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Lifewire / James Huenink
Long battery life
Monthly fee to use
Reports of DOA units
Reports of both activation and cancellation issues
Car GPS trackers provide you with peace of mind when caring for elderly parents or keeping an eye on your kids in case of an emergency. The Spytec STI GL300MA uses an app you can download to your smartphone, tablet, or computer that gives you real-time GPS tracking with the ability to set up a geo-fence. If the tracker leaves the designated area, you will be sent a text or email notification.
The built-in lithium-ion battery lasts over two weeks between charges so you can set it up and forget about it. Spytec also offers extra battery packs to give you up to six months of use on a single charge. The tracker itself has a compact design that is great for placing in a console, glovebox, seat pocket, or under a seat to keep it out of the way. There is also a magnetic case available for chassis, bumper, or wheel well placement. The tracker requires a monthly fee to use and is backed by both an unconditional lifetime warranty and 24/7 customer service.
Waterproof and magnetic
Three months standby battery time
Low monthly fee
Reports of activation issues
If you're interested in an exterior-mount GPS tracker for your car, the TKSTAR will give you the durability you need. The tracker itself has a magnetic case for chassis, bumper, and wheel well mounting and it is waterproof to protect itself from the elements. The TKSTAR uses a website and mobile app for real-time tracking which is accurate within 10 meters. You can also use the website to access up to six months of archived location information.
This device not only makes it great for keeping an eye on family but is also perfect for businesses to track company vehicles and logistics fleets. The rechargeable battery gives you up to three months of standby time or three weeks of working battery life. The app and website allow you to set up both a geo-fence and a shake sensor to alert you when a vehicle leaves a designated area, is hit while parked, or has had a break-in. The tracker itself requires a $5 monthly fee to use.
Lifewire / Gannon Burgett
Roadside assistance available
Monthly progress reports
No battery needed
Reports of receiving false notifications
Slow notifications at times
If you're a parent of a teen driver, the Bouncie GPS tracker is made for you. This tracker doesn't require any sort of battery, and it plugs into any OBD2 outlet to gather information. It can also access your car's computer to keep you updated on diagnostic information like check engine codes, oil level, and even fuel level.
The free mobile app updates in as little as 15 seconds to give you location, speed, and curfew information as well as unlimited access to trip history. The app also provides color-coded route information for charting good and bad driving habits. Bouncie even provides roadside assistance to U.S. customers in case of vehicle breakdowns or other emergency travel situations for even more peace of mind. The Bouncie GPS tracker requires a 3G cellular connection and an $8 monthly fee to use.
Monthly report cards
No battery required
Location syncing issues
Reports of units damaging vehicle electrical systems
Another great choice for parents of teen drivers is the MotoSafety GPS tracker. This tracker unit also plugs into a vehicle's OBD2 outlet, eliminating the need to charge or replace batteries. Through this plug, the MotoSafety tracker gathers speed, direction, and location information to help you keep an eye on your new drivers.
The free mobile app allows you to set up geo-fencing as well as curfew alerts and to replay recent driving routes to identify potentially dangerous driving. MotoSafety also produces monthly "report cards" to help you track information and teach your teens safe driving habits; there is also a driving coach program available to reinforce good driving procedures. The MotoSafety GPS tracker requires a 4G LTE cellular connection as well as a monthly fee of $19.99 to use. It's also backed by a lifetime warranty.
SIM card and data plan included
Two service subscription levels
US-based customer support
Reports of failing units
High monthly fees
Whether you're keeping an eye on elderly parents, new teen drivers, or a fleet of company vehicles, preventing device tampering and removal is important. The Optimus Tracker measures just three inches long and is perfect for stowing away inside or on the frame of your vehicle to keep it hidden. There is also an available magnetic case for chassis, wheel well, or bumper placement.
The dedicated app works with both Android and iOS devices to help you track location, speed, and movement. There is also an SOS function for emergency situations, low battery alerts, and the ability to set up geo-fencing. The battery lasts up to two weeks between charges. The Optimus Tracker includes a SIM card, a data plan, and two different service subscription levels. The Basic package allows app updates every 30 seconds, tracks up to one hour of vehicle idle time, and costs $19.95 per month. The Advanced package allows app updates every 10 seconds, tracks up to one hour of vehicle idle time, and costs $25 per month. The Optimus is also backed by U.S. based customer support.
SIM card and one year of service included
Can be used in over 200 countries
High yearly fees
Reports of syncing issues
The Vyncs Link GPS tracker is the best choice for managers of company fleets and logistics shipping vehicles. The Link plugs into any vehicle's OBD2 outlet and comes with a 12V adapter for older cars and trucks. Through the OBD outlet, the Link monitors speed, braking, acceleration, location, and device tampering. It can also access a vehicle's diagnostic information to alert you to engine problems or other error codes.
The unit comes with a SIM card and a year of service included so it's ready to go right out of the box. Plus, it can be used in over 200 countries so no matter where your company vehicles are, you can keep an eye on them. The dedicated app provides updates every 15, 30, or 60 seconds and provides clickable GPS coordinates so you can double-check each vehicle is where it should be. Vyncs also provides optional phone tracking for added location mapping capabilities.
SIM card included
Two week battery life
Metric distance units only
Reports of battery issues
Reports of units overheating
The PrimeTracking PTGL300MA GPS tracker is made for those who have to care for elderly parents, but still want to give them their independence. This tracker features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that supports up to two weeks of run time and reaches a full charge in as little as 2.5 hours. It uses a 4G LTE cellular connection and includes a SIM card so it's ready to go almost right out of the package.
The dedicated app provides location updates every 10 seconds so you can keep tabs on a parent as they drive to the store, church, or doctor. You can set up a geo-fence to let you know when a vehicle has left a designated area, and the unit has an SOS feature for emergency situations like crashes or breakdowns. The app lets you set up unlimited user profiles so you can keep an eye on everyone in the family. The PrimeTracking GPS tracker can be used in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico and it requires a monthly fee of $25 to use.
Three week battery life
Dedicated phone number for live audio monitoring
2G cell connection only
Reports of failing batteries
When you need more than just location information, check out the Logistimatics Mobile-200. This GPS tracker allows you to listen to live audio from inside a vehicle or bag. It has a dedicated phone number that you call for easy access to a live audio stream. The dedicated app is compatible with both iOS and Android mobile devices as well as computers.
Through the app, you can set up geo-fences and other parameters for alerts. You can also access up to 90 days of trip history. The built-in battery is rechargeable and supports up to three weeks of operation. The unit itself features a magnetic plate for placing on a vehicle's chassis, wheel well, or bumper for more discreet monitoring. The Mobile-200 includes a SIM card, so it's ready to go almost right away. It requires a monthly fee of $14.95 to operate.
Price - GPS trackers can run anywhere from $25 to over $100, so it’s important to think about what you want to spend. But there’s more than just the upfront cost to take into consideration — many operators charge a monthly fee to store your vehicle’s GPS data in the cloud. If you’re looking for long-term data but don’t want to pay monthly, it might be worth paying more upfront to avoid these kinds of charges.
Special features - If the only thing you want from your device is tracking, your decision is probably pretty straightforward — but many of the options on our list can do a lot more. From daily driving reports and Alexa integration to diagnosing engine trouble, these models have many different features that may be relevant to your needs.
Power - The question of battery versus plugged in is relevant for most electronics, and car GPS trackers are no exception. Many of these devices have long-term batteries, while others connect to your car. It’s important to consider whether you want to worry about recharging or replacing batteries, or whether you’d like the device to always be on whenever your car is running.