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If you always want to know your vehicle’s location, you’ll need a car GPS tracker. Unlike a navigational GPS, a GPS tracker isn’t made to give you directions.
All GPS trackers share the common function of broadcasting your vehicle’s GPS coordinates periodically, usually to a web browser or smartphone app. These devices have many uses that you should definitely take advantage of. Here are some of the best GPS trackers for all of your needs.
Note: We do not condone the abuse of this technology for non-consensual spying or tracking against someone’s will.
1. Best Overall Car Tracker:
Optimus 2.0 Portable GPS Tracker
The Optimus 2.0 Portable GPS Tracker has been around for years. While several competitors have come to market, it still stands as the best all-around car GPS tracker you can buy.
At just 3 x 1.5 x 1 inches, and weighing 3.3 ounces, the tracking unit is small enough to place anywhere in your car inconspicuously. For external attachment you can purchase a separate weatherproof magnetic case.
Optimus claims battery life of up to two weeks due to a built-in motion sensor that switches the unit between standby and operation modes to conserve power. The company requires a monthly subscription of $20, which puts it in the middle of the road regarding price. You can cancel the subscription any time, and the company’s promise of no hidden fees appears to check out based on customer reviews.
Updating every 60 seconds, the tracker works with Google Maps, too. You can set up alerts via text message or email for unexpected motion, speeding, or leaving a geofenced area you define. Optimus also has an app for Android and iOS that gives you access to all of these functions in one place.
As an extra security bonus, an SOS button on the unit will alert users of its position and time of activation. For a mid-priced tracker, it’s hard to find a better option than this.
2. Best Hidden GPS Tracker:
SpyTec STI GL300 Mini
Long considered the best option in consumer GPS vehicle tracking, the SpyTec STI GL300 Mini is still among the most popular. It’s slightly cheaper than the Optimus 2.0 but comes with a more expensive subscription of $25 per month. However, the SpyTec model has a few distinct features that set it apart.
Anti-theft trackers are much like hidden home security cameras—they need to remain undetected to work to their full potential. At just three inches tall and 0.38 inches wide, this tiny tracker is perfect for hiding in a hard-to-find area of your vehicle.
SpyTec also provides a weatherproof magnetic case for hiding in the vehicle undercarriage. Motion sensor-based power-saving provides a battery life of up to two and a half weeks.
The STI GL300 provides the same functionality as its competitors, including alerts, geofencing, and integration with Google Maps. Mobile support is limited to the SpyTecGPS app for iOS. Alongside the base subscription, tiered monthly options at $35 and $45 increase the location updates from every 60 seconds to 30 seconds and five seconds, respectively.
3. Best Free GPS Tracker:
Automatic PRO AUT-350
The Automatic PRO AUT-350 tracking unit might just be the most high-tech option on our list. While offering all the same functionality as the others, it attaches to the OBD port in your car. That means it can give basic car diagnostics, while also providing smart home integration.
Surprisingly, Automatic’s monitoring service is free for the first three years of use, while the premium service is free for six months. After that, you’ll have to pay a low monthly fee of $5.
The real draw with Automatic comes not only from the reasonably-priced subscription but the modern approach the company brings—the Automatic app links up with smart assistants like Alexa. For a modern approach to the GPS tracker designed with automated lives in mind, the Automatic PRO is worth a look.
4. Best GPS Tracker for Parents:
MOTOsafety OBD GPS
The MOTOsafety OBD GPS has two motivations in mind. First, it’s a hands-off approach to teaching teen drivers. Second, it allows parents to keep tabs on where their child is driving and how fast. Available as an OBD attachment or a hardwired box, it can also track basic car maintenance and alert when something may need a review or replacement.
Along with providing real-time alerts, the MOTOsafety tracker offers a variety of useful information for parents. Perhaps most crucially is the option to set up alerts for telltale signs of dangerous driving. These include speeding, excessive braking, and rapid acceleration. With a cheap initial outlay and a monthly subscription of $20, the MOTOsafety ODB GPS can provide peace of mind to any worried parent.
5. Best Mileage Tracker:
Mileage Ace Pro
While many GPS trackers have security in mind, those who travel a lot for work require something more specific. Accurate mileage records are essential for companies and employees alike, and the Mileage Ace Pro is still among the most trusted on the market.
The combined monthly subscription and daily cell cost of running the Mileage Ace Pro is under $20. This unit receives power via a provided USB adapter. With onboard buttons for designating when business trips start and end, it allows hands-on control for accurate readings.
All logging is automatic and easy to export from the web interface. For a well-respected distance tracker known for reliability, this is your best option.
6. Best GPS Tracker for Business Fleets:
Bouncie GPS Tracker
Need a GPS tracker to help manage a business fleet? Try the Bouncie GPS Tracker. With a subscription fee of only $8 per month, it’s an affordable solution to keep track of a large fleet of vehicles.
This handy tracker works in the US, Mexico, as well as Canada. It provides 15-second updates and can notify you of braking, idle time, speed, and fuel level. Plus, it connects to your OBD sensor, making it even easier to diagnose problems with your vehicle.
7. Best UK GPS Tracker:
The majority of the tracking market lies in the US, but the UK has several similar systems in place. A good all-rounder for UK users is the TKSTAR Mini. While many trackers look the same, the TKSTAR has the added advantage of being rugged, weatherproof, and magnetic.
It is also capable of taking any UK sim card. This gives the user a variety of options for payment plans. The claimed battery life of 90 days is especially impressive. Given the open nature of this tracker, its price, and impressive reviews, it’s a good bet for our UK readers.
Get a Car GPS Tracker for Peace of Mind
In an age when you can track your every movement from your smartphone, dedicated GPS units may seem redundant. However, a dedicated GPS tracker is worth the investment thanks to its range of features and ability to help you recover your car.
If you often travel by bicycle, don’t forget to check out the best bike trackers too.