There was a time when dashboard mounted GPS devices were a standard bit of technology, but the rise of cell phones has made them largely irrelevant, and a tiny GPS tracker is both easy and affordable to make. Today you can find trackers for kids, pets, and luggage, and car tracking devices fulfill entirely different purposes.
A good car tracker can serve as a reliable anti-theft measure, a way to keep tabs on your amateur teen driver, or a means to better understand your own driving habits. No matter what your needs are, you’re sure to find an appropriate GPS locator for your car. Below we’ve highlighted 12 of the best tracking devices and provided you with a handy guide to understanding the features and specs of each.
- The Best GPS Tracker For Cars
- 1. SpyTec STI_GL300 Vehicle GPS Tracker
- 2. Vyncs Car GPS Tracker
- 3. MotoSafety OBD Tracking Device
- 4. PrimeTracking LLC Vehicle GPS Tracker
- 5. TKSTAR Hidden Vehicles GPS Tracker
- 6. Amcrest 4G LTE GPS Tracker
- 7. Bouncie OBD2 Adapter Tracking Device
- 8. Trak-4 GPS Tracker
- 9. Optimus Tracker GPS Tracker
- 10. Logistimatics Mobile-200 GPS Tracker
- Best GPS Tracker For Cars Buyer’s Guide
The Best GPS Tracker For Cars
1. SpyTec STI_GL300 Vehicle GPS Tracker
SpyTec is one of the most feature rich anti theft gps tracker for car available today. It offers practically real time live updates every five seconds and includes a wealth of geofencing and zone features so you can assign some precise and complicated routines for your tracking. And with a width of just about 2.5 inches, it's a tiny GPS tracker. Speed limits can also be established, meaning it can be used for monitoring your teen or as a way to signal you about unusual activity in the event of a theft.
Combine all this with a battery life of two weeks, and you're left with one of the best vehicle tracking systems around. This GPS tracker for the car makes use of the T-Mobile network for reliable performance. While the subscription fee is fairly pricy, it's easily worth the price for someone who truly wants peace of mind.
2. Vyncs Car GPS Tracker
Almost all GPS trackers require a costly monthly fee to properly use, but this Vsyncs model is a GPS tracker for car no monthly fee required. You get a full free year's subscription along with one of the most feature rich GPS trackers you'll find anywhere. It runs off of a traditional 3G network, ensuring a high level of consistency no matter where your car is, and it plugs directly into the OBD slot of your car. As a result, you never have to worry about the battery running out.
And while that also means it won't work well as a security device, but it's a perfect choice if you're looking to track your teen's driving or learn more about your own habits. In addition to simply tracking GPS habits, it can provide scores on driving safety, signal out for roadside assistance, and even let you know about necessary repairs.
3. MotoSafety OBD Tracking Device
Like the Vsyncs, the MOTOSafety utilizes the smart method of plugging directly into your onboard dash slot, but this plug in GPS tracker for car use is more explicitly targeted at tracking the habits of new drivers. Best of all, it's an eminently cheap GPS tracker for car use. It syncs up with Google Maps and delivers the results directly to your phone via the GPS tracker for car app that's included.
You can set normal parameters like geofencing, but you can also use this device to establish curfew. And while this tracker allows you to view the driving habits of your young driver in real time, the best capabilities come in the form of the larger data sets. Driver report cards are delivered directly to your phone, allowing you to evaluate habits like speeding, quick acceleration, and sharp breaking. It's as much an educational tool as a monitoring device.
4. PrimeTracking LLC Vehicle GPS Tracker
PrimeTracker isn't exclusively designed as a portable GPS tracker for car usage, but it works admirably well as one. It can deliver real time tracking information directly to your phone or tablet, and unlikely most of the other trackers on the market today, it can actually rely on 4G networks. As 2G becomes cycled out of rotation, you can expect it to provide more consistent and reliable coverage for a long time to come.
The PrimeTracker has found usage among professional truck companies for tracking their drivers, but it will work just as well in a personal vehicle. An SOS button allows drivers to send out a distress signal in the case of an emergency, and diverse geofencing options provide you with the means to better know when unusual activity is occurring. The dedicated app can be accessed on your phone, tablet, or laptop.
5. TKSTAR Hidden Vehicles GPS Tracker
Most of the vehicle trackers on this list aren't exactly obtrusive, but if you're looking for a truly hidden GPS tracker for car, look no further than this TKSTAR model. This is a magnetic GPS tracker for car, so it doesn't even need to be placed on the car's interior. You can mount it underneath or even apply it to a boat or motorcycle and count on it to continue delivering quality results in the case of a theft.
You get real time tracking over Google Maps. In addition to the traditional anti-theft features, this includes vibration alerts, overspeed alerts, and low battery alarms. You can also receive a notification when your vehicle goes over a set limit, and the expected geofencing options are built in as well. In addition to live reporting, TKSTAR has included a robust history log for long term surveillance efforts or tracking a loved one.
6. Amcrest 4G LTE GPS Tracker
Amcrest makes a lot of different models of vehicle tracking devices, but this 4G LTE model is probably the best GPS tracker for car use that they offer. It's compact enough to be used to track children, pets, or luggage as well, and the battery life of 14 days is pretty strong. This is another car locator that runs on 4G LTE rather than earlier networks, so you can count on it to stay relevant even for years to come. It also works globally, so you can take it overseas with you and count on it to still work.
This is a live GPS tracker for car use, but it also offers detailed reports on long term activities, a motion alarm tied to a six axis accelerometer, and a low battery alert. If you're looking to apply it to the underside of the car, it's also a weather resistant model.
7. Bouncie OBD2 Adapter Tracking Device
Bouncie is more than just a wireless gps tracker for car. It essentially transforms your vehicle into a smart car. The one minute updates allow it to serve in the same way as any other vehicle tracking device, but the real distinguishing factor of the Bouncie is the sheer wealth of quality of life features available here. The trip history functionality allows you to track your vacation, evaluate the behavior of your teen driver, or learn how you can more efficiently commute to work.
Then there's the in depth diagnostic information that Bouncie offers. You'll receive an alert whenever an engine code registers on your car's computer, and you can set reminders for tune-ups or oil changes and even determine when it's time for a renewal. The geofencing features, labeled by Bouncie as "Geo-Circles", are incredibly robust and flexible to a wide variety of needs.
8. Trak-4 GPS Tracker
Trak-4 is a rugged and heavy duty real time GPS tracker for car, and while it's built with the needs of commercial fleets in mind, it's still well suited to the needs of non-professionals. Just keep in mind that you may not be able to make the most of the more advanced features. The battery life is exceptional, and it can be recharged with a regular cell phone charger.
All the standard tracking features like the ability to change your ping rates and follow your vehicle on a real time map are present, but it's also a rugged device built for attaching beneath vehicles and made to withstand any weather condition. Business users will love the presence of the REST API which can be used to integrate it into your software ecosystem, and it's built to scale up with your needs so that you can follow multiple trackers at once.
9. Optimus Tracker GPS Tracker
The Optimus is a serious GPS device built specifically with security in mind, and it's become a favored tool of private investigators for that very reason. This small GPS tracker for car use can be popped right into your back seat, but it also comes with a sturdy and reliable magnetic case that can be applied to the undercarriage of a vehicle. It will stay clearly out of sight while also remaining resistant to heat, cold, and rain.
The customization options here are top notch, as you can assign SMS text or email notifications for just about any action imaginable. That includes movement or speeding, but it can also be assigned to established geofencing. An SOS button is also included, and a handy low battery indicator will let you know when it's time to take it back home for a charge.
10. Logistimatics Mobile-200 GPS Tracker
The Logistimatics is by most accounts a pretty standard GPS tracker. It runs off a typical cell phone network, offers a decent battery life, and sports a small and easy to conceal frame. But the features that sets the Mobile-200 apart from the competition and serves as its primary selling point is the ability to listen in on anyone in the vicinity. Just call the device's number to activate the device and hear live audio.
That's obviously a major appeal if you want to use this device as a security device, but you'll also find a decent range of functionality beyond that. Position reporting times of 30 seconds are respectable, and installation is as simple as turning on the device and syncing it up to the app on your phone or your computer's browser.
Best GPS Tracker For Cars Buyer’s Guide
GPS’ can be used for a wide variety of reasons, and that means that there’s no singularly best option out there. Whether you’re looking for a way to evaluate the driving of a new student, keep tabs on your commercial fleet, or simply apply a new protective measure to the family car, you deserve a model of tracker that’s unique to your needs. Below we outline the most important factors you should keep in mind when shopping for a new GPS for your vehicle.
All of the trackers that have made the cut for our list rely on our list make use of a traditional cell network. That means that the GPS works functionally identical to that in your phone. Just pop in a traditional SIM card, connect it to the right network, and it’s ready to go. But not all wireless networks are created equally. Three different generations of cell networks are currently in service: 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE, and all of these trackers either offer 3G with 2G backup or 4G LTE with 3G backup.
In practical terms, the better the network, the faster and more reliable your connection is going to be on average. If you want to know exactly where your vehicle is at all times, 4G LTE is the way to go. That said, the difference in reliability probably won’t make a huge difference for most consumers. What will make a difference is the phasing out of 2G.
With the exception of the last model (which justifies it’s presence for its surveillance feature (we’ve excluded GPS trackers that rely primarily on 2G networks for this very reason. While cell providers vary on when they’re sunsetting their individual 2G networks, it’s right on the horizon, and many will be pulling the plug on 2G by the end of 2020. That means that devices without 4G LTE support won’t have a fallback if your vehicle drifts away from their primary network.
Whether or not a device will work outside the United States can vary by product, so if you plan on traveling and want to take your GPS device with you, examine the specifics carefully. Take the time to determine what countries have networks that support the device and whether or not the company charges an extra fee for taking it outside of the United States.
How much does the battery life matter for your GPS tracker? That completely depends on what you’re using it for. If you’re leaving your tracker in a car that you rarely use but you want to protect as an asset, having a tracker that lasts a few months or more will matter a lot more. Take your sports car out to the race track every six months or so, and use that opportunity to change out the charger. If you’re regularly tracking the activities of your teen driver, chances are that you’ll be fine having something with a shorter life span.
Fortunately, most of these devices are designed with batteries appropriate to their most common usage. The Trak-4, designed as it is for commercial usage, can last a whopping 18 months. Moreover, you can typically get a lot more usage out of a battery by setting shorter check-in times. A car sitting on a lot somewhere probably doesn’t need to ping in every 10 seconds for you to keep it safe. What will probably be more important to you than the battery life of the device is the presence of notifications. Look for devices that offer regular alerts when the battery gets low, or opt for a device that plugs right into the OBD slot and runs off of your car’s battery.
There’s no such thing as a car GPS without a subscription, or at least there’s no such thing that’s worth your time. Since all of these devices work off of a cell network, that means that you’ll need to pay for a cellular plan for the GPS device. Fortunately, these aren’t going to cost you anything in the ballpark of what you pay for your normal cell phone bill. A basic cell plan will cost you four or five bucks, and if you see that as the listing for a device, chances are that they don’t offer much in the way of live service.
Most of these devices charge higher priced plans, and if that’s the case, you’ll want to look at the pricing plan and features closely. You’re stuck with whatever the company offers, and there’s no way to just change to another provider without buying a different device. That said, some of the features available through specific providers are very good, and they can easily justify the purchase. The Trak-4’s corporate specific features are unparalleled, as they’re built with the needs of software developers in mind. And products like the Bouncie offer a truly comprehensive range of vehicle tracking features that go well beyond the standard expectations of a GPS.
We suggest that you make a list of the features that are most important to you, and then sit down and evaluate the subscription pricing. There’s no need to pay extra for something you don’t need, but it would also be a waste to miss out on a feature that could benefit you for the same price or a negligible difference.
A car is one of the most expensive and treasured possessions that most people own, so while a GPS may cost you a bit of overhead and a monthly fee to maintain, it can be a valuable investment for peace of mind if nothing else. Our GPS devices cover just about every reason you’d need a GPS for your car, and we hope you find what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for more general purpose tracking devices, check out our list of the best GPS devices.