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
Table of Contents
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
- Professional installation required
- More expensive
- Easy magnetic install
- Short 1-2 month battery life
- Easier to tamper with
- 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:
|Top Model A
|Top Model B
|Top Model C
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:
- Choose an inconspicuous location, like under the dashboard
- Secure the device using cable ties or velcro
- Connect the power wires to constant 12V source
- Run antenna cable to concealed spot with open view of sky
Battery Powered & Bluetooth
- Clean installation spot with alcohol pad
- Remove protective sticker and firmly press tracker to surface
- 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:
- Open your tracking app
- Select your tracker device
- Tap the “View Live Location” button
- A map appears with car’s current location
Historical locations also display on the map. Tap timeline bar to change date/time.
- Navigate to Alerts tab in app
- Select types of alerts wanted (speed, geofence, etc)
- Set parameters for when alert should trigger
- 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:
- Tracker pushes new GPS coords to app every 5-60 seconds
- View vehicle moving in real-time like Uber app
- Get notifications if vehicle exceeds set speed limit
- Helpful for teen or elderly drivers
- 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:
- Look up past locations by date and time
- See complete picture of all trips and stops
- Weekly and monthly summaries
- Charts with mileage, durations and more
- 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.