Choosing the perfect tracking device for your car
GPS tracking devices for cars are becoming increasingly popular. Car owners may want to track their car for several reasons. Perhaps they’re afraid of car theft and want the best chance at being able to find their vehicle if someone steals it.
Also, if multiple people use the same car, the owner may want to track where the car has been and how long it has been travelling. If you like to keep maintenance records or learn about the performance history of your vehicle, then a tracking device is the best solution.
Auto theft is all too common. Many times, it is almost impossible to trace your car once it has been stolen, which is why having some way to know the location of a vehicle at all times can be the difference between finding your car and buying a replacement. A GPS tracker can allow you to track the location of a vehicle anywhere it goes, so take a look at our reviews of the top GPS trackers for cars.
Now that we live in a connected world tracking your car’s location has never been easier. Using GPS technology, affordable trackers are available in today’s market, allowing you to know where your car is at all times. Besides, many of these GPS trackers have additional features that can monitor driving habits, which is great for keeping an eye on a teenage driver.
GPS trackers aren’t very complex devices. Most of these can just be placed inside your vehicle once you’ve set up the app on your phone. Some of our recommendations are specifically designed to be used on vehicles by plugging into your car’s OBD2 port. Those devices have additional features, such as monitoring your car’s health and getting vehicle data such as speed, acceleration, braking, and more. They’re similar to devices used by insurance companies that offer discounted monthly premiums if you allow them to track your driving habits.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the top best GPS trackers for cars, as well as explain what they are and how you should go about picking the right one for you.
What is a GPS Tracker?
A GPS tracker is a fairly simple device that uses GPS technology to send location data to a cloud-based server, which you can then retrieve on your smart device or computer. All of these devices use cellular network technology (3G/4G LTE) to send information to the cloud, which you can access from anywhere around the world. Do keep in mind, however, that some trackers will only send tracking data in specific countries since they use cellular data. If you need a device that works internationally, make sure you get a tracker with an international SIM.
Many of these devices now use apps that you can install on your Android or iOS smartphones. Some also offer a web-based option for tracking data so that you can check it out from any computer.
Best Vehicle GPS Trackers Reviews
Vyncs GPS Tracker: Best for Long-Term Tracking
The Vyncs GPS tracks location, unsafe driving practices, engine diagnostics, battery life, maintenance needs, recall notices, and fuel levels.
It evaluates your driving to give you a Tip Performance Index (TPI) score that can help you save money on car insurance. Its free companion app, VyncsMiles, is compatible with Amazon Alexa and can track mileage and categorize it by personal and business use.
Vyncs uses one-year plans instead of month-to-month deals. This kind pricing can save you cash if you’re committed to tracking your vehicle’s location for a while.
You can also check out Vync’s Basic, Premium, and Pro plans that sweeten the deal with services like roadside assistance. Vyncs also has a Fleet service for commercial customers who might want to monitor their employees during deliveries or routes.
The OBD plug-in GPS device costs around $75 and comes with a one-year basic plan subscription (and a one-time activation fee of $30). Yearly renewal costs are about the same, which works out to around $6 a month, making it the least expensive GPS on our list.
We don’t like that the default refresh time is three minutes—the fastest refresh time (15 seconds) is available only for an added fee. The user interface is also a little tricky to manage.
MOTOsafety GPS Tracker: Best for New Drivers
With a driving education course for teens, Google Maps route replay, geofencing, and customizable location alerts, the easy-to-install MOTOsafety GPS Tracker earned our top spot for new teen drivers.
This tracking device costs around only $20 with a monthly fee of $19.99. You won’t have to sign a contract or pay a cancellation fee, but you will have to call the company if you want to cancel.
We like the included driver training program, with access to educational content and practise quizzes to help your teen prep for their driving test.
We also like the daily driving report card on the mobile app, but metrics can be confusing. Speed limits aren’t always accurate on Google Maps, so MOTOsafety might say you’re speeding even when you’re not.
Likewise, normal rapid acceleration—like when you’re merging onto a busy highway—can also count against you. We recommend taking it out for a test drive and checking the sensitivity before taking away your teen’s car keys for a bad grade on their MOTOsafety driving report.
Spytec GL300 GPS Tracker
SpyTecGPS is one of the leading manufacturers within the GPS industry, and the GL300 is our top pick for the category. This GPS tracker offers near-perfect 4G LTE coverage with impressive 2.5-week battery life. It’s fairly compact as well, measuring 3″ tall by 0.38″ thick, allowing you to conceal the device within your car easily.
The GL300 is compatible with any smartphone, tablet, computer, and network provider. Using satellite technology, this GPS tracker boasts unlimited tracking range, so you don’t have to be anywhere near it to get a precise location. With your smart device, you can set up notification preferences and receive alerts if the tracker leaves or arrives at a specific location—great for tracking cars, especially if your child is driving. You’re able to store up to a year’s worth of activity and can set up reports that summarize the tracker’s historical data.
This GPS tracker is also a bit future-proof since new features are added monthly as the company’s development team uses machine learning and other advanced tools to increase tracking accuracy and boost platform intelligence.
A data plan is required to use this device (and all other GPS trackers), which starts at $24.95 a month, but you can cancel at any time, and there are no cancellation fees.
LandAirSea 54 Waterproof Magnet Mount GPS Tracker
If you want a waterproof device, LandAirSea’s 54 GPS tracker is 100% waterproof and uses a built-in magnet for easy installation. Since the device itself is waterproof, you don’t have to purchase a separate case for it. Featuring an ultra-compact design (about the size of a small roll of Scotch tape), this GPS tracker is powered by a rechargeable battery that can last 1 to 2 weeks on a single charge, depending on use.
Monitoring this device can be done through the LandAirSea mobile app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices, or you can use the web-based SilverCloud software. Features include historical playback, geofence and address proximity alerts, arrival and departure notifications, alerts via SMS or email, Sharepoint (shareable link to the live GPS location), InstaFence (creates an instant geofence around the target), and unlimited printable reports.
This GPS tracker uses 4G LTE connectivity and includes a SIM with unlimited data and unlimited access to LandAirSea’s tracking servers. It costs $24.95 a month for 60-second tracking updates, and the company does offer faster rates.
PRIMETRACKING Personal GPS Tracker
If you need something extremely compact, this GPS tracker is one of the smallest units available. From PRIMETRACKING, this product measures 3″ by 1.5″, so you can easily conceal it inside your vehicle or use it to track anything else.
Although it’s small in size, the tracker still boasts a 2-week battery life. Features include location change alerts, detailed activity location, route history, and geofence. And like other GPS trackers, it has an unlimited range, so you don’t have even to have to be in the same country to monitor your car’s location.
Subscription fees for this device are $25 per month or save a bit by doing six months at $20 per month. You can cancel at any time, and there are no activation fees.
Tracki Mini GPS Tracker
Tracki offers another extremely compact GPS tracker. This device comes with an international SIM, which means it works in over 185 countries. Measuring 1.8″ by 1.6″ by 0.7″ and weighing just 1.7 ounces, this compact tracker also comes in handy for other uses besides tracking your car.
The company offers a lifetime warranty with its product and even provides a free tracker replacement if you lose your original unit. It also uses a replaceable battery, although its standard battery life isn’t as great as other products. If you need updates every 1 to 5 minutes, the battery will last 2 to 3 days. If you only need updates four times per day, the battery will last up to 30 days on a single charge. A larger battery is offered separately that puts it in line with other devices, offering 2-weeks battery life with real-time updates or up to 6 months if you’re getting updates four times per day.
You can set up geofence zones with this device and receive alerts for various things, including speed alerts, and movement notifications via SMS or email. It saves up to 5 years of history with the route, speed, and time stamps.
The Tracki GPS tracker ships with a magnet, Velcro, and belt clip, allowing easy installation for however you want to use it.
Pricing for Tracki’s Mini GPS Tracker is $19.95 per month, or as low as $9.95 per month if you do a long term plan.
CarLock Car Tracker & Alert System
Another OBD2 device, CarLock’s GPS tracker monitors your car in real-time, alerting you when your vehicle is moved, when the engine starts, if unusual vibration is detected, or if the device itself is removed from your car. Since this device connects to your car’s OBD2 port, it can also monitor other factors such as fast acceleration, hard and sudden braking, and even sharp and sudden turns. Each month, it’ll report a driver safety score, which is a great feature for monitoring young drivers. Besides, the device can let you know if your car’s battery is running dangerously low or if it’s experiencing high battery drain.
As a tracker, it’ll also record route history for you to review or export to a spreadsheet in .xls or .csv format.
CarLock has one of the more affordable plans, costing $9.60 per month. You also get the first month free.
Trak-4 GPS Tracker
Another affordable option is Trak-4’s GPS tracker. Featuring a rechargeable internal battery that lasts 12 to 18 months on a single charge with daily reporting, this device is designed more for commercial use with its rugged housing. You can choose in-motion ping rates from 1 minute to 1 hour, but battery life suffers if you’re requesting more frequent updates.
Map history is provided with this tracker, along with geofence zones that support email or SMS alerts. This is a great option for companies since it uses REST API for GPS reports. It’s very developer-friendly with full source code examples and documentation available. More importantly, if there is no GPS signal available, the Trak-4 uses cell-trilateration to give an approximate location.
Trak-4’s monthly subscription costs start at $6.99 per month when prepaid annually, or $12.99 per month if you’re paying monthly. That’s for hourly updates—if you want 10 minutes or 1-minute updates, you’ll have to pay more. No contract, activation, or cancellation fees and a SIM is included with the device.
Optimus Tracker GPS Tracker with Twin Magnet Case
This bundle from Optimus Tracker includes the Optimus 2.0 GPS tracker with 4G LTE connectivity and a twin magnet case. The case features watertight and water-resistant construction, and the Neodymium magnets are the strongest type of permanent magnets available commercially. Create alerts, geofences, and driving reports from within the app, which is available for Android and iOS devices. Configurable notifications include when the tracker starts moving, when a vehicle is speeding if the device has low battery if the SOS button is triggered, or when the vehicle enters or exits the geofence zones. Those alerts can be sent via email or SMS.
One full charge of the battery should last 1 to 2 weeks, with it ranging on how often you’re reporting data.
The Optimus 2.0 costs $19.95 per month with no contract or hidden fees, and you can cancel anytime. Customize the report frequency from 30 seconds while moving or 10 seconds.
What to Look for in a Car GPS Tracker
GPS trackers can run anywhere from $25 to over $100, so it’s important to think about what you want to spend. But there’s more than just the upfront cost to take into consideration — many operators charge a monthly fee to store your vehicle’s GPS data in the cloud. If you’re looking for long-term data but don’t want to pay monthly, it might be worth paying more upfront to avoid these kinds of charges.
If the only thing you want from your device is tracking, your decision is probably pretty straightforward — but many of the options on our list can do a lot more. From daily driving reports and Alexa integration to diagnosing engine trouble, these models have many different features that may be relevant to your needs.
The question of battery versus plugged in is relevant for most electronics, and car GPS trackers are no exception. Many of these devices have long-term batteries, while others connect to your car. It’s important to consider whether you want to worry about recharging or replacing batteries, or whether you’d like the device to always be on whenever your car is running.
If your concern is theft, you may want a more discreet and compact option that can be hidden inside your vehicle. Savvy thieves may know to check the OBD2 port for a GPS tracker prior to running off with your car. If that’s your main priority, get one of our smaller recommendations that can be hidden underneath a floor mat or in the trunk.
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