How to Select a GPS Car-Tracking System


There was a time not too long ago when vehicle security meant an alarm system that wailed an obnoxious noise. If the thief was able to steal the car, then recovery before it had been dissected for its parts was almost impossible. But with a GPS (Global Positioning System) car tracking system, a car can be tracked on a computer map at a central monitoring station. These systems can also notify the central operator if an airbag deploys.

Things You'll Need

  • Car-tracking Systems
  • Determine how much money you are willing to spend. Not only will you have to pay for the product itself, but you may also have to pay a monthly service fee, depending on the product you purchase.

  • Consider simpler tracking systems that do not employ GPS and do not charge a monthly fee. One such device is called Lojack. This system relies on two devices - a transponder and a receiver. The receiver is mounted to police cars, and the transponder is put inside your car. When you report your car stolen, the police send out a signal that activates the device in your car.

  • Consider midrange systems, such as the Teletracer by Teletrac. Teletracer does not use the GPS. However, when tripped, it transmits a signal ultimately received by a central monitoring station. There is a monthly fee for Teletracer.

  • Think about the GPS tracking systems offered by such companies as ATX Technologies and RoadTrac. These systems use the GPS satellite network to track your car on a computer screen. Some of these systems also include a cellular phone for verbal communication with the operator at the central station. The cellular phone also allows the operator to listen in on what is happening in the car, an ideal feature if you are being car jacked. Moreover, some of these systems include a "panic button" to alert the operator at the central station that there is a medical emergency and help is required. Some also include a feature that permits you to track your own car via the Internet. The technology also allows the system to monitor the operation of your vehicle so that the central-station operator can alert you to any mechanical problems. You can use the cellular phone to contact the central station to obtain directions to a destination. And the central station can unlock your car's doors if you lock your keys in the car.

  • Consider the cost of installation if you are on a tight budget. The installation of a Lojack or Teletracer system is not as complicated as that of a GPS system and costs less money.

  • Discover whether the installation staff at your retailer is skilled enough for a complicated job, such as a GPS system.

  • Consider the monitoring station and its operators. Have the personnel been trained? Are there redundancies if something should go wrong at the central station? Is there seamless integration of communication between the central station and emergency institutions such as hospitals or the police? Is there a good database on emergency institutions? Is there a good database of navigational information should you need to call the central station for directions to a destination? How good is the company's relationship with the various police departments around the country?

  • Visit the manufacturers' Web sites.

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