What are some common GPS tracking problems?

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What are some common GPS tracking problems?

With technology advancing in a crazily fast pace, we now can access information of any kind that our ancestors could have only dreamed off. GPS tracker is such an innovative technology that greatly helps people in all walks of life by providing location data and direction, as well as benefit industries in facilitating management. However, similar to any other service, GPS tracking system is at the mercy of various factors and susceptible to error when used improperly.  Keep reading and check out some common GPS tracking problems.

What problems can GPS tracker solve?

Before we head to main part of discussing some common GPS tracking problems, it’s necessary to know what problems GPS can solve. Actually, GPS technology has benefited people in a series of aspects, including:

  • Traffic – GPS tracker can help with traffic. There are high possibilities for vehicle drivers to get stuck in traffic.
  • Location – One can pinpoint their loved ones’ exact location and keep connected.
  • Treasure – GPS can be one of your resorts to locate the lost items and retrieve it back.
  • Management –  It helps improve productivity, efficiency, and profit. GPS automatically tracks and records the time employees spend at work.

Most common GPS tracking problems

One of the most common problems related with GPS is correct tracking. Take Google Map as specific example, as one of the most up-to-date navigation service, it has the ability to determine your physical location with minimum fault of 3-10 meters. Such tracking works best in ideal conditions, meaning that you are located in a city, are outdoors and have a strong cellular connection with whichever device you are using. However, even if the ideal conditions are met, there are some points during the day you will experience points with poor tracking. Let’s discuss some common GPS tracking problems in details.

Cold starts

When a GPS is switched on or if the GPS has been inactive in the background for too long, it needs to download data from the satellites that transmits the position and timing of all of the satellites in the system. It can take up to five or more minutes to be corrected and can lead to incorrect GPS tracking.

Not accurate location

If your GPS device is not accurate in giving location, it’s usually caused by weak GPS signal. This can happen because GPS antenna have difficulty in establishing and maintaining satellite signal. Weak signal can be related to properly positioned antenna, surrounding like tall buildings, underground parking lot, tunnels, garage that block signal, or low quality device. To improve signal strength, you can transfer your antenna or GPS device to a place where it has a clear view of sky.

Jumpy location movement even if the device is still

A jumpy GPS track can cause your activity to report more distance than you actually traveled. Inaccurate location reports or sudden location movements are caused by weak GPS signal. It’s better to ensure that device’s GPS antenna has good reception. Most of these problems appear with cheap devices. If you attach great importance to location accuracy, it’s advisable to always choose high quality and best reviewed devices.

Device not sending updates

Another common problem regarding GPS tracking is the device has not send the latest location date to the server while the previous positioning data is still displayed. GPS trackers receive location from satellites, so make sure the tracker is placed somewhere it can receive a GPS signal. They can’t be placed inside a metal enclosure like trunk or toolbox. Moreover, they may not be able to get GPS fix inside a metal building, an underground parking deck, etc. So if the trackers do not send updates, it’s likely that it doesn’t know where it is at the moment.

Poor cellular service also can cuase a tracker to fail to report. Trackers sends location data back over the cellular network, so adequate cell service is needed. If your tracker hasn’t send updates in a while, there is a possibility that it’s in a cellular dead zone and will update as soon as it moves out of that area. To test your tracker, you can drive around for a few minutes with it. This usually solves any connectivity issues that may be the result of poor cellular service in one spot.

Travel routes looks like a mess of line

It might be caused by incorrect time zone settings if you’re using GPS trackng server and while loading its history you experience other problems. All GPS devices must transmit data in 0 UTC time zone, except mobile devices using GPS tracker application. To achieve this, set 0 UTC timezone in the device accuracy settings and clear object history.

How to improve GPS accuracy?

GPS tracking is dependent on a variety of aspects. GPS satellites describes their signals in space with a certain amount of accuracy, but what you receive at ground level depends on factors like satellite geometry, signal blockage, atmospheric conditions and receiver quality. To help receive the most accurate location data, try to keep the device in open areas so as to get best outcome. Other than that, try to avoid places with high probabilities of having poor GPS reception to the best of your ability, and keep your device charged while running GPS applications.

Keep the GPS application active on your device – When an application becomes stagnant from non-use, it usually stops actively tracking.

Connect to thrid-party Bluebooth GPS receiver – It’s helpful in improving signals and your positioning data notably.

Restart your device several times – Turning GPS on or off several times helps the system to recalibrate, leadning to better signal reception.


It’s an indispensable fact that GPS is a great tool to pinpoint location and get other useful information. But we often fail to realize some common GPS tracking problems including incorrect location, sudden location movements, previous positioning data and more. Thus, it’s better to keep the GPS device in open areas and avoid places with poor GPS reception.

Carl L. Hirsch is a writer, editor, and journalist. She has been a staff writer in various US-based periodicals for five years. But then she decided to dedicate her life to traveling and freelance writing.

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