Reviews

LAST UPDATED:  April 7, 2021

Best GPS Trackers for Cars: Protect Your Vehicle from Theft

Always know the location of your vehicle with these top GPS trackers.

Entering our 7th season of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, and with millions of YouTube and Facebook followers, The Drive is a leading authority of all things automotive.

The Drive on NBC The Drive on YouTube The Drive on Facebook

The Review Team

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

PUBLISHED ON April 7, 2021

Whether you leave your vehicle in a parking lot for work or to shop, you expect it to be there when you return. Yet, thousands of vehicles are stolen in the United States each day. Many people are left standing in an empty car spot, reporting the theft to an office over the phone. The realization that your car is long gone sets in quickly and so does sheer panic. With an overwhelming fear of whether authorities can track down the car before it is gone forever causes the uncertainty to heighten. Vehicles without theft protection, or the installation of a GPS tracker, are often very difficult to locate. That’s why you should consider getting a GPS tracker for your vehicle. Protect it with one of these top options.

Best Overall
Bouncie GPS Car Tracker
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

This 4G LTE GPS tracker updates in real time and auto-refreshes every 15 seconds.

Pros
Pros
  • Tracker sends a notification if an accident occurs and roadside assistance.
  • No activation fees, hidden fees, or return fees
  • Buyer can cancel at any time
  • Bouncie GPS car tracker is accessible on multiple devices, including smartphones and computers 
  • No limitation on the number of devices you can use
Cons
Cons
  • This GPS device requires an $8/month payment plan
Best Overall
Bouncie GPS Car Tracker
Best Value
Amcrest GPS Tracker for Vehicles
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

Amcrest GPS GL300 GPS Tracker for Vehicles (4G LTE) is a real-time, portable, and a mini GPS tracking device for vehicles. Its versatility adds even more value.

Pros
Pros
  • No contracts or activation/cancelation fees.
  • Real-time tracking with five-second updates through desktop web access (Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox) or through the Amcrest GPS smartphone app (iOS/Android)
  • Battery lasts 10-14 days when fully charged
Cons
Cons
  • Monthly subscription required
Best Value
Amcrest GPS Tracker for Vehicles
Honorable Mention
MOTOsafety Teen GPS Tracking Device
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

This GPS tracker goes beyond anti-theft measures to provide parents with information about the driving habits of their teens.

Pros
Pros
  • In addition to knowing your car’s current location, you’ll receive reports on speed, aggressive acceleration, harsh braking, and miles driven
Cons
Cons
  • Because this device plugs into your vehicle’s OBD II port under the dash, it is difficult to conceal
Honorable Mention
MOTOsafety Teen GPS Tracking Device

Why Trust Us


All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Why Buy a GPS Tracker for a Car?

  • Safely arrive and return to a location. GPS has significantly changed our environment and lives in several ways. Our world is a much safer and easier place to travel. Besides using it as a vehicle tracking device, it also assists drivers in mapping and directions, helping to get them safely to their desired destination.
  • 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.
  • Minimize getting lost and fuel costs. Besides the obvious, a vehicle GPS can also prevent you from getting lost, driving in circles, and ending up in an unknown area. When you are confident of the destination and the route to get there, it is easier to drive from Point A to Point B without a hitch. Not only can it keep you from driving in areas you do not know or that are potentially unsafe, but you can also save on the amount of fuel your vehicle uses. Thus, the GPS device can provide the directions to arrive in a safe neighborhood while minimizing fuel costs.
  • 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

Most GPS trackers are battery-powered, meaning that you’ll have to check them frequently to avoid having a dead battery at the worst possible time. Because these devices are cordless and compact, they are very easy to conceal. Keep yours out of sight to prevent a potential thief from spotting and removing it before making off with your car. 

Plug-In GPS Trackers

Plug-in GPS trackers draw power from your car’s 12-volt outlet or OBD II port, so you never have to worry about changing the batteries. These are great options for keeping family members connected, but are difficult to hide if you plan on using your tracker as an anti-theft measure. Be aware of how much energy they draw from your car to avoid putting excessive strain on its battery.

Hardwired GPS Trackers

Hardwired GPS devices are wired directly into a vehicle. Most chose this option because the vehicle does not have an OBD II port, which is needed for non-wired devices. As some older cars do not have this port or an incompatible port, this is the only option for them. The benefit of adding a hardwired GPS tracker is that it can be hidden better than others. Since they are not attached to the OBD port, the GPS device can be placed anywhere under the dashboard.

Top Brands

AMERICALOC

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

MOTOsafety is a company that was formed to help parents coach their teenager's 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 to $50: This is the most common range for a quality GPS tracker. This price range typically has a higher network stability and better range.

Key Features

Signal Reach

Some GPS trackers include worldwide service, but many do not function outside of the United States. 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 or incurring an unexpected fee. 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.

SOS Button

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.

Real Time Tracking

Most GPS tracking devices on the market today are enabled with real-time monitoring. With this feature, most users can see the exact location of their vehicle via a map and notifications. Users will also know the route and address of their car and whether or not it is in motion. Most allow multiple users to view the device’s data on several devices. If the vehicle is stolen, real-time tracking provides users with the information needed to locate and retrieve their vehicle.

Trip History

Another cool and key feature many GPS trackers offer is a history of the different trips drivers of the vehicle have made. The GPS trip feature shows where and how the vehicle graphically moved on the map. The tracker includes other trip history information, including kilometers/miles, stoppages, idleness, engine time, and average speed of the vehicle. The GPS feature also displays on the map any vehicle speeding and overdrive stretches. Some GPS trackers with the trip history feature also include the option to replay the entire road trip. If at any time your vehicle is stolen, you can use the trip history to view where the vehicle went and its current location.

Alerts

To get essential information from your vehicle’s GPS, you don’t have to constantly be looking at the system. Most GPS trackers allow users to set up alerts as to when they receive notifications about the status of their vehicle. GPS trackers can include alerts for speeding, tampering, start of day, route deviation, driver behavior, plus much more. The GPS data can help users optimize fuel usage and define their best route to regular driving locations. For users looking to track their vehicle for safety and protection purposes, GPS tracker alerts prove to be useful.

Geofencing

GPS trackers that have the geofencing feature can customize their alerts to the next level. Users can create geographical boundaries called geofences on the GPS map around a landmark. Every time the vehicle enters or exits the geofence, users will receive an alert. You can use the monitoring information and translate it into increased operational efficiency, elevated security, and increased safety levels for users.

Other Considerations

  • Waterproofing. The most secure place for your GPS tracker is inside the car, but many users prefer to hide theirs on the vehicle’s exterior. In that case, it’s important to buy a tracking device that’s able to withstand water and other debris that gets thrown onto the underside of the car by the tires.
  • 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.
  • Anytime Anywhere Access. When you invest in a GPS vehicle tracker, you gain access to the tracking system information on the web, smartphone, and other devices. Knowing where your vehicle and its occupants are at any time and from anywhere provides extra protection, which can ease the minds of parents. This access often involves a user-friendly app that will keep all kinds of users informed about the vehicle’s movement, in real time.
  • Easy Installation. The GPS tracker you choose will depend on your vehicle tracking needs. Most are easy to install and maintain. Many feel that devices that support OBD connectors are a better choice for a quick and easy setup or plug-and-play solution.

Best GPS Trackers for Cars Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall

The Bouncie GPS Car Tracker tells you where it is and where it has been. The GPS Tracker updates every 15 seconds with its auto-refresh feature. It shares the vehicle’s location on the map. Bouncie will show whether your vehicle is on the move or sitting in a parking lot, and the routes it took to get there. This GPS tracker provides a usable map that lets you choose a street or satellite view. Users can zoom in or zoom out to look closer at addresses and other driving information. You can always keep your eye on your car with the Geo-Zones feature. Bouncie uses this feature to send you notifications of when your vehicle arrives or leaves. 


You can know the exact location of your car with this Bouncie 4G LTE device. Users can feel less worrisome about the location of their vehicle and its occupants with its safety feature that offers accident notifications and roadside assistance. All is included for a low $8/month service. The Bouncie GPS Car Tracker has no activation fees, hidden fees, or return fees. Users can cancel anytime.

Best Overall
Bouncie GPS Car Tracker

The Bouncie GPS Car Tracker tells you where it is and where it has been. The GPS Tracker updates every 15 seconds with its auto-refresh feature. It shares the vehicle’s location on the map. Bouncie will show whether your vehicle is on the move or sitting in a parking lot, and the routes it took to get there. This GPS tracker provides a usable map that lets you choose a street or satellite view. Users can zoom in or zoom out to look closer at addresses and other driving information. You can always keep your eye on your car with the Geo-Zones feature. Bouncie uses this feature to send you notifications of when your vehicle arrives or leaves. 


You can know the exact location of your car with this Bouncie 4G LTE device. Users can feel less worrisome about the location of their vehicle and its occupants with its safety feature that offers accident notifications and roadside assistance. All is included for a low $8/month service. The Bouncie GPS Car Tracker has no activation fees, hidden fees, or return fees. Users can cancel anytime.

Best Value

The Amcrest GPS Tracker is compact and 4G LTE, which makes it a perfect vehicle tracking device. Its size and sleek design allow it to be highly concealable for tracking purposes. 


Keep track of your car or truck and the occupants inside the vehicle with real-time updates every five seconds on a smartphone and PC. Amcrest GPS tracker has an intuitive user interface that allows you to easily monitor activity, manage alerts, and generate custom reports. You can create custom alerts for geofencing zones. You will receive a notification any time the GPS tracker enters or exits a zone. Set a speed limit, harsh braking, and even proximity alerts. You can easily track your vehicle and loved ones to ensure they are safe and easy to reach at all times.

Best Value
Amcrest GPS Tracker for Vehicles

The Amcrest GPS Tracker is compact and 4G LTE, which makes it a perfect vehicle tracking device. Its size and sleek design allow it to be highly concealable for tracking purposes. 


Keep track of your car or truck and the occupants inside the vehicle with real-time updates every five seconds on a smartphone and PC. Amcrest GPS tracker has an intuitive user interface that allows you to easily monitor activity, manage alerts, and generate custom reports. You can create custom alerts for geofencing zones. You will receive a notification any time the GPS tracker enters or exits a zone. Set a speed limit, harsh braking, and even proximity alerts. You can easily track your vehicle and loved ones to ensure they are safe and easy to reach at all times.

Best for Parents

The MOTOsafety Teen GPS Tracking Device is perfect for parents of 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 the routes and location.


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 possibly disengage) the tracker based on its plug-in location. The GPS tracker also requires a monthly ongoing subscription in order to function.

Best for Parents
MOTOsafety Teen GPS Tracking Device

The MOTOsafety Teen GPS Tracking Device is perfect for parents of 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 the routes and location.


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 possibly disengage) the tracker based on its plug-in location. The GPS tracker also requires a monthly ongoing subscription in order to function.

Most Versatile

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.

Most Versatile
Accutracking VTPlug Real-Time Vehicle Tracker

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.

Honorable Mention

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.

Honorable Mention
Optimus 2.0 GPS Tracker Bundle

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.

Honorable Mention

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.

Honorable Mention
LandAirSea 2020 Real-Time 4G LTE GPS Tracker

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.

Tips

  • If you are concerned about theft, choose a battery-powered GPS tracker that is easy to hide and doesn’t rely on your engine running to turn on. If you plan on using the device to monitor the driving habits of your family members or access your vehicle’s check engine codes, look for a plug-in option.
  • 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. This is also an opportunity to teach them 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.

FAQs

Q: Can I connect a GPS tracker to multiple devices, such as my phone and computer?

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?

GPS trackers are compact enough to mount to any vehicle. These devices are also popular methods of keeping families connected. Give one to your children to keep tabs on them while they play outside, or attach one to your dog’s collar to locate them if they get loose.

Final Thoughts

Our number one choice for the best GPS tracker is the Bouncie GPS Car Tracker. It has a broad range and gives you real-time location updates.

For an alternative that will save you some money, try the Amcrest GPS Tracker for Vehicles.