When it comes to a GPS tracker for teen drivers, we’d recommend Autobrain.
We have been testing the Autobrain for the last month and think it would work best to keep tabs on a teen with a newly minted driver’s license. It provides an overall driving score for each trip—along with real-time alerts for harsh acceleration, speeding and cornering.
What We Liked
• Easy set-up. You plug this tracker into the diagnostics port (OBD), which most vehicles made in the past 20 years have. (It is typically located under the dashboard).
• Small size. Here’s the size of the tracker compared to a coin:
• Various driving settings for a family, teen or senior and even a reminder to check for a baby when you leave a vehicle. Basically, these are different levels of alerts—for teens, you can be notified if the vehicle exceeds a certain speed, is being driven during certain hours of the day, etc.
Here’s a look at the settings panel for teen mode:
• No long-term contract required. Yes, there is a monthly subscription fee—as of this writing, there are three plan levels, based on how frequent you need updates (3 minutes updates versus 30 seconds). There’s also a plan aimed at small businesses that lets you export a detailed trip log.
• More detailed info than other trackers we tested—you not only see a car’s location, but the amount of gas and miles on the odometer. There are also curfew alerts in real time.
• Two layers of control: one app for the parent (monitor) and a separate app for the driver.
• Driving score rates overall driving for each trip.
• Includes roadside assistance.
What Needs Work
• Nickel and dime charges. While we appreciate the three different layers of plans, the “money-saver” plan does not include trip reports—that’s a basic feature of most GPS tracker plans. You have to pay more to get this feature. Also: if you decide you don’t want to continue the service, you must return the tracker to Autobrain or be charged an additional fee.
• Generally more pricey plans than the other GPS vehicle tracker tried (see below for CarLock tracker discussion).
• Crowded app interface. The home screen has two levels with 18 icons—yes, 18. To be fair, that’s because Autobrain has so many features and settings. Some icons (discounts for deals on hotel, car and theme park admission) are a bit too promotional for our tastes. And all the icons lead to a cluttered interface:
• Can take some time during initial use for tracker to register with Autobrain’s service. This can be a day or two. This is a bit frustrating, as some folks would appreciate it if it worked more quickly out of the box. In the end, we didn’t mind this as it worked well after this initial break-in period.
• Sometimes didn’t always show current car position. If we parked the car at a store and then drove it home a short distance, the app would sometimes still show the old location. On the plus side, this issue seemed to resolve with longer-term use of the tracker.
• Tracker unit isn’t stealthy. While the tracker unit is small overall, it is larger than some competitors like Carlock (see below). That means it will be easier to see when plugged into the port (it sticks out a bit further).
• Mileage reading is sometimes inaccurate.