Dude, there’s your car. These GPS trackers can pinpoint a vehicle’s location via apps and SMS.
A GPS tracker is a device used to remotely monitor something or someone’s location. The device sends data to GPS satellites, which then direct the info onward to the device owner’s connected app or phone number.
If you use your phone to navigate with Google Maps, you are already using the GPS network to track your own location. However, GPS trackers for cars have some important differences that make them ideally suited to tracking a vehicle, including:
- Long battery life or capability to take power from a vehicle;
- Expendability and relatively low cost as a standalone device (you won’t be using your GPS tracker to do other things like checking your emails or updating your ‘gram);
- Discreet design to help avoid detection; and
- Specialised tracking software.
GPS trackers are uniquely well-suited to monitoring a vehicle’s location – but some motorists may wonder: why bother using one?
A common reason for using GPS trackers is safeguarding a vehicle in case of theft. So long as whoever takes the car does not notice the device and deactivate it, the owner can see exactly where the vehicle ends up. If your car is particularly valuable, or if you park it in a place where car thieves are known to operate, installing a tracker could be a smart bet.
GPS trackers can also be used by parents of learner drivers, who want to make sure their teens stay safe and don’t end up getting lost on their travels. Other cases of using a GPS tracker to remotely monitor someone you know are often morally dubious, and potentially unlawful. In September 2018, a man from St Albans was given a suspended three-month prison sentence after he was found to have stalked his ex-girlfriend by attaching a GPS tracker to her car.
So, tracking a teenage family member with their consent, or tracking another family member who wishes to be monitored for some reason, would be the only cases where using a GPS tracker to follow someone else’s vehicle would be advisable.
A third reason for using a GPS tracker is business intelligence. Monitoring a business vehicle as you drive could reveal useful information about your route-planning. Some businesses also use trackers to provide data on their mileage, to be used for calculating expenses and reporting to HMRC. The trackers featured in this article are suitable for use by businesses with just a few vehicles. Businesses with larger fleets should be looking at fleet management systems instead.
iTrack TK102 Mini GPS Tracker
Best for: All-round performance and usability
We found this neat little tracker marvellously easy-to-use. You can check its location by simply calling the mobile number of the SIM loaded into the device. Wait for the call to go to voicemail, hang up, and the tracker will soon send a text with its location details, including latitude, longitude and battery level, plus a link to its precise location via Google Maps.
For greater immediacy, iTrack also offers live tracking via its website and a free iOS/Android app, which we found to be exceptionally user-friendly.
Another interesting feature of the iTrack Mini is the device’s SOS button. When pressed, the button triggers an SMS message to the last number which calls the device. This opens up the possibility of using the device to protect people, as well as vehicles.
£46 | Amazon | Buy it now
Invoxia – GPS Tracker
Best for: Versatility
The Invoxia is an excellent, user-friendly, multi-purpose GPS tracker, ideal for tracking cars, motorbikes, bags and just about anything else that can be moved from place to place. It’s quite a nice-looking thing, unusually for a tracker, and perhaps needlessly so.
We found it blissfully simple to track a car from Yorkshire, to London, to Norfolk, using the Invoxia and its smartphone app. The device communicated its location at frequent intervals, showing its whereabouts at street level on our smartphone screen. On the downside, these updates became less frequent when the device moved into remote areas on the Norfolk coast (car thieves, take note).
Once you get to within Bluetooth range of the Invoxia, which is somewhere around 65ft, you can use the ‘Find Me’ function within the app to see exactly how close you are to the device. When you’re very close, you can get the device to play a tune. This strikes us as an excellent way to home in on a stolen car that might be hidden in a garage – or, to find a bag that’s being held as lost property, if you ever decide to use the device to track such a thing.
£99 | Amazon | Buy it now
iTrack GPS108 Long Life GPS Tracker
Best for: High performance and long life
Guess what this tracker’s good at.
iTrack’s Long Life GPS tracker does indeed stay independently powered for a long time – as much as 6 years on a single charge, according to the manufacturer. We’ll be sure to confirm this for our readers by 2026.
As with the iTrack Mini, you can retrieve location data from the GPS108 via text message, by dialling its SIM card’s number. We thought the Long Life seemed to return its data even faster than the Mini did, which is the kind of efficiency we’d appreciate if some dodgy geezer had just nicked off with our car.
You can also use iTrack’s app- and browser-based live tracking to monitor the GPS108, although you’ll need to text the device a series of commands in order to set this up.
Both of iTrack’s trackers are up there with the best we’ve tested. In our view, the Mini is much the easier to use, while the Long Life offers better performance, over an impressively long stretch of time.
£150 | iTrack | Buy it now
Best for: Tracking a car via its OBD-II port
This nifty tracker runs off a car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) port, by-passing the need for a bulky in-built battery, and also swerving the associated need for manual charging. If your car was manufactured after 1996, it is almost certain to have one of these ports; if not, congrats on keeping your lovely old motor on the road – but this tracker’s not for you.
Installing a SIM card in the AM-T22, as is required, proved fairly challenging for our ham-fisted reviewer. The components are small, and more than a little fiddly. Once the card is loaded, tracking the connected car is a cinch, via Amacam’s associated app. We found that the tracker was capable of monitoring our location very precisely, in real-time.
£49.99 | Amazon | Buy it now
Streetwize Accessories GPS Tracker
Best for: Ease-of-use
GPS trackers don’t come much more user-friendly than this little gadget from Streetwize Accessories.
Like the iTrack and Amacam trackers we’ve tested, this device runs off a SIM card (not included). The user sends a text to the SIM, then receives a report on the tracker’s location. Each report is charged at a normal text message rate – far preferable to the monthly fees required by some of the other trackers on the market.
We found this tracker very easy-to-use in the car, and we could also see it coming in handy for tracking pets, monitoring vulnerable relatives, or keeping tabs on valuable possessions. The tracker can run off its in-built battery, or via a car battery. The latter option does away with the faff of having to recharge the tracker manually.
£44.99 | Halfords | Buy it now
Also available on Amazon
Vodafone V Auto Tracker
Best for: Smart insights to improve your driving
The V-Auto isn’t just a GPS device for tracking a car’s location: it also provides intel on how safely you’ve been driving. The device and its app provide scores on your driving safety, highlighting unusually sharp accelerations and sudden stops. This strikes us as a great way to ‘gamify’ safe driving, especially for families with learner drivers.
Depending on your point of view, the V could either be the angel on your shoulder telling you to drive responsibly, or the backseat driver from Hell. It’s undoubtedly a smart piece of tech.
This device runs off a car’s OBD port. That’s good news in terms of powering the device, but is not ideal if the car gets stolen, as savvy thieves will know to check the port for a tracker. Another downside is the £4 subscription fee.
£22.99 | Amazon | Buy it now
Best for: Vehicle tracking for businesses
Abax’s tracker is a neat, simple black box that runs off your car battery. The adhesive patch on the back of the tracker can be used to stick the device to the side or underside of a component, which makes this, in our eyes, one of the most discreet car trackers out there.
This tracker’s app is designed to help businesses and professionals log their mileage and manage their business travel. It’s an HMRC-compliant system, especially well-suited to automating mileage claims.
Abax Triplog is a subscription service, and the tracker itself is useless without a subscription.
From £48 (hardware and app) | Abax | Buy it now
Carlock Anti-Theft Device
Best for: Thorough protection against vehicle theft + teenage drivers
Where most other GPS trackers tell you where your car is, the Carlock Anti-Theft Device tells you what it does.
This OBD-based device gives detailed information on how the car is being driven – for instance, it can send a notification when the driver brakes or accelerates abnormally quickly. With similar driver monitoring to the Vodafone V, it lends itself well to ensuring young or inexperienced drivers are driving safely.
In practice, this allows for in-depth remote surveillance of the vehicle’s activity, via a connected app. You’ll get alerts when the vehicle brakes suddenly, when it corners sharply (which may indicate that car-theft or “stunt driving” has taken place), and even when the engine is started – so you can get an early warning if the car has been stolen.
The £5.95/month subscription cost of the Carlock Anti-Theft Device is £1 cheaper than the rate charged on the same product in 2018. Nonetheless, it’s a bit steep.
£75 | Amazon | Buy it now
Lekemi GPS Tracker TK915
Best for: Long run-time at a mid-range price
With a mighty 10000mAh battery, the TK915 is one of the longest-lasting independently powered trackers we’ve tested. It can operate for as long as 50 days off a single charge – a longevity surpassed by only a few rivals like the costlier iTrack GPS108.
This is a SIM-based tracker, allowing users to track continually using mobile data, or get instant reports via SMS. Further features such asgeofence alarms and historical route playback (up to three months) justify its relatively beefy price tag.
£65 | Amazon | Buy it now
Rewire Security SpyTrack Nano
Best for: Compactness and convenience
Compact and well-finished, the SpyTrack Nano tracker is well adapted for discreet in-car surveillance, or for vulnerable relatives or children to carry around as a personal tracker. With a battery life of up to ten hours and easy operation via a free Android or iOS app, this is one of the most convenient trackers on the market.
For the best concealment options – for example, if you want to hide the tracker on the undercarriage of your vehicle – buy the SpyTrack Nano with this waterproof magnetic box case.
£49.99 | Amazon | Buy it now
With effective, versatile tracking and approachable user experience from setup to ongoing use, the iTrack Mini is our top recommendation for tracking a car, van, or just about anything else.
For higher specs and longer life, the iTrack Long Life is a good option, albeit an expensive one. If you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing tracker which could sometimes be used to track other items, such as a rucksack, Invoxia’s GPS tracker would be a suitable choice.