Should You Get a Car Tracker?

We invest a lot of time and money in our cars, and it can be devastating if they get stolen. With many people admitting that they rarely pay attention to car alarms going off in the street, vehicle owners in the UK are looking for other ways to protect one of their most valuable assets. One of the most popular methods is investing in a car tracker, and with good reason.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at GPS car trackers—what they are, how they work, and how they can benefit you as a driver and car owner.

What is a car tracker?

Car trackers (also known as vehicle trackers or GPS trackers) are small devices that help you pinpoint the location of your vehicle (or, more specifically, the location of the tracker installed in your vehicle) using the Global Positioning System. GPS is a network of satellites used by governments, industries, and individuals around the world to triangulate electronic signals and determine their point of origin with incredible accuracy.

Not only can car trackers confirm where your vehicle is at any given moment, they can also record that information, creating a data record of the vehicle’s movements. They can also transmit that location via a dedicated app on your smartphone.

How does a car tracker work?

Considering car trackers and other GPS devices are masterpieces of electronic precision, the way they work is remarkably simple. Using a process called trilateration, they use the position of three or more satellites from the GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) network to determine the precise elevation, latitude, and longitude of their position at any given time.

How frequently this data is updated varies from model to model but is usually around once every second, allowing for accurate positioning at any given time. This data is transmitted to a dedicated app or server, where it can be translated into a visual image to track the vehicle’s position in real time. Alternatively, the data can be stored and retrieved at a later date to determine driving patterns and behaviours.

What are the benefits of a car tracker?

Now that we know how they work, what benefits does a GPS vehicle tracker offer, besides letting you know where your car is at all times? These are some of the most significant ones.

Lower insurance premiums

Since car trackers can keep a record of your driving behaviour, this can be used to demonstrate whether or not you’re a safe driver. Some insurance companies will even offer lower premiums for drivers that grant them access to their tracker data.

Know where your car is

This doesn’t just help you if your car is stolen. If you lend your vehicle to a friend or family member, you can rest easier knowing that you can locate them on the app at the touch of a button. This makes it easy to get help for them if they breakdown or are involved in an accident.

A cost-effective solution

Compared to other methods of improving engine performance, a car remap is easily one of the more affordable. It doesn’t require that any additional components be added to the vehicle, nor is it a long, drawn-out process that attracts large labour costs. Speak to your local ECU remapping experts today to find out the latest and most accurate prices.

Improve your driving

Having a GPS tracker in your car won’t make you a better driver all by itself. However, by reviewing your driving data through the tracker’s app, you’ll be able to see if there are any specific areas you can improve upon.

car trackers

How much does a car tracker cost?

Like most additions to your car, GPS trackers are available at a variety of price points, depending on your particular needs and the model of the tracker. You can expect to pay anything from £250 to £1500, but don’t be alarmed by those higher price tags. Some of those might incorporate specialist tools and applications that your family car simply doesn’t need. We recommend speaking to your local car security provider to find the model that offers the best value for money.

How do you install a car tracker?

Most GPS trackers designed for individual use (as opposed to fleet vehicle telematics) are simple, plug-and-play devices that you connect to the OBD-II port of the car. This is normally located near the car’s steering wheel, so you can attach the track firmly above the port using a Velcro tie strip, plug it into the OBD-II, and the job is done. All you need to do then is calibrate it and connect it to your app, as per the provided instructions.

Of course, some drivers don’t like to have their GPS trackers on display. Most of these devices are small and discreet enough to be placed anywhere in your vehicle and attached to the OBD-II port by way of an extension cable. This can be a little trickier to install, as you will need to pin the cable tightly to the inside of the car to prevent it from dislodging from the port or becoming a distraction while driving.

There are also hardwired GPS trackers that connect directly to the car’s battery and ignition switch. While anybody can, in theory, attach these devices themselves, we recommend hiring a trained expert if you’re not familiar with the ignition system.

Do car trackers work with every car?

GPS car trackers are standalone devices that can be installed in any kind of vehicle with minimal effort. They are rarely designed to only work with a certain type of vehicle, since the third-party manufacturers want to maximise their market share. While it’s worth checking, either with the maker of the tracker or a trusted local mechanic, the vast majority of trackers can be fitted to any car.

Should you get a car tracker?

Of course, there’s no obligation to install a GPS tracker in your car, and some drivers won’t see any appreciable benefits from doing so. If you’re thinking about it, these are some of the factors that might make it worthwhile for you:

  • You live in a high-crime area where car theft is common
  • Your particular make or model of car is a common target for thieves
  • You’ve previously had a car stolen from the same address
  • You own vehicles that you lease or hire to others
  • Other people regularly use your vehicle
  • You want to be able to record your driving data; this is a popular choice for delivery and Uber drivers
  • You want to reduce your insurance premiums

Car Trackers: Final Thoughts

If you’ve decided a car tracker is right for you, TCM Automotive can help you with the next steps. We offer free, professional advice on the best car trackers to suit your individual needs, and our team of engineers will be happy to install them for you at our Portsmouth service centre or at your own home or place of work.

Call us on 07581 033 606 to see what we can do for you.