The 5 Best GPS Vehicle Trackers

As a driver, you face many dangers on the road. GPS vehicle trackers are the ideal solution to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from those hazards. They are not just niche devices used by intrepid spies—anyone can use them for extra protection. Below we’ve outlined the five best no-contract GPS vehicle trackers, what you can use them for, and how to install them.
Written by | Updated July 26, 2019

#1. Spy Tec STI GL300 Mini Portable Real-Time GPS Tracker

Best Overall

The Spy Tec GL300 has the most and best reviews of any other vehicle GPS tracking system on Amazon. A compact tracker, the Spy Tec is roughly the size of a matchbox and can pinpoint the device’s location within fifteen feet of accuracy. Conveniently, the Spy Tec can attach to a car’s frame with magnets.

What We Like

  • An SOS Button: The device has an SOS button that sends an instant notification of its location when pressed.
  • Great Customer Service: Spy Tec is incredibly responsive. Last year, when a user pointed out that the company’s online tracking portal was not HTTPS secure, Spy Tec added SSL secure login and password protection.

What We Don’t Like

  • Unreliable Battery Life: The device only turns on when its accelerometer detects motion to save battery life. The company claims a two-week battery life, but users report that actual battery life varies. An extended six-month battery can be purchased separately.

#2. MOTOsafety OBD Vehicle Monitoring System

Best for Teenage Drivers
product image of MOTOsafety GPS tracker

Ideal for parents of teens, MOTOsafety helps monitor and coach drivers. Along with location, the unit tracks speed, harsh braking, and rapid acceleration. Parents are encouraged to review their teen’s daily driving habit “report card,” and customers report that they’ve saved up to 30% on their insurance rate for using MOTOsafety. MOTOsafety plugs into the diagnostic port under the car’s dashboard and costs $19.99 per month.

What We Like

  • Daily Report Cards: This is a feature unique to the MOTOsafety tracker. It generates report cards based on driving habits like speed, braking, and acceleration.
  • A Fuel Reminder: MOTOsafety software tells you how much gas is in the tank.
  • Curfew Alerts: Parents can set notifications to alert them if the vehicle is out past curfew.

What We Don’t Like

  • Inaccurate Speed Alerts: MOTOsafety’s subscription service uses Google Maps, which does not have accurate speed limits for every location. Parents can manually enter the speeds of streets and highways, but that is time-consuming and requires textbook knowledge of local streets. The software won’t remember these changes the next day, so daily report cards will be inaccurate if the user doesn’t fix speed limits daily.
  • Sensitive Acceleration Rates: The acceleration function can also unfairly lower a daily report card grade. Users complain that the acceleration monitor is so sensitive that it alerts to acceleration when the driver enters a freeway.
  • A Difficult Cancellation Policy: Customers report that canceling the monthly service can’t be done on the website. You must call the company on the phone.
  • Potential to Be Uncomfortable: Depending on your car, MOTOsafety may hit your knees, so you may need to purchase an additional adaptor to tuck the cord and unit into the dashboard undercarriage.

#3. AMERICALOC Mini Portable GPS Tracker

Best New Arrival
product image of AMERICALOC GPS tracker

The AMERICALOC GPS tracker is an update of the GL300 model. This GPS tracker is incredibly small and easy to use. We still wonder if the battery lasts as long as AMERICALOC claims, but so far so good. Also, this tracker doesn’t require an annual fee—you can pay month to month, and cancel whenever you want.

What We Like

  • Cancel anytime.
  • Long battery life.
  • Real time tracking.

#4. MasTrack OBD Real Time GPS Vehicle Tracker

Best for Maintenance

Consider MasTrack your personal auto technician. It connects to the diagnostic port under the dashboard and monitors location, tracks excessive idling, and sends reminders for maintenance, like oil changes. It costs close to $300.00, and its monthly service fees vary—but the first twelve months are included free.

What We Like

  • Multiple Service Levels: Automatic reporting with MasTrack is available at three different levels: The Basics is $9.08/month and updates location when the ignition is turned on or off, Just the Essentials is $15.83/month and updates location every five minutes, and Premium Reporting is $17.91 and updates location every minute.
  • Comprehensive Car Stats: The maintenance reminders and check engine alerts are unique to the MOTOsafety tracker.

What We Don’t Like

  • Random Text Alerts: Each text alert comes from a different randomly generated number, so it’s impossible to group your texts under the same text chain.

#5. Optimus Real Time GPS Tracker

Perfect for discreetly tracking a car, the 2.7-inch Optimus tracker syncs with your personal account and even provides a routing feature for private investigators. The service coverage is available in many countries around the world, and service fees are $19.95–$35.00 per month. The unit, which is around $100.00, can be hidden anywhere in a car or placed on a car’s frame in a separately purchased magnetic case.

What We Like

  • Detailed Data: The website generates detailed charts of tracker location throughout the day, time spent at each location, parking time, and movement time. These tracking summaries are more comprehensive than most other GPS vehicle trackers.
  • An SOS Button: If the driver is in a true emergency, they can press the SOS button to send a notification of their location.

What We Don’t Like

  • Unreliable Updates: Despite the advertised one-minute tracking updates, users complain Optimus updates only every few minutes.

GPS Vehicle Tracker Capabilities

Though GPS vehicle trackers have varied features, the real-time tracking ability makes them coveted safety devices. Along with this, most GPS vehicle trackers provide geofences—virtual boundaries around defined areas—and customizable alerts in the form of email or cell phone notifications.

You can place one on your car’s frame or inside your glove box to track your vehicle in case of theft or to monitor your teen’s driving habits. The most basic ones monitor the location of the car, while more advanced trackers give you detailed car statistics, like at what points harsh braking occurred and if the oil needs to be changed.

Parents may want to use GPS trackers to keep an eye on their teenage drivers. These drivers are some of the riskiest drivers on the road, and unfortunately, 6 teen drivers die every day from motor vehicle injuries. These young drivers are inexperienced and tend to take uncalculated risks, but a GPS tracker can help parents teach their children good driving habits.

GPS Vehicle Tracker Setup and Installation

GPS trackers are easy to set up. After creating a personal account on the device manufacturer’s website, you simply turn on the tracker and sync. You can now view your tracker’s live whereabouts on the web or through a mobile app with great accuracy.

Vehicle GPS trackers are generally not hard to install, but installation varies depending on which one you purchase. Some attach to your car frame with magnets, others slip inside your glove box, and advanced trackers plug into a car’s diagnostic system.

To help the people you love drive safely, invest in a GPS vehicle tracker. The five above are the best of the best and will help you sleep soundly knowing your vehicle is where it should be and your children are safe.

*SafeWise has conducted impartial research to recommend products. This is not a guarantee. Each individual’s unique needs should be considered when deciding on chosen products.

Written by Amelia Nielson-Stowell

Amelia Nielson-Stowell is a former newspaper reporter and professional freelance writer. With over a decade of experience in the journalism industry, she has a passion for creative storytelling. Safety is her top priority as a mom of three young kids. Learn more

Share this article.
  • Philip Argy

    Looking for something for elderly father who frequently forgets where he’s parked the car. We just want something that we can look up to tell him where his car was last parked!

    • Scott T.

      If your father is comfortable using a smartphone, there are a handful of apps that may help you. Also, a bluetooth tracker, like the Tile ( may be helpful.

      Of course, there are practical solutions as well—for example, take a picture with your phone of where you parked or keep post-it notes and a pen in the car.

      • Philip Argy

        Thanks, Scott. He’s 92 and won’t take his non-smart mobile phone anyway, so any solution has to be totally passive from his persepctive. ODP and tile solutions seem most promising at this stage.

        • Scott T.

          I’m sorry there’s no clear solution, but keep us in mind if you find anything that works. We write about Senior Safety too, so we’d love to find an answer and share with our readers.