Best GPS Trackers for Cars To Help You Recover Your Stolen Vehicle

You can’t put a price on peace of mind, but we’ll try anyway.

byHank O'Hop| UPDATED Oct 28, 2022 10:42 AM
Best GPS Trackers for Cars To Help You Recover Your Stolen Vehicle
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Picture this: You’re walking out of the gym and into the parking lot after a hard workout session. You head to the area where you *thought* you’d left your car. Except, wait a minute — it’s not there. You begin frantically searching the lot, wondering if you forgot where you’d parked. You stop and your heart sinks when you realize one of two scenarios may have just happened to you. Either your car was towed or stolen. 

This story may seem oddly specific because it happened to a friend of mine. And I remember her saying that the worst feeling during the situation was the confusion. It’s a crappy feeling that no one should have to go through. That’s why we at The Drive have compiled a list of the best GPS trackers that’ll give you the peace of mind of knowing where your car is at all times.

Summary List

Best Overall: Spytech GL300

Best Value: Vyncs GPS Tracker

Honorable Mention: Land Sea Air GPS Tracker

Best Pick for Families: Bouncie GPS Car Tracker

Smallest GPS Tracker: Apple AirTags 

Our Methodology

GPS trackers are simple devices, and there's not a whole lot to take into consideration before you start shopping. That's not to say there isn't at least a little bit of research in order, though. To ensure we're making sound recommendations, we spent time reading into leading GPS trackers on the market, as well as what consumers have to say about them. We're also car owners just like you, so we also considered the details we deem important when putting this buying guide together.

Best Car GPS Reviews & Recommendations

Best Car GPS Tracker Overall
Spytec GL300

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Spytech
  • Part Number:GL300CatM1
  • Monthly Subscription:Yes

Pros

  • Small/thin sizing
  • Personalized reports
  • SOS button/feature
  • High data storage
  • Perimeter setting

Cons

  • Needs separate case for waterproofing and magnetization
  • High monthly fees

The Spytec GL300 is our best overall as at $40, this versatile and intelligent tracker can fill many roles with great depth and execution. It can fit in numerous places inside your vehicle, and with a waterproof and magnetized case, it can even be placed underneath your car. The Spytec GL300 can personalize reports, based on how you choose to use the device. All information can be easily accessed through its dedicated app, where you can see vehicle departure and arrival, boundary updates, perimeter breaching, and SOS button activation. This GPS tracker is also privacy-focused too, as it keeps zero personal data stored on the device. The battery life is great as well, lasting 2.5 weeks on average.

As with anything, there are some shortcomings. The biggest issue one will run into are the high monthly fees attached to this GPS tracker. It also doesn't come with the case necessary for waterproofing and mounting.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Vyncs
  • Part Number:VYNCSLINK-001
  • Monthly Subscription:No

Pros

  • Easily summarized data
  • No monthly subscription
  • Works on OBD2 port while the vehicle is off

Cons

  • 3G antennas
  • Standard refresh time is long, at three minutes, but a 15-second refresh requires extra payment

At $80, and no monthly subscription fee, the Vyncs GPS Tracker is a fantastic value all around. This car GPS tracker plugs into the OBD2 port on your vehicle but works even when your car is off by drawing small amounts of battery to wake itself and update its locations and any other data that has been recorded since its last refresh. The Vysyncs GPS Tracker can also monitor things such as vehicle health, driving habits, fuel level, route mapping, and even vehicle recalls. This tracker also has worldwide support, making it an easy choice for anyone, no matter their country of residence.

The 3G antennas used for this device are outdated, which might not come as a surprise for something so economical. Also, the refresh time is rather long, at three minutes. You do have the option to move to 15-second refresh times, but that requires extra payments.

Honorable Mention
Land Sea Air GPS Tracker

Specs

  • Manufacturer: LandAirSea
  • Part Number:5400
  • Monthly Subscription:Yes

Pros

  • Magnetized
  • Waterproof
  • 4G LTE + satellite
  • Real time tracking

Cons

  • Recharge time is 12 hours
  • High monthly fees

Magnetized, waterproof, and a little smaller than a hockey puck, the Land Sea Air GPS Tracker is a great choice for those looking to hide their car GPS tracker in the undercarriage. This tracker is app-based, connecting to 4G LTE towers, as well as satellites. Its pinpoint accuracy tracking is available within six feet. This GPS tracker will alert you through its dedicated app with real-time movements and real-time notifications, providing you with stops, perimeter breaches, and even addresses. There is also a feature available called “Share Spot”, which allows you to send notifications and information to designated contacts, making it a top choice for families and close friends.

Monthly fees of $20 a month are lower than some, but still enough to push some consumers elsewhere. It’s also plagued with a long charge time of 12 hours, which you should consider before buying.

Best Pick for Families
Bouncie GPS Car Tracker

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Bouncie
  • Part Number:B07H8NS5MS
  • Monthly Subscription:Yes

Pros

  • 15-second auto-refresh
  • Google Maps tracking
  • Shows driving habits and vehicle health
  • Offers roadside assistance
  • Geo circles/geo zones

Cons

  • No tracking when vehicle is off

The Bouncie GPS Car Tracker is a fantastic option for parents looking to keep their children and family vehicles safe. Plugging into the standard OBD2 port in vehicles, it’s capable of monitoring vehicle health, fuel level, speed, hard braking, accident notification, idle time, route mapping, and geo-fencing. On top of all of that, it also includes roadside assistance and 15-second refresh time. Those who work on their own vehicle will quickly find the appeal in this device, as it’s able to read any fault codes that show up after that pesky check engine light turns on.

This GPS tracker is built upon Google Maps, and only costs $8 a month to utilize the features, with no cancellation fees. Its major downsides are the fact that it will not work with the vehicle off, and it plugs into the OBD2 port. Car savvy thieves are likely smart enough to look in that area of a car quickly after stealing one.

Smallest GPS Tracker
Apple AirTags

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Apple
  • Part Number:MX532AM/A
  • Monthly Subscription:No

Pros

  • No subscription
  • Small size
  • One-year battery life/replaceable battery
  • IP67 water resistance
  • Huge third party accessory support
  • Lost Mode feature

Cons

  • No real-time tracking
  • Alerts thieves
  • Doesn’t work with Android devices
  • Only updates location within 30 feet of a Find My compatible Apple Device

At a size slightly larger than a U.S. quarter dollar, the Apple AirTag is a great choice for those searching for a discreet option, and gives peace of mind if lost with the fantastic Lost Mode feature. It runs seamlessly with iPhones and its versatility increases tenfold thanks to the support of thousands of aftermarket accessories. These accessories include keychain cases, magnet cases, and fully submersible waterproof cases. Heck, they even have customizable wallet cases with AirTag slots. They have no monthly subscription, a reasonable price point, and one-year battery life.This tracker updates its location by pinging devices within 30 feet that are connected to Apple’s Find My network. With millions of those devices active daily around the world, AirTags earn its appeal despite the lack of cellular and satellite tracking. However, they fall short as a car tracker due to the fact that AirTags are designed to alert anyone (including car thieves who own an iPhone) that they’re being tracked.

They also make an audible pinging sound after 8 hours away from its owner. While this is a great privacy and safety feature for the general public, this can ruin the discreteness of the tracker. It should also be noted that these trackers do not work with Android devices, apart from the direct scanning of the AirTag.

Our Verdict 

We chose the Spytec GL300 as the best all around GPS tracker for your car. It’s packed with useful features, and has extremely accurate, real-time tracking using 4G LTE. The Vyncs GPS Tracker is our best value pick thanks to its no subscription fee and usage versatility. Agree with our picks? Have any that we missed? Leave a comment below and let us know! 

Things to Consider Before Buying GPS Trackers 

Don't just buy any GPS tracker because someone recommended it to you. You should always make an educated decision when it comes to purchasing something that might save you thousands of dollars. There's not a whole lot to know to get started, though. These considerations will get you in the right place.

Key Features

Monthly Fees 

One of the most important details to consider before you buy is whether a monthly fee is attached to the tracker you're interested in. This does not mean that performance is secondary to pricing or that tracking services aren't worth paying, just that you don't want to be taken by surprise. Some monthly fees can be as high as $30, which adds up to a considerable amount over a year. Do yourself a favor, and read into the services, how much they are, and if you deem them worth the investment.

Active vs Passive Tracking

You might hear about active or passive GPS trackers while you search around, and it's important to know the difference. To put it simply, active tracking gives you real-time readings of a vehicle's location, whereas passive trackers tell you where a vehicle has been. Most car owners are looking for active GPS trackers as they transmit the data to an app or site for security purposes. Passive trackers have their place but generally only relay information via a memory card or USB port, meaning you must have it in your position to retrieve data. 

Waterproofing 

Parts of cars, and you need a tracker that can handle moisture if you mount it anywhere exposed to the elements. Otherwise, you'll wind up with a fried gadget that isn't doing you any favors. Many GPS trackers are waterproof by design and may even be paired with an IP67 rating. You shouldn't count on it, though. Double-check the description to make sure any tracker you're considering is suited to your intended location. If it's not, you should see if waterproof cases are an option or move to a different device. 

FAQs on GPS Trackers for Cars

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

How far can a GPS track a car?

​​That depends on the device and the quality of service you select. Some are far better than others, and you'll need to read into the details to determine what GPS tracker works best for you.

Can I mount a GPS tracker on the outside of my car?

Yes. As long as it can be waterproofed, you can mount a GPS tracker to a discrete location on the vehicle's exterior. However, the interior is almost always a better choice for protecting the device. 

Do all GPS tracker require a monthly fee?

No. Some are free. However, better devices with more useful features are often attached to monthly fees for the services.