Reviews

The Best Car Compasses: Make Navigation Easier With These Top Compasses

The best car compass is easily readable and displays accurate readings

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BY Mike Knott , Nikola Petrovski , Robert Kimathi / LAST UPDATED ON January 28, 2020

When driving along a new path, you may not be sure which direction to follow. With a car compass, however, navigating that road will be easier because it will guide you towards your intended destination. A hard-to-read car compass or one with poor functionality may not provide you with the navigation solutions that you desire. Below is a compilation of the best car compasses available to make your driving experience easier and fun.

Best Overall
Ritchie Navigation Compass
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Summary
Summary

This compass has a moveable sun-shield that blocks reflection from the sun to increase its readability. It features a green illumination that ensures that the directions are visible in poorly lit environments. The compass has compensators that reduce the impacts of stray magnetic effects around the compass.

Pros
Pros
  • The small size of this compass makes it handy and easily portable. 
  • It is also easy to install, which saves you time during setup. 
  • You can use it effortlessly without strain, thanks to its clear and precise calibration.
Cons
Cons
  • The compass freezes and its display window may break when exposed to extreme weather conditions. 
  • It also takes a while to find the accurate direction, as it rotates with every slight movement.
Best Overall
Ritchie Navigation Compass
Best Value
Filfeel Pivoting LED Compass
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Summary
Summary

ABS plastic construction. Bright LED in dial. Mounts easily. The compass is accurate and responsive.

Pros
Pros
  • High-quality ABS plastic resists corrosion and is long-lasting. 
  • The LED light in the dial makes the compass easy to see and read, night or day. 
  • Mount the compass easily on any flat surface with screws or EVA foam sticker.
Cons
Cons
  • The LED may be loose in the casing. 
  • Compass may be too high for your vehicle.
Best Value
Filfeel Pivoting LED Compass
Honorable Mention
ACECAR Upgrade T800 Universal Car Head Up Display Digital GPS Speedometer with Compass
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Summary
Summary

Navigate your way accurately with this compass, as it gives accurate readings that are easily comprehensible. This compass also lights up in dimly lit environments, making it clear and easily readable. It also has a universal design that makes it compatible with most boats and vehicles.

Pros
Pros
  • Installing this compass is easy—all you need to do is plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter. 
  • Its solid construction makes the compass sturdy and not easily breakable. 
  • You can read directions effortlessly from its precise calibration and clear display window.
Cons
Cons
  • The speedometer is laggy, which reduces this compass’s efficiency. 
  • It also takes longer to find directions on cloudy days, since it derives information from satellites.
Honorable Mention
ACECAR Upgrade T800 Universal Car Head Up Display Digital GPS Speedometer with Compass

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.

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Benefits of Car Compasses

  • Shows direction. A car compass installed on your dashboard can literally point you in the right direction while on the road. The best car compass will help you determine the direction you are heading so you don’t have to rely on your mobile phone, physical features, or maps for directions while driving.
  • Multifunctional. Apart from showing direction, some car compasses have many other functionalities. Some of these functions include latitude and longitude, vehicle speed, voltage, and driving distance measurements. Some car compasses even act as an overspeeding alarm and can show altitude and satellite information..
  • Enhance looks. Depending on the type of compass, it can add extra beauty. Some compasses feature sapphire jewel construction, which adds an extra touch of elegance,  while the night lighting on the compass dashboard and the combination of colors on the compass ball enhances the appearance even further.
  • Versatility. Car compasses are often versatile enough to be used in boats and even on motorcycles.

Types of Car Compasses 

Magnetic or Traditional Compasses

These are the most common types of compasses. They come with a pointer that faces the magnetic meridian or “magnetic north.” The car compass gives direction with reference to the true north. Although they are normally affected by magnetic field inclination, the compasses work better when placed away from any magnetic material. The magnet is either screwed or mounted on the car dashboard to make the car compass more intact and secure.

Non-Magnetic or Digital Compass

These are car compasses that do not utilize the principles of magnetism and therefore they are not affected by a magnetic field. These compasses are more effective because they are not affected in any way by ferromagnetic metals such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. They adopt a simple technology. They are compact in size and are a bit lighter than magnetic car compasses. Digital car compasses also exist in the form of Head-Up Display (HUD) or a mini-display that shows the car mileage, speed, and time. 

Top Brands 

Ritchie Navigation

Ritchie Navigation is a leading company in the supply and distribution of quality car compasses all over the world. The company has been in operation since 1850 when Edward Samuel Ritchie established it. The family-owned company offers top-quality and reliable car compasses. Some of their best-selling car compasses include Ritchie Navigation Compass and Ritchie Navigation Explorer Compass. The company offers a warranty and replacement parts for its products, which gives you peace of mind when shopping.

TurnOnSport 

This is another popular brand of car compasses. TurnOnSport has been in the compass manufacturing industry since 2006. The company specializes in different product categories like sports, outdoors, balance boards, devices and car accessories, as well as car compasses. It is an international company that sells its products online to reach their customers faster. Some of its best-selling products include TurnOnSport Compass, Dash Mount Flush, and TurnOnSport Orienteering Compass. All the products from this company come with a warranty and user guide, which gives you some peace of mind when buying.

HR Imotion

HR Imotion, also known as Herbert Richter GmbH & Co. KG, is a respected international company that manufactures quality and reliable car accessories, storage and fastening systems. The company was founded in 1956 by Herbert Richter and is based in Pforzheim, Germany. The company’s products pass through rigorous testing and continuous improvement to ensure reliability, safety, and ease of usage. Its best-selling compass is the HR 10310601 Self-Adhesive Automobile Dashboard Compass.

Best Car Compasses Pricing 

  • Under $25: These are some of the most affordable and compact compasses you will find in the market. The car compasses are made of a lighter material and use the traditional magnetic inclination technology to show direction. They are a bit difficult to install because they may not come with mounting brackets for a secure attachment.
  • $25 and up: Car compasses in this price range are some of the best you will find for your car. They come with a simple design and a bracket mount, which makes them easy to install. They also have sturdy surfaces that can withstand offroad usage and they are also made of durable materials. Many of them have a clear display window, and they are well-calibrated for correct reading on time, speed, and direction. They come with advanced features such as a movable sunshade and easy-to-read dial.

Key Features 

Display 

A high-quality car compass should have an easy to view display. You should be able to view the reading on the compass regardless of your sitting position. That means it should come with a wide and transparent display window. Also, it should have LED lights for night illumination. HUD car compasses have the best displays. You can easily adjust the contrast and brightness of the car compass display to make it clearer.

Calibration

Traditional or magnetic car compasses have the best calibration. They have magnets installed in them to ensure the needle is always pointing north. Traditional car compasses will calibrate the direction immediately because they do not use electricity to run. Conversely, for a digital car compass to calibrate, it takes about five minutes. Most traditional car compasses come with adhesive sticks for accuracy in reading.

Fitting 

A car compass can be fitted on your car in different ways. They can come with either suction cups or adhesive strips for easy fitting. Car compasses with adhesive strips are difficult to remove once fitted on the dashboard. Most car compasses come with suction cup fitting design because they are easy to install. You can easily move the car compass anywhere you want on the dashboard. However, suction cups are less effective because they are affected by moisture, dirt, and dust in the car.

Other Considerations 

  • Size. When choosing a quality car compass, you must check the size. Car compasses come in a variety of sizes. Smaller car compasses are difficult to read because they come with narrow view windows. Also, if the car compass is too big for the dashboard, it can affect your driving, so check the diameter and height measurements first.
  • Ease of Use. When buying a car compass, you must ensure that you can read it correctly. It is not easy to navigate your car if your compass is difficult to read. Therefore, the car compass should be well-calibrated (with larger point letters) and have nighttime LED illumination. This will reduce eye strain.

Best Car Compasses Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Ritchie Navigation Compass

This is one of the best car compasses from Ritchie Navigation. It comes with almost every single feature that you need in a quality car compass. It has a movable sunshield that will block all the sun reflection, making it easy to read. You can still read it at night because it has a green light illumination that makes it more clear in dark places. It also comes with built-in compensators that reduce the magnetic effect of materials close to it.


The car compass is easy to install and highly portable. The precise and clear calibration on the machine also makes it easy to use.


The main downside of the car compass is that it is not suitable for extreme weather. The display window can easily break in freezing weather. Also, it is a bit slow in giving the exact direction.

Best Value
Filfeel Pivoting LED Compass

This economically-priced compass is accurate so you know exactly which direction you are going. The bright LED light in the casing is easy to read, especially at night. The compass is responsive—in other words, when you turn, it turns.


This compass is mounted on a pivoting bracket so you use it right-side-up or pivot it towards you so you can see it straight on. It is made of black ABS plastic, which is durable, attractive, corrosion-resistant, and environmentally friendly. You can mount the compass on any flat surface using the included screws or the EVA foam sticker material. 


However, the compass may be too high to fit your car. Also, you may find the LED light loose in the casing.

Most Versatile
ACECAR Upgrade T800 Universal Car Head-Up Display Digital GPS Speedometer with Compass

This is another quality car compass you can use for your car navigation. It is well-calibrated, which makes it easy to read and understand. It comes with night illumination features, which enhances readability in a less lit environment. With its universal design, you can fit it on any car model.


You don’t need any special skills to install and start using this compass. The compass comes with sturdy and strong construction, which makes it long-lasting and resistant to breakage. It has a wider display window for easy and convenient reading.


What makes it less preferable by a driver is the low efficiency on the speedometer. The speedometer is a bit laggy, which affects the accuracy of the reading. Also, it can be unreliable to use when the atmosphere is cloudy because it relies on information from the satellite.

Largest Display
Odowalker Electronic LED Light Marine Digital Compass

The Odowalker Electronic LED Light Marine Digital Compass is designed for boats, trucks, and cars, and it will point you in the right direction when you're driving. It is available in black or white and is constructed of high-quality ABS material with an adjustable magnetic declination sheet.


The compass includes an incandescent light bulb that will help you read the display at night and navigate in the dark. It includes adjustable brackets, so you can position it exactly as you need it. Users report that it works just as well as some more expensive options, it's easy to see, and it's accurate.


However, the device is a little large and may be a distraction, depending on where you place it in your vehicle. It also doesn't come with any instructions.

Honorable Mention
Estink Car Mount Compass

The Estink Car Mount Compass may have a funny name, but there's nothing humorous about this multi-functional compass. It's made of ABS and is waterproof and corrosion-resistant, making it a great option for both marine and automotive use. The compass is accurate and includes a built-in compensator that you can adjust for deviation.


The compass comes with an adjustable bracket and lubber line, which makes it easy to read the direction straight ahead. You can mount it in several areas of your vehicle to find the optimal viewing position. It's available in either black or white, so you can choose the option that blends seamlessly with your vehicle's interior. Instructions and mounting hardware are included.


However, there have been some complaints that mounting it in the right position is not always easy. The company also notes there’s a margin of error due to manual measurement.

Tips

  • Avoid hitting your car compass against hard surfaces to prevent it from breaking. If your compass breaks, the fluid pours out, reducing the efficiency of your device. The compass fluid facilitates direction setting and prevents the compass from compressing under pressure.
  • Do not expose your compass to too much heat to avoid leakage and formation of bubbles inside the compass’s display window. Bubbles make it difficult to read directions.
  • Always place your compass away from metallic surfaces. This is because magnetic car compasses may display inaccurate readings when placed close to metallic surfaces due to their magnetic effects.

FAQs

Q: Is it possible to adjust my compass to obtain better accuracy?

A: Yes, you can adjust your compass by turning the screw at the front to adjust it either front or back. Ensure that you use another accurate compass for reference to avoid compromising the readings.

Q: Is the cover shield on the compass removable?

A: Yes, you can remove the cover shield. However, you do not need to remove it often, since it rotates and covers the parts that you need to be covered. 

Q: Are car compasses repairable?

A: Yes, you can repair your car compass if it becomes faulty. However, you may need to consult a technician, since some damage is irreparable. 

Final Thoughts

Our top pick is the Ritchie Navigation Compass. It features a green illumination that lights the window display when light is insufficient. It is also robust and durable, thus serving you for a long time.

If you have a constrained budget, consider buying the Filfeel Pivoting LED Compass.