What Is a GPS Tracker and What Is It For?

We all have GPS tracking capability on our cellphones or other travel-related devices, but do you really understand WHAT it is and HOW it works? Well, we are going to tell you today.

What exactly is a GPS Tracker?

A Global Positioning System or GPS tracker is a system that allows you to locate an object anywhere in the world. GPS trackers can be used to locate pets, people (mainly children or seniors) and, of course, vehicles.

GPS trackers work through a network of approximately 25 satellites with synchronized paths that rotate around Earth to be able to locate the exact point as well as the movement of anything that carries one of these devices.

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What is a GPS locator for cars?

Thanks to these devices, we can know where our car is located. The newest GPS trackers work through mobile applications that will help us know where the device is located and, therefore, the car. A car GPS tracker is very useful if we want to avoid theft or, for example, for companies where their employees use vehicles of the same, as well as for people who work with vehicle fleets.  

In addition, the navigation systems that we frequently use almost daily to move from one place to another and know the best route, work thanks to the GPS that is included in practically any smartphone.

A GPS locator also serves to locate your car by activating an alarm, in case you don’t remember where you left it. (How many times could I have used this when shopping with the kids at the mall and not remembered where I parked!)

How does a car locator work?

We are going to discuss car GPS trackers specifically here so the first thing you need to know is that they need a SIM card to work. If there is no SIM card, there is no way for the device to emit a GPS signal – much like your cellphone. If you have no SIM card and can only use Wifi signals, then the only way you can be located is if you are connected to a Wifi hot spot. Car GPS works in two ways:

  • Those who tell you the location via SMS when calling the locator’s SIM number: they usually send a message with the coordinates or with a link to Google Maps with the location.
  • Those that have an app for Android / iOS allow you to see the location in real-time, depending on the model.

What functions does a GPS tracker have?

There is currently a wide range of GPS locators for cars in the market. The price range ranges from $18 to $120 and naturally depends on the device’s capabilities and any extra features that it offers. Same as anything – the more bells and whistles you have, the more you pay. Some main functions for all of them are as follows:

  • Reproduction of the history of the route (from 3 to 6 months)
  • Real-time location tracking
  • Long battery life (up to 60 days)
  • Define alert zones and receive notifications if GPS enters or leaves those zones
  • Movement limitation
  • Easy installation

How do you choose a GPS locator for your car that requires no installation?

There are many types of GPS locators in the market, and choosing which is right for you depends on your needs so you need to look at what each offers before choosing one model over another.

The main objective at the end is to keep the car as safe as possible and that this device is able to offer us as exact a location as possible so that, in case of theft, we can speak directly with the authorities to find our vehicle.

Here are two of the most important features to check when you buy a GPS car locator.

>> Also check, Don’t Miss the Top 8 Motorcycle GPS Trackers in 2019


The first aspect to consider is the installation of the GPS locator in your car. Do you want a model that connects directly to the control unit that can block the starter or some other electrical functions on the car?

If this is the case, it is essential that you either take the car to a specialized workshop to carry out the installation of the locator or, ultimately, you can do the installation yourself if you have enough knowledge about vehicles and the tracker to feel confident doing so.

Another option (and my personal favorite) is using a GPS tracking device for the car that does not require installation.

These devices are characterized by being very small, similar to the remote control of the car itself. The idea for such a small device is so that you can hide the device in the vehicle where only you know it’s location. While it has a battery, it will be emitting a signal so that you can locate it at all times.

Battery life

So let’s focus on the GPS car locators that do not require expensive installation, and talk about the battery. Ideally, you want a device that can hold a charge as long as possible without needing to recharge the battery.

There are models on the market that have a sleep function that allows the battery to hold a charge for up to 3 months with enough charge to operate. Most of the models that you will find have capacities that around 5,000 mAh (more or less twice the capacity of a next-generation smartphone).

What’s a Spy GPS?

There GPS locators on the market for cars as small as a lighter. What that means is that they can literally be placed ANYWHERE without another person noticing – which gives you the ability to track vehicles that are driven by other people. (Teenagers!)

Is it legal to put a Spy GPS in a car that someone else drives?

If it is a vehicle you own, yes. If it is a company vehicle, it is legal as long as the spy GPS is only activated during the working day. Once the working hours have ended, the company must not interfere in any way with the private life of its employees, including its location by means of a GPS tracker. In addition, the company has the obligation to expressly and accurately inform its employees of the implementation of this system as well as its purpose. Similarly, you must notify your employees on the use of the data obtained by using the GPS tracker.

What is the price of GPS Trackers?

If you have already looked at an online store before, you will have noticed that the prices of car locators are very varied.

You can find some models that start from about $25 with very basic functions. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the best GPS locators for cars and motorcycles can cost about $95 and up. Once again, it depends on what you need it for, the different functions you need, and what you are willing to spend.

My recommendation is that you do your homework and check out various devices after you establish a maximum budget to find a model that best suits your budget and needs.

Do you need one for your vehicle or do you already have one? If so, what has been your experience with your particular make and model? Let us know in the comments below.

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