GPS Installation & Troubleshooting

Save Time and Money by Learning GPS Installation


Learning the basics of GPS installation and troubleshooting is often faster than working through the help desk. The devices can be installed in about 20 minutes and troubleshooting can be done in about 10 minutes. This enables customers to resolve issues faster than getting on the phone and then being asked by support to perform the same steps anyway. It means you can get your fleet back on the road faster and making money. Click the links below to read more.

The quickest thing you can do for an initial test is to swap the GPS unit not working one from a known working vehicle. If the GPS units continue to exhibit the same performance in the new vehicle there is a high chance there is an issue with the GPS device.

It is important to perform this and other troubleshooting steps. Returning a device found to be working will result in a $35 bench testing and postage fee.


GO Device Light Definitions


On initial power-up, all three LEDs on the GO device will flash once in unison indicating that the device is receiving power. If none of the LEDs flash, this is an indicator that the device is not powered on.

After the initial flash, the Green LED will briefly turn solid indicating that the modem is connected to our servers. The Blue LED will also briefly turn solid indicating that the GPS is working. Both LEDs will eventually shut down if ignition is turned off.

Once ignition is turned on, the following are common light sequences indicating an issue:


  • No lights
  • Red only
  • Red and Blue only (most common)
  • Red and Green only

Proper GO Device GPS Installation


The images below display proper installation of the GO device. For proper installation, ensure there is no gap between the device and the port, then secure the connection with a zip tie.

Incorrect Installation
Incorrect GPS Installation
Correct Installation
Correct GPS Installation

Device Status Table

Login into your MyFleetistics account and click the widget in the top right corner or use the menu as shown.

Click the image to enlarge.

See what hasn’t reported, view on a map and open a support case from one location.

Having Issues with Covert Tracker Placement? Here are Some Great Tips

Covert Tracker Optimum Device Placement


It is important to think through where you place a GPS tracker on a vehicle or asset for covert tracking. The location of a covert tracker may vary depending on the goal being vehicle recovery due to theft or cover tracking for investigative reasons. Covert tracking may be tracking the vehicle or tracking a package in a law enforcement scenario. Covert tracking of an asset is likely focused on recovering an expensive piece of equipment such as a bulldozer.

Covert tracker placement for tailing a vehicle or determining movements generally means accessing a vehicle very quickly in a public place. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a vehicle for a longer period of time in a private setting, you have a lot of options for covert tracker placement. Since this is the exception, this post will focus on the covert tracker placement in a public setting. Learn more about covert tracking devices here.

All vehicles are made differently but most newer vehicles contain a lot of plastic which allows for good GPS reception. Metal will block a GPS signal from getting to a GPS covert tracker but with a little thought, this is not an issue. Modern GPS antennas work significantly better than antennas 10 years ago. Testing placement on your car(s) is the best way to get a good idea of what works and what does not. Since you have a limited time to place a device covertly, consider these variables.

  1. Place the unit where the driver or maintenance people are not likely to go. If the car is a piece of junk with bad tires, place the GPS unit near the spare tire may result in discovery.
  2. Do not place it where a mechanic may easily see it. If you place it near the oil drain plug, a technician may find it when doing an oil change.
  3. If the vehicle is low to the ground, do not place it on the bottom of the frame or a surface where it may be scrapped off going over a speed bump.

One of the best places to locate a covert GPS tracker is on the vertical edge of the frame about mid vehicle. There are not any parts in this area that would prompt the driver to look in this area or go to this area for a maintenance issue.

Another place is on the inside lip of a plastic bumper. An all metal bumper may cause issues because it is metal on three sides. You should be ready to place the device in a location that may not work with a magnet. This means a strap of some type to hold it in place. Do not count on wedging in place and it staying put. With a vehicle vibrating thousands of times per mile, the GPS tracker will always come loose.

If you have more time to install a tracker for vehicle theft recovery you have a few more options but challenges still persist. The good part is you can test the tracking performance before the equipment or asset leaves the shop. “Yellow iron” is called such because of the general steel and durable construction. This construction means there are fewer locations to place the GPS unit. In general look for soft spots or plastic to hide the GPS device.

The drivers cab is a common place to start. The cab may offer a soft seat or plastic instrument panel where the tracker can be hidden. The goal is to make it hard enough to find that a thief cannot find it easily at the job site and remove it before leaving. Once the vehicle is off the site, the clock is ticketing to recover the equipment. A lot of equipment ends up at a chop shop where it is disassembled quickly, put into cargo containers and sold for parts in other countries.

GL320MG Covert GPS Tracker (1)

GPS Tracker Comparison

GPS Tracker Comparison
Finding the right GPS tracker can mean thousands toward your ROI.

GPS Tracker Comparison

There are a wide variety of GPS trackers on the market today. Almost anything can be tracked but not everything can be tracked well. Understanding the basics of GPS tracking technology will help you make a quicker and better decision for your asset tracking needs.

Being familiar with the industry terminology and technology will actually lead to an increased ROI. If you are looking for a fleet safety tool but realize you can also benefit from productivity data, you can find a GPS tracker that can help in both areas.

Let’s get started with your GPS Tracker comparison.

Vehicle v. Asset Tracking
The first step in your GPS tracker comparison is determining the proper type of tracker based on what you need to track.
Vehicle Trackers

Vehicle tracking provides a consistent and generally protected environment inside the vehicle. Devices don’t need to be IP67 rated like asset trackers which are more expensive. Vehicle GPS trackers typically use cellular communication due to a desire for more data, at a lower cost, because satellite coverage is not needed. Vehicle tracking services typically update every few seconds to no more than 2 minutes depending on the monthly cost. More data means a higher monthly cost.

Asset Trackers

Asset tracking can be done with satellite tracking systems or cellular GPS trackers depending on where the assets operate. Frac tanks used in the oil and gas industry generally use satellite trackers. Skid steers in urban construction almost always use cellular GPS trackers. Customers generally choose to receive more data at a lower cost; even if they cannot track an asset live 100% of the time. All GPS trackers have dead spots where they cannot communicate for some reason.

Backup Batteries

Another factor in GPS tracker comparison is determining if you need a device with a backup battery. Backup batteries (BBs) are often requested and needed for unpowered assets. GPS devices require power from the asset or from a battery to operate. Assets, such as trailers, often sit without power for extended periods until connected to a tractor where power is restored. In these cases, a backup battery is needed. In vehicles, GPS devices receive constant power from the car battery.

In vehicle tracking, backup batteries are less important. BBs don’t enable the device to function as normal. BBs put the device in a reduced performance mode so the battery lasts longer. Customers often think BB will enable them to track the driver after they remove the GPS tracker as if it were still installed. BBs range from a CR2525 watch battery to lithium ion batteries. Vehicle trackers typically use small BBs which generally show you where the employee tossed the GPS unit out the window but not much more.

We sell all of the above options and have seen every scenario over the last 16+ years.

Tracking, Telematics, Diagnostics

Vehicle location and speed data. Where an asset went, where it stopped and how long it was there.


Data provided by the vehicles computer network and sensors (excluding engine data). This includes RPMs, accelerometer data for jack rabbit starts, harsh breaking, and reckless driving. It is the data used in accidents. Read more

Engine Diagnostics

Data transmitted by the engine through the OBD or J-Bus port generally consisting of fault codes and status data. There is a wide range of data available and GPS companies claim to offer these if they provide one data point out of several hundred. Ask good questions.

Installation & Tampering


GPS Tracker comparison needs to include installation considerations. There are essentially two types of installation used today; 3-wire and plug and play. The 3-wire installation is considered more reliable but it isn’t if the plug-and-play installation is done right with a Y-harness. View more on installations. 3-wire installations can be done on small to mid-size fleet trucks by most anyone that can install a car stereo. On bigger trucks and equipment it is best to use a trained installer or mechanic. Learning to install and troubleshoot the technology can save your operation a lot of time and money.

Tampering has been an issue for over 16 years. Tampering occurs with plug-and-plan (P&P) and 3-wire devices about equally. OBD devices that are installed without a Y-harness (moves GPS into the dash) are the most likely to be tampered with. Companies that sell devices requiring 3-wire installs will tell you OBD devices are always an issue. We sell both and the tamper rate is about the same. Tampering stops when you put your foot down. Read more about introducing GPS trackers to employees.

Equipment Considerations


Several equipment considerations such as backup batteries and communication networks are discussed in other areas of this blog. GPS tracker comparisons should also include details of the physical design and construction of the GPS device itself.

First, all GPS trackers are not made equal. Significantly more engineering goes into some devices like the Geotab GO device. Other GPS units are almost “dumb” in comparison and everything else is in between. We sell them all so we are communicating facts as we know them, not opinions.

GPS devices vary in construction quality. Some have thinner plastics and others more robust internal components. A good GPS chip set means faster acquisition time from a cold start and more accurate coordinates in tough environmental conditions. Some devices do well in heat where others shut down in the Arizona sun. Ask for the technical specification sheet and the warranty on the device.

Warranty Considerations

If you think about GPS trackers like a cell phone you will be able to easily understand the general conditions. In short, most have a limited warranty period if you are not on a perpetual lease or rental. Second, if you break it you buy it. If it breaks, you keep paying for the service until fixed. If it fails due to manufacturing the device is replaced and you are responsible for the service cost to swap the unit.

Backup Battery Size and Type

Lithium ion batteries are the only real choice for a battery due to durability and long-life. The size of the battery in milliamps determines how long the battery will last based on the draw from the GPS unit when asleep and when it wakes to transmit without constant power. Since batteries don’t last forever be sure the device will use off the shelf batteries to keep your cost down. Having to special order custom batteries drives up the operational cost. If you can replace the batteries you will save big money on service work.

ELD & Dispatching
Electronic Logging Device (ELD for FMSCA compliance)

ELD is a big deal which is coming at certain industries fast and furious. Selecting the right GPS tracker means you will also get ELD options, if and when needed. Those fleets not yet AOBRD compliant by December 17 2019 will be in violation and taken out of service.

Read the full 126-page ruling here.


Dispatching is the process of sending stop or route data to a driver. Most ELD devices will offer some type of dispatching as an additional service. If you need both getting a GPS tracker that offers both will be significantly more convenient than two systems, which aren’t integrated, from two vendors.

Cellular v. Satellite


There are really two types of communication technology used for GPS trackers – satellite and cellular. Don’t confuse GPS satellite with communication satellites. GPS satellites broadcast a radio wave like an FM radio station and you cannot “talk” back to it. Cellular and satellite communication generally talks 2-ways but satellites can be 1-way.

Most GPS trackers use cellular networks to move GPS and other data from the vehicle, to a cell tower, to a server, to the Internet. Because of the low cost, most fleet operators use cellular. Understanding the carrier used and the coverage footprint will enable you to know when you will receive “live” tracking data. Cellular is also more reliable because it can communicate with the towers more easily due to the radio frequency used.

Satellite communication is more of a specialty technology used when assets are operating in very remote areas where cellular service is not an option. Communication satellite signals do not penetrate objects such as trees or buildings and costs significantly more than cellular. Satellite systems also manage battery power differently which leads to less detailed track data.

Cellular networks generally use GSM or CDMA technology. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA and are generally being phased out and replaced by 4G or LTE service which also SIM cards. GSM is the international standard and is easily identified by a SIM card. SIM cards offer some flexibility but you cannot take a GPS device from one vendor and use it on another vendors website.

Log, Update & Refresh Rates


In any GPS Tracker comparison, understanding the relationship is important to sort out the information from various sales reps. Unfortunately, most sales reps in call centers don’t understand these concepts so you will have to prompt them to explain each in detail so you know what you are getting.

Log Rate

The frequency which the GPS tracker logs the position of the asset. This varies from a few seconds to once per day.

Update Rate

The rate at which the log data collected is transmitted to a cellular or satellite communication tower.

Refresh Rate

The rate at which the website refreshes and displays newly received log data.



GPS Tracker comparison may also iclude aspects of how the data generated can be integrated. Integration refers to the sharing or movement of data between applications, databases or services in order to increase the overall use and value of data already paid for.

If you have a need to utilize the GPS tracker data in other areas you want to be sure the GPS vendor offers APIs. APIs are an industry standard method of moving data via the Internet in a secure manner.

Integration can also be accomplished through add ins that are installed in your user interface. Camera video can be viewed alongside the gps tracking data on the map for instance.

Read more

Vehicle Tracking Deployment Failures

How Vehicle Tracking Gets Off Track

Many vehicle tracking system implementations fail because of an inadequate commitment by management to a process of preparation, planning, and training. The result of implementation failure is often very expensive and includes:

  • Low return on investment
  • Late or slow deployment
  • Being over budget
  • GPS system failure or bad data due to tampering or poor quality installation
  • System not used after evaluation period
  • Employee or lower management rebellion over being held accountable
  • Managements unwillingness to hold people accountable for behavior changes
  • Poorly written RFPs

You can learn from the mistakes of others and use that experience to avoid the pitfalls; instead reap the rewards of vehicle tracking technology and the Fleetistics SEP process.


Links: Vehicle Use Policy Accident Guide Fleet Policy

Vehicle Tracking - GPS telematics solution evaluation
15 Reasons Fleet Management Implementations Fail

1. Lack of Top Management Commitment

To often senior managers decide to delegate the oversight of a GPS tracking implementation project to lower management or admin staff. This often results in being out of touch with critical events, or the lack of understanding of the size, scope, and technical aspects of the project. Subsequently, the lack of proper commitment of time and resources required for a successful implementation results in a lower than possible outcome.

Solution: High visibility among stakeholders, regular meetings, follow the process. Schedule internal meetings 2 times a month to review progress and tasks being accomplished. Review the data as soon as possible and train, train, train at all levels.


2. No Definition of Success

If X is achieved, the project is a success and the investment is justified. This simple statement overrides all other considerations. It is a statement everyone can read and understand. It is a mission statement for a vehicle tracking project from which the project is built to determine if and how the mission can be accomplished.

Solution: Senior management should meet with the project team and focus group to define and agree on the mission. Something drove the idea of looking into a fleet management system so use this as the starting point to define the mission statement.


3. Poor Product Selection

Poor product selection occurs when a company does not really understand what it is trying to accomplish. This is made worse when the company does not really understand what a vehicle tracking and management system can do. It also occurs when staff members assigned to the project do not take the time to learn and use the new system as they would after deployment to understand the if the solutions features are adequate for their needs.

Another reason is managers, familiar with vehicle tracking systems from a previous job, implement the same GPS system in their new company without defining requirements to reviewing the market. Companies have made major gaffes by selecting a package at the top levels of a company without knowing its characteristics in relation to all levels of the company because they know someone. What often results from this is the fleet management system does not fit the organizational needs, or the vehicle tracking solution takes more time to use than can be accomplished along with daily work tasks.

Solution: Ensure proper discover is conducted to understand customers operations beyond what they define as their top issues so you can customize a solution to improve ROI in multiple areas. Training and working with multiple levels of an organization to determine how the data can solve operational issues, improve customer service, increase efficiency and improve profitability.


4. Unclear Project Goals Define Success

Unclear goals for FMS implementation with no specific ROI expectations cause difficulties. Without clear goals, project leadership becomes confused and employees resistance becomes troublesome.

Solution: Agree to the definition of success before the evaluation and share this with your potential partners. Partners appreciate a clear vision and can reduce wasted time if a win-win relationship is not possible based on the mission. This process leads to the natural conclusion of placing an order with confidence.


5. Inadequate Resources

FMS implementations fail due to inadequate resources. Many companies will attempt to save dollars by doing everything themselves on an overtime basis, whether or not there are adequate skills and time within the company. People burn out after having put in extensive hours over time. Instead the implementation should be treated as an upgrade to the company infrastructure that is necessary to maintain or gain a strategic and competitive advantage.

Solution: Fleetistics highly recommends a salaried program manager for every 500-750 vehicles depending on the skills, corporate culture and technology utilized by the customer. Fleetistics managed services can also assist.


6. Resistance to Change/Lack of Buy-in

Lack of a change management approach as part of the program can prevent the fleet program from succeeding. Resistance to change is quite often caused by (1) A failure to explain why, (2) Lack of involvement by those responsible for working with the drivers (3) Inadequate communication (4) Lack of visible top management support and commitment, and (5) Arrogance. A lack of buy-in often results from not getting end-users involved in the project from the very start, thereby negating their authorship and ownership of the new system and processes. Drivers and field managers can become so anxious that they sabotage the system.

Solution: Consult with internal customers to ensure they take the proper steps to implement change management. Fleetistics does not do the change management as it is important for employees to see their management in a leadership role. Second, lead by example and apply the same rules to employees and management. In it together and leading by example approaches.


7. Misfit with Business Processes

The misfit with the company business processes and existing software applications can also cause difficulties. This failure to examine underlying business process flaws, and integrate the FMS application with the business processes, causes loss of productivity and time, and ultimate benefits. What fleet maintenance, logistics, or dispatching applications are in use and can these be integrated with the fleet management solution?

Solution: Understand a wide variety of functional areas of the customers operation. The Solution Survey can assist with uncovering potential issues that reduce the impact of the investment.


8. Unrealistic Expectation of Benefits and ROI

Unrealistic expectation of benefits and return on investment cause issues. Vendors are notorious for overstating the benefits in terms of ROI, while the total costs of the project is too often understated. When this happens, a company does not stand a chance of achieving the ROI it anticipated.

Solution: Integrity at all times. Lies of commission and omission. Know your product and service. Never guess and avoid absolute terms that offer no alternatives such as always and never. Few things in life are absolute and being honest is key.


9. Inadequate Training and Ongoing Education

Inadequate training and ongoing education is a reason for long term failure. FMS-related training is crucial as many employees must learn new interfaces and business processes which affect the operation of the entire fleet operation. The corporate culture is impacted by changes in the companies business processes, and shortchanging this part of the FMS implementation leads to much pain and suffering downstream.

Solution: Educate customer on resources available. Hold them accountable to use the resources during project planning and future account reviews. Show a limit to the ROI due to a lack of use or compliance from not knowing how to achieve the company objectives.


10. Poor Project Design and Management

A major mistake is to short-cut critical events in the project plan, such as time for documentation, redefining and integrating processes, or testing before going live. Skipping meetings and steps gets the project off track and things quickly fall apart.

Solution: A timeline and milestones shared by all and agreed upon before starting mitigates this risk. Complete a step or acknowledge it even if the customer does not do it.

Another common mistake is made when a company leaves out the self-examination of business processes and uses FMS to cover-up weaknesses. It is easier to buy something than to perform the more difficult task of identifying weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.

Solution: The process documents should include statement on identified weaknesses. As part of the discovery process ask questions such as What processes slow your workflow? What are some of the major expenses on your P&L?


11. Poor Communications

Another cause of failure is poor project communications, beginning with a failure to announce the reason for the effort, and continuing to advise the organization of the progress and importance of the vehicle tracking technology. Poor communication prevents different parts of the organization from assessing how they will be impacted by changes in processes, policies, and procedures. A heads up gives everyone time to absorb the idea of increased accountability and prepare for change. Communication is vital part of managing change in a corporate environment.

Solution: Save the project plan your MyFleetistics fleet management portal and view together during project meetings. Train customers to view it from this location and to follow the process. If you do not follow the process or keep the document up to date, the customer will learn to ignore it quickly. Insert public notes so all stakeholders are accountable. Create a web page announcing the project and solicit input from the field in the form surveys, blog or chat.


12. Inadequate Policies and Procedures

Many organizations do not develop Policies and Procedures that relate to the the vehicle tracking system Tracking creates anxiety and frustration with employees. As a part of the company vehicle use policy, employees should be clearly told that they are being tracked. Consequences for violations of policy including tampering with FMS equipment must be clearly spelled out. Organizations should also consider positive rewards for driving behavior improvement.

Solution: Provide a sample of an introductory letter. Recommend distribution to employees with paycheck stubs or other important documentation. Ensure human resources works with operations, fleet and legal to update employee manuals and disciplinary policies. Agreement on behavior and corresponding consequences prior to deployment is critical. Orkin Pest Control Case Study.


13. Poor Installation

Poor installation of FMS products in the vehicles is the single most typical source of frustration with FMS Tracking implementations. Hire a high quality installer or make certain your staff is well trained in the installation idiosyncrasies of the system that you have chosen. Also make sure the software installation and configuration (even with web based solutions) match your requirements.

Solution: Insist on customer paying for professional installation during evaluation. It gets them vested and ensures good data.


14. Lack of training

Companies believe in the ROI but do not commit to the investment in the training required at the corporate and branch levels. Deploying FMS technology without the support personnel in place leads to frustration, a lack of focus on the ROI variables, and eventually a system that is not used.

Solution: Training is part of the timeline and project plan. Those expected to interact with the system should be taught exactly what to do to accomplish the project goals. Limit acces to other areas, features and data to keep a laser focus on the defined evaluation objectives.


15. Lack of follow on data usage

Deploying a FMS system is too often viewed as a short term project when in fact it is a long term management tool like a computer network, ERP system, or fleet maintenance program. To continue to receive benefits, management must integrate FMS data into routine management practices. This includes regular review of the data, setting expectations and determining consequences for non-compliance.

Solution: Setting company objectives and focusing employees on these objectives drives ongoing ROI. As consultants, Fleetistics needs to document, review and recommend future actions to continue the ROI. Sell it and forget it is a major reason for lack of use which leads to cancellations. Remind the customer “You saved $x the first 90 days, that means you have saved $Y after a year. Congratulations!”


Real World Considerations

Real World Considerations

Life is not a test tube, there are operational and human variables that have to be considered and dealt with. This is true in every business and for every project. The level of persistence to follow through and work with the challenges presented will determine the level of success or speed of failure.

  • The first rule of a successful implementation is:
    • Fleet management is part of the company infrastructure, and therefore is strategic to the company’s survival and success. If a company does not consider a vehicle tracking system  as one of its critical programs, chances are, the competition does and they will pass you in the marketplace.
  • The second rule of system implementation is:
    • A vehicle tracking and fleet management system is there to support business functions and increase productivity, not the reverse.
    • The reason for FMS implementation should be to increase a company’s competitiveness, not spying on drivers or distorting how a company conducts its business. The data collected impacts many areas of an organization not just fleet. All managers need to know and understand what is available and be able to utilize it to make improvements. This is the reason Fleetistics created Fleetistics Academy for training and certifying managers.
  • The third rule of implementation is:
    • Learn from the successes and failures of others and don’t attempt to reinvent the wheel. You are not the first company to do this and Fleetistics has the experience of trial and error to help you succeed. Do not be stuck in your way of looking at things. Be open to exploring the SEP process and partner over the the long-term to drive the ROI. There are time-proven approaches that can enhance the success of the FMS implementation.

Employee Involvement

Get as many employees, including drivers, to participate as much as practical in producing the project definitions; create a focus group. The drivers and their managers know the work and what they need to become more efficient. Sometimes guidance from a skilled outsider may be needed to facilitate the process. Use a knowledgeable team to review and select a product and a partner. Have this team also involved in the implementation phase. This will foster ownership and buy-in. Define “must have” features and “like to have” features. Match a vendor/partner and the fleet management system to these and your selection becomes clear.

A Comprehensive and Systematic Approach

Use a comprehensive and systematic plan that addresses all parts of an implementation: impact on drivers, impact on managers, IT consideration, requirements definition, HR policies, vehicle use policies, review/selection of software, hardware, communications, unit testing, systems testing, integration with fleet maintenance or logistic software, resources, education/training, resistance to change, etc. A enterprise fleet level project involving a single location might be used to prove the assumptions and clear the way for a full implementation.

Adequate Resources

Provide adequate technical and administrative resources to allow employees breathing room. Perform cost/benefit analyses so that you know how much the entire implementation is going to cost and identify the results that you intend to achieve. Assign a project manager to assist in defining requirements, selecting products, leading the implementation, and providing a focused point of contact with the FMS vendor.

Why Fleetistics?

  • 16+ years of experience with a wide range of fleet management technology and a vast knowledge of vehicle tracking and the telematics industry.
  • Experience with a wide range of companies with successful implementations. We believe in creating a solution for you, not merely selling you a product. We are so committed to getting you the right solution that we guide you to other companies if we cannot meet your needs.
  • We have outstanding references that can assure you of our skill. Our industry relationships are unparalleled, and we can draw on our partnerships for their knowledge and assistance.
  • We have a national reach and technical expertise to truly provide you the advice you need in selecting a Vehicle Tracking Solution partner.