How to Tell if Your Car Is Bugged

How to Tell if Your Car Is Bugged

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Knowing how to tell if your car is bugged or if someone is using listening devices, cameras, or tracking devices to spy on you isn't something you may think about often. Still, it happens more than people realize - especially because not many people know what a listening bug looks like.

You don't have to experience that eerie, creepy feeling of someone watching you to worry if your house and car are bugged. We've had clients in the middle of big mergers, important million-dollar business meetings, and even messy divorces who purchase counter-surveillance equipment simply as a precautionary measure. 

When they used the counter-surveillance, they found out that their house, office, and car had been bugged with recording equipment and GPS trackers.

It's a disconcerting, violating feeling, which is why there are so many top-of-the-range bug detection products on the market. We always advocate for people to use surveillance equipment and GPS trackers for safety and security, but surveilling someone to spy on them to make money or expose private matters isn't okay. 

If that's happening with you, whether you have a feeling about it or you'd like to check to be sure, then look at some of the searches for yourself methods we've outlined and our most sought-after bug detection equipment. 

In this article, we'll cover: 

  • What a listening bug looks like and the types of surveillance equipment you should look out for
  • Signs that someone might be spying on you
  • Cost-efficient ways how to tell if your car is bugged
  • Time-efficient ways how to tell if your car is bugged

Wiretaps vs. Listening bug vs. Cameras

There are a few ways someone could be spying on you: wiretaps, listening bugs, camera surveillance, and GPS trackers. You don't need to worry about wiretapping devices anymore, and here's why:

Wiretaps tap telephone lines by connecting to the wires that run from a telephone through to the switching stations. They aren't as popular because we rarely use wire telephones, but they are pretty easy to install. Inside a phone, you'll find two copper wires. These wires transmit the sound of your voice. The cables connect to a circuit that runs from your home to various switching stations. At any point along this path, somebody can add a device to the circuit to translate the electrical current into sound. 

While it's easy to do, it's not exactly convenient. Firstly, someone would have to be there to listen to the call when it happens. They can add a recording device, but the bug would probably need to be inside the phone because it's easiest to install and hide it there, which means they would need to get into your home.

It's an inconvenient, cumbersome process when we no longer use telephones. There are too many boxes to check to make sure that everything aligns so that they can listen to a recorded conversation. 

On the other hand, Bugs are listening devices that someone can easily hide inside your home, car, and even clothing. You can get hard-wired radio, acoustic audio, and optical bugs. We've written an article about all the audio devices you should look out for, which will help you understand what you're working with.  

A microphone is hidden inside listening devices that can listen, record, and transmit conversations. Various listening devices efficiently perform functions most people wouldn't expect and look out for. 

Surveillance cameras are tiny and usually hidden inside everyday objects - alarm clocks, smoke detectors, TV remotes. Camera surveillance is quite widespread because they're small, can be transmitted in real-time, and are inexpensive pieces of equipment that anyone can use. We've also written a detailed article about the different types of spy video cameras you should look out for.

Lastly, we've got GPS trackers. A tracking device can submit real-time or downloadable data to an external device. Monitored GPS tracking devices switch on when your car is in motion and transmit real-time data to a computer or cellphone. An unmonitored GPS tracking device collects coordinates at set intervals. An individual would need to collect the device, download the data from the tracking device, and then input the coordinates to find the locations you visited.

Although they're not as comprehensive as listening bugs and camera surveillance, GPS tracking devices can monitor a car's location, track its real-time driving route, and give information about previous locations, which is incredibly dangerous and intrusive.

Now that you know the different devices you should be looking for let's look at the signs that someone might be spying on you.

Signs that Someone Might Be Spying on You

Before you go out and buy bug detection equipment, spend a few days paying careful attention to the people around you and your movements. Finding out who might be spying on you is as essential as locating the equipment. Keep an eye out for:

Unusual Sound Activity on Calls:

Wiretaps and listening equipment can cause volume changes or static sounds when you're on a call. Sometimes, even when you hang up, you might hear a buzzing sound coming from your phone. If your phone rings and you hear a faint or high-pitched tone when you answer, it could indicate a connected line extender. 

People seem to know your location or personal information

Things that would arouse suspicion would be someone knowing about the places you go to, or they mention something personal you haven't shared with them. If it seems strange to you, then check your car for a GPS tracking device and your home and office for eavesdropping devices, just in case.

Something Appears Out of Place in Your Home or Car

This takes a keen eye for detail - and almost a feeling that something isn't right. Your body automatically moves in specific ways, so it might feel something out of place before you consciously realize it.

Look around to see if anything was moved or if a new object suddenly appeared and you don't know where it came from. It could be a wall clock, a picture frame, or even a tiny black box that seems out of place. Hiding devices behind electrical outlets or smoke detectors are standard, so look out for anything moved or altered somehow.

Keep an eye out for debris on the fall from someone drilling into the ceiling or patches of discoloration on your walls. Someone might have created a hole and inserted a microphone or camera into it.

Unusual Activity in Your Home and Surrounding Area

Unusual activity can include your home alarm going off when you're not there, and it looks like things have been moved around, but nothing was taken, or you start seeing trucks and utilities vehicles outside your home a few days in a row, or maintenance workers coming around to your house when nobody's called them. Don't just let them into your home. Verify exactly what they're doing, who sent them, and then call the company using the number you find online rather than the one they've given you.

What does a listening bug look like?

People know that you can hide tiny cameras in alarm clocks, smoke detectors, and TV remotes. But not everyone knows what a listening bug looks like. It can be a little black box - about the size of an AirPods case; it can also be a small, round silver microphone hidden in your car radio or behind power outlets. Since it's so tiny, listening bugs can be embedded within pens, PC mouses, power banks, and everyday office or home objects.

Do a Location Sweep to Detect Bugs

Let's start in your car. Sometimes, bugs will make a soft buzzing sound. Find a quiet spot, roll all the windows up, and carefully listen for any sounds. Make sure you have your phone, and other electrical devices turned off. 

Look in your car's cubbyhole, feel under the seats, feel the car's ceiling for any bumps and check the trunk. You'll have to do some moving around for this search. 

How to find a Tracker on Your Car

Now, some trackers are installed for your safety. These can easily be found in your car's interior. It looks like a tiny box with a magnetic side. If someone is trying to track you covertly, then the tracker is likely on the outside of your vehicle, giving the individual easy access to it. Some GPS' have an antenna or light on them, but not all do. GPS devices are about three to four inches long and an inch or two wide.

A GPS tracker with a magnetic side will need to be attached to another magnetic area of your car, so you'll need to look very closely with a flashlight and run your hands underneath areas of your vehicle to do a thorough check for a GPS tracker or any electronic devices.

Sometimes, recording devices may be hidden within your car's electronics or even the FM radio. This will make them hard to spot, and if you're not too clued up about cars, you could risk disconnecting something important. If you find something suspicious in your vehicle, contact your mechanic for help, so make sure that you aren't damaging expensive parts.

To do a physical sweep, use a flashlight and check under your front and back wheels, beneath the undercarriage, in the trunk, and under the driver's seat or passenger seat.

Make sure you've switched off all your electrical appliances in your home, and there's complete silence. This can be quite time-consuming depending on the size of your house or apartment, so make sure you've got a few free hours for a thorough sweep. Looks through the obvious places, like:

  • Inside smoke detectors, clocks, and TV remotes.
  • Behind the TV, under the telephone, sockets, outlets, and light switches.
  • Look out for drywall shavings, cracked or chipped walls, and even any surprise, unexpected gifts. 

Our Best Bug Detectors

The methods mentioned above may be cost-efficient ways to search for bugs, but they're not time-efficient. If you don't have the time to dedicate to a full search and you want something more comprehensive, then proper counter-surveillance equipment is your best solution.

How to tell if your car is bugged with a device

Speciality Bug Detector

If you've listened carefully for any buzzing and did a sweep of your car with no success, you can try our T-9 Speciality Bug Detector. It's designed to find hidden microphones AND wireless cameras. The radiofrequency detector picks up on frequencies between 50-MHz-6GHz, which is the frequency that most bugs use. 

Phones and wireless routers also work at this frequency, so make you switch them off before using the T9 detector (bug detectors are pretty handy if you've misplaced your cellphone and need to locate it). It can detect most wireless bugs, so it's a pretty nifty and compact bug detector. If the T-9 catches a bug, the alert light will get brighter, and the device will start beeping. You will have to move around your home and car to find where the bug is hidden. 

Bug Detector for Beginners

The SG-1 works similarly to the T-9 specialty bug detector - by sweeping the area to pick up on unknown frequencies. However, this one is easier to use and more beginner-friendly. It has an adjustable knob to help you narrow down the location of the possible bug.

Most Popular Bug Detector

One of our overall most popular products is our Scout Hidden Camera Detector. Scout bounces light off cameras, and since most cameras have an infrared filter, the light will reflect brightly back at you. It's easy to use and compact, so you can take it with you anywhere. It can find all hidden cameras and even comes with a camera practice lens, so you know exactly what to look for.

Bug Defender

While bug detectors are helpful and practical, sometimes, you don't have time to do a sweep of every room you enter. The AJ-3 Audio Jammer is your solution to ensuring that every conversation you have is private without you needing to spend time going through the area. The audio jammer generates white noise (similar to how an old TV sounded when you couldn't find a channel), so the listening device can only pick up on white noise and none of your conversations. You can adjust the volume settings to make sure you can hear your conversations while still preventing someone from eavesdropping.

Best All-Round Bug Detector

If you want to locate RF bugging devices, hidden cameras, or wireless microphones, go for the LM-8 Hidden Camera and Bug Detector. The bright red light bounces off pinhole camera lenses, which reflects off the viewport you look through. You'll know immediately when you've found a camera lens. It can also pick up wireless signals from microphones and hidden cameras, with a frequency of (20MHz-6GHz), making it our best all-round bug detector.

What to do if You Find a Hidden Camera or Audio Bug

If you find a bug, don't destroy it. Inform the place and then leave the area as soon as you can. You can enlist the help of a private detective to help you find the culprit. We have an article on the Pros and Risks of Using a Private Investigator, which can help you decide if you need one or not.


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