Have Complete Control of Your Vehicle – Find the Best GPS Tracker for Your Car

Satellites are no longer used only by internet providers and governments. With a small, discrete electrical device, you can tap into the incredible power of orbital satellites and track the location of your car using a GPS in real time. 

There are two general types of real-time GPS car trackers: standalone and wired.

Standalone units are much better for covert tracking, as they can be attached almost anywhere on the car without the driver or thief knowing. The downside is that they have a limited battery life.

Wired units have a major upside – you don’t have to worry about battery life. They can either be hardwired to the electrical system in a vehicle, much like a car stereo or alarm, or plug into the on-board diagnostics (ODB) port. 

A GPS for car that plugs into the ODB port can provide even more info, like monitoring your car’s engine health and fuel consumption. That’s why this option is perfect for optimizing the vehicle fleet of your company.

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Gps Car Tracker Reviews

STI GL300MA 4G LTE Mini Real-Time GPS Tracker provided by Spytec

STI GL300MA 4G LTE Mini Real-Time GPS Tracker provided by Spytec - best gps tracker for car
PROS
  • Top rated GPS tracker for car

  • Integrates with Google Maps

  • Good battery life

CONS
  • Does not log information without a monthly subscription

  • Additional purchase of waterproof case needed for cover tracking

The SpytecGPS STI GL300MA is one of the most sought-after models in the industry. Its compact size, excellent battery life, and real-time tracking over the internet make it the best mini GPS tracker on the market.

The battery will usually last around two weeks with average use. Your vehicle’s exact location refreshes in regular intervals and the device can be connected to Google Maps to give you detailed information about your trip. There are three monthly subscription plans for the GL300MA.

  1. The Basic plan, which provides 60-second updates for $24.95 a month
  2. The Plus plan, which provides 30-second updates for $34.95 a month
  3. The Premium, plan which provides five-second updates for $44.95 a month

Using the GL300MA’s geofencing feature, you can receive notifications each time the device leaves a certain area. This is very useful for keeping tabs on your teenager’s whereabouts, for example.

The GL300MA is not a dedicated car tracker, insofar as it does not connect to an ODB port directly. However, Spytec offers a couple of accessories to remedy this. 

For starters, you can buy a magnetic, waterproof case that both protects the unit from the elements and offers a way to attach it to your vehicle. This option is useful when you need to track someone without them knowing.

Another option is a hardwire kit to connect the tracker to the car battery and have a virtually unlimited battery life, compared to a two-week one without the kit. This is useful for business owners who want to track their delivery drivers, for example.

On its own, the GL300MA costs around $45. The magnetic casing and hardware kit will set you back around $27 each and you’ll need to pay a monthly fee for the real-time tracking subscription. This device cannot be used without paying for said subscription.

XT-2000 OBD Real-Time GPS Vehicle Tracker provided by SpyTec

XT-2000 OBD Real-Time GPS Vehicle Tracker provided by SpyTec - best gps tracker for car
PROS
  • ODB Compatible

  • Sends car diagnostic info directly to your email

  • Best real time GPS tracker for car

CONS
  • Cannot be used without a monthly subscription

ODB stands for on-board diagnostics; it refers to the cable port in cars that is usually used by mechanics to check the vehicle’s electrical systems.

An ODB-compatible GPS tracker is the perfect way to make use of a part of your car that’s usually idling. However, what it gains in battery life and ease of use, it loses in terms of secrecy. Experienced thieves can easily find it, remove it, and throw it out the window.

The XT-2000 is a GPS tracker you use for keeping tabs on employees or teenagers. It sends GPS data directly to your email or SMS in real time. Other than location, it can calculate the average speed of the vehicle, so you can see if your teenager is going too fast for his or her own good, or if your employee is working efficiently enough. If the ODB port supports it, you can also get estimates on fuel consumption.

The location info is presented in the familiar Google Maps interface, and you can even set up a geo-fence and receive alerts if the vehicle leaves its designated area.

Installing it is a piece of cake – you just plug it in and it turns on automatically each time the engine starts running. Since it connects to the electrical system of the car, it doesn’t need any batteries. This device cannot be used without paying for a real-time tracking subscription.

This standalone product costs around $72. The device can’t be used without paying for one of two monthly subscription plans:

  1. The Basic plan, which provides 60-second updates for $24.95 a month
  2. The Plus plan, which provides 30-second updates for $34.95 a month

Tracking Key GPS Logger 2 provided by SpyTec

Tracking Key GPS Logger 2 provided by SpyTec - best gps tracker for car
PROS
  • Best hidden GPS logger

  • Good battery management

  • No monthly fees

CONS
  • No real-time tracking

GPS trackers with real-time updates usually require a monthly subscription fee. This is because the company has to rent satellite and cellular towers in order to provide the user with information on the fly.

GPS loggers, on the other hand, do not transmit information in real-time and therefore require no subscription fee.

With a logger, you’ll need to retrieve the device and plug it into a USB port to see the movement history of the unit.

This is a major upside if you want to keep tabs on your employees for a lower cost. When an employee has been acting strangely or underperforming, you can plant the device on their vehicle and see where they’ve been driving without them knowing. The small, waterproof, plastic casing is almost undetectable and can be affixed virtually anywhere using magnets.

The LandAirSea Tracking Key 2 is mounted via a magnet. It’s powered by two AAA batteries and has a four week battery life. This is more than enough to find out where your employee has been going on their route, or if your children are keeping their promises and not lying to you.

The internal memory allows for 100 motion hours of recording and the signal is refreshed each second.

Once you retrieve the unit and plug it into a USB port, you’ll be able to view where it has been in the Google Earth interface. The data includes the route it travelled, the speed at which it went, the direction it travelled at any given point, and the amount of time it stayed motionless.

This item is listed at around $170. The high price is justified with the lack of a monthly subscription.

GL300W GPS Tracker provided by Americaloc

GL300W GPS Tracker provided by Americaloc - best gps tracker for car
PROS
  • Comes with an integrated SIM card for cellular reporting

  • Faster reporting intervals come at no extra charge

  • Best hidden GPS tracker for car

CONS
  • Pricier initial fee than similar products

Americaloc has a slightly misleading name. While its services do cover the entire area of the USA, it also works in Europe, Canada, and “almost all other countries in the world,” as its website proudly proclaims.

This GPS tracker can be attached to almost anything, whether it’s an object, a vehicle, or even a person. It’s small and discreet, so hiding it and keeping your tracking activities a secret will not be difficult. It includes geofencing – the device sends you an email notification if the tracker enters or leaves an area you define.

It uses the Google Maps interface, so you won’t have to waste any time or effort learning a new interface. 

The battery life on this small GPS tracker is a commendable two weeks, depending on how frequently it’s used. This is achieved by lowering the report frequency to save battery charge when it drops low.

Americaloc has one of the most customer-friendly subscription systems on the market. A month of real-time tracking costs $25 and you get a report every 60 seconds. Here’s the kicker – while most companies charge more for more frequent reports, you can just contact Americaloc and the company will up the report frequency to 30 or even 10 seconds totally free of charge! 

Most companies charge a higher rate for that. The company never automatically renews your subscription and even offers you a chance to save money by paying for a long-term commitment.

Americaloc lists this product at around $110.

AR-3HU GPS Tracker provided by Americaloc

AR-3HU GPS Tracker provided by Americaloc - best gps tracker for car
PROS
  • Hardwired to the electrical system

  • Two hours of internal battery life in case it’s turned off

  • No extra cost for faster reporting intervals

CONS
  • Professional installation required

This hard-wired GPS tracker does not go into the ODB port of a vehicle. Instead, it installs much like a car alarm or a stereo system would. It’s not a complicated installation process, but we recommend you leave it to a professional; it will take them no more than 15 minutes to finish the entire process, and they’ll do it correctly.

Seeing as though it connects to the vehicle’s electrical system, battery life is not a concern. The AR-3HU also has an internal battery that holds two hours worth of juice, in case the device is unplugged. The fact that it doesn’t plug into the ODB port also means it can stay covert. Your employees, significant other, or child will be none the wiser to you monitoring their movements, if you choose to do so.

Americaloc provides its customers with a wide range of monitoring options and programs. You can create groups, have multiple monitoring accounts, and configure geofencing areas with ease. The software is intuitive and not at all hard to use.

The real-time tracking subscription fee is $25 per month, and you can choose between 60-second, 30-second, or 10-second report intervals. Ameriloc lists this product at around $120.

MasTrack OBD-HD Tracker

MasTrack OBD-HD Tracker - best gps tracker for car
PROS
  • Possibly the best real time GPS tracker for car

  • Vast pool of vehicle health information through the ODB port

CONS
  • A tad on the pricey side

The MasTrack ODB-HD tracks much more than just GPS information. This vehicle tracking device fulfills that primary purpose flawlessly, but if offers a whole host of other useful features as well.

Know when your employee is speeding. Know when they are braking harshly, accelerating rapidly, leaving their car idling for prolonged periods (not moving with the ignition on), or being towed (moving with the ignition off). Set a custom speed limit for them, create a geo-fenced area, and get notifications when they leave it. Track their fuel consumption and get notifications when they are low on fuel or have a mechanical hazard brewing under the hood.

Know when they are tampering with the device itself or unplugging it, thanks to the internal battery.

This device puts you in the driver’s seat of your truck, wherever you may be. It is advertised as a semi-truck GPS tracker because the standard product comes with an OBD-HD port. However, simple adapter that you can purchase straight from MasTrack converts it to a fully fledged, heavy-duty truck GPS tracker.

The device installs in less than 30 seconds – simply plug it in and it works. We believe it is well worth the slightly above-average price MasTrack lists on its site: $199 for the standalone unit, and an extra $15 for the HD Y cable adapter for J1939 and J1708 trucks.

MasTrack Hardwired GPS tracker

MasTrack Hardwired GPS tracker - best gps tracker for car
PROS
  • Can connect to other electrical systems in the car for remote control

  • External battery pack available

CONS
  • Professional installation required

The hardwired option MasTrack offers has mostly the same features that the company’s ODB-HD tracker offers. The device can feed you all sorts of useful information about your vehicle. You can set up speed thresholds, geo-fenced areas, idling and towing notifications, and several useful parameters. 

The device can even report on or control other electrical systems in the vehicle. For instance, the “input” wire can detect whether the tailgate function of the vehicle is being used. By connecting the output wire to a function of the vehicle, such as the fuel cut-off, you can then control that function remotely. 

The installation process for the MastTrack Hardwired GPS tracker is fairly simple – all you need to do is connect a few wires and you’re off. We recommend you take it to a professional, who will most likely do a neater job than you. 

We also recommend you purchase the added battery pack, which keeps the device running even after it has been unplugged from the power supply. This is the best anti-tampering measure you can take.

The device is listed at $78 + real-time tracking service fees. For $187, you get the MasTrack Hardwired GPS tracker and a year of basic service with real-time reports at 60-second intervals.

Bouncie

Bouncie - best gps tracker for car
PROS
  • Smart-device compatible

  • Trip histories, driving habits

  • Affordable

CONS
  • Not the best build quality

You don’t have to be a James Bond-type secret agent to install this tracking device in your car. All you need to do is find the ODB port, which is included in every car model made since 1996, plug the Bouncie in, and you’re all set.

Bouncie is perfect for tracking your teenagers or elderly family members, as well as gathering information about your own driving habits. Indeed, the detailed information Bouncie provides can help you make your driving much more efficient.

Setting up geo-fences and tracking frequent driving routes and average speed has never been easier with the seamless smartphone integration and the GPS tracker app.

This smart device also connects to smart home hubs like Alexa or Google Home. With preprogrammed commands, like “Alexa, where’s my car?” and “OK Google, ask Bouncie where’s Jessica’s car?” your car truly becomes part of your smart home.

Bouncie includes all the standard car vehicle tracking features, like trip histories, real-time reports, and car diagnostics like fuel consumption and engine health. The unit communicates with you via the integrated cellular connection. The company charges $8 a month for this service – a nice price, which gets even lower if you purchase three or more Bouncies. The device itself will cost you $67. For the money it costs, we really think you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal.

MOTOsafety 4G Real Time OBD Tracking Device

MOTOsafety 4G Real Time OBD Tracking Device - best gps tracker for car
PROS
  • Best car tracking device for parents

  • Curfews and geofences

  • Good value for money

CONS
  • Not the best build quality

Let’s say your son just turned 16 and got his driver’s licence. You’re well aware of the fact that the licence is still just a piece of paper and that real driving skills take years and years to hone. The trouble is those lessons can be very, very costly. 

That’s where MOTOsafety’s device comes in. This car GPS tracker delivers a graded report card, just like from school. Your child’s driving habits will be evaluated; the grade goes down in the event of dangerous behaviour like speeding, harsh braking, or rapid acceleration. 

Of course, you can also set up curfews and geo-fences to enforce discipline in your child.

The MOTOsafety real time tracking device plugs into the ODB port and uses a cellular connection to communicate with your phone. Since it plugs directly into your car, it does not require batteries. You will, of course, be informed if the device is unplugged from the car.

The unit costs around $47, with a $19.99 monthly subscription fee.

Vehicle GPS Tracker Key Features

Here’s what you should pay attention to when searching for the best GPS tracker.

Battery life

Standalone units usually have a limited battery life that largely depends on the amount of use and the frequency of real-time reports. The top tracker has around two to three weeks of battery life with average use.

ODB compatibility

ODB stands for the on-board diagnostics port in your car. This is used by mechanics to check on your car’s electrical systems. An ODB system is the best GPS tracker for a car fleet, since it can provide much more data than just location info. You’ll get insights into things like engine health and fuel consumption, which can really help you optimize your fleet.

Hardwiring capability

This type of GPS tracking device for cars connects to the car’s electrical system. That means it does not require a battery, but it also makes it very hard to plant it without the driving knowing they are being monitored. In that case, it’s not much of a spy tracker.

Geofencing

Included in almost every vehicle tracker, this feature allows you to create imaginary geographical zones and receive notifications when the device leaves or enters it. This is very useful when you use it as a personal GPS tracker to make sure a teenager respects their boundaries.

Report frequency

A real-time GPS for cars can report on their location in intervals of 60, 30, 10, or five seconds. The more frequent the reports, the more precise the information. However, shorter intervals also require more battery power and mean you have to pay a higher monthly subscription fee with some providers.

Google Maps compliance

A modern tracker for a car usually uses the Google Maps interface when presenting the GPS information. This means that you won’t have to waste a lot of time learning a new interface.

Cost

You can find GPS car trackers units for as low as $50. Bear in mind that you will also have to pay a monthly fee for real-time tracking. The best GPS tracker for car – MasTrack OBD-HD Tracker – will set you back $249 for the unit and a year of service.

FAQ

Is it against the law to put a tracking device on someone's car?

The tracking of property is a legal gray area and the laws vary from state to state. If you have doubts about the legality of your actions, we highly recommend you consult a lawyer before you start tracking someone. As a general rule of thumb, planting a tracker on a vehicle you do not own, especially if it requires trespassing on a property or breaking into the car, is illegal. Tracking a car you or your organization owns is compliant with laws in all states. You can also attach a GPS tracker to your child’s car, providing they’re under 18 years of age. Planting a car tracking device on a boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s car, however, could land you in trouble. Under the Fourth Amendment, tracking constitutes an infringement of privacy. Law enforcement is required to at least have a warrant to start tracking a vehicle. Again, we strongly advise you to consult a legal professional before you start your tracking activities.

Do GPS trackers really work?

They absolutely do. GPS trackers are small devices that can either be attached to vehicles externally, usually using magnets, or hardwired and connected to the vehicle’s electrical systems. They use satellites and cellular towers to collect and transmit location data to the user’s email or smartphone. They can have many uses, from monitoring the movements of a rebellious teen or a suspicious spouse to optimizing the vehicle fleet of your company or tracking your car if it gets stolen.

Where would you hide a GPS tracker on a car?

Covert GPS trackers usually come with a weatherproof magnetic casing. This means they can be attached to almost any sheet of metal on a car. The most popular spots are underneath the front or rear bumpers. Other viable spots include underneath the front grill, under the brake light covers, or simply under the seats or in the glove compartment.

What is the best real time GPS tracking device?

The best stand-alone GPS car tracker - GL300W GPS Tracker provided by Americaloc: This GPS car tracker has all the features you’d expect from a premium unit: a decent two-week battery life, Google Maps integration, geofencing capabilities, and real-time location reports in the time intervals you choose. It’s also the smallest GPS tracker on the market. The unit costs around $110 with a monthly tracking fee of $25. The best hardwired GPS car tracker - MasTrack Hardwired GPS tracker: With a hardwired GPS car tracker, you won’t have to worry about battery life. With this particular model, you can even gain remote access to electrical systems in the car, like the fuel cut-off function. This is perfect for optimizing your fleet and keeping your employees in check. The unit and a year of premium tracking service will cost you $187. You can reduce that price if you purchase several units at once.

What is the best GPS tracker for car no monthly fee?

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a GPS tracker for car no monthly fee. The only way to avoid monthly subscription fees is to forego real-time tracking and go for a GPS logger instead of a tracker. Because real-time tracking requires the use of cellular towers, companies usually charge a monthly subscription fee for the tracking service. A GPS logger simply logs the location information internally. You then retrieve the device and access the information.

How can I find a hidden tracking device on my car?

1. Exterior inspection: Get a flashlight and mirror and check under the front and rear bumpers. These are the most popular spots for concealing a tracker. You should also check the wheels for signs of tampering. GPS tracking devices are usually three inches tall and two inches wide, so be thorough and pay close attention. 2. Interior inspection: Check the ODB port of your car. Afterward, check the glove compartment, under the front and back seats, and do a close inspection of the trunk of your car. 3. Bug sweeper: Bus sweepers are usually sold by the same companies that market the trackers. These simple electronic devices can detect GPS and GSM signals being transmitted. Bear in mind that sweepers cannot detect inactive trackers, though. That means that you should be in motion while searching for the device. 4. Professional help: If you have a hunch someone may be tracking you but you want to be completely sure, a professional who deals with car electronics can do a thorough scan of your vehicle. Peace of mind is well worth the small fee of hiring a professional.

Do dealerships put tracking devices on cars?

Banks sometimes require dealers to install a GPS tracking device on a car if the customer has a low credit rating and is considered a liability. The dealership is required by law to inform you if they are installing the tracker. The tracker is usually connected to the ignition system, so if the customer defaults on their car loan, the vehicle can be deactivated and set in place for easier repossession. The best GPS tracker for car can also connect to other electrical systems like trunk poppers or fuel cut-offs to allow remote control of those features.

A GPS Tracker as a Car Safety Feature

Your car is never completely safe from harm. Thieves and carjackers can strike at any moment, especially if you park your car in the street. You can install all kinds of security systems, from alarms to immobilizers, and they do deter joyriders and criminals to some degree. But no single security system will make your car impossible to steal.

While it will not prevent this unwelcome occurrence, having a GPS tracker in your car can be a lifesaver when thieves do strike.

A car GPS tracker monitors the location of your vehicle via a satellite connection. It’s a small plastic device, usually not much larger than a Zippo lighter, bolted on in a hidden spot. 

The National Insurance Crime Bureau lists having an auto locator as one of the four fundamental layers of protection against car theft. It’s simple – the police have a much easier time recovering your vehicle if they know where it is.

A GPS Tracker as a Way of Optimizing Your Company’s Vehicle Fleet

Are you a business owner with a fleet of vehicles? Purchasing tracking devices for your cars and trucks could be an ideal move for your business.

  1. A GPS locator keeps your employees in check. You will have much more insight into their driving habits: what routes they take, how long their stops are, when they go too slow, and when they speed. A GPS tracker provides you with detailed data that can optimize your spending.
  2. GPS trackers can plug into the ODB port in a vehicle. That means they will have access to much more than just the location data of a car; the device can also provide precious information about the vehicle’s engine health and gas consumption. You will be able to detect problems before they spiral out of control and optimize your employees’ performance. 
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