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Does A Car Tracker Need A Subscription?

Does A Car Tracker Need A Subscription?

Car trackers are great. For a relatively modest cost, a range of GPS tracking devices are available to buy to help protect personal cars and business vehicles from theft. 

Depending upon type, car tracking devices offer alert warnings if a car is being tampered with or has been taken. Some come with identity tags, without which a car will not start even if the key code is intercepted. 

GPS trackers can be purchased with or without an additional annual charge on a subscription service that provides 24/7 vigilance from a central station. That is another option for car owners, but does a car tracker need a subscription?

What Is A Car Tracker Subscription?

First off, it should be pointed out that most GPS car trackers come with a subscription. It’s the usual model for this kind of protection as is explained below. That doesn’t mean though that it is essential to have one, as some brands offer a GPS tracker without a subscription.

Car Trackers Without Subscription

The main point to focus on here is that, without a subscription service that provides twenty-four hour vehicle monitoring, the onus falls on the vehicle owner to watch over that expensive car. We all have to sleep and that is when car thieves usually strike. A car can be taken from right outside the house and the owner will be unaware until morning. 

Standard car alarms are all very well but are ineffective against professional crooks. When was the last time you heard one going off and shattering the night’s peace? These days, especially with premium vehicles with keyless entry, car criminals use a technique called ‘relay theft’.

All keyless car fobs emit a signal, recognised by the vehicle as the owner approaches. The car is unlocked and ready to roll. However, this signal can be intercepted with the right piece of kit in the wrong hands: Crook number one stands by the car with a transmitter (aka a relay box), while crook number two stands by the house with another, which picks up the signal from the key. People being as they are and preferring convenience over difficulty, tend to leave keys and fobs by the front door. This makes the signal easily accessible, even through the building’s structure and this is then relayed to the other transmitter by the vehicle. The car ‘thinks’ the owner is there and unlocks. This is just one thing a car tracking device protects against. The snag of not having a subscription is that tracking is delayed until the owner is aware the car has gone. Only then can the vehicle be tracked via an app and the police informed. By then it might be too late.

So, while buying a GPS tracking device without a subscription might save money, it perhaps isn’t the best solution. If in doubt, a car tracker like the Thatcham Research approved SmarTrack S5 D-iD Plus offers options. It can be purchased without a subscription initially but a monitoring service can be subscribed to, post purchase.

Car Trackers With Subscription

In this case, the vehicle tracking device is purchased direct from a trusted supplier who will provide a professional fitting service and it will come with an annual subscription to cover 24/7/365 monitoring from a central monitoring station, even while the owner is sleeping. This generates an instant alert as soon as the car is taken, warning the owner and enabling the police to move swiftly into action. In fact, it has been clearly shown that a car tracking device has ensured a quick stolen vehicle recovery by the police. This helps keep car insurance companies happy and the fitting of a subscription-based tracker will often help when it comes to car insurance premiums. That’s always welcome.

Some units, like the Meta Trak S5 VTS, come with the first year’s subscription as part of the purchase price. The built in ID tag technology fights theft by alerting the control room to all attempts to move a car through key cloning or relay attacks. This unit is also approved by Thatcham Research and is recommended by the Audi brand.

Does A Car Tracker Need A Subscription?

In short, car tracking devices do a great job in protecting vehicles (and also caravans and mobile homes incidentally) and the right option is clear. Yes, it is possible to choose a vehicle tracker without subscription but is it the wisest choice? A subscription-based GPS tracker means peace of mind even when sleeping.

How Do Car Tracker Subscriptions Work?

When a car tracker is purchased, certain owner and vehicle details are passed to the operating company. This means they know where the car should be when not in use. They have mobile phone details and can contact the owner instantly if tampering or theft is taking place, either by a phone call or through an app. The owner pays an annual fee either as a one-off payment or by monthly subscription to suit. We all like to change our cars from time to time so the good news is that most car trackers can be switched from an existing vehicle to a new model without problem. 

What’s All This About Thatcham Research?

Well, the Thatcham Research Centre is a not-for-profit organisation, funded by the car insurance industry. It’s their job to check over any car security devices and make sure they do as they say they do. Devices approved are categorised by S7and S5 designations (as seen in the above mentioned products). This is the buyer’s proof that Thatcham-approved devices do what they say they do. 

The Importance Of Security

These days, most of us won’t leave home without first making sure the doors are locked and the property secured. It makes sense then that we take car security seriously too. All vehicles are at risk of theft. Certainly car thieves like to target high-end prestige motors like Range Rovers or BMW which is why these brands recommend the fitting of a car tracker. All cars are vulnerable though. A simple app-connected car tracker makes sense for any car, after all, our cars cost enough to buy. Why make a gift of them to criminals?



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