Car GPS trackers have changed the way we keep tabs on our vehicles. When you park your car somewhere, give it to a valet, or let your daughter drive it for the night, you’re no longer relegated to knowing absolutely nothing about how your car is doing. Using a GPS tracker for cars, you can check your car’s exact location in real-time, as well as get valuable driving information such as speed, mileage, and even driver behavior.
Whether you’re a regular car owner or someone who manages a fleet of vehicles, using a car GPS tracker can prove invaluable to your peace of mind. Not only can it show you a car’s precise location at this exact moment, it can alert you when the car is driving past a geofenced perimeter, keep a log of the whole trip, and even ask for assistance in case it gets in an accident. For car owners, this is crucial information that can help recovery efforts when their car is stolen. For commercial services, the same information can prove essential to properly managing their fleet of vehicles and drivers.
Of course, car GPS trackers aren’t restricted for use in cars. Recreational vehicles like boats, UTVs, and motorcycles are also good candidates for getting one, as it allows you to keep tabs on their positions at all times. Heck, you can put one in your kid’s Mario Kart ride-on if you want to keep tabs on their location without having to keep an eye on them all times. Granted, you’ll have to pay monthly subscriptions for each GPS tracker you use, so you might want to go easy with putting them on everything, unless you’re willing to fork out that much in additional expenses.
Do note, while you can use car GPS trackers to monitor other people, state laws generally prohibit individuals from doing so without their consent. As such, it’s important to make sure you use one while staying within the proper bounds of the law (lest find yourself wearing a different GPS tracker on your ankle or something).
These are the best car GPS trackers.
Spytec GPS GL300
Only one subscription plan is available for this car GPS tracker and it’s quite expensive at $30 a month. For that price, though, you get frequent five-second app updates, allowing you to get pertinent information about your car in real time. It’s originally designed for fleet tracking, which is reflected in the kind of alerts it offers. As such, along with usual speed, battery, geofencing, and SOS, it also comes with trip start and finish alerts, along with charging (both start and stop) and connectivity (it alerts you when it goes offline and returns online). The app offers great reporting and the five-second refreshes keeps you abreast of moment-to-moment happenings, although it also offers the option to manually tone down the updates to help save the tracker’s battery life (you can set it to update as infrequently as once every 24 hours). When used normally, the battery lasts around a week, which is good enough for this kind of device. Do note, the coverage for the GPS tracker is restricted to North America, so opt for a different one if you want wider international coverage.
This car GPS tracker comes with a magnetic mount, a clip-on attachment, and double-sided sticky pads, so you get multiple options as to how you’re going to install this as neatly as possible in your car. It can send alerts for over half a dozen scenarios, including speed, car movement, geofencing, pressing the SOS button, powering off, and more, with powerful reports that you can customize from the companion app. The app, by the way, refreshes every 15 seconds, so you get reasonably up-to-date information, although we’ll admit that the app is a bit overwhelming with the amount of options it offers. That’s a good thing, though, as it really comes in handy once you get used to all the options. The real downside here is battery life, as it’s only rated for five days between charges and, in practice, actually requires more frequent charging if you use the car frequently. Good thing it alerts you when it’s low on battery, though, so you can plug it in soon as you get in the car. Standard monthly fee runs $19.95.
This puck-shaped GPS tracker for cars has a strong internal magnet that allows you to simply snap it onto any ferromagnetic surface on your car. It’s waterproof, too, so you can actually mount it outside the car without affecting its operation. Designed for simple and straightforward operation, it comes with just three kinds of alerts (speed, battery, and geofencing), although the app does update every three seconds or so, so you get fresher real-time information compared to most other trackers, which update anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds. The app is also simplified and easy to navigate, making it incredibly hassle-free to use. There’s also a historical playback feature that lets you view previous trips whenever you need them. Do note, the three-second updates come with the most expensive monthly plan ($49.95 a month – yikes), so it’s going to bite you in recurring costs.
Sick of car GPS trackers that need to be recharged every few days? We feel your pain. That’s why we’re so fond of this tracker, which comes with a 140-day battery rating, allowing you to go months between charges. No, the setup won’t be as sleek as those tiny trackers with equally small batteries. That’s because this comes with an external battery system that provides all the juice for that extended battery life. Actually, the internal battery is rated to last 15 days on its own and the external one adds another 125 days on top of it, so you can use just the tracker without the extra battery if you want a cleaner installation (it has six built-in magnets on the waterproof case for snapping onto ferromagnetic surfaces), although we’ll take the slightly messy one to have a tracker that runs for months on end. It has extensive options for alerts and notifications, so you can receive useful information on various events as they happen, while the app updates its data for reports every 60 seconds, with the option for rapid tracking that’s switches to a faster tracking speed during emergencies. Subscriptions start at $17.99 per month for 60-second updates and tops out at $34.99 for five-second refreshes.
If you want a car-based GPS tracker that requires no charging, this one that plugs into the OBD2 slot just might be what you need, since it draws all its power directly from your car, ensuring it’s never going to conk out due to a drained battery. Because it’s plugged into the car’s OBD2 slot, it’s able to pick up a lot more information, allowing it to provide alerts not just for speed, geofencing, and battery like many GPS trackers, but also impact detection, rapid acceleration, hard braking, fuel levels, driving distance, idle time, fuel economy, accident detection, and trip start and end. Yep, it’s extensive. It also keeps a chronological log of all trips, with the app providing updates every 15 seconds. Not only does this GPS tracker offer some of the best feature sets we’ve found in the category, the monthly subscription is also one of the most affordable at just $9 a month, making it an overall excellent value. If there’s any downside, it’s the lack of extensive reports that other apps offer, as the app is mostly for trip logs and alert overviews, although we honestly don’t even mind – the information is good enough for most car owners, although fleet managers might need something with a bit more meat to it.