The leading car GPS trackers for easy vehicle location

·10 min read



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With GPS systems, you can keep track of where things are at any given time. These car GPS trackers are great for your vehicles or your loved ones’. GPS systems can allow you to track the location of almost anything. Whether it’s your children as they head off to school or your pets roaming around the neighborhood, GPS trackers are useful for knowing where people, pets, and other things are at all times. One special use for GPS trackers that some people might not know about is as a safety precaution against carjacking.

Carjacking is unfortunately a fairly common problem, and it can be difficult to give law enforcement any leads without knowing where your vehicle went. With a premier car GPS tracker, though, you’ll instantly be able to tell where your car is by simply checking your phone or computer. These are our favorite GPS trackers for vehicles that can help you keep an eye on your ride.

What are the leading car GPS trackers of 2022?

AMERICALOC Vehicle GPS Tracker: Our pick

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Car GPS trackers use a SIM card to send data about your vehicle’s location at fixed intervals. You’ll have to subscribe to a plan to keep your GPS tracker running, and while some GPS tracker companies have automatic renewals (which can drain your wallet if you forget about the charge and aren’t expecting it), this isn't the case with this tracker by AMERICALOC. The tracking plans offered with this GPS tracker are pretty straightforward-- you pay upfront, receive a discount the more months you purchase for at once and no matter the location or update frequency the cost stays the same. It’s not the cheapest plan on our list, but it’s definitely one of the most honest.

Pros

  • Straightforward plans with no automatic renewals

  • Up to one-year tracking history

  • 8,760-hour battery life

Cons

  • It may require actively paying more than once

Amcrest GPS GL300 GPS Tracker: Another great option

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If there’s one thing you’ll want for your GPS tracker, it’s probably security. That way no matter how much your device has to endure it’ll stay intact. This GPS tracker by Amcrest comes with a sleek case that makes it easy to keep the tracker secure, with a zipper for a tight, easy fit and a flexible strap that can be looped around other items to secure it. One very special way you can use this tracker is by making it a part of your pet’s collar-- this device comes with a pet collar case that you can use to connect the tracker to your furry friend’s collar. It may be a little large and heavy for your pet, but it’ll let them freely scamper around and give you some peace of mind.

Pros

  • Comes with case included

  • Pet collar case also included

  • Various custom smart alert features

Cons

  • Somewhat large for smaller pets

Brickhouse Security Spark Tracker: Also consider

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Another important feature of GPS trackers is sturdiness. Depending on where your GPS tracker ends up, it should be able to handle various weather conditions so that it works no matter what. This GPS tracker by Brickhouse comes with a heavy-duty case that’s both weatherproof and waterproof, keeping the GPS tracker inside dry, safe, and secure. The case comes with two magnets for securing the device, and this is great for sticking the tracker in places often overlooked, like the underside of a vehicle. Thanks to its weather- and waterproof design, this case can handle mud and water with no problem at all.

Pros

  • Magnetic case included

  • Weatherproof and waterproof case

  • The small, inconspicuous design

Cons

  • Pricey monthly plans

Optimus 2.0 4G LTE GPS Tracker: Another option

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Something you should know about GPS trackers is that they’ll probably stop functioning at some point. Many GPS trackers use older 3G technology, sufficient for GPS tracking, but 3G support is coming to an end in many countries, the US included. This means you’ll need to upgrade your old 3G GPS tracker to one that works with 4G instead, and this Optimus tracker uses 4G, so it should keep you good for the foreseeable future. This tracker’s monthly plans are pretty simple, with a base fee of $19.95 per month and discounts when you pay upfront. You’ll also have access to all the device’s features and won’t be locked out from using any, so you can make full use of the tracker without buying a “Pro” or “Premium” plan. The device conveniently works with your smartphone, allowing you to check its location from just about anywhere.

Pros

  • 4G network support

  • One plan, all the features

  • Solid battery life

Cons

  • Standard GPS tracker, nothing unique about it

Bouncie GPS Car Tracker: Budget option

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One of the main drawbacks of GPS trackers is the fact that you’ll have to pay pretty hefty monthly fees just to keep it working. Bouncie sets itself apart from the competition by offering one of the most affordable GPS trackers to date, both in upfront cost and monthly service fees. This device will run you less than $80, which may be a little pricey, but still cheaper than other trackers available. Its monthly fees, though, are what really make this tracker appealing-- for just $8 a month, you can get all the features you could want in a GPS tracker. There are no hidden fees, no activation fees, and you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Pros

  • Low monthly subscription fees

  • Small, compact design

  • Refreshes location every 15 seconds

Cons

  • Doesn’t work unless the car is on

Buying guide: Car GPS trackers

Car GPS trackers can keep your vehicle safe and provide you with important information in the event that it’s stolen. Here are some things you should know about car GPS trackers.

Why you should get a GPS tracker

You can track your vehicle’s location with it

There are many ways a GPS tracker can be used, but perhaps the most common is for tracking your car’s location. Your car is vulnerable to carjacking when you’re not actively using it, especially if it’s parked in public or out in the open. Carjacking isn’t that common, but it can happen, and if it does it might be difficult to figure out where your car went.

With a GPS tracker installed in your car, you’ll be able to find the location of your vehicle in a matter of seconds. If your car was stolen, you’ll be able to report this information to the local authorities and let them take it from there. As long as the tracker isn’t tampered with, it should send its current location from anywhere with a cellular signal.

You can use it with your pets

If you’re the type of pet owner who loves to give your pets the freedom to roam around (within reason), then you may want your animal to have a tracker, just in case. Sometimes pets can wander off, and it can be difficult to find them-- especially if they end up getting lost. Your dog might suddenly wander off the trail while on a hike, and unless you’re fast enough to keep up you’ll be left searching for where fido went.

A GPS tracker can provide you with at least a basic idea of where your pet went. You can securely fasten the device onto your pet’s collar with specially made straps and cases, and these accessories ensure that the tracker itself won’t be too uncomfortable for your pet to wear. They likely won’t even notice it, which will let them enjoy themselves and keep you worry-free.

How do car GPS trackers work?

Car GPS trackers are very simple in nature. Most trackers consist of a SIM card, some electronics to handle the GPS tracking, and a battery to keep the device running for days, or even weeks, on end. At a set interval determined by the user, the tracker “pings,” or sends out a signal, that includes the current location of the tracker.

This information is then relayed from the device to the network, and then to the user via an app or website. The result is a device that gives you constant updates on where the tracker is, making it easy and convenient to use.

How often should my car GPS tracker send location updates?

One thing you should always consider when setting up your GPS tracker is the interval between location updates. Sending a location update to the network uses energy, and the more pings you send, the more battery power is used up. You’ll need to take both battery life and update accuracy into consideration when choosing the ideal interval for your needs.

Long intervals (~1 minute)

If you want your GPS tracker to last as long as possible, you’ll probably want to set the device up to send location updates less frequently than shorter, more battery-consuming settings. The longest interval available for many GPS trackers is one minute, meaning that you’re only getting 60 pings per hour or a total of 1,440 pings per day.

60 pings per hour might not seem like much, but remember that these updates can be saved individually. While you may not know where the vehicle is going while it’s in motion, you will be able to figure out the path it took by connecting the pings together.

Because you’re only getting 60 pings per hour, this saves the device’s battery life by quite a bit. GPS trackers can easily last over a week with minute-long intervals, meaning you won’t need to charge the tracker as often, and in the event of a carjacking, you’ll be able to keep track of its location for much longer (assuming that the tracker isn’t discovered and tampered with).

Short intervals (~5-10 seconds)

While longer intervals are great if you want your device’s battery to last, they’re not ideal if you want to see the current location of the vehicle, especially if it’s moving. Vehicles can travel pretty far in the space of a minute, and the next ping could be miles away from the previous one.

Shorter intervals can let you more accurately track the real-time location of a vehicle. The lowest possible interval for these pings is usually 5-10 seconds, depending on the brand of the tracker. Five seconds may not be as accurate as real-time tracking, but it should give you a pretty good estimate of where the car is and where it’s headed.

While real-time tracking accuracy may sound appealing, there really isn’t much benefit to using GPS trackers this way. Unless you’re in another vehicle chasing the tracked car, you likely won’t need the information to be that up-to-date, and minute-long intervals are more than enough if the car is parked. 

Real-time tracking is still an option that you can make use of, though, and if you really value that accuracy it can’t hurt to try it out, at least for a little while. Keep in mind that the tracker’s battery won’t last for very long with shorter intervals, so you’ll need to charge it more often than if you receive updates at longer intervals.

Can GPS trackers be hacked?

It is possible to hack a GPS tracker, but in reality, this almost never happens. Hacking a GPS tracker is more trouble than it’s worth, and if someone already knows about a car GPS tracker’s existence and wants to tamper with it, there are easier ways of doing this than hacking, like jamming out the signal or simply finding and disposing of the tracker.

Car GPS Tracker FAQs

Q: Do car GPS trackers need cellular data to work?

Yes, they do, as car GPS trackers relay information via the cellular network.

Q: Are car GPS trackers easy to spot?

Though the device itself may be easy to spot, car GPS trackers can be hidden in many different ways. The devices themselves are typically pretty small, so they can be surprisingly hard to find unless you know where to look.

Q: Do you need to charge car GPS trackers?

Car GPS trackers run on a battery, so you will need to charge them regularly if you want yours to stay functional.

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