The 9 Best Car GPS Trackers of 2021

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

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The Rundown
The Spytec STI GL300MA uses an app you can download to your smartphone, tablet, or computer that gives you real-time GPS tracking.
The weatherproof outer casing protects vital components from dust, water, and harsh sunlight to keep it in perfect condition.
Best for Parents:
Bouncie GPS Tracker at Amazon
If your teen is starting to drive on their own for the first time, the Bouncie GPS tracker can give you peace of mind.
Another great choice for parents of teen drivers.
Perfect for stowing away inside or on the frame of your vehicle to keep it hidden.
Best Mapping:
Vyncs Link at Amazon
The best choice for managers of company fleets and logistics shipping vehicles.
Made for those who have to care for elderly parents, but still want to give them their independence.
Best for Audio Monitoring:
Logistimatics Mobile-200 at Walmart
This GPS tracker allows you to monitor a live audio stream via a dedicated phone number.
This quality GPS tracker offers tons of features, including international use and geo-fencing.

Car GPS trackers are an important tool for parents of teen drivers or caretakers of elderly parents. They allow you to discreetly track location, driving habits, and emergencies, while still giving kids and parents the freedom they want. Most units feature a compact design that is perfect for placing in a seat or door pocket, glove box, or center console, but some have a magnetic mount for exterior placement.

Monthly or yearly subscription fees ensure continuous coverage, as well as real-time tracking via dedicated apps; you also can set up email or text notifications if a vehicle leaves its dedicated area or if the SOS button has been pressed. Some units even let you monitor a live audio feed for added peace of mind in the event of an emergency. Battery life is an important factor to consider when shopping for a car GPS tracker. Most units have integrated, rechargeable batteries that can last for weeks. Others have removable, rechargeable batteries, letting you have several on standby for quick change-outs when the unit needs power. We've gathered our top picks below and broke down their most important features to help you decide which is right for you.

Best Overall: Spytec STI GL300MA GPS Tracker

What We Like
  • Excellent battery

  • Email and text notifications

  • Magnetic placement options

What We Don't Like
  • Monthly fee to use

The Spytec STI GL300MA is designed to give you peace of mind when letting teens drive on their own or if you're caring for elderly parents. It works with a mobile app to give you real-time tracking updates, as well as the ability to set up a geo-fence. If the device leaves the designated area, it will send you a text or email notification for quick action.

The integrated battery has a life of up to two weeks on a full charge, letting you basically set it up and leave it alone. You can buy additional batteries so you can keep one at-the-ready when the unit needs a charge. The compact design is great for placing the unit in a glovebox, center console, or seat pocket, and magnetic attachments let you place it in a wheel-well or on the chassis frame. The monthly operation fee gives you access to all features, as well as 24/7 customer service.

Spytec STI GL300MA GPS Tracker

Lifewire / James Huenink

Best Waterproof: LandAirSea 54 GPS Tracker

What We Like
  • Excellent battery life

  • Includes SIM card

  • Uses Google Maps

What We Don't Like
  • Subscription required

Exterior-mounted GPS units are exposed to all kinds of weather and environmental conditions, and the LandAirSea 54 is built to withstand it all. The weatherproof outer casing protects vital components from dust, water, and harsh sunlight to keep it in perfect working condition day after day. The integrated, high-strength magnet makes it easy to place in a wheel well, on a bumper, or on the chassis. It uses Google Maps for real-time tracking capabilities, setting up geo-fences, and pulling up location histories.

The built-in, rechargeable battery lasts an impressive six months on a full charge, meaning it has virtually zero maintenance. You can set up text and email alerts for tracking parameters, so you can react quickly to elderly parents or teens who may need help.

Best for Parents: Bouncie GPS Tracker

What We Like
  • No battery needed

  • Diagnostic info

  • Roadside assistance

What We Don't Like
  • Monthly fee

If your teen is starting to drive on their own for the first time, the Bouncie GPS tracker can give you peace of mind and help keep your kids safe. It plugs into any OBD2 fuse box outlet, meaning it doesn't require any sort of battery for power, and it also can provide diagnostic information to spot engine or vehicle issues before they become disasters.

The free mobile app updates every 15 seconds for near real-time tracking with color-coded routes and driving habit information. The company also provides roadside assistance for battery or fuel issues and flat tires, letting your teen access emergency help even if you can't get to them.

"Bouncie and its accompanying application record every trip you take, updating the vehicle’s location every 15 seconds. My testing confirmed the refresh rate to be as advertised." — Gannon Burgett, Product Tester

Bouncie

Lifewire / Gannon Burgett

Best for New Drivers: MOTOsafety GPS Vehicle Tracker

What We Like
  • No battery required

  • Monthly report cards

  • Driving coach program

What We Don't Like
  • High monthly fee

The MOTOsafety GPS tracker is another OBD2-powered unit that is great for parents of teen drivers. It monitors speed, direction, and location information so you can make sure your kids are practicing safe driving while still giving them the freedom they want. The mobile app lets you set up geo-fencing and curfew alerts, as well as track driving routes and access monthly driving reports; this lets you address any potentially dangerous driving habits and reward positive progress.

MOTOsafety also has a driving coach program to help reinforce good driving habits and keep your teen drivers safe on the road. The unit, itself, requires a $19.99 monthly fee and a 4G LTE cellular connection to operate.

MOTOsafety GPS Vehicle Tracker

Lifewire / James Huenink

Best Hidden: Optimus 2.0 GPS Tracker

What We Like
  • Long battery life

  • Magnetic mount

  • SOS feature

What We Don't Like
  • Requires subscription

Whether you want a car GPS tracker to keep an eye on teens or elderly parents, keeping the unit hidden and protected from tampering or removal is important. The Optimus 2.0 features an incredibly compact design, measuring just 3 inches long, and the available magnetic mount makes placing it in a wheel well or under a bumper quick and easy. The companion app is available for Android and iOS, letting you track location and driving information like speed in near real-time.

The rechargeable battery lasts up to two weeks on full power, meaning it has virtually zero maintenance. With two different subscription packages, you can customize the data you want to track with a price that fits within your budget. The unit also has an SOS feature to alert you to roadside emergencies like dead batteries or accidents.

Optimus 2.0 GPS Tracker

Lifewire / James Huenink

Best Mapping: Vyncs Link GPS Tracker

What We Like
  • International use

  • No battery

  • OBD2 or 12V power

What We Don't Like
  • High yearly fees

Mapping where a car is traveling to and from not only is important for concerned parents and caretakers, but also for managers of company fleets. The Vyncs tracker plugs into a vehicle's OBD2 or 12V outlet, meaning you won't have to worry about maintaining dozens of unit batteries. Through the OBD outlet, you can monitor vehicle speed, location, and diagnostic information to address issues before they become dangerous problems. You also can see if a device has been tampered with, alerting you to suspicious activities.

It can be used on cell phone networks in over 200 countries, letting multinational companies use a single model for their entire fleet; this is perfect for international shipping via tractor trailer or box truck. The app gives you updates every 15, 30, or 60 seconds, as well as clickable coordinates to double-check if employees are where they should be.

"I found this to be more than adequate for basic tracking needs and general surveillance of where a particular vehicle might be, but I certainly wouldn’t rely on it if you need to see the exact street your vehicle is on while it’s being driven." — Gannon Burgett, Product Tester

Vyncs Link

Lifewire / Gannon Burgett

Best for Elderly: PrimeTracking PTGL300MA

What We Like
  • International use

  • SIM card included

  • Long battery life

What We Don't Like
  • High monthly fee

  • Units may overheat

If you're caring for an elderly parent who wants to maintain a bit of freedom, the PrimeTracking PTGL300MA is the perfect GPS tracker to use. The integrated battery lasts up to two weeks on a full charge, and reaches 100% power in as little as 2.5 hours. It comes packaged with a SIM card for use on a 4G LTE cellular network, so you can set it up quickly and easily.

The companion app lets you set up a geo-fence that alerts you when the vehicle leaves the dedicated area; this is great for letting your parents go to church, the store, or appointments on their own, while giving you peace of mind if they get lost. It also has an SOS feature for roadside emergencies like dead batteries, flat tires, or accidents. It can be used in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and the companion app lets you set up unlimited profiles for keeping an eye on multiple family members.

"A nice feature PrimeTracking has included is geofencing. This allowed me to set a virtual boundary of sorts for the tracker, which would automatically alert me if the tracker left a certain geographical location." — Gannon Burgett, Product Tester

PrimeTracking PTGL300MA

Lifewire / Gannon Burgett

Best for Audio Monitoring: Logistimatics Mobile-200

Logistimatics Mobile-200
What We Like
  • Live audio monitoring

  • Long battery life

  • SIM card included

What We Don't Like
  • Requires subscription

Sometimes, you need access to more than just GPS coordinates and vehicle diagnostics. The Logistimatics Mobile-200 allows you to monitor a live audio stream via a dedicated phone number; this is ideal for roadside emergencies where you cannot reach your teen or parent on their cell phone, letting you hear what's going on and relay important information to emergency workers and first responders.

The companion app lets you set up a geo-fence and access up to 90 days of trip history. The integrated, rechargeable battery lasts up to three weeks on a full charge. The tracker has a magnetic plate for easy placement on a chassis frame, wheel well, or bumper. With the included SIM card, you can quickly and easily set up your account and unit for use right out of the box.

Best Splurge: Americaloc GL300

What We Like
  • International use

  • 1 year tracking history

  • Multiple battery nodes

What We Don't Like
  • High monthly and yearly fees

If you're willing to spend more to invest in a quality GPS tracker that offers tons of features, the Americaloc GL300 is the best choice. This unit can be used in the US, Canada, and Mexico, and sends you text or email alerts in English or Spanish. You can access up to one year of tracking history on your laptop, smartphone, or tablet with the companion app. The app lets you set up geo-fencing and monitor information like movement, idle time, unit battery life, and if the device is powered on or off. The front button on the unit can be pressed to send an SOS signal for roadside emergencies.

Americaloc offers two free months of use upon activation, with continued coverage available in monthly or yearly subscription blocks; this is perfect for anyone who only temporarily or intermittently needs a tracker. The integrated battery lasts about two weeks on average, but also has multiple power modes to help preserve battery life even longer.

Final Verdict

The SpyTec GL300 is the best GPS car tracker available. With your monthly subscription, you'll get access to 24/7 customer service, as well as email or text notifications for driving information and if the vehicle leaves its designated area. The Logistimatics Mobile-200 not only monitors vehicle speed and location, but can monitor a live audio feed via a dedicated phone number. This is ideal for relaying important information to emergency workers when you can't reach your teen or parent via cell phone if they've been in an accident or got lost. 

About Our Trusted Experts

Gannon Burgett is a photojournalist and sports photographer who has contributed to Lifewire since 2018. He tested several of the car GPS trackers on our list.

Taylor Clemons is an expert on gaming hardware and other consumer technology, such as car GPS trackers. She has covered these fields on various websites for more than three years.

FAQs

Do cars have GPS trackers?
Many cars, especially more modern ones, come with GPS trackers equipped. This is particularly true for cars that are owned by taxi companies or have services like OnStar. GPS trackers allow the precise location of the vehicle to be monitored at all times, which is particularly useful in the case of theft. Other vehicles that may have GPS trackers are delivery trucks.

Where do car dealerships put GPS trackers?
A GPS tracker can be installed nearly anywhere on a car. They can be placed under the dashboard, bumper, wheel wells, under floor mats, seats, or glove compartments. For dealerships, though, you're likely to find the GPS tracker installed on the dashboard in the OBD port. This allows dealerships to have access to the diagnostic data of their cars, and is particularly useful for fleet management purposes.

How much is a GPS tracker for a car?
The price of a GPS tracker for a car can vary, but, generally, they're fairly inexpensive. One of our top choices on this roundup costs just $40 while offering a compact design, solid battery life, and lifetime warranty. A more advanced option for fleet management and company shipping vehicles like the Vyncs Link can run you up to $80, allowing for more advanced mapping and monitoring of braking, acceleration, location, and device tampering.

Bouncie

Lifewire / Gannon Burgett

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.

Vyncs Link

Lifewire / Gannon Burgett

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.

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