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Can a GPS Tracker Cause Electrical Issues? Can a GPS Tracker Cause Electronics Issues? How to Avoid Problems

Can a GPS tracker cause electrical issues with a vehicle? Cana GPS tracker cause electronics issues with a vehicle?

Can a GPS Tracker Cause Electrical Issues with a Vehicle?

Yes and no.

A loosely connected plug-in tracker can cause battery drain. For OBD II plug-in trackers, due to the location of the OBD II port at the base of the dash near the foot brake, this is most often caused by a driver accidently bumping the tracker with a foot or knee. Always check that the tracker is firmly plugged in to the OBD II port. Consider using a Y-cable to keep the OBD II port open and the tracker secured behind the dash, and away from potential accidental contact by the driver.

A firmly installed plug-in GPS vehicle tracker is unlikely to cause issues with a vehicle’s electrical or electronics systems. Unfortunately, mechanics sometimes blame a GPS tracker for electrical or electronics issues, simply because removing the tracker from the OBD II port may (at least temporarily) resolve the issue. However, in most cases the underlying cause is an issue with the vehicle itself. The GPS tracker may be alerting you to a potentially serious situation with your vehicle’s electronics.

Btracking advises customers to take electronics issues seriously, especially if you have GPS trackers in similar make/model vehicles that are experiencing no issues.  We strongly recommend a mechanic remove the GPS tracker and check the vehicle’s systems to correctly diagnose and replace any malfunctioning electronics components.

As well, vehicles are occasionally manufactured with grounding that is slightly out of spec. While this normally poses no operating danger, out-of-spec grounding can generate “ERROR FRAMES” naturally on the CANBUS line which may disrupt communication within the vehicle when another load/node (i.e., a GPS tracker) is added to the interface. This is rare but can occur due to manufacturing variability.

Finally, check if there are other 3rd party devices also connected to the vehicle’s electronics bus. Multiple items such as OBD telematics units, alarm systems, OnStar, lifts, fuel loggers, etc., may put too much load on a vehicle’s electronics system causing it to go into limp mode or dash lights to flash or go off.

When Can a GPS Tracker Cause Electrical Issues, or Issues with a Vehicle Electronics System?

A hard wired GPS tracker can cause electrical problems if it is improperly installed, for example, mistakenly connecting the tracker directly to the vehicle’s power supply.

A common installation mistake (especially when self-installed) is incorrectly connecting the tracker directly to the vehicle’s power supply, causing continuous battery drain – even with ignition off. Hard wired GPS trackers require connection to the vehicle’s power supply, ground, and usually the ignition wire. If this is done improperly, the tracker can cause issues. Another common mistake is failing to secure the GPS vehicle tracker properly, leading to loose connections and erratic power supply issues.

Improper installation may overload the circuit by drawing more current than it can handle, possibly causing a blown fuse, or electrical interference with other vehicle systems such as the radio or dash cam. It can also cause incorrect GPS signals leading to inaccurate tracking data.

In extremely rare cases, a faulty GPS tracker may remain on continuously, causing excessive vehicle battery drain, but often only for a short while – usually, however, the tracker’s electronics or modems fail when this happens, causing the unit to stop reporting properly. If a tracker is noticed to be malfunctioning, and is properly installed, it needs replacing.

And of course, a damaged GPS tracker can cause issues.

How to Prevent Electrical or Electronics Problems when Using GPS Trackers

The best way to avoid tracker-vehicle issues is to follow the GPS tracker provider’s installation instructions.

Choose a quality GPS tracker from a trusted provider, such as Btracking.

Especially for wired installations and dashcams, consider using a professional installation service. Btracking has a network of trusted installers across North America.

Like any electronics device, a GPS tracker requires a bit of maintenance! Make it a habit to check the device and its connections to ensure they remain secure and functional. If the device is damaged, or is not reporting correctly, remove it and replace it.

Conclusion

Can a GPS tracker cause electrical issues for a vehicle? Can a GPS tracker cause electronics system issues with a vehicle? In rare circumstances it can, but investing in a quality GPS tracker from a trusted provider, regularly checking the tracker and its connections, and professional installation for wired tracking devices, is the best way to avert potential vehicle electrical or electronics issues, and ensure accurate vehicle tracking.

Contact Btracking for more information.

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