Everything you Need to Know About GPS Car Trackers

Ellie

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Everything you Need to Know About GPS Car Trackers

Last updated on: January 9, 2024

Nowadays, The use of GPS (Global Positioning System) technology is more prevalent than ever. From our smartphones to our cars, we rely on GPS for navigation and tracking purposes.

But, have you ever given a thought to what a GPS car tracker is and how it works?

You may think, “I know what GPS is, so why should I read this?”

Well, In this blog we are here to provide an in-depth understanding of GPS car trackers, offering more than just a basic overview.

So let’s learn more about this technology and how it can benefit you as a car owner.

How Do GPS Car Trackers Work?

A GPS tracker, in essence, is a device which uses the Global Positioning System to determine the precise location of a vehicle, person, or other asset to which it is attached.

In the simplest terms, a GPS tracker works by receiving signals from GPS satellites overhead. The device contains a GPS module that receives these signals, calculates the time it took for the signal to arrive, and thereby calculates the distance from each satellite.

By combining the distance information from multiple satellites (usually at least four), the device can triangulate its exact position on Earth, a process known as trilateration.

The fascinating thing is that all this happens in real-time. This means that not only can a GPS tracker tell you where your car is right now, but also where it was half an hour ago, yesterday, or even last month.

Some trackers can also monitor speed and direction, providing you with a complete picture of your vehicle’s movements.

The power of a GPS tracker for a car owner lies in this ability to provide real-time tracking data. If your car is stolen, a GPS tracker could help law enforcement quickly locate and recover it. For businesses with fleets of vehicles, GPS trackers can help manage logistics, improve efficiencies, and even save on fuel costs by identifying inefficient routes.

Also Read: What will Help You to Keep Your Car Secure?

Types of GPS Car Trackers

Now that we understand how a GPS car tracker works, let’s take a look at the different types available on the market.

  1. Plug-and-play/Portable trackers: These are small, portable devices that can be easily plugged into your car’s OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics) port. They require no installation and can be moved from one vehicle to another.
  2. Hardwired trackers: These are installed directly into your car’s electrical system and are typically hidden under the dashboard. They offer a more discreet tracking solution.
  3. Battery-powered trackers: These can be placed anywhere in your car without requiring any installation, making them a flexible option. However, they do need to have their batteries replaced periodically.
  4. Solar-powered trackers: These use solar panels to recharge the battery, eliminating the need for frequent battery replacements. They are an environmentally friendly and low maintenance option.

What are The Advantages of GPS Car Tracker?

There are several benefits to installing or having a GPS car tracker in your vehicle:

  • Theft recovery: As mentioned earlier, if your car is ever stolen, a GPS tracker can help you and law enforcement locate it quickly.
  • Location tracking: With real-time location data, you can easily keep tabs on your vehicle’s whereabouts. This is especially useful for businesses with fleets of vehicles or concerned parents who want to track their teenage driver’s movements.
  • Insurance discounts: Some insurance companies offer discounts for cars equipped with GPS trackers, as they are considered to be less of a theft risk.
  • Monitor teen drivers: As a parent, knowing where your teenager is driving can provide peace of mind and help you identify any potential risky behaviour.
  • For business owners: GPS trackers can help improve fleet management, monitor driver behaviour, and increase efficiency by identifying and addressing any logistical issues. They can also aid in theft prevention and recovery.

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How Much Does a Car Tracker Cost?

While it’s true that many modern vehicles come with built-in tracking systems, however, some old cars don’t have this luxury. Even some people prefer to install a separate tracking device for added security or for features in their modern vehicles that the built-in tracking system may not offer.

Fortunately, there’s a wide range of GPS car trackers available on the market, providing a wealth of features to help keep your vehicle secure and track its movements.

They’re relatively inexpensive, especially when you consider the invaluable peace of mind they provide.

Prices can range widely, based on the type of tracker and the features it offers. However, as a general guide, prices tend to fall between £50 to £200.

At the lower end of the scale, you can find basic, user-friendly devices that offer real-time tracking and theft recovery features. As you move towards the higher end, you’ll find trackers with more advanced features, such as detailed reporting, geofencing capabilities, and even integrated dash cams. 

In any case, investing in a GPS car tracker is a small price to pay for added security and peace of mind.

You can purchase a GPS tracker for your car at tech retailers such as Halfords and Argos. You can even purchase GPS trackers from online retailers like Amazon and eBay.

How is a GPS Tracker for a Car Installed?

Here we have two options to inhere:

Option 1: Hardwired to the Car Battery

One option for installing a GPS tracker in your car is to have the tracking device hardwired to the vehicle’s battery. While this process is relatively straightforward, we strongly recommend that it be carried out by a professional mechanic.

The professional can hardwire the tracker near the battery instead of using the OBD II port. One advantage of this installation option is that it keeps the tracker discreetly hidden, making it less likely for potential thieves to notice it when attempting to steal or break into a car.

Option 2: Wireless Battery Powered Tracker

If you prefer not to have a mechanic install the tracker, you can opt for a wireless GPS tracker instead. This compact device doesn’t require professional installation, allowing you to easily and safely set it up yourself. Simply choose a discreet location in your vehicle to place the tracker, turn it on, and let the tracking begin.

Despite its inconspicuous nature, this device offers the same features and functions as other trackers. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the device operates solely on batteries, so you’ll need to periodically change or recharge them.

Also Read: Black Box Car Insurance Pros and Cons

Do I Have to Pay Each Month?

Yes, typically a GPS car tracking service does require a monthly or annual subscription fee. This cost is associated with access to the real-time tracking and monitoring services provided by the company.

It’s these services that allow you to accurately pinpoint the location of your vehicle at any given time, monitor driver behaviour, and utilise other features depending on the model of your tracker. While the upfront cost of the tracker itself is a one-time investment, the ongoing service fee ensures that you continue to receive up-to-date information and support.

Think of it as similar to a mobile phone – you buy the handset once, but pay a periodic fee for the service and data it provides.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this article has provided you with all the information you need related to GPS car tracking. Our aim was to demystify the technology, explain the different types of trackers available, and highlight their multiple benefits.

It’s a small investment that can result in significant savings, especially in the unfortunate event of a car theft. Whether you’re a business owner managing a fleet, a parent with a teenage driver, or simply a car buyer or owner seeking to enhance your vehicle’s security, a GPS car tracker is a worthwhile consideration.

The primary goal is not just to protect your vehicle, but to ensure your own safety and peace of mind.

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