Choosing a Car or Truck Tracking Device

There are various factors that go into choosing a GPS Tracker for a Car or Light Truck. Examining these factors is the first step to choosing the proper hardware to meet your needs. Having a full grasp on your requirements makes it easier to sift through all the different hardware out on the market and in our store. Additionally, reviewing how you use the different vehicles in your fleet, may make it clear that different vehicles may need different hardware. This guide is designed to help in choosing a car or truck tracking device.

Identify Your Tracking Goals

What do you want from your trackers? Fleet management: knowing where your vehicles are located and where they have been and how they are driving? Is the tracker’s mission to track temperature or PTO. Is theft and vehicle recovery your primary goal? Or do you want to know fuel level without leaving your desk? Everyone’s needs are different, and those needs drive your decisions. The main areas of differentiation are installation options, hardware features, feedback needs and coverage requirements.

Tracker Installation Options

The installation question can feel like one of the more daunting decisions when choosing a truck tracking device, but it doesn’t have to be. We offer both plug-and-play trackers and installed trackers. Plug and Play devices go right into the vehicle’s diagnostic port. Installed trackers are wired into the vehicle and can be hidden from plain site.

Plug and Play Trackers

Plug and play trackers plug into the car or truck’s diagnostic port. This is called the OBD-II port. The upside of this kind of installation is that its the easiest: just flip the device in the right direction, align the connector and plug it in. The downside is that employees or nefarious types can simply unplug it, toss it out of the truck and go.

2-wire and 3-wire Trackers

Meanwhile, the installed trackers are more covert. No matter how hard you try, it’s likely your drivers will know the vehicles are being tracked. But the bad guys likely won’t know. Wired trackers, at first glance, are more daunting because, after all, there are wires involved. But its not much harder than a car stereo to install. We’ve got detailed installation instructions and we can refer you to installers. Installed trackers come as either 2-wire or 3-wire trackers. In the 2-wire configuration, 1 wire is for ground and the second wire is for power. The device senses the voltage level to determine ignition. 3-wire trackers have one wire for ground, one for power and the third for ignition sense. All neatly documented in our installation guides.

OBD-II Tracking Device Features

OBD-II devices, since they are plugged into the vehicle, send detailed vehicle data. Depending on the device and the vehicle, that data can include VIN numbers, engine RPM, coolant temperatures, fuel tank levels, even error codes. Pretty neat level of detail, but again, exact details available vary by vehicle.

Battery Backups

Some Tracking Devices come with battery backups to continue the monitoring of a vehicle if the battery goes dead, or if the devices is removed from power. The battery is limited, but does give more information about the situation.

Driver Behavior

Hard breaking and jack-rabbit starts, grouped under the label “Driver Behavior”, are driving performance aspects that can be captured by a tracking device. Look for trackers with G-Force sensors, if this is a feature you’re interested in. Driver behavior detection will vary based on device – and – the vehicle its installed in. We’ve got more info about driver behavior.

Advanced GPS Tracking Device Features

Installed trackers also open you up to more advanced features like PTO/Auxiliary Inputs and temperature tracking. PTO or Powered Take-Off is a feature of some work trucks where the mechanical power of the engine is transferred to another piece of equipment. Tracking devices can be wired into the PTO controls to track the state change of the device. The tracker can also monitor simpler circuits like lights or switches.

Data Network

The standard car and truck tracking devices use the cellular networks to transmit their data to our computers. Some devices are specific to the network and sometimes the network availability is an important factor in the purchasing decision. With some of the older 2G devices or in some of the rural oil fields, the available networks, provided by cellular data companies like Verizon, AT&T and T-mobile, are limited and the network becomes a critical component of the decision. In some cases, where no cellular network is available, we have gps trackers that send their data via satellites.

Tracking Device Reporting Frequency

Another decision point is the tracking device reporting frequency. Most car and truck trackers report every 2 minutes when the ignition is on. Sometimes, customers want to pay a little extra to get more detail and sometimes, customers want to save a little to cut back on their monthly expense. The 1 and 2 minute plans include turn-by-turn reporting which captures a pretty nice on map trail. Lower reporting tracking devices have a much rougher trail on the map, making route review difficult.

Choosing a Car or Truck Tracking Device

As we work with customers trying to match a tracker to their needs, we’ve come to understand how critical it is to understand requirements first when trying to choose a car or truck tracking device. Its never just one feature, like “Driver Behavior” or installation questions that drive the decisions. Its always several requirements that need to be weighed against one another to make the final buying decision.

We’re just a phone call away and we’re happy to help sift through your requirements work with you to match your needs with hardware when you are choosing a car or truck tracking device.

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