GPS Vehicle Tracker

Knowing where your car is all times can give you peace of mind and help you focus on other tasks. Today, having a GPS vehicle tracker has become a necessity, especially if we consider that according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, 156 cars are stolen every day in the U.S. (1 every 6.5 minutes.)

Vehicles are an important investment and an invaluable means for millions of Americans who drive to work every day. Having your car stolen can be extremely problematic and you might never get it back, so what better way to keep your car protected than by installing a GPS vehicle tracker?

GPS vehicle trackers can locate your car in the event of an emergency. Should something happen to your car, you'll be prepared. Learn more about trackers in the section below.


How do GPS vehicle trackers work?

Global Positioning System, commonly known as GPS, is a radio-navigation system that consists of 24 satellites and is funded and controlled by the U.S Department of Defense (DOD). GPS tracking basically is a method of locating something, in this case, a vehicle, and it can be either a fixed or a portable device.

GPS devices use the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network, which essentially adds a range of satellites that use with microwave signals to track the speed, location, time and direction of a vehicle.

Some GPS systems record data within the system (passive tracking), while others send information to a centralized database through a modem inside the GPS tracking system (active tracking). Passive tracking GPS can tell you where your car has been in the past 12 hours and the information is stored in the GPS memory. An active tracking GPS gives you a real-time location of your vehicle.

GPS Vehicle Tracking Features

Depending on which model you choose, which brand you choose and how much you pay, the GPS vehicle tracker can come with several different features, including:
  • real-time tracking in Google, Satellite and OSM, among other maps
  • keeping an account of miles driven
  • providing data on speed, exact address, gas consumption and travel history (in some cases for up to year)
  • sending instant alerts on the vehicle and SOS alarms in case of theft
  • issuing reports in different formats with the number of hours driven, the stopovers, distance traveled, etc.
  • providing tips on how to save on gas as well as pointers to improve your driving, based on your reports
  • geofencing (sets geographic limits around specific interest areas and alerts you when your car leaves those areas)
  • setting points of interests to you can easily calculate distances
  • providing a tracking app for your phone (typically iPhone, Android or Windows Phone
  • sending instant SMS with important events
  • tracking the car's need for maintenance and sending alerts
  • decoding engine lights and alerting emergency services in case of a crash
  • compatibility with Alexa, Nest and IFTTT to receive alerts in your home devices as well
  • a panic button
  • identifying potential car trouble

How to Choose a GPS Vehicle Tracker

There are many options to choose from when browsing GPS vehicle trackers. Consider:

Device Cost and Subscription

Some tracking devices have an upfront cost, while others have a monthly service cost. Since these systems all operate through monitoring software, paying for the service is typically necessary.

The cost of most tracking system ranges roughly between $19.95 and $29.95 per month. The unit can range from as low as $40 to a few hundred dollars. Companies often offer discounts if you choose specific pricing plans, especially yearly services. 

Access to Data and Features

You may also want to consider how you plan on accessing the data produced by the tracker and if it will be compatible with your devices. The ability to monitor the tracker through your cell phone may be important to you. 

Once you determine the way in which you'll view the data, you may want to consider what is included in the data. It is typically important to be able to find its location and speed, so you may want to choose a system that has those options. 

Installation

You should also think about how you'll install the system. Some options are simple to use and plug into a port in your car, while others may need to be wired into your car. To have a professional install the system into your car may cost between $75 and $100.

Power Supply and Charge

The method in which the system unit is powered also may be important, as some have a battery and it needs to be recharged from time to time.

There are advantages and disadvantages to practically every option, so it's best to consider these factors before you buy anything. Fortunately, there are many different products to choose from, with something for almost every need. 

If you want to know which are the best car GPS tracking devices today, check out this Car Treatments article