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It’s not the 1990s anymore; cars don’t need hardwired LoJack for owners to track them. Instead, the information and technology age has inundated the market with cheap, easy options for tracking property, including stolen vehicles. With all the options for keeping tabs on your car using GPS, the cheapest way is a standalone tracker, like a battery-operated Tile, Apple AirTag, or an OBD-II plug-in system. 

What is the cheapest GPS option for tracking a car?

An OBD device can GPS track a car like a Tile or Apple AirTag by plugging into a car's OBD-II port.
An OBD device | Smith Collection, Gado, Getty Images

The cheapest, and arguably easiest, option for GPS tracking a vehicle is a battery-operated or plug-in tracker. For instance, some trackers plug into vehicles’ OBD-II ports to keep track of your car or truck using GPS. Better yet, these plug-in units draw power from the car, so battery life concerns aren’t an issue. However, if you want a battery-operated option, tracking devices are available with replaceable and consumable battery options, like Apple AirTag and Tile. 

We covered some of the cheapest trackers, and a few of the options are under $30, with monthly subscriptions of $20 per month or less. These devices are excellent measures to keep tabs on your vehicle beyond extra security precautions like steering wheel locks, kill switches, or aftermarket alarms.

Can you use a Tile to GPS track your car?

A person holds an Apple AirTag GPS tracker in their hand.
Apple AirTag | Brendan Smialowski , AFP via Getty Images

Yes, you can use a Tile product to GPS track your car, truck, SUV, or other vehicles. Moreover, a Tile, AirTag, or similar device can be advantageous over other options. For instance, the Apple AirTag is a self-contained unit with no need for plugging in or charging. You get it, place it in your vehicle, and replace it when the integrated battery dies after about a year or so. Better yet, these devices don’t require a monthly subscription to operate, unlike some other battery-operated and plug-in options. 

How can I track a car with my phone?

Using a device like a Tile, a battery-operated tracker, or a plug-in tracker, you can GPS track your car with a smartphone. Most trackers use an app to display location information, as well as manage your account information and subscriptions. In some cases, trackers are magnetic and waterproof, making for an easy, rugged tracking application.

However, some brand-specific applications allow owners to track the whereabouts of their vehicles without a removable device. For instance, OnStar has a history of aiding in vehicle recovery post-theft by tracking a vehicle’s position.  

Is there a free app to track your vehicle?

A smartphone uses GPS technology to track a car and map a route.
A smartphone uses GPS mapping technology | Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

While your options are typically subscription-based or a one-time consumable device like a Tile, some modern cars offer built-in GPS tracking. For instance, Auto Chimps says that vehicles equipped with FordPass, Uconnect, HondaLink, or OnStar allow owners to track their vehicles using an app. However, most plans have monthly subscription fees. 

What’s the benefit of using more traditional tracking hardware?

More traditional hard-wired tracking hardware has its merits compared to modern standalone devices. For instance, units like LoJack’s Stolen Vehicle Recovery System are designed to help law enforcement respond directly to the stolen property quickly. Moreover, hard-wired units are much harder to remove, so your teenager or another operator can’t remove your device. 

Do not use trackers for any purpose other than to GPS track your own car or property. Keep up with MotorBiscuit for the latest practical automotive advice and content!


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