How to Track a Car Using Your Phone: A Simple Guide

how to track a car using your phone

Have you ever lent your car to a friend or family member and wondered where they were driving it? Do you manage a fleet of vehicles for a business and want to monitor their locations? With advances in GPS tracking technology, it’s now possible to track cars right from your smartphone.

By installing a tracking device in the car and pairing it with a phone app, you can view real-time locations, set up geofencing alerts, access driving reports, and much more. Read on to learn everything you need to know about tracking a car with your phone.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover:

  • Choosing a car GPS tracker
  • Installing a tracking device
  • Top car tracking apps
  • Getting current and historical car locations
  • Setting up alerts and notifications
  • The pros and cons of phone-based car tracking

Choosing a Car Tracking Device

The first step is selecting a high-quality GPS tracking device to install in your vehicle. Here are the most common options and their pros and cons:

Hardwired GPS Trackers


  • Reliable connectivity
  • Long battery life
  • Tamper-proof


  • Professional installation required
  • More expensive

Battery-Powered Trackers


  • Easy magnetic install
  • Affordable


  • Short 1-2 month battery life
  • Easier to tamper with

Bluetooth Trackers


  • Connects to phone directly
  • Compact and portable


  • Very short range
  • Phone must be in vehicle

When choosing a tracker, look for the following key features:

SpecificationsTop Model ATop Model BTop Model C
Real-time TrackingYesYesYes
Historical ReportsYesNoYes
Geofencing AlertsYesNoYes
Battery Life1 year2 months1 year
Monthly Fee$20/monthNone$10/month

Based on the table above, Top Model A or C would be the best choice.

Installing a Car Tracking Device

Installing a GPS vehicle tracker takes just a few minutes. Here are the basic steps:

Hardwired Trackers

  1. Choose an inconspicuous location, like under the dashboard
  2. Secure the device using cable ties or velcro
  3. Connect the power wires to constant 12V source
  4. Run antenna cable to concealed spot with open view of sky

Battery Powered & Bluetooth

  1. Clean installation spot with alcohol pad
  2. Remove protective sticker and firmly press tracker to surface
  3. Confirm tracker is charged and paired with phone

For best security, consider professionally installing the device in a hidden, tamper-proof spot not visible to passengers.

Car Tracking Apps

Once the tracking hardware is installed, you need an app on your phone to access the data. Here are 5 top-rated options:


Pros: Real-time locations, custom alerts, detailed reports

Cons: Subscription required

Tabs Vehicle Tracker

Pros: Affordable one-time fee, integrates with many devices

Cons: Basic features only


Pros: Advanced security alerts, crash detection

Cons: Buggy app, expensive


Pros: User-friendly app, accurate locations

Cons: No custom alerts

Automile GPS Tracker

Pros: Tracks driving behaviour and diagnostics

Cons: Limited to specific GPS devices

I recommend TrackiMate or MyCarTracks for their reliable performance and intuitive mobile apps. Most tracker makers also have their own apps, but third-party apps usually provide better user experiences.

Getting Car Location from Phone

Once set up, getting your vehicle’s location from your smartphone is a breeze:

Real-Time Tracking

  1. Open your tracking app
  2. Select your tracker device
  3. Tap the “View Live Location” button
  4. A map appears with car’s current location

Historical locations also display on the map. Tap timeline bar to change date/time.

Location Alerts

  1. Navigate to Alerts tab in app
  2. Select types of alerts wanted (speed, geofence, etc)
  3. Set parameters for when alert should trigger
  4. Get notifications on phone when conditions met

Alerts ensure you stay instantly informed of vehicle movements.

Real-Time Car Tracking and Alerts

In addition to passive tracking, many apps provide real-time location streaming and smart alerts:

Live Streaming

  • Tracker pushes new GPS coords to app every 5-60 seconds
  • View vehicle moving in real-time like Uber app

Speed Alerts

  • Get notifications if vehicle exceeds set speed limit
  • Helpful for teen or elderly drivers

Geofence Alerts

  • Draw custom zones on map
  • Get alerts when car enters or leaves

Combine options for optimal security and trip monitoring.

Viewing Car History and Reports

The historical data collected by a car tracker proves invaluable over time:

Location History

  • Look up past locations by date and time
  • See complete picture of all trips and stops

Driving Reports

  • Weekly and monthly summaries
  • Charts with mileage, durations and more

Route Mapping

  • Visual map overlays with specific trips
  • Export to share or analyze

Use the insights to optimize fleets, monitor drivers, or review personal car use.

Pros and Cons of Phone-Based Car Tracking


  • Convenient access from your phone
  • Real-time location monitoring
  • Custom alerts and reporting
  • Affordable hardware and apps
  • Easy self-installation


  • Monthly fees for some services
  • Connectivity issues in remote areas
  • Battery life limitations
  • Privacy concerns

While limitations exist, the benefits of phone-based tracking make it worthwhile for many owners.


Installing a GPS tracking device in your car and pairing it with a smartphone app enables you to monitor and manage vehicles right from your phone.

With compelling features like real-time locations, custom geo-alerts, driving analytics and more, phone-based tracking delivers convenience and peace of mind.

Just choose reliable hardware, install it properly, select a functional app, and within minutes you’ll be tracking cars from your phone like a pro!

So try one out if you want to add security, better monitor young or elderly drivers, improve fleet operations, or simply keep tabs on your family’s cars.

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