(Pocket-lint) - You may be familiar with location tracking through a phone, but a dedicated car GPS tracker is instead specifically designed to provide precise positioning and vehicle information to a remote user.
There are a number of key differences between GPS modules you can buy for cars and just regular tabs - like the ones you would use to keep track of your keys or wallet. However, the most obvious is that specialized devices have a better chance of remaining hidden and, therefore, still work in the event of a theft.
Parents and guardians who share a car with children may, with consent, also want a device to help keep a location log for safety reasons. Businesses, such as lorry and truck companies, often use the technology to help define clear check-in times for drivers of the company's vehicles, too.
However, aside from these examples, keep in mind that using a GPS tracker to remotely monitor someone's car is, at best, morally questionable, and, at worst, potentially unlawful.
So, once you're sure you need a car GPS tracker, you then need to decide which device is best for you. And that's where this guide comes in - below, we'll be outlining some of the top options for you to explore. Let's drive.
The best auto GPS trackers
Tracki GPS Tracker
Tracki's battery-powered, miniature tracker is a great way to discreetly keep track of your car's whereabouts.
You'll have to set yourself up with a monthly fee, but, once you do, you'll be able to place this tiny device anywhere and receive on-demand access to its location through the iOS or Android app. That app can also be set up to send alerts when the tracker exits a geofence, is moving faster than a certain speed or begins moving, too.
The battery life is dependent on which you decide to employ, since the included option, which the company suggests lasts around 30 days if tracked twice a day, can be upgraded to one that provides six-times the performance.
LandAirSea 54 GPS Tracker
As the company name indicates, those who want global location information on pretty much any vehicle can get it with this device.
It's another compact design, and one that can handle both water and stick to different areas of a vehicle through the built-in magnet.
Tracking can also be performed in real-time through the SilverCloud app - or through the web - which can also deliver text/email alerts for breaking a geofence or beginning to move. Historical playback will also show the viewer where the tracker has been.
Like other picks, though, just keep in mind that this device requires a subscription.
PrimeTracking GPS Tracker
PrimeTracking's little device is another that requires a subscription to access it fully, but it's ideal for keeping tabs on your chosen vehicle and receiving alerts.
The device features a built-in SIM card to give you unlimited coverage, and users can also set notifications for geofences, speed and SOS.
Cleverly, you can also set up to track from multiple devices, such as a computer, tablet or phone - all you need is a cellular or Wi-Fi connection.
Vyncs GPS Tracker
Vyncs' solution for location tracking works slightly differently, in terms of how you'll pay for access, and it's an excellent option to consider for cars.
The cellular device will require a one-time activation fee in order to get set up, with an annual renewal fee also required after the first year of use.
With that in mind, you'll be able to take advantage of real-time tracking through the iOS or Android app no matter where your vehicle goes in the globe, with the module able to hide in the OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics) port of the car.
This port design means there's also no need to worry about charging, with the device in this position also able to tap into the fuel level, fuel economy, vehicle speed and vehicle maintenance status.
Bouncie GPS Tracker
A GPS tracker doesn't really require sleek looks, since it's aim is to go unseen, but, nevertheless, we'd say Bouncie's solution is the best-looking device you can employ.
And it's got plenty more than just good looks going for it, too, handily fitting into the OBD-II port in your car and able to provide detailed information.
Users can also access location information through the app, as well as alerts related to geofences, driving habits and more.
The only thing you really have to worry about is the monthly subscription fee, but, if Bouncie's tracker manages to pin your vehicle after a theft, it's worth the asking price.
Winnes GPS Tracker
Winnes offers a magnetic, battery-powered solution that's able to stick to anywhere on your car and provide detailed location information.
Providing the unit has a signal to work with, there's no distance requirement, and can provide the location of the vehicle within 5m.
Users can access this in real-time, as well as receive notifications when the device remains idle for five minutes, restarts and exits a geofence. Historical tracking also provides information on where the device has traveled, in case you're interested in how it got there.
That battery we mentioned is also fairly solid when compared to rival devices. Winnes suggests the 5000mAh unit should allow for up to 90 days in standby and around 1-3 weeks in full-time use.