LAST UPDATED: April 23, 2019
Best GPS Tracker for Cars: Protect Your Vehicle from Theft
Always know the location of your vehicle with these top GPS trackers
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON April 23, 2019
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.
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Why Buy a GPS Tracker for a Car?
- Track your vehicle if it's stolen. When a vehicle is stolen, it can be very difficult to track down. Most cars will have the license plates changed or removed to avoid being caught. A GPS tracker can pinpoint where your stolen car was taken so you can have your property returned to you.
- Track family member’s driving. If your teenager is just learning to drive, or your elderly parent wants to continue their independence, a GPS tracker in their car can be a great way to monitor their safety. You can make sure all family members are not somewhere they shouldn’t be.
- Keep family members safe when driving. These GPS trackers feature SOS buttons. This will trigger emergency services when activated, so their location can be tracked quickly.
Types of GPS Trackers
Battery-Operated GPS Trackers
Battery-operated GPS trackers are the most common type. It’s important to know the battery life and what type of batteries you need for them to work. Since you will typically leave the GPS tracker in the car at all times, it is important to check the batteries regularly so you know when it is time to change them. This can help ensure your GPS tracker will be working around the clock, especially in emergency situations.
Dash Plug-In GPS Trackers
Dash plug-in GPS trackers are a little more convenient for users. They draw power directly from your car instead of the batteries, so you don’t have to worry about changing the batteries periodically. You should still check the connection now and then to make sure it’s working correctly. It’s also important to know how much power the tracker will be drawing from your car so you know whether or not it will affect the rest of your systems.
BARTUN is a high-quality electronics manufacturer with a variety of products. It also focuses on pet tracking and pet protection as well as a variety of other consumer communication products like intercom and telephone hardware. BARTUN produces a GPS tracker for cars and vehicles that includes a magnetic vehicle tracker which is even good for motorcycles. The GPS tracker is also wireless and waterproof.
AMERICALOC provides many different electronics for surveillance and GPS use. The company is dedicated to providing top-quality products for average people, as well as assisting law enforcement and first responders in public safety. One of its most popular products is a GPS tracker with geofencing capabilities and a panic button.
MOTOsafety is a company that was formed to help parents coach their teenagers safe driving habits without needing to be in the car with them. The company is based in St. Louis, Mo. and focuses on safe driving assistance for new drivers. The MOTOsafety Teen GPS Tracking Device is its most popular product.
GPS Tracker Pricing
- Under $25: There are many GPS trackers you can find for under $25, especially if you find a company that is running a special promotion. These options can include basic features such as real time tracking and playback of routes traveled.
- $25 - $50: This is the most common range for a quality GPS tracker. This price range typically has higher network stability and better range.
Most GPS trackers will not work outside of the United States. However, some companies allow you to add additional countries for a fee. It is crucial that you make sure you know what the signal reach is on your GPS tracker to avoid losing the signal. If you or someone else plans on taking your vehicle out of the country, make sure you add that country to your plan so you can keep using your GPS tracker.
Safety is key with GPS trackers. If you or your loved ones are ever in an emergency situation, they can activate the SOS button, which will alert first responders of their location. This can save crucial time in emergency situations.
- Waterproofing: Some GPS trackers are meant to be placed in a glove box, but the user may want to place it secretly on the bottom of a car. For this purpose, it’s important to make sure the GPS tracker is waterproof and will not get damaged in wet driving conditions.
- Privacy: While trackers can help you keep your family safe, they can also provide a direct line to your family if the devices are intercepted. Make sure you keep the information you get from your GPS tracker protected and private. Keep password locks on your phone or computer and change them regularly to keep hackers from being able to access your GPS data.
- Storage and Cases: If you want to apply the tracker directly to the car by placing it underneath, you will probably want to consider getting a protective case for it. This will help prevent damage from road debris. You can also look into cases for putting it in your car that have an adhesive to protect the tracker from shock damage.
Best GPS Tracker for Cars Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This portable, wireless GPS tracker is small and compact enough to be taken anywhere. It tracks and maps with Google Maps to provide real-time tracking over the internet.
The device also sends texts or emails to alert you when the driver has left a certain area. This tracker is only 3 inches in length, making it one of the best GPS trackers to hide. Also, it can be stored in small areas like the glove compartment or center console. You can also purchase a magnetic case that allows you to stick it to the bottom of your car if you wish to be more discreet.
This battery-operated tracking device uses one lithium-ion battery, which is included with the tracker. The only downside to this tracker is that it takes a few hours to completely charge. Also, the tracker is motion-activated, which may skew some tracking data based on your own vehicle’s suspension and other factors. This tracker is not as discrete as other models as it requires the purchase of an additional magnetic case to hide the tracker on the underside of the vehicle.
The MOTOsafety Teen GPS Tracking Device is perfect for parents with new drivers. It sends a driving report to your phone or computer that shows you speed, routes, location history, and more, so you can monitor where the vehicle has been.
The system uses Google Maps to track routes and locations. This is a comprehensive program that provides pinpoint location tracking. Real-time updates can be sent to your device, and you can go back later and retrace the routes taken that day. You can also use geofencing to show you when the vehicle leaves certain locations, such as your home, work, children’s schools, and more.
This device plugs into the OBDII port under your car’s dash, so you don’t have to worry about battery life. It is also one of the cheaper car trackers on the market. However, the location data may not be as accurate as other more expensive models. Also, the location of the tracker makes this item easier to spot; your teen or employee may be able to see (and possible disengage) the tracker based on its plug-in location. The GPS tracker also requires a monthly ongoing subscription in order to function.
PrimeTracking’s Personal GPS Tracker is intended to be placed in backpacks, purses, luggage, cars, and more. You can take it virtually anywhere because of its small, portable size.
The tracker provides real-time tracking to any location in the United States to your computer, tablet, or phone with the GPS tracking app. You can configure this device to send updates with every new direction your car takes. It uses a 4G LTE network to provide fast and accurate locating technology. You could also choose to monitor it remotely without any alert sounds or signals, allowing you to use it discreetly for certain scenarios. Plus, the device has unlimited range, so there are no real restrictions; you can even use it in Mexico and Cannada.
The battery life on the tracker is about 2-4 weeks, on average, which can make it a bit inconvenient to use at times, but certainly nothing worth steering you away from. The tracker also requires a monthly fee to use the device’s tracking features continuously.
Accutracking’s VTPlug is available in both 3G and 4G and is backward-compatible with 3G networks. It’s ready to start sending information immediately after you plug it into your car’s OBDII port, and continues sending that data 24/7 to your phone or tablet of choice.
The VTPlug saves a detailed selection of information, all of which is available via Accutracking’s app going back 30 days. It can alert you when your car has crossed a geofence, and tell you its current speed and acceleration/deceleration. It’s even useful when your car hasn’t been stolen, as it keeps tabs on when you need an oil change, when your engine is running too hot, and other useful reports. The VTPlug is also compatible with Alexa, and will give its report when you ask “Where is my car?”
On the other hand, this GPS tracker is a bit small and can be easy to knock over or step on if you’ve put it somewhere out of the way. The only other drawback is that the update cycle is tied to how much you pay, and to get updated every 15 seconds (the maximum) gets expensive at $26 per month.
Not just for vehicles, the LandAirSea 2020 GPS tracker is capable of tracking almost anything. It’s small, waterproof, and easy to hide.
You can plant it in your backpack, hide it in your purse, or use an optional waterproof and magnetic mounting case to stick it somewhere discreetly inside your vehicle. This intuitive device can also run reports and analyze movement patterns, giving you full-on tracking capabilities. Plus, setting up all its functions takes only about 15 minutes in total. You can see the tracker move in real-time, and easily set it to send you text and email alerts. It comes with a SIM card with unlimited data, meaning the sole cost after purchase is the monthly plan. It’s accurate to small distances and utilizes 4G LTE technology for quick, seamless GPS transmission.
While the battery does last 2-3 weeks, on average, low battery life can sneak up on you. In multiple instances, it’s been known to stop tracking and updating its location when the battery drops below a certain level. The service fee is also higher than average, especially at the 10-second update interval.
Optimus Tracker is a well-respected manufacturer of GPS gear for cars, and this bundle is a great way to get started with their services. In addition to the Optimus 2.0 GPS tracker, you’ll also get a magnetic case, which you can use to affix the tracker to the underside of your car.
Once it’s there—or hidden in whatever else you plan to track—$19.95 per month gets you updates on your car’s location every 30 seconds. The Optimus 2.0 is a bit more expensive than some of the other options on this list. However, not only does it pay for itself with relatively cheap monthly fees and an included data plan, but it’s also accurate and reliable enough to be worth the higher entry price. This tracker has one of the best battery lives in the business: Running it for a week uses only about 10 percent of its power. And the signal location is always correct to within 30 feet.
The downside is that there’s no way to reduce the 30-second signal delay without paying more. The battery life, while robust, isn’t perfect. In freezing temperatures, it loses power more quickly. Finally, while the data it transmits back to you is accurate, it could stand to be more detailed.
Bouncie is a formidable GPS tracker alternative for those who are willing to pay more upfront for cheaper monthly service. For only $8 per month, you get location data transmitted to you every 15 seconds, with roadside assistance included.
Bouncie’s location data integrates with Google Maps to get you accurate information about streets, addresses, and geofences. Another advantage of Bouncie is its robust vehicle health informatics. Through your connected app, you can get alerts that interpret your dashboard lights, remind you about regular maintenance, and dispatch roadside assistance to your location if you break down. The app has one of our favorite user interfaces, with colorful speed bands and easy-to-interpret vehicle activity reports.
Unfortunately, there are some not-so-great features, too. Regular maintenance reminders aren’t built-in—you have to add each one manually. Perhaps a bigger problem is that Bouncie’s tracker does not work unless your car’s engine is turned on, which means it can’t be used to locate your vehicle in a parking or impound lot.
- If you are okay with the device being in plain sight, put it in an easy-to-access location. By placing it in the glove box or center console, it will be easier to access when you need to change the batteries.
- Be prepared to talk to your family members if you are using the GPS tracker on their car. This may seem like an invasion of privacy, so it is good to have that conversation first. Also, make sure your family members know how to use the SOS buttons in case of emergencies.
- Notifications can be set up to remind you where your car is going. This is especially useful for parents. Make sure to properly set up your notifications so your phone or computer alerts you when something is happening with your car.
Q: Can I connect a GPS tracker to multiple devices, such as my phone and computer?
A: Yes, you can connect your GPS tracker to transmit to your phone, tablet or computer. You can also allow them to connect to more than one device at a time so more than one person can view the data.
Q: Can a GPS tracker be used on a motorcycle, RV, or another vehicle?
A: Yes, you can place a GPS tracker into any vehicle. You can even attach them to your children’s bicycles or your pet’s collar.
Our number one choice for the best GPS tracker is the Spy Tec STI GL300 Mini Portable Real Time Personal and Vehicle GPS Tracker. It has a broad range and gives you real-time location updates.
For an alternative that will save you some money, try the MOTOsafety Teen GPS Tracking Device.