS-tracking devices. 


GPS trackers are handy little devices. They keep your property safe, whether in your phone, smartwatch, or car. And it never hurts to know exactly where your most prized possessions are. They’ll act as your compass when you’re hiking in the mountains. If your kids borrow the car, you’ll know where it’s been. And if you’ve got a fleet of commercial vehicles to manage, you’ll have a valuable tool to help you get the job done. 

It’s crucial to stay abreast of the rules and regulations around GPS tracking because laws get addressed and re-addressed frequently. 

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