When you’re searching for vehicle GPS trackers, also known as Automotive Vehicle Location (AVL) devices, you’ll notice that the majority of them look very similar. Indeed, if you are not a professional, you might be confused with the choice. Let’s do some primary classification.

Classic trackers

This is the largest part of all AVL devices, the most popular. Such a tracker look as a “black box”, sometimes with external antennas, and a bundle of wires connected to it. These wires are used to power the device from vehicle electrical system, as well as to other sensors and devices, i.e. for reading ACC status, fuel level, control engine block relay and many other.

However, even all these classic GPS trackers look similar, they differ much. Just to mention: types and amount of inputs and outputs, digital interfaces (for camera, CAN bus reader, fuel level sensor, driver ID, temperature monitoring), waterproof casing, backup battery, accelerometer, nonvolatile memory and many other. What’s even more essential for specific application is the functionality of the firmware.

Plug & Play trackers

GPS tracking technology becomes more popular, simple and affordable – also thanks to the growing number of “Plug&Play” trackers. These devices don’t require any professional installation at all: just plug them into the OBDII port or cigarette lighter receptacle. Such easy-to-use GPS trackers are widely used in cars today for many purposes: tracking employees, usage-based insurance or family care.

If your car was manufactured after 1996, you might be sure about the presence of the OBDII port in it. This port is used to connect diagnostic tools by servicemen and is located not far from the steering wheel. It provides the power supply for GPS tracker and information about the ignition status. Smart OBDII trackers (for example, Queclink GV500) can also read the diagnostic data from CAN bus and K-Line, including fuel level, coolant temperature, engine RPM, “Check engine” lamp (MIL), DTC error codes and other.

Portable trackers

If you don’t want to install a GPS tracker on vehicle permanently, you may consider to use a portable GPS tracker. Then you’ll have two choices: use personal GPS tracker (commonly used for employees and kids tracking) or device with magnet mounting.

Personal GPS trackers are quite small and you can put it almost in any place of the car’s interior. They can work autonomously for a few hours or get the power from cigarette lighter adaptor. If you’re looking for such a tracker, take a look at some popular models: Coban GPS102, Meitrack MT90Queclink GL300.

Magnet and waterproof GPS trackers are also great because you can attach them absolutely in any place, even in the bottom of a car. Some of them are quite small (e.g. Queclink GL300 with magnet casing) others have bigger battery (like Wonde Proud M7 or Coban GPS104)

Anti-theft GPS locators

In the strict sense the anti-theft GPS locators can’t be considered as a real GPS trackers. Their purpose is not a continuous GPS tracking, but a recovery of a stolen car. They are usually small and autonomous devices that report about vehicle’s position quite rare, once per day or so.

In the worst case, when vehicle is stolen, they just help to acquire its coordinates for the police. Though some models claim they can be used as GPS trackers if connected to vehicle electrical system, you should not expect to see nice tracks on the map or get extra features like fuel control.