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Do Rental Cars Have Trackers?

If you’ve ever rented a car before, you know how convenient it can be. Rather than having to drive your own car back after dropping it off at the end of your trip, you simply hand the keys over to the rental company and walk away. At some point, later on, they email or give you a call to let you know when they’ll have your car available again. If only every rental experience were that simple! Unfortunately, there are many horror stories about people who left their rental cars in parking lots or garages and then had them stolen. In response to those unfortunate events, most companies now put tracking devices in their cars so that they can locate them if something like this happens. But what does that mean for you? Let’s take a look at do rental cars have trackers and what that means for you as a driver.

Do Rental Cars Have Trackers?

The answer is yes — most rental car companies do in fact equip their vehicles with trackers. This information is included in the terms and conditions that come along with renting a car. Additionally, these trackers are frequently not visible to the naked eye. In many cases, they are hidden inside of the vehicle’s dashboard.

Why Do Rental Cars Have Trackers?

1. Theft Prevention

If you’ve ever rented a car before, you know how convenient it can be. Rather than having to drive your own car back after dropping it off at the end of your trip, you simply hand the keys over to the rental company and walk away. At some point, later on, they email or give you a call to let you know when they’ll have your car available again. If only every rental experience were that simple! Unfortunately, there are many horror stories about people who left their rental cars in parking lots or garages and then had them stolen. In response to those unfortunate events, most companies now put tracking devices in their cars so that they can locate them if something like this happens. But what does that mean for you? Let’s take a look at do rental cars have trackers and what that means for you as a driver.

2. Insurance Coverage

In most cases, trackers are used by car rental companies to ensure that their vehicles are being driven as they’re supposed to be. If a renter doesn’t return his car when he’s supposed to, the company can use the tracker in the vehicle to find out where it is and then report it as stolen. This will allow them to get reimbursed for any losses that are incurred in the process of retrieving it (such as loss of time and gas).

3. Fraud Prevention

In some cases, a rental car company may use a tracker on your car if you were involved in an accident and they need to obtain additional information about what happened so that they can make an insurance claim.

4. Vehicle Tracking & Location Services

In recent years, tracking devices have become more sophisticated, allowing companies to track vehicles through cellular technology instead of GPS satellites. These trackers allow companies such as Hertz or Avis to locate their cars even when they’re not used anymore or are being used by another renter.

5. Car Rental Fraud Investigation

In the event that a company wants to investigate a case of suspected car theft, they may use a tracking device to locate the vehicle and then have it impounded until their investigation is over. The company will usually have you sign an agreement that states that you’ll cooperate with the investigation and that they’re permitted to use any information they obtain in this process.

How To Find The Tracker In Your Rental Car?

Decide Before You Start Driving

Before you even get in the car, you should know exactly what you’re hoping to find. This will help you to look for the device more efficiently and will save you the stress of not knowing where the tracker is exactly. If you know you’re looking for a black box with a “GPS” label on the side and a coiled black wire connecting to the battery, you’ll be able to spot it much more quickly than if you weren’t sure what to look for. In many cases, the tracking device will be located in the upper corner of the windshield on the driver’s side. If you don’t see it there, you’ll want to check along the edge of the windshield, behind the driver’s side door handle, or under the front passenger side door handle.

Run a Tracker Scanner

If you find the GPS tracking device, it may be beneficial to try the same device that the rental company uses to track the vehicle. If you have a smartphone and a GPS tracking app downloaded, you can run the app and try to find the car. However, if you don’t have wifi or a data plan in the area, you won’t be able to track the car. If you don’t have a tracking app, you can also try calling the rental company and asking them to run their tracking app on their end to locate your car. This may not always work, but it is certainly worth a try if you’ve already looked for the device and don’t see it anywhere.

Check the Tire Treads

While this isn’t the first place you should be looking for the tracking device, it’s definitely worth checking just to be sure. Most car rental companies use a GPS tracking device that is completely separate from the car’s GPS system. However, there is always the chance that you will get a car that has both systems in place. While it’s highly unlikely that you’ll end up with a car that has two separate tracking systems, it’s worth checking the tire treads just to be sure. If the car you’re in has two systems in place, you’ll see two separate lines on the inside of your tire treads.

Check the VIN Number

The “Vehicle Identification Number” is a unique number that each car is assigned by the manufacturer. It is used to identify the make, model, color, and other factors of the car. For example, if you were to see a black car with a red cherry in the corner, you may assume it’s a Honda. However, if you look at the VIN number, it may say Toyota. The VIN number is usually located under the driver’s side door and will be visible after you remove the door handle. If your rental car has a VIN number that matches the one that is written on the tracking device box, you can be 100% sure that your car has a tracking device installed.

Check the Body Paint and Shiner

While this may be more difficult, it is also a good way to confirm whether or not the car has been in an accident. In most cases, rental companies will put the tracking device on a car that has a clean history. However, they may place the device on a car that has been in an accident that is due to be returned. If the car has a fresh coat of paint, the paint may be a little different than the rest of the car. Similarly, the paint may appear almost too glossy for a normal car. It’s also a good idea to check the corners of the car for extra shine. If you notice that the car has an extra shine to it, grab your smartphone and try to shine the light between the two panels of paint. If there is a gap, the paint may have been put over a dented section of the car.

Find the Tracking Device Box and Battery

If you have already checked all of the places we’ve discussed, you’ll want to look for the tracking device box. This is usually a black box that will be plugged into the electrical system of the car. You may also notice a black wire that stretches across the length of the car. This wire is usually inside of a black rubber sleeve. Once you have found the tracking device box and wire, you can be 100% certain that the car has a tracking system in place. If you have found the tracking device box, make sure to unplug the device before you drive off. This will save you from being tracked on the vehicle rental company’s GPS.

Ask to Speak with a Manager or Supervisor

If you have found the tracking device on the car and you want to be absolutely sure, make sure to ask to speak to a manager or supervisor. While the employee helping you may not have malicious intentions, there is always the chance that they may not know that the car has a tracking device in place. If you are speaking with a manager or supervisor, they will be able to confirm that the vehicle has a tracking device installed. You may also want to ask them why the car is being tracked.

Conclusion

Now that you know what a tracking device is, why rental companies have trackers installed in their cars, and how to find the tracker in your rental car, you can better understand what to expect when you rent a car. If you’re renting a car, don’t worry about being spied on. Most of the time, rental car companies only use trackers to keep track of their own cars.

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Michelle Yancy
Michelle Yancy
Michelle Yancy is a tech blogger who loves to write about the latest gadgets and apps. She's always on the lookout for new and innovative products, and she loves to share her findings with her readers. Michelle is also a big fan of travel, and she enjoys exploring new places whenever she can.
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