24 Mar 10 Best GPS Trackers for Your Car
There are lots of situations where we wish we could keep a better eye on the whereabouts of certain people in our lives. We may have elderly parents that still have their driving license but may have medical concerns or memory problems. We may allow our teenage children to borrow the car over the weekend, but can be certain that they are truthful about where they are going. Then there are all those in a relationship that are suspicious that partners may be cheating. So what can we do in these situations to make sure that all is well?
There are lots of different pieces of tracking equipment around with different aims. Some are designed for children or seniors to wear to track their location. Others are used as tags for bags, luggage keys and more. Some models are designed specifically for a vehicle – either as a glove compartment device or a hidden system somewhere else on the body of the car. These trackers can plot the movements of the vehicle – ideally with real-time data – to provide a clear impression of their routes and locations.
In some cases, the devices will provide alerts when the car goes out of range. This is perfect for elderly parents that may take a wrong turn, or for teenagers driving too far out of town. Then there is the historical data that shows repeated routes. This could be helpful for getting an idea of the behavior of teens or partners. Are they regularly driving off to an unknown location when they say that they are going somewhere else?
What to Look Out for in the Car GPS Systems?
With these models, design and style really aren’t important at all. They don’t need to look good – they simply need to be reliable and informative. The first consideration has to be the way in which they fit within the car. Do you want a device that goes in the glove compartment of the car or something that you can attach to the vehicle? The answer may depend on your reasons for purchasing one of these products.
You also need to think about the connection between the device and your phone or laptop. Is there an app you can use to get alerts and data? What sort of notifications are on offer? In addition to this, it helps to look at the cost. Not only are some devices more expensive than others, but there are also some services costs. This can get quite expensive depending on the amount of data you use.
We will divide these products into subsections. First of all, we have the products that sit in the glove compartment of the car. These devices tend to have a good range, but may not be the most discrete choice. Then we will look at some of the options that attach to the car. This may be a better choice for secure surveillance for elderly drivers or cheating partners. We also want to look at some of the plug-in models as a possible alternative.
This should help you get a better idea of the options available. All the reviews offered below are objective and consider the pros and cons of the system. At the end, we will provide our honest opinion on the best and worst approaches.
Best Car GPS Systems for Glove Compartments
One of the easiest ways to add a tracker to a car is to place a small device in the glove compartment of a car. There are lots of products that have plenty of positive Amazon reviews that are seen as multi-purpose devices. The idea is that you can place the compact transmitter in any safe space, such as a pocket, bag or compartment. These devices can be used to track the movements of any subject, often with great geofencing options. The features easily translate over to the needs of car owners. The following four products have some great software and can sit within the car undisturbed.
1) Spy Tec STI GL300 Mini Portable Real-Time Personal and Vehicle GPS Tracker.
We want to talk about this one first because it is currently the “Amazon choice” model for GPS trackers for cars. The idea of this system is pretty straightforward. You won’t find all of the niche features that are on some of the car-focused GPS systems below. That is because it is designed for different uses. It works just as well for tracking people and objects. It also has different attachment points to help with these different applications. Features include the email alerts through geofencing and the real-time data with google maps.
- decent battery life of around 2 weeks.
- accurate enough for most people, but not perfect
- lots of happy users
- the $25 a month contract
- better with a desktop app rather than a mobile one.
There are plenty of positive aspects of this product in terms of its functionality. Users are pretty happy with the quality of the data and the alerts that they receive. There are devices out there that are more accurate. But, this one does enough for general use. It certainly has a large consumer base with lots of buyers happily using the system for peace of mind. It helps that the battery life generally lasts for around 2 weeks as well.
An issue here is the cost of the monthly contract. It isn’t uncommon to find companies charging $25 a month, but this does seem high for a product that isn’t the most advanced or accurate. There is also the fact that some users have struggled when retrieving data on the mobile app. The desktop version is much better.
Is it recommendable?
Definitely. There are some issues for those that would prefer to use an amazing mobile app for perfect real-time data. But, the desktop version is great for those that a clear view of the maps. The deal breaker here is the cost for the service received. But, as you will see below, this is true of a lot of these products.
2) AMERICALOC 300 Mini Portable Real-Time Personal and Vehicle GPS Tracker
This next option is actually quite similar in terms of the look and the features. There is a very simple design that is shared among many of the top models. The main purpose here is to provide alerts between the device and a receiving mobile device. This includes information on movement, speeding, geofencing for entering or leaving zones, low battery status and if the device is switched off. The latter is something not seen with all systems. It could help to catch out teens that try to evade their parents after finding the device.
- the opportunity for customization of settings
- the real-time tracking
- general ease of use for the apps and controls
- the cost of the service and the product
- previous app issues and bugs.
The customization is something that some of the best service providers now offer. The idea here is that users can change the frequency of location updates so that they get alerts every 60, 30 or 10 seconds, rather than the usual 1-minute option. This could help to provide a clear route. There is praise for the use of real-time tracking and the quality of the information offered. Most using the modern system would also agree that the controls are fairly easy to learn.
There aren’t as many problems with this product as there once were. There had been some issues with the software and apps in recent years. Bugs and connection issues led to uncertainty over some of the readings. But, this seems to have been resolved with more recent versions of the product.
Is it recommendable?
It is certainly more recommendable now than it was before they implemented the fixes to the app. This system is pretty reliable and easy to use. There is a sense of value here for most users – partly because of that customization. But, the costs may be too high for everyone.
3) Birds Eye global tracking GPS tracker
Again, this model is one that has been updated to try and provide users with a better experience. This new 2019 version offers lots of great alerts and features in a small, well-designed system. This includes the basics of the GPS trackers and Google mapping, as well as the motion detection and other alerts. Users can now access the data with ease from either their smartphone, tablet or a desktop device.
- the high level of accuracy on the locations and tracking
- plenty of features
- a good size
- the cost
- compatibility with 4G
One of the standout benefits for users of this system is the accuracy of the readings. There are some that were highly impressed at the way that the real-time location tracking pinpointed the car to a precise location. Furthermore, it did this consistently. There is usually room for error which these systems. In fact, buyers are pretty impressed across the board. Most of the features here have some benefit to the user – from the SOS alarm to the Quick Start initialisation.
Once again, there is a bit of an issue with the cost of the product. There is the same high price for the monthly service, which some feel is too much to pay. The device itself is cheaper than some of the others around, so the full price tag isn’t quite as bad. Another potential issue here is that the system uses 4G coverage. This may reduce service provision in some areas. Other trackers use 3G or even 2G services.
Is it recommendable?
If you can get this system to work with your phone’s coverage – and it meets your needs – it is a good option. The features and alerts are extensive, there is also that added benefit of the SOS system. This range means that while the plan is pricey, it might actually offer more value for money than other models in this section.
4) Mini GPS Tracker TKSTAR
The last model in this section on the best GPS trackers for glove compartments is a little different due to its size. Here we have one that is promoted for its “Super Mini Size” What they mean by mini is 1.85″-0.94″-0.7″. This means that users can hide it in different locations. The models above are only really suitable for hiding in glove compartments. This one can go under, or maybe even in a seat.
- the small size for better surveillance
- the range of tracking tools and options
- the affordable plan
- some issues with the set-up
- complaints about the battery life
One of the best places to start with the benefits of this model is actually the cost. We mentioned above that there were are some expensive plans. Here you can get an app with a good geofencing system for just $5 a month. This is much more affordable for long-term use. There is also a nice range of features for that price. This includes real-time tracking with the GPS and Google Maps, historical playback and an anti-theft device. It is also designed to be accurate between 5 and 10 meters.
One of the biggest issues here is the battery life. This system uses a 600mAh Battery that is said to have a standby time of 20 days and a working mode of 3-7days. This is far too short. Buyers don’t want to have to keep retrieving and charging the system every few days. Some have also struggled to sep up the device and app with all the right settings.
Is it recommendable?
A recommendation depends on your views on those pros and cons. If you need something cheaper than the average and like the miniature size, this could be a great choice. However, you do have to sacrifice the battery life. If a long battery life and ease of use are more important, you may need to look elsewhere.
Best Magnetic GPS Trackers for Cars
The next option is to use a device that you can attach to the exterior of the vehicle – such as underneath. There are some obvious benefits to this approach. The first is that it makes it more difficult to tamper with the device. It is also easier to hide if you don’t want the driver to know it is there. Some devices are built for tracking trucks and for professional long-distance drivers. The models below have different features and approaches but are strong, easy to use and pretty reliable.
5) TKSTAR Hidden Vehicles GPS Tracker
For our first model, we head back to TKSTAR. This is a different system with the magnetic casing, but it shares a number of features with the popular GPS system above. One of the main selling points here is that low cost. Once again, users only have to pay $5 a month for the app and there are no fees. Others similarities include the use of tracking via Google Maps, the geofencing and other user-friendly features.
- small to be hidden and not get in the way
- a strong magnetic case
- cheap enough for average users
- some connection issues
- occasional faulty items.
The pros here go beyond that low cost. The features are good enough for most users, with a strong real-time connection and the promise of accuracy of 5 to 10 metres. It isn’t pinpoint accuracy, but it is good enough for most needs. Extra details like the shock alert for anti-theft and the historical playback are nice – although it is hoped that users never experience the former. The build of the device is also pretty good, there is a nice “super-strength” magnet built into the device. This eliminates the need for a separate case. It is also a good size at 3.54″-2.83″-0.87″.
There aren’t too many downsides to worry about with this system. The installation process is simple enough, no matter where you choose to place it, and the controls aren’t too difficult. However, there are some users that experience connection issues. This could be down to the service from the satellite rather than the device itself. There have also been a few items that simply failed to work at all. This is a rarity, but it is worth giving the product a test run before any important journeys.
Is it recommendable?
This model has a lot going for it, especially if you are familiar with the companies features and service plans. The cost and features mean that this is a great option for general motorists that need simple tracking software. It isn’t completely faultless, but it can definitely get the job done.
6) Optimus tracker 2.0 Bundle with Twin Magnet Case
This product uses many of the same features, just with a different approach to the component parts. Here users get the tracking device and magnetic case as separate items. This could allow for the use of the device in other applications – or to use the case for a different tracker later on.
- some helpful, reliable data
- the strength of the magnetic case
- the simple set up
- a battery life of a week
- not cost-effective for everyone at $19.95 a month.
Once again, there is praise for the build of this product. The case is strong and users have no worries about it remaining intact. It also doesn’t take much to get this set-up on the car and ready to receive data. Users can set up an iPhone or Android App to get all the real-time tracking information, as well as special routing features and driving reports. The system also provides email and text message alerts for the movement of the car from its position, any speeding and if the car leaves or enters areas highlighted with the geofencing. Furthermore, users can customize the frequency from 30 Seconds while moving to 10 seconds.
The will be some dispute about the value of this device. The service charge isn’t that cheap and some would say it isn’t good enough when the battery life of the product is so low. The low battery indicator is a nice touch, but it goes off far too much. Other products in this category can last for weeks, not 7 days. But, others will say that there are lots of extras for that price – such as the SOS button, the unlimited tracking and the storage for the historical data.
Is it recommendable?
There are some great features here for a reliable stream of data. The design of the device is great and there are few security issues. If we could leave the assessment at that, we could give a glowing recommendation. The problem is that the battery life is far too low for the price paid. This isn’t going to suit those with long-distance journeys in mind.
7) Global view net Hidden Magnetic GPS Vehicle Tracking Device
This last option is one that was made for the professional market. As a result, there are some great features onboard. This model was made for fleets and long distance drivers. There is a specific fleet tracking service and the reports are tailored to vehicle owners and employers. There are also tools for historical data that stretch back for 6 months – thanks to the great data storage on the plan.
- the depth and history in the data logs
- the quality of the battery
- the strength of the case
- the niche appeal to professionals
- perhaps too many options?
Users are impressed with many aspects of the product. It is easy to install as a one-part system with a strong magnetic grip. The installation of the device and the app doesn’t take long at all. The app receives lots of in-depth data on the routes and actions of drivers. This includes automated e-mails whenever they leave a designated area, go over a speed limit and when the vehicles make stops.
The data logs create a clear picture of the effectiveness of a fleet – or perhaps the habits of a child or senior parent. Then there is the battery life. This model has a 2-month rechargeable Lithium battery for long-distance work.
Some of these features may not be applicable to people looking for a simple surveillance device. In fact, there may be too much data and too many options for the average user. It is also important to consider the cost of this device. It is not the cheapest, nor the most expensive at $19.99 a month. This seems reasonable for the amount on offer and the quality of the components.
Is it recommendable?
To be honest, it all depends on your aims. If you need a simple system for basic surveillance, this could be far too complicated and high end. Many consumers don’t need all these features. However, you can’t fault that battery life and the detail in the data.
Best Plug-in GPS Trackers
Then there are those products that don’t fall into either category above. They have a strong connection to the car, but this time as they are plugged into the OBD. Some will question the worth of this option. Surely drivers can just unplug the system if they want to get away with something? A lack of data from the device may be just as incriminating as anomalous data. The appeal of these devices does depend on their features and compatibility. The models below all have interesting software that could prove to be of use.
8) Bouncie – Connected Car – OBD2 Adapter.
We want to talk about this Bouncie system first because it has so many positive reviews from users on Amazon, Google and other platforms. One of the main reasons for this is the range of features and data feeds that are on offer. It all starts with the basic location tracking. Here users receive updates every minute when driving is in progress. There are also alerts about speeding, curfews and when drivers reach their destination. On top of all this, users also get a full trip history, with lots of helpful stats, and some vehicle information.
- the low cost
- the quality of the connectivity to other devices
- the range of different data feeds
- the usual issues when the car is switched off
- real-time tracking not perfect.
There is a lot going on here. Users can buy this as a basic tool for tracking the movements of family members. But, they could soon find that they get a lot more from this tiny plug-in device. There is also the promise of pinpoint accuracy on the readings. While this is open to interpretation, most users are pleased with the results that they get. Then there is the connectivity of the system. Most devices connect to mobile tech to transmit data. This one also has the opportunity to connect with Alexa or Google Home. Where applicable, this could improve the ease of use further. This range is impressive for a product with an $8 monthly subscription.
There is a suggestion from some users that this product is better for history than real-time tracking. The devices and feeds can be seen on a range of tech after the journey and the data is informative. But, because of the style of device and some connections, real-time data isn’t always possible. That is because you need to have the car running and power to the device to get the best results. There is nothing when a car is parked and off.
Is it recommendable?
If this is the style of device that you want, and you understand the basic limitations, there is no reason not to give this a try. The biggest flaws here are seen in other, similar devices. This one is also affordable and has plenty of tools to play with.
9) MOTOsafety OBD GPS Tracker Device
The main selling point with this option has to be the addition of the driving courses. This brings a unique feature and extra value to the product. The majority of devices in this guide are purely there for pure, hard data. They give value to the people on the other end of the connection – the ones that look at the history and get the alerts. Here we have a product that offers something to the driver – and more than an SOS button. This system comes with a driving coach for a teen to help them improve on the road. This means that they can work to improve bad habits, such as rapid acceleration, harsh braking and speeding.
- this considerate driving course feature
- the cost
- the range of additional features
- takes a long time to set it up with all the right details
- not compatible with all cars.
There is a lot going on here with this coach, the GPS tracking system, the Google Maps data and the geofencing system. Teens have a chance to improve their skills, with a clear scorecard based on real-time efforts. But, parents still get to determine their boundaries and driving routes. Most parents are pleased with the accuracy of the system for most of these elements. This one of the most comprehensive systems around and provides good value for money to the right user.
However, there are a few drivers that have trouble getting everything set up. There is so much for the system to learn, and so many variables with the boundaries and coaching. Some felt it took far too long to key in every location, speed limit and other detail needed for a reliable system. There is also the fact that, like other OBD plug-in options, it isn’t compatible with all cars.
Is it recommendable?
There are some strong pros and cons that will divide opinion on this product. On one side, there is the idea that $19.99 a month isn’t so bad with this extra driver coach feature. It could really bring added value to the driver. But, parents buying it may struggle with the set-up and get quite frustrated with the whole thing. The question to ask yourself is this: is the short-term hassle worth those potential end results?
10) Brickhouse Security TrackPort OBD II Plug-In Covert Fleet/Vehicle Tracker
There are a few aspects to this system that are a little bit different. The first is the idea that they have designed a small plug-in model that can be transported from car to car. The idea here is that you can put in different family cars as needed. Alternatively, you can get a pack of 5 and add them to every family car or a larger fleet of vehicles. Aside from that, the function is the same. You can create geofencing boundaries, see real-time travel information and get historic travel data reports.
- the general ease of use from the device and app
- the option of packs of 1, 2 or 5 devices
- easy to switch between cars.
- some issues in the part with out-of-date data on the app
- the same compatibility issues as other product.
Most buyers would agree that this device is simple to install and use. There isn’t much of an initialization process and the features are intuitive. You can activate everything online and watch data roll in from the vehicle every 60 seconds. There is also the benefit of features such as the speed alerts and panic button. This all comes in a month to month subscription plan that you can cancel at any time.
None of the major complaints about this system are that specific to this model. For example, there were some complaints about issues with the app and the up-to-date data. But, there is now a new app for a better service. This is something we have seen before with other devices – the companies have had to upgrade to meet user needs. Then there is the issue of compatibility with devices, service providers and car dashboards. You need to be sure you have the best model for your car.
Is it recommendable?
If there are no compatibility issues, and the app works out just fine, you can have a good experience with this system. There are some nice unique points with the packs of devices and the use in multiple cars. There are also great comments about the different features and the effect they can have. This system could be a great choice in the right car.
Double check the small print!
The information that we have provided here about all of these devices is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, it is possible that companies have altered their services, plans, and apps by the time you read this. Some apps may be updated and improved. Also, keep in mind that the prices quoted are correct at the time of writing. Again, this may have changed. Companies may have raised the prices of the services and devices since. You may also find a better deal depending on new service options. That is why it is important to read the small print and up-to-date information before purchasing any GPS device for your car.
As you can see from the products above, there are lots of similarities in the way that these products collect data and track users. But, there is also a difference in the designs and functions.
The best options for secret surveillance
If you are looking for a tracker that is for covert surveillance of a partner or disobedient teen, the magnetic, hidden models are the best shot. The strongest devices can remain hidden under the car for a long time. Alternatively, there are those super-small devices that are easy to hide in seats. Here it is more important to collect data, so go for those models with the storage options and detailed charts. The more you can learn via the apps and other tools, the better the evidence.
The best options for keeping an eye on teens and elderly parents
There really is no need to start sticking magnetic trackers under a car to track a relative’s driving habits. A glove compartment device should be enough if you just want alerts if a child or parent is in trouble. The plug-in models have potential, but it all depends on the agenda of the teenager.
The most important thing here is to have that reliable stream of real-time data, rather than the detailed history of routes and mileage. This means up to date alerts on consistent geofencing features. Additional communication tools help too. This constant stream can get expensive, so be careful when choosing a plan.
Choosing the best plan for your needs
The final choice always comes down to your personal needs as a parent, spouse or child of a vulnerable senior. Think about the most important features that will help you get the results you want – either real-time tracking or data logs. Think about the security and battery life of the device if it needs to travel long distances, or make repeat journeys.
Also, think about the price. As you have seen with these products, the costs of both devices and services can vary greatly. Compare your options, consider your own list of pros and cons and pick the system that best suits your needs. Once you find a model that ticks all the right boxes, you can soon let your parents or children drive with improved peace of mind.