The 7 Best Car GPS Trackers to Buy in 2018

Keep track of where your kids are or your vehicle if it gets stolen

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Spy Tech STI GL300 Mini Portable Vehicle GPS Tracker

Spy Tec STI GL300 Mini Portable Real Time Personal and Vehicle GPS Tracker
Courtesy of Amazon
4.5

One of the most popular vehicle GPS trackers on the market, the Spy Tech STI GL300 is a standout solution that offers near exact 100 percent vehicle location, thanks to real-time GPS tracking. The addition of a three-axis acceleration meter makes for an even higher pinpoint detection of a car's location (and updates can be provided as often as every five seconds).

Setting up geographic fencing or boundaries is easy if you want to get real-time notifications of a car leaving a specific zone. Measuring 1.5 x 0.9 x 2.7 inches in size, the STI easily tucks away anywhere inside a vehicle and, with motion activation battery life, can last two weeks or longer before requiring a recharge.

Tracking reports are available on both desktop and mobile devices, and you can even receive text or e-mail alerts when a car leaves a geo-fencing zone. Data is stored for more than 365 days on every device with subscriptions starting around $25 per month.

Best Splurge: Automatic Pro Car GPS Tracker

Automatic Pro
 Best Buy

Plugging directly into your car, the Automatic Pro provides unlimited monitoring of your vehicle 24 hours a day, seven days a week without any fees. Capable of tracking real-time vehicle location over wireless 3G networks, the Automatic adds five years of unlimited 3G services at no charge.

Tracking the vehicle is easy, thanks to real-time location data via the downloadable smartphone app, and it can even notify authorities if an accident is detected and send out emergency services if needed. Logging trips via Google Sheets, the smartphone app works with the IFTTT platform to provide "smart" services, including turning the lights on inside your home when the Automatic detects you are nearby. Additionally, the Automatic can work with Amazon's Alexa platform to identify and verbally provide a car's location when you ask "Alexa, where's my car?".

Best for Parents: MOTOsafety GPS Vehicle Tracker

Plugging directly into your car's ODB outlet without any wiring, the MOTOsafety GPS vehicle tracker is another hugely popular option that receives rave user reviews. Offering a slew of services for a monthly subscription, the MOTOsafety piggybacks on wireless 3G networks for peace of mind. The downloadable Android and iOS smartphone apps allow users to track device location, set geofences around a school or home for teens, as well as receive a daily driver's report card for seeing how your teen handled the vehicle that day.

Users will also find the route replay worthwhile, which allows parents to review teen driving routes for excessive speeding and harsh braking. With ODB support available, the MOTOsafety can easily be moved from vehicle to vehicle for a family to track different vehicles during the course of a week.

Best Battery Life: ABLEGRID GPS Vehicle Tracker

With a powerful 3300mAh battery inside, the ABLEGRID GPS tracker offers 180 days of standby time and operate continuously for two weeks before requiring a recharge. Measuring 4 x 2.2 x .9 inches in size, the ABLEGRID is slightly larger than the competition, but its compact size allows it to easily be tucked away inside a glove compartment, trunk or other vehicle storage area for difficult detection.

The portable design also allows the ABLEGRID to be swapped quickly between cars since there aren't any wires required for installation. Beyond installation, GPS detection is easily pinpointed in real-time on Google Maps, and it even adds historical vehicle tracking data for detecting travel routes.

Working on wireless 2G networks, the ABLEGRID offers similar GPS tracking as those on 3G networks but with less wireless carrier availability due to a scale back of 2G networks in the U.S.

Best Driving Behavior: MasTrack Real Time GPS Vehicle Tracker

The MasTrack offers outstanding user feedback and a bevy of features. With an internal battery backup, the MasTrack can provide location assistance with real-time GPS updates at one-minute internals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nationwide coverage is available in both the USA and Canada with a paid monthly subscription.

Plugging directly into your vehicles OBD-II port with no wiring required, the MasTrack can provide information about your vehicle, including maintenance reminders, check engine alerts and ignition status. For parents, the MasTrack GPS tracker can deliver information via unlimited text or e-mail on harsh braking and speeding, as well as geofence zone alerts when a car leaves a preset location.

Best Mileage: Mileage Ace Car GPS Tracker

While most GPS trackers are used for security or theft protection, a product like the Mileage Ace car GPS tracker is an accounting and logistics department dream. Measuring 4.5 x 5 x 1.5 inches in size, the Ace tracker is ideal for creating custom mileage logs that are considered 99 percent accurate to your odometer. When installed, the Ace tracker takes over once the car engine is turned on and easily uploads its data through a Wi-Fi connection directly to its custom online software that automatically builds mileage logs for every user.

Each trip includes start/end date times, as well as start/end addresses, exact miles driven and the GPS-tracked path to ensure there's no wasted time on any trips. Free for 30 days, the Ace then incurs a monthly fee protects and secures your logs in the cloud for future use.

Best Hidden: Optimus 2.0 GPS Tracker

Measuring only 1 x 1.5 x 3 inches in size, the Optimus 2.0 vehicle GPS tracker is a truly portable option that can easily switch between cars on a moment's notice. Its diminutive size allows to easily hide underneath a seat, in a glove box or any other storage area inside a vehicle.

The paid monthly service plan allows users to cancel anytime but comes with a host of handy features via the downloadable iPhone and Android app. It can provide e-mail and text message alerts for movement, geofencing, speeding and low battery. There's also an SOS button for emergency services. The internal battery can last anywhere from one to two weeks before recharging depending on usage. GPS data is also readily available on Google Maps for simplified navigation.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 24 hours testing one of our readers' favorite car GPS trackers. To get the most well-rounded results, they installed it in their own vehicles, drove for hundreds of miles, and observed its performance. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this car GPS tracker, from its power source to its special features (like daily driving reports). We've outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Car GPS Tracker

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.

Test Results: Spy Tech STI GL300 Mini Portable Vehicle GPS Tracker (Best Overall)

4.5

What We Like

  • Very accurate

  • Excellent battery life

  • Easy to use

What We Don't Like

  • Heavy for its size

  • No option to stick it to car dashboard

  • Could shut down in use

Spy Tech STI GL300 Mini Portable Vehicle GPS Tracker
Spy Tech STI GL300
Spy Tech STI GL300 Vehicle GPS Tracker
Spy Tech STI GPS Tracker
Spy Tech STI Mini Portable Vehicle GPS Tracker

This car GPS tracker impressed our testers with its excellent battery life, ease of use, and accuracy. One tester explained: “This tracker shows the speed of the vehicle and the map integration shows its exact location, which is great.” Our testers didn’t love the weight — it's heavy — and wished it came with a dashboard mount. One tester also had an experience with it shutting down in the middle of his trip. “I had put the tracker on my motorcycle for a 1225-mile ride so that my wife could track me and see that I'm safe,” he said. “But we noticed that the tracker stopped working after 256 miles and wouldn’t restart. We had to call the customer support a couple of times to get it started again.”