Jan 09, 2024

What Does a Car Tracker Look Like & How Does It Function?

While many businesses use car trackers as part of their fleet management strategy, many may not actually understand how they work and what they look like. Having knowledge about their function can help you to fully optimise the way in which you use your vehicle tracking system, from reducing fuel costs to improving driver safety.

In this guide, we’ll be taking a detailed look at vehicle trackers, explaining what they look like, what they do and how you can make the most of them for your business.

what does a car tracker look like

Understanding Fleet Trackers

Vehicle trackers might be small, but they're mighty in what they do. These compact devices are packed with advanced tech.

Inside, you'll find a GPS module – this is what communicates with satellites to calculate where your vehicle is located. Then there's the cellular modem; which is the device's way of communicating this information back to your tracking system.

They also have some memory to store data and a power source, usually connected to your vehicle’s battery, with its own backup just in case. And, of course, they have antennas to make sure they're always connected.

Types of Car Trackers: From Basic to Advanced Models

Choosing the right car tracker for the job is crucial in making sure your tracking requirements are met– there's one for every need and budget. Basic trackers are fantastic if all you’re looking for is the live location of your vehicle.

However, if you're running a business with a fleet, you might want something more advanced. Professional trackers can provide information about how your drivers are driving, help you save on fuel, and even send you alerts if your vehicle moves outside a designated area.

Installation Process: How Trackers are Fitted in Fleet Vehicles

Depending on the type of tracker you opt for, installation can be surprisingly straightforward. Most people opt to have them professionally installed, which usually means a quick visit to a technician who knows exactly where to place it for the best performance. They'll typically connect it to your vehicle's power source, so you don't have to worry about changing batteries.

But if you're a DIY enthusiast, some trackers are designed just for you. These are usually the 'plug and play' type – you literally plug them into a port in your car, like the OBD-II port (usually under the dashboard), and voilà, you're set to track. The best part? No tools required.

How Car Trackers Work: The Technology Behind Tracking

So, how do these little gadgets keep tabs on your vehicle? It all comes down to GPS and cellular technology. The GPS module in the tracker captures signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. This is how it figures out exactly where your vehicle is, often with impressive accuracy.

But knowing the location is only half the battle. The tracker needs to send this information to you, and this is where the cellular modem comes in. It uses mobile networks (just like your smartphone) to send this data to a server or directly to an app on your phone.

This means you can check your vehicle's location in real-time, right from your phone or computer. It's pretty amazing when you think about it – a combination of space technology and mobile innovation, all working to keep your vehicle safe and sound.

Real-Time Tracking vs. Data Logging: Understanding Different Functions

When it comes to car trackers, you've got two main types of tracking: real-time tracking and data logging. Think of real-time tracking as your live update feature. It uses GPS and cellular networks to give you the location of your vehicle as it happens – it's like watching your car's journey on a map in real time.

This is super handy for fleet managers who need to keep an eye on their vehicles throughout the day or for anyone who wants to know where their loved ones are driving.

Data logging, on the other hand, is more like a history book. It records the vehicle's location data at set intervals and stores it. You won't see your vehicle's movement in real time, but you can pull up the history to see where it's been over a period of time. This is great for analysing routes after the fact or for keeping records for mileage reimbursement.

User Interface and Accessibility: Interacting with Your Car Tracker

Accessing the data from your car tracker is usually a breeze, thanks to user-friendly apps and web portals. Most trackers come with an app that you can download on your smartphone or tablet. These apps are designed to be intuitive – you log in, and there's your vehicle's location right on the map. Plus, you can often access things like travel history, speed, and other stats.

For those who prefer a larger screen, web portals are available too. Just log in from your computer, and you have a dashboard full of information. It's like having a control centre at your fingertips. Whether you're a tech newbie or a gadget guru, these interfaces are made to be straightforward and easy to navigate.

Advanced Features and Customisations

Now, if you're looking for something a bit more high-tech, advanced car trackers have a bunch of extra features and customisations. Geofencing is a popular one – it lets you set up virtual boundaries on the map, and you'll get an alert if your vehicle enters or leaves that area. It's like setting up an invisible fence for your car!

Speed alerts are another cool feature. You can set a speed limit, and if your vehicle goes over it, you'll get notified. It's a great way to keep tabs on driving habits or ensure your fleet drivers are sticking to speed limits.

Some trackers also offer features like route optimisation, idle time tracking, and even maintenance alerts.

And the best part? Many of these features can be customised to suit your specific needs. Whether you're managing a fleet of delivery trucks or just keeping an eye on your family car, these advanced features can provide peace of mind and help optimise vehicle use.

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