GPS Tracking Explained: How to Track Your Own Car
Few things in life are more frustrating than walking circles in a parking structure, confounded over where you left your car. One Scottish BMW owner famously went six months without his car after a friend misplaced it at a soccer match. Scouring the vast expanse of the parking structure is just one uncomfortable scenario you could avoid by having a tracking device for your car. It might sound like something out of James Bond or perhaps Mr. Bean, but GPS tracking your vehicle is helpful, convenient and quite simple in this modern age.
Is Tracking My Car Really Necessary?
You might debate the virtues of tracking your own vehicle. Perhaps you don’t partake in public sporting events. There are still many good reasons to have a GPS tracker in your car. For example, it’s especially handy if you have young drivers who take it out, and you want to know their location. Even if you’re the only driver, a tracking device will ensure you know where your car has gotten to in the unfortunate event of car theft.
Can’t I Just Use My Cellphone?
You might think a tracking device is unnecessary because your cellphone always tells you where you parked. Some modern map applications do offer this feature, but once you leave your car, Google Maps or the comparable application you use cannot keep track of it if it moves. Your phone’s GPS isn’t really tracking your vehicle — it’s tracking you. Should the cellphone die or suffer a technical glitch, it won’t be able to provide any information.
In commercial applications, such as monitoring a fleet of vehicles, a dedicated GPS is necessary. These professional-grade systems are more robust than any cellphone app and incorporate business-specific features like time-tracking, fleet telematics, fuel consumption and route advice. When you combine these extra features with the need to have a dedicated system that stays with the vehicle, it’s a no-brainer.
Choosing a GPS System
As with any gadget, there are various flavors and price points available to you if you’re shopping for a GPS tracking system. We recommend taking a look at some of the features that competitive systems offer before making your selection. In a recent review by automotive blog The Drive, the Spy Tec STI GL300 Mini emerged as the top choice due to its two-plus weeks of battery life, small size, Google Maps compatibility and periodic update feature.
This system retails for about $40. While you’ll spend more on the tracker than you would for a free mobile app, you won’t go broke outfitting your fleet or tracking your personal vehicle.
The Price of Peace-of-Mind
Ultimately, having your car or a fleet vehicle stolen is a headache you’d rather avoid. Ensuring you know where it is, or even locating it after an attempted theft, is easily worth the cost of a nice T-shirt. After all, the last thing you want to do is spend six months scouring a parking garage for your wayward ride.