How to Select a GPS Car Navigation System

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Have you ever settled behind the wheel of your car wondering whether you really know how to get to your destination? Fear no more. GPS (Global Positioning System) car navigation systems can show and even tell you how to get to any destination. These products use the GPS, which relies on a host of satellites to determine where you are.

Things You'll Need

  • Handheld GPS Navigation System
  • Decide how often you intend to use the system. Inexpensive systems simply plug in to your car's cigarette lighter and are small enough to store in your glove compartment, but they're not as user-friendly.

  • Consider the layout of your car. Some systems come with a monitor that displays a map. The monitor is commonly installed on the dashboard or on a pedestal extending from the dashboard. In some cars, such an installation may block air vents or make it somewhat uncomfortable for a passenger to enter or exit the vehicle or sit in the passenger seat.

  • Select a system that features multiple ways of getting to your destination. This can include by address, by intersection, by a personal address book or via a location selected directly from the map.

  • Look for a system that gives you vocal as well as graphical directions. The systems that use a map and monitor include arrows that show you the direction of a turn and also indicate where your car is on the map in relation to the destination. Other systems use the head unit or radio to display the name of the street on which you are to make a turn or on which you are traveling. Both of these systems also give you verbal directions as you approach a turn.

  • Select a system that includes point of interest data. Most GPS systems include locations of airports and other transportation services, ATMs and banks, restaurants, hotels and a host of other sites.

  • Choose a system that offers updates of the point-of-interest data.

  • Consider installation time if you are working on a tight budget. Systems that rely on maps displayed on monitors are more complicated and take longer to install than other types of systems.

  • Once all specifications have been identified for your GPS system, price different units out. Most retailers will have demo units in-store that you can see, touch, and experience. You can always check online retailers for a better price. Don't forget about eBay.

Tips & Warnings

  • Manufacturers of GPS car navigation systems warn that, if the product is installed by a consumer or an unauthorized dealer, the company will void the warranty.
  • No matter how fancy your GPS is, there are instances where it can malfunction or not get reception. Always have a paper map backup.
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