How To Install Car Tracker Equipment

Install vehicle tracker thumbnail

A three-step approach to install vehicle tracking devices with ease

In today's economy, fuel costs are skyrocketing and it can be hard to fuel one car, let alone an entire business fleet. This is why fuel efficiency is one of the most important practices a business can have, which is only made easier through the use of vehicle tracking equipment.

Installing a vehicle tracker may sound simple, but there’s much more to understand before you get started, from the equipment you’ll need to the correct technique for safe hardwiring. Don’t worry though, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about DIY vehicle tracker installation in this guide.

It’s also worth noting that lots of vehicle tracking suppliers will happily install their devices for you. If you haven’t found one yet, try our free quote-finding tool to receive tailored quotes from hand-picked car tracker suppliers.

Quick Tip: Portable vs Hardwired Car GPS Trackers

There are two types of vehicle tracking devices: portable and hardwired.

portable GPS tracker takes no special skills to install; you can position it anywhere in the vehicle and move it at your leisure. Placing one near the base of the windscreen allows clear access for the incoming GPS signal as well as the outgoing Wi-Fi signal it uses to triangulate your car’s location.

However, depending on your reasons for using a GPS tracker, you might not want it to be in permanent view. Portable tracker batteries need changing every few months so, wherever the tracker is located, it should be accessible. If discretion is a priority, a hardwired GPS tracker is the way to go.

‘Hardwiring’ sounds scary, but all it really means is connecting your GPS tracker to your car’s power supply so that it works without its own battery. That said, it is slightly more complicated than installing a cigarette lighter.

The following method explains the easiest way to install hardwired vehicle tracking devices.

Tools Needed to Install Car Tracker Devices

  • 1 x Phillips head screwdriver
  • 1 x voltage meter
  • 1 x pair of wire cutters
  • 1 x wire pick
  • 1 x ring terminal
  • 1 x roll of electrical tape
  • 1 x piece of double-sided tape
Did You Know?

The ELD Mandate came into full effect on December 16, 2019 – if you’re still not compliant, we can help you get there fast. Simply tell us what you need, and you’ll receive tailored ELD quotes from excellent fleet management suppliers to compare. It’s super easy and totally free!

If you’d like to learn more about the ELD Mandate, check out our guide to US vehicle tracking laws.

How to Install a GPS Tracker on a Car

A Google search for “how to install vehicle tracking devices” returns more hits than a Beyoncé album. But we're here to tell you in plain terms: to install a GPS tracker on your car, simply connect the tracker's red wire to the car's constant power wire, and the tracker's white wire to the car's ignition wire. Fix the GPS tracker beneath the dash with double-sided tape – near the ignition coil is a good spot.

Of course, those are the instructions in their most basic form – for detailed, step-by-step directions, read on…

1. Access the Ignition and Power Wires Under the Dashboard

Start by unscrewing the plastic lower dashboard cover with the Phillips head. If there are wires plugged into the casing itself, disconnect these and place the casing and screws to one side.

Inside the lower dash, you’ll see several wires. The two you are looking for are the ignition wire and the constant power wire. They both connect to the car ignition switch. To find them, simply follow the wires down from the ignition switch. Use the voltage meter to verify that you have identified them correctly – you should receive a reading of between 11 and 14 volts when the ignition is turned on, and a reading of 0 when it is off.

Tip: Some cars include special wiring diagrams to help you find the correct wires. Consult your car’s documentation for further guidance.

How to install a GPS tracker on a car

2. Hardwiring Your Device

Use the wire cutters to remove a small section of insulation from the constant power wire.

Tip: Be careful to use the right gauge wire cutters to prevent the power wire from being cut – or say goodbye to your dashboard stereo!

Use the pick tool to create a small gap between the exposed copper wires. Take the exposed end of the red wire on your GPS tracking device and thread it through the newly-created gap in the constant power wire. Wrap any loose copper wire ends together and cover the connection with a piece of electrical tape.

Repeat Step 2 for the white wire on the GPS tracking device, using the ‘poke and wrap’ method to connect it to the ignition wire.

Tip: Wrap the exposed wires together thoroughly for an optimal connection.

Finally, add a ring terminal to the exposed end of the black wire on the GPS tracker. Place the ring terminal end on a metal surface (such as the steering column), ‘grounding’ the device. Secure it there with electrical tape.

How Can Car Trackers Help with Fuel Costs?

While it might seem like a leap, car trackers can really come in handy in these times of fluctuating fuel costs. Whether prices are high or low, car trackers can help you assess the efficiency of routes, and determine the best way that your fleet of vehicles can save money.

3. Reassemble the Dash

Affix the GPS tracker underneath the dash with double-sided tape.

Tip: GPS signals do not travel through metal, so don’t place it on the steering column! Near or around the ignition coil is usually a sensible location.

Be sure to fix the device securely in place – it won't be easy for you to access should it comes loose mid-journey!

Tip: For the best results, make sure the GPS tracking module is facing upwards when you attach it.

Tidy up any loose wires with electrical tape, tuck them out of the way, and reattach the plastic dash cover. You’re all done!

Still Unsure How to Install Car Tracker Equipment?

As you can probably tell, a little prior electrical knowledge goes a long way. Consult your car manufacturer’s instructions very carefully for installation advice specific to your model.

If you’re not confident doing it yourself, consider contacting a professional electrician to carry out the installation for you.

Next Steps

Whether it’s vehicle tracking devices or pet collars, the same GPS technology helps you keep tabs on your most treasured possessions. The only difference is how you install them. You should now have a good idea of how to do that.

Written by:
Julia Watts Content Manager

Specialising in the complex realms of telephone systems, business energy, vehicle tracking, asset tracking, and fuel cards, Julia writes content that cuts through the noise to help you find the right solutions and technologies for your business. Having spent five years working across the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, she loves helping exciting ventures – big or small – to flourish.