Is it Legal to Use a GPS Tracker in a Car?

When it comes to car security, installing a GPS unit is arguably one of the best ways to get your car back. No, a GPS unit won’t necessarily prevent a thief from taking your car, but it will help you keep track of where it is so you can notify the authorities. But is installing a GPS tracker in your car even legal?

Can you legally track your car with a GPS unit?

Detail of a man with a  Streetwise GPS Tracker photographed with an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante.
Detail of a man with a Streetwise GPS Tracker photographed with an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. | Joseph Branston/T3 Magazine/Future via Getty Images

The short answer is yes and no. Installing a GPS tracker in a car is legal in certain states and for certain reasons but illegal in others. For example, if you are the car’s owner, you can attach a GPS tracker to the vehicle and track its location. Here are a few other ways that you can legally install a GPS tracker in a car, according to Family First:

  • If you are a parent that would like to keep track of their kids, then you can use a GPS tracker to ensure their safety.
  • Did your teenager just start driving? No worries! You can use a GPS tracker to monitor their whereabouts and even track their speed.
  • Are you suspicious of your spouse for infidelity? Technically, you can track them if you are the car’s legal owner.
  • If you own a company and have a fleet of cars, you can track their location, fuel consumption, and even monitor reckless behavior and unauthorized usage.

If you are not sure whether or not it’s legal to install a GPS tracker in your car, then be sure to check with your state’s local laws before doing so.

Who can legally use a GPS tracker in a car?

An interior view of a car with the GPS map on the center console.
An interior view of a car with the GPS map on the center console. | Unsplash

When it comes to who can legally place a GPS tracker in a car, it’s pretty clear cut:

  • Law enforcement: Don’t worry; the police can only install a GPS tracker in your car if they have the legal right to do so. According to Brickhouse Security, “law enforcement must obtain a warrant before using a GPS tracker on the car of a criminal suspect.”
  • Private citizens: As stated before, you can install a GPS tracker in a car that you own. But it’s illegal in all 50 states to install one in a car you do not own.
  • Business owners: As a business owner, tracking your fleet of cars is legal. However, you may need to seek legal advice when it comes to tracking the best practices of tracking employees.

Which GPS tracker is right for you?

A photo of a man holding a phone with a GPS map on it.
A photo of a man holding a phone with a GPS map on it. | Getty Images

There are plenty of GPS trackers for cars available on the market today. Some of them plug into the onboard diagnostic port on the car, while others can be mounted and hardwired to other parts of the car. Many GPS trackers can be purchased for less than $100. However, many of them require a monthly subscription fee for the tracking services.

While a GPS tracker may not keep a thief from stealing your car, it can help you track and even retrieve it. It can also come in handy when tracking employees and family members, but remember, that’s only if you own the car.

RELATED: Extra Features You Need From Your Car’s GPS