Best Hidden GPS Trackers: Track Your Vehicle Anywhere
Keep an eye on your vehicle's location with a good hidden GPS tracker
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PUBLISHED ON May 24, 2019
Modern-day GPS technology has made it easier to keep track of your vehicle no matter where you are. In addition to preventing the permanent theft of a vehicle, GPS trackers come in handy when you have multiple drivers in a family or for commercial purposes with employees. Hidden trackers, in particular, are great for keeping your vehicle safe, knowing its location at all times, and monitoring the habits of various drivers. Take a look at some of the best GPS trackers we've found to use on your vehicle.
- Best OverallSpyTec STI_GL300SummarySummaryA great, general-use GPS tracker that is extremely user-friendly and can mount to a vehicle via an optional magnetic base.ProsProsEasy mounting process using the optional magnetic case. App offers a simple interface. Geofencing capability sends automatic notifications when the tracker leaves a predefined area.ConsConsGPS accuracy range of 75 to 125 feet is limited compared to other models. The app lacks some vehicle-specific features other vehicle-specific trackers offer.
- Best ValueTrak-4 GPS TrackerSummarySummaryOne of the most simple and easy-to-use GPS trackers available for both vehicle and personal use.ProsProsComes with a tough, waterproof case that has mounting tabs built right onto the exterior. Simple set up and control using the company's web interface.ConsConsNo native app to control the tracker via a mobile device. Battery life can be rather short depending on the report interval settings.
- Honorable MentionLandAirSea 54 Magnetic GPS TrackerSummarySummaryOffering a smaller-than-average body, this vehicle GPS tracker offers more features than other options.ProsProsThe small, compact body has a degree of weatherproofing built into the case itself. The app offers several helpful features like arrival and departure notifications and proximity alerts.ConsConsBattery life is shorter than most competitors at just four or five days. Recharging becomes a hassle since it takes long (around 12 hours), and a pin is required to hit the on and off button that's recessed into the body.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy a Hidden GPS Tracker
- Keep track of your vehicle's location. More than anything else, a mini car tracker allows you to know your vehicle's location no matter where you are. Since many trackers work with a persistent data connection, you can easily look up the location information online or through an app anytime you want. This is a great way to keep tabs on your vehicle when you aren't physically present.
- Monitor driving habits. For employees, beginning drivers, loved ones, or just for your own curiosity, monitoring driving habits can provide important information on how your car is used. Many trackers will log other information besides the vehicle's location, such as speed and braking. For new drivers, for example, this can be a great way to keep tabs on how well they are driving and what habits may need to be corrected when you aren't around.
- Peace of mind. There is something to be said for the feeling of security a hidden GPS tracker can offer when it comes to preventing or addressing attempts of vehicular theft with vehicle tracking. Since it is impossible to keep an eye on your vehicle 24/7 and rather inconvenient to keep a camera on it anytime it's parked, a real-time GPS tracker is the best way to keep tabs on the vehicle as much as possible.
Types of Hidden GPS Trackers
The most basic form of GPS tracking device is passive tracker. This is a tracker that doesn't have any persistent data connection to transfer information to a website or app. As a result, it simply logs data you can download with a computer anytime you want. These have the advantage of longer battery life but make it difficult to keep track of your vehicles, especially if it's stolen. Therefore, this type is best used as a way to monitor driving habits more than anything else.
If you want to be able to monitor your vehicle in real time, you will need an active GPS tracker. This type uses a persistent data connection, typically through a 3G GPS or 2G GPS data connection, to transfer data at regular intervals. More frequent intervals can shorten the battery life, but the consistent connection makes it easier to keep tabs on your vehicle anytime you want.
Top Brands of Hidden GPS Trackers
As a dedicated surveillance gear supplier, SpyTec has some history developing products that are meant to be discreet and out of sight. While some of its gear can be used for more nefarious purposes, the main appeal of the company's product lineup, especially its GPS trackers, is for simple, everyday use. That is why general use trackers like the STI_GL300 are perfect for vehicular use: They are small and fit nearly anywhere.
LandAirSea is one of a few companies that is focused on producing GPS tracking products for vehicular use. Founded in 1994, the company specializes in making accurate trackers meant for personal and commercial use, especially in situations that require a good fleet management system. Check out the LandAirSea 54 Magnetic Tracker for a good sample of the company's offerings.
Hidden GPS Tracker Pricing
- $50 and under: Basic, budget GPS trackers tend to fall in this price range. Here, you will find several great options for personal use, many that can be used outside of a vehicle as well.
- $50-$100: The midrange of GPS trackers has a good mix of general and vehicle-specific options. Many vehicle-specific GPS devices here, however, tend to be OBD-II port devices that can't be hidden inside a vehicle.
- $100 and above: The upper end of the GPS tracker pricing spectrum is reserved for commercial-use options that pack unique capabilities like location proximity alerts and fleet management features.
Hidden GPS trackers can be placed almost anywhere on a vehicle, especially on the outside. If you plan to keep it somewhere where it's exposed to the elements, the right case is a must. Typically, weatherproofing is a good investment to protect the interior electronics. A built-in mount, like a magnetic, is also helpful for easy installation. Some trackers have a quality case built into the device, while others sell a case separately.
Some trackers can do more than just deliver real-time location updates. If you want to keep the vehicle contained to a certain location, you should consider any tracker with geofencing capabilities. This draws an invisible line on the map, defining an area for the vehicle to stay in. If it leaves the area, the tracker will send an automatic notification.
Unless you're watching your vehicle's location update in real time, it can be difficult to know if and when the vehicle reaches a point of destination or travels near a point of interest. Proximity alerts come in handy when you want to be notified anytime it arrives, departs, or gets close to a predefined location. This location could be home, work, a grocery store, or anywhere else you can pin on the map.
- Control: Advanced trackers have many settings you can use to monitor the performance and settings of the device. The type of control the device offers matters when you want quick access to these settings. The most convenient control is online or mobile app-based settings. This way, you can access the settings anytime you want from anywhere, usually for a small monthly subscription. More basic devices, however, may require a direct connection to a computer to change these settings or download data.
- Battery Life: All electronic devices are only as good as the life of their batteries. When a GPS tracker runs out of juice, the tracking stops. While battery life depends on a number of settings like location reporting intervals, some devices have longer lifespans than others. Considering the type and capacity of the battery is a good starting point to see how much life you should expect out of any option you consider.
Best Hidden GPS Trackers Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: SpyTec STI_GL300
TI_GL300 is a compact personal/vehicle tracker that offers a lot of flexibility in use and mounting options for hiding it away on a car. The tracker attaches to any magnetic surface using the additional waterproof, magnetic case, allowing you to hide it somewhere on the exterior (ideally underneath) the vehicle in addition to somewhere in the nooks and crannies of the interior. Additionally, the tracker can also mount to personal items like clothing via a belt holster.
The real-time tracking capabilities of the tracker is about as "real time" as you can get. It can send location updates as frequently as every five seconds to the user's account, with this setting controllable via the app's built-in menus. Beyond the basic map, the app gives you the ability to receive notifications anytime the tracker leaves a pre-defined area (geofencing). All of these features rely on a monthly fee.
Unfortunately, this tracker isn't a vehicle-specific GPS tracker. While it works well for use with vehicles, the app lacks some of the unique features such as vehicle monitoring or fleet management that other dedicated competitors offer. The accuracy of the GPS (75 to 125 feet) is somewhat broad, as well.
Best Value: Trak-4 GPS Tracker
Trak-4's vehicle and personal tracker is a bulky, rugged device with a case that's designed to survive a few scrapes and knocks. Unlike other vehicle GPS trackers, this one is meant to be as simple to set up and use as possible. The case comes with mounting tabs, so you can screw the tracker onto a vehicle instead of relying on magnets alone.
The tracker is designed to be used without the need (or availability) of a dedicated phone app; all settings are controlled via Trak-4's website instead. Through the web interface, you can set the live text or email alerts and geofencing settings. While it is geared towards vehicle use, the tracker is small enough to fit in a pocket or bag for personal use as well.
While battery life looks good on paper (up to 12 to 18 months), this is heavily dependent on the report interval. Frequent location reporting (around every 15 minutes) shrinks the battery life down to just two or three weeks. Controlling the tracker's settings on a mobile device is also somewhat clunky since you have to visit the company's website instead of a native app.
Honorable Mention: LandAirSea 54 Magnetic GPS Tracker
The LandAirSea 54 is one of the smallest vehicle GPS trackers available. With a built-in magnet, 60-second report intervals, and native/smartwatch app support, it's also one of the most feature-rich. While the case is small enough to fit in a pocket or bag for personal use, this tracker really shines on a vehicle.
Since the case has a magnet built right into the waterproof case, the tracker can fit into small spaces around the exterior of a vehicle to help you keep it out of sight. The app and web interface comes with several extra features most basic trackers lack, including route playback, address proximity alerts, and arrival/departure notifications.
Like GPS trackers, battery life is variable depending on the specific reporting interval and other basic tracker settings. Under normal conditions, the battery offers around four or five days of consistent use. The real drawback to this short lifespan is when it comes to recharging the device, which takes about 12 hours. The on and off button is built into the case, meaning you'll have to take a small pin to hit the button when it comes time to rejuice the battery.
- If you want to place a hidden GPS tracker on the inside of your vehicle, try to find a location near the windows. Most GPS devices have better reception when they have a clear view of the sky.
- For exterior placement, try mounting the device on the undercarriage or behind an automotive part like the rear lights. This makes it easier to keep the device out of sight.
- Make sure you have a secure mount for the GPS tracker if you place it outside of the vehicle. Rough driving conditions can loosen weak magnetic mounts. For the best stability, a clamp or fastener is the better choice.
Q. How does a GPS tracker work?
A. Just like any other GPS device, a hidden tracker communicates with satellites overhead to determine its position. Using some calculations, it determines and sends its location (or stores it) for the user.
Q. Do GPS trackers always work?
A. The reliability of a tracker depends on the GPS reception. Most of the time, a GPS device has no trouble communicating with GPS satellites in orbit. Certain types of terrain, bad weather, and other small factors can worsen reception in certain cases. You may be also be limited when you can access the information if it doesn't have a data connection.
Q. What's the best way to hide the GPS tracker?
A. Installing it somewhere that is difficult to access on the vehicle is the best bet. This usually rules out the interior of the vehicle. Instead, try mounting it somewhere outside behind a part or panel. Under the car, behind a light, in the engine bay, and other areas work fairly well.