For the ultimate peace of mind, equip your car with a GPS tracker (2024)

For the ultimate peace of mind, equip your car with a GPS tracker (1)
For the ultimate peace of mind, equip your car with a GPS tracker (2)

Whether you’re concerned about your vehicle being stolen or just want to keep tabs on a teen driver, you’ve probably considered installing one of the many car GPS trackers. The high price for LoJack or other subscription-based tracker services may have kept you from pulling the trigger, but these days, a highly-rated device is much more affordable. They do come standard in some modern vehicles, but not all, and sometimes cost extra to have installed even by the manufacturer. There’s no denying that they are useful. So, if you want to treat yourself to some peace of mind — whether your vehicle is parked right outside or thousands of miles away — it might be time to think about installing one of the best GPS trackers for your car.

The best car GPS trackers in 2024

  • Get if you want one of the best car GPS trackers out there.
  • Get if you want a low-cost, versatile option.
  • Get a if you want one of the best subscription-free, easily manageable trackers.
  • Get if you want one of the best and most straightforward mobile tracking options.
  • Get a Spytec GPS Mini if you want a commercial-grade tracker.
  • The if you want a SIM-ready OBD-powered alternative.

Bouncie

Best overall GPS tracker

For the ultimate peace of mind, equip your car with a GPS tracker (3)
ProsCons
Easy to useWon’t report while ignition is off
OBD-powered
Vehicle health alerts

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Bouncie is our top pick because it’s one of the easiest to use. Thanks to a plug-and-play install process, quick setup, and an initial 10-minute drive to calibrate, you’ll have it ready to go in no time. In addition to monitoring speed and other performance details, it also gives a clear overview of vehicle health. You can see gas levels, battery health, various vehicle specifications, and more. It also offers impact detection, erratic driving, and curfew alerts — if you want your teen to be home by a certain time, for example. There is one downside, and it’s that it will not report while the vehicle ignition is off because it’s an OBD-connected device. A subscription through Bouncie is $9 per month.

Tracki

Best versatile option

For the ultimate peace of mind, equip your car with a GPS tracker (4)
ProsCons
Versatile trackerCostly subscription
Rechargeable battery
Includes additional accessories

Tracki is a lot more versatile than some of the other options on the list, save for the Apple AirTag. That’s because it comes with a few portable accessories, like a key chain, belt clip, and magnetic attachment. It’s more of a general tracker, but don’t count it out just yet. It can help you monitor the vehicle’s current speed and movements and has a powerful geofence mode that lets you know when it’s left a custom area you’ve set. Tracking is done via WiFi or Bluetooth, and it has a rechargeable battery that can last for up to five days when sending updates in one to five-minute intervals. It can last even longer, up to 75 days, in a low-power mode. A subscription is $20 per month unless you sign up for a long-term plan, and then it’s reduced to $9 per month.

Apple AirTag

Best subscription-free tracker

For the ultimate peace of mind, equip your car with a GPS tracker (5)
ProsCons
Versatile trackerNo geofencing
CR2032 replaceable battery
Works with Apple’s Find My network

Apple’s AirTag probably needs no introduction. It’s not inherently designed to be a car GPS tracker; it’s more of a generalized option. But Apple’s Find My network is incredibly useful, and slapping one of these inside or on your car would offer you a robust monitoring solution. You’ll lose detailed alerts and monitoring features, and you can’t set up any geofencing, but there are no subscription fees either. Apple’s AirTags also offer great battery life, up to a year, on CR2032 coin cell batteries, which you can easily replace yourself when it’s time.

LandAirSea 54

Best streamlined tracking

For the ultimate peace of mind, equip your car with a GPS tracker (6)
ProsCons
Simple yet effectiveNo vehicle health notifications
Rechargeable battery
Integrated heavy-duty magnet

If you don’t want to deal with a lot of excess information, the LandAirSea 54 is right up your alley. It tracks three things: Battery, speed, and location via geofencing. The app interface is streamlined, too, to get you in, informed, and out pretty fast. There are no bells or whistles, but that’s precisely why you’d choose this GPS tracker. It’s compact, waterproof, and has a heavy-duty internal magnet that makes it easy to mount and conceal. Subscriptions start at $10 per month.

Spytec GPS Mini

Best commercial-grade tracker

For the ultimate peace of mind, equip your car with a GPS tracker (7)
ProsCons
Fleet-level tracking supportCostly subscription
Rechargeable battery
Comprehensive tracking and alerts

Battery-powered and ready to rock, the Spytec GPS Mini is advanced enough to be used for fleet-level tracking — commercial tracking for fleet and transport vehicles. It’s compatible with Android and iOS, with respective mobile apps, and you can access a dashboard from the web. It’s IPX5-rated, so water-resistant and safe for mounting outside the vehicle. Moreover, an integrated rechargeable battery holds a charge for up to 10 days with two hours of movement per day or up to 25 days in standby mode. It tracks speed and location and supports geofencing, but the service is only available in North America. The monthly subscription cost is $30, while the annual subscription is about $300, which is much higher than comparable options.

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Kayo GPS Tracker

A suitable alternative

For the ultimate peace of mind, equip your car with a GPS tracker (8)
ProsCons
Super simple and easy to useSIM card and subscription-based
OBD-powered
Vehicle health alerts

While the Kayo GPS Tracker doesn’t provide as much information as the more viable devices, its real-time tracking, affordability, and vehicle health options more than makeup for its shortcomings. It uses a SIM card, offering service within the United States, and you can take advantage of a 14-day free trial before paying for a subscription. Alerts include a check-engine notification, low-battery alerts, and tamper notifications if someone unwanted is messing with the device. You can also set up personalized maintenance reminders from within the app. It’s powered by the OBD-II port in your vehicle, so no battery or charging is necessary. The monthly subscription is about $5 per month after your free trial, of course.

How we chose these GPS trackers for cars

Here’s what we considered when choosing the car GPS trackers for our list, and also what you should keep in mind when deciding which to purchase:

Battery Life

While not all GPS trackers run on a replaceable or rechargeable battery — some plug into the OBD-II port — this is something to consider when choosing one for your setup. Battery life will determine how often you have to recharge or replace the unit’s power.

Subscription

Some devices, like Apple’s AirTag, do not require a subscription. Others do, but the trade-off is that the expensive options usually offer access to more detailed reporting. Is that something you want or need? If so, go with one of the more serviceable GPS trackers.

Placement

It’s up to you where you place the tracker on your vehicle. If it’s for security or to prevent theft, you’ll want it concealed as much as possible. You can place it inside or outside the vehicle, but if it’s the latter, you’ll need to make sure the device is weatherproof.

GPS Reliability

Some GPS trackers return the location results in real-time, while others return information at intervals, like every five to ten minutes. The more often the return rates, the more battery power the device will use, so keep that in mind.

Geofencing

Some trackers allow you to set up a geofence or area boundary for tracking and alerts. When the tracker moves outside of these boundaries or into them, you’ll get alerts immediately. This can be helpful to identify when a car has left a property, your local town, or the individual areas you’ve established. Not all trackers offer this, however, so if it’s something you specifically want, pay attention when choosing a device.

GPS trackers for cars: What you need to know

Traditionally, automotive and car GPS trackers were reserved for company vehicles, transports, and other commercially viable vehicles where real-time and direct tracking is not only useful but also helps inform the operation as a whole. For example, delivery vehicles are equipped with GPS to help find efficient travel routes, for security purposes to prevent theft, and to offer more nuanced waypoint tracking for inventories and other goods.

In recent years, these devices have been made available to consumers to install on local cars. Moreover, GPS actually comes standard in many modern vehicles, meaning you may not even need to buy an after-market device.

What are the benefits of car GPS trackers?

Having a GPS installed in your vehicle offers the following:

  • Improved Security: You can see where your car is at all times, especially if someone else borrows it. This extends to theft, as well. As long as the device is concealed, you can track its location if or when it is stolen.
  • Reduced Insurance Premiums: While not always true, some insurance providers will offer lower rates for cars with tracking devices installed.
  • Real-Time Monitoring: You can use the GPS tracker to locate the vehicle at all times and glean certain information, like current speed, travel routes, and more. For parents, this offers peace of mind when their children borrow the car.
  • Rapid Emergency Response: In the event of an emergency, such as an accident or car breakdown, you can share the exact location with responders to help them locate and travel to you faster. Instead of providing street names or landmarks, you can simply share your GPS location.

How do you install after-market car GPS trackers?

As with most devices, you can DIY the install if you’re knowledgeable and comfortable doing so. In most cases, it shouldn’t affect your car’s warranty or extended coverage, but to be sure, talk to a brand rep for your car’s make and model and follow all manufacturer’s recommendations.

The better option is to have the GPS tracker installed by a professional. Usually, you can arrange this with the store or auto provider where you purchased the device. You might also schedule an appointment with a local automotive store, repair shop, or auto services — such as where you get your oil changed.

Are car GPS trackers legal?

If it’s your vehicle, as in you are the owner, yes, it’s legal to install a GPS tracker in most jurisdictions. However, it is not legal to install in a car or vehicle without the owner’s express permission. Installing in a partner’s vehicle and concealing it is highly illegal and constitutes stalking in at least 11 states, including Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Washington, and more.

An exception would be installing a tracker in your child’s car or your own vehicle that your child may be borrowing. It’s still important to share that a GPS tracker is being used. Delaware, Michigan, Tennessee, and other states allow the use of GPS trackers by a parent or guardian in a minor’s vehicle.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

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For the ultimate peace of mind, equip your car with a GPS tracker (2024)

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