GPS Tracking Battery Usage

Do tracking units drain vehicle batteries?

Like a car’s clock and vehicle operating systems, our tracking unit needs a power source to operate. 

The power consumption from all these sources and factors like:

  • age of your vehicle
  • age of the vehicles’ battery
  • stand-down time (holidays or long periods of no use)

will contribute towards a vehicles’ battery going flat.

Tracking units will, therefore, contribute towards the power consumption in a vehicle and older batteries will, therefore, run down quicker.

Do tracking units use more power when I’m driving?

Yes. A vehicle alternator charges the vehicle’s battery while driving, the unit’s automation allows it to become more active and, thus, use more power. It goes back into a low-power mode as soon as the vehicle is switched off. 

Can’t you switch off the tracking unit when a vehicle is stationary?

Yes, it is possible to switch off a tracking unit, but then it will not know when to switch on again. 

Can’t you switch off a tracking unit for a period of time?

Yes, we can, but if something happens to the vehicle within that set time-frame, we would not be able to switch it on again.

Some of the components, like the GPS module, do switch off when a vehicles’ ignition is off. (To reduce the power consumption). The tracker needs some form of communication to know what to do and when. 

When can a tracking unit drain a car’s battery?

Bear in mind that our back-up batteries (like a car battery) degrade over time and when such a battery malfunctions, it will stay in fast-tracking mode and use more power. That is when we need to go to the vehicle to replace the battery.

Why do manufacturers say it’s the tracking unit that is at fault?

Before testing the power consumption of a vehicle, they would disconnect the power. When performing the test, the technician will be reconnecting the power. Our unit will then start-up in a fast-tracking mode and therefore use more power than normal. This will provide a false sense of real power consumption and the assumptions, therefore, are that the tracking unit is draining the battery.   

What can I do to prevent my battery from running down during long stand-down periods?

During long stand-down periods, vehicle manufacturers recommend that you start your vehicle and allow its engine to run for a few minutes every few days. This will allow the battery to charge.

Can I do anything else?

Perform the necessary maintenance on your unit, our tracking device should not drain your car’s battery.

What does Cartrack do to assist?

Immediate notifications (email or SMS) from the software are available for clients to set up. These are for when there’s an immediate power loss on the vehicle. i.e. tracking unit removed or vehicle battery removed.


Cartrack clients can opt-in, by sending an email to for the following:

  • Phone call notifications, by our control room, when there’s a power loss on the vehicle. i.e. tracking unit removed or vehicle battery removed.
  • Phone call notification on gradual degrading of the vehicle battery.