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Lifewire / Gannon Burgett
The Bouncie GPS tracker keeps things simple and performs consistently well, mile after mile, with a handful of other helpful features included.
Whether you’re trying to keep tabs on your business mileage or ensuring your teenagers aren’t exceeding the speed limit while out and about, one of the best ways to keep tabs on your vehicle is to invest in a GPS tracker (not to be confused with a GPS system). Your standard GPS tracker can keep up with the location of the unit, but OBD-II port trackers have other added features that can help you better understand your driving habits and even notify you of what’s wrong when the dreaded Check Engine light comes on.
For this review, we’re taking a look at the Bouncie GPS Tracker, a 3G tracker that plugs directly into your vehicle’s OBD-II port and helps keep track of both your habits and location with the help of an accompanying smartphone app. I’ve spent more than 60 hours of driving testing this unit and have summarized my thoughts in the sections below.
The Bouncie is fairly standard as far as the design goes. Like many other OBD-II port trackers and diagnostic tools, it features a rectangular design with your standard trapezoid section for the device to plug into your vehicle’s OBD-II port. Aside from that, there’s nothing to mention because the device is mostly set it and forget it.
Unlike so many other GPS trackers I’ve tested, setting up Bouncie was a breeze. After removing the device from the box, it’s as simple as downloading the accompanying application (Android, iOS) and following the included instructions to get the device on and connected. After your Bouncie account has been created, simply subscribe to the service (either online or via in-app purchase) and you’re on your way to keeping tabs on your vehicle. From beginning to end the process couldn’t have taken me more than 10 minutes.
Despite being a compact device, Bounce has managed to pack a good bit of technology inside. In addition to a pre-installed SIM card, the Bouncie unit has integrated GPS, a 3-axis accelerometer, a tamper-detection system and the ability to read out engine codes to output to your mobile device when the ‘check engine’ light comes on.
Despite much of this technology being relatively new, the OBD port connector means any car built during1996 or later can make use of the Bouncie unit, effectively turning it into a smart car, of sorts.
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, even in areas where cellular reception was less than ideal. The Bouncie app uses Google Maps as the underlying mapping data, which not only provides some of the most up-to-date information but also allows for detailed satellite views when tracking your vehicle. Additional mapping features include the ability to add geo-circles for location-specific notifications when a vehicle leaves or enters a specific geographic area. Setting these areas within the app is as simple as dragging a circle over the area you want to be monitored and setting up the parameters as you see fit.
Bouncie and its accompanying application record every trip you take, updating the vehicle’s location every 15 seconds.
It’s not just your location the Bouncie keeps track of though. The device also uses its diagnostics capabilities and accelerometer to keep track of the vehicle’s driving habits. From rapid accelerations to hard braking detection and even idle time, the Bouncie tracks it all to give you detailed information on how well (or poorly) you’re driving your vehicle.
One of my favorite features of the Bouncie unit is its ability to read out diagnostic trouble codes (DTC). If you don’t know what those are, they’re little strings of letters and numbers that correlate to various sensors and functions within your vehicle. More often than not, one of these codes being thrown by your vehicle results in the dreaded Check Engine light that pops on when something goes wrong.
One of my favorite features of the Bouncie unit is its ability to read out diagnostic trouble codes (DTC).
Usually, these codes need to be read by a mechanic with a special device, but the Bouncie makes it easy to see these codes directly on your mobile device, going so far as to summarize what the problem is, rather than simply listing the code being thrown. This feature can be very helpful if you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong when your Check Engine light comes on. Some vehicles even offer fuel-reporting so you know exactly how much fuel is in your tank, rather than relying on only the gauge on your dash.
Overall, the device performs well in tracking and does a fantastic job keeping tabs on your driving habits, for better or worse.
At $67 on Amazon, the Bouncie is right down the middle as far as OBD-II GPS trackers go. There are options twice its price and options about half its price, but where the Bouncie stands out is in its subscription service. Unlike other platforms that sometimes require contracts or expensive cellular plans, the Bouncie is a flat $8 every month. There isn’t even an activation charge, which is, unfortunately, something I can’t say for many other GPS units. This not only simplifies the subscription process but also means the long-term cost of the Bouncie is quite lower than its contemporaries.
While there’s no shortage of GPS trackers on the market, finding a direct competitor for the Bouncie is a little more challenging, as its monthly subscription cost is much lower than most other options on the market. One tracker, in particular, came pretty close to matching the Bouncie, both in upfront costs and long-term costs when the subscription is taken into account—the Spectrum Smart GPS Tracker (see on Amazon).
The Spectrum tracker retails for $70, matching the Bouncie tracker, and its cancel anytime subscription plan costs just $10/month (compared to the $8/month the Bouncie tracker costs). Aside from price, it offers nearly identical specifications to the Bouncie tracker, includes faster 4G LTE connectivity, instant alerts, and trip overview modes for keeping tabs on the vehicle it’s plugged into. It is worth noting though that the Spectrum app does appear to be less polished than the Bouncie app and as of publishing this review, it’s been a few months since it’s been updated on both Android and iOS.
While the Spectrum tracker is a decent alternative, the Bouncie does appear to be the more compelling offer, with a slightly more affordable subscription plan and a more intuitive application that the Bouncie developers keep up to date.
Sweet and simple GPS tracker to make your car smarter.
Overall, the Bouncie Driving Connected is one of the nicest GPS trackers I’ve tested. It comes in at a decent price point, offers a simple (and relatively affordable) subscription option, and its accompanying mobile apps are well-designed and consistently updated. The fact it can also relay vehicle error codes is a welcomed bonus that further propels it to the top of our favorites list.