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By Blair Qualey

In today’s automotive landscape, where vehicle thefts and safety concerns loom large, many vehicle owners are turning to various anti-theft technologies as a solution. To help stymie this worrying trend and keep their cars safe, owners of highly targeted vehicles may consider installing a personal vehicle tracking device. These tools offer a range of benefits but they also have their drawbacks, so any decision is a very personal choice.

For car owners exploring aftermarket tracking devices like tag systems, the first step is taking a look at the costs and installation options. There are myriad automotive and tech enthusiast websites you can peruse for the best choices, and price points under $100 — although one can always opt for more premium choices. Considering these devices lower the risk of theft and significantly increase the likelihood of recovering stolen vehicles, for many, an investment of $50-$100 isn’t that high a price to pay for peace of mind.

But how exactly do they work, and what other functions can they offer? Personal vehicle tracking devices provide enhanced security by offering real-time tracking capabilities — which means owners can monitor their vehicles’ whereabouts remotely — often from a simple app on their phone — adding an extra layer of protection. In the unfortunate event of vehicle theft, tracking devices can be instrumental in recovery efforts, allowing owners and law enforcement to locate and recover vehicles quickly and efficiently.

Some devices also offer additional features that can contribute to improved safety for drivers and passengers. For instance, they may allow users to set speed limits and receive alerts for risky driving behavior, helping to reduce the risk of accidents.

However, as with any tool, there are potential drawbacks, and despite their benefits, these tools can raise privacy concerns, as some drivers may feel uncomfortable with the idea of their movements being constantly monitored. There may also be ongoing fees for data services, or mandatory subscriptions, which can pose a financial barrier for some individuals.

GPS trackers can also be jammed by devices that disrupt signals from satellites, rendering the tracking device ineffective. The criminal world learns quickly, and this can pose a serious challenge in locating a stolen vehicle. Other potential issues include the use of battery-powered trackers that require regular charging, or on the other side of things, hardwired devices that draw power from the vehicle’s battery, posing installation challenges and potential risks of battery depletion. For old-school drivers, these tracking devices can present complex

functionality features, which may require a learning curve or become problematic or frustrating for the less technologically inclined. At the end of the day, deciding to invest in a personal vehicle tracking device depends on multiple factors, including budget and comfort level with the technology. While these devices offer undeniable benefits in terms of security and peace of mind, it’s always a good idea to weigh the pros and cons carefully before committing to a purchase.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected].