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Author: Lance Holt
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Compare GPS Vehicle Tracking Devices: Plug-N-Play vs. Hardwired
When it comes to vehicle tracking devices, you will find there are two main device types – hardwired vehicle tracking devices that require a three-wire connection and plug-n-play (PNP) devices that connect directly to the OBD-II port.
Based on your business challenges, vehicles types, and a variety of other factors, one of these options will be a better fit for your tracking needs or a combination of both. To help you decide which, here is a pros and cons list for both options to better understand which device is more suitable for different scenarios and compare them side-by-side.
Plug-n-Play Vehicle Tracking Devices
The PNP vehicle tracking device does not require any hardwired connections and is incredibly easy to install into any vehicle with an OBD-II port. The position of the OBD-II port can vary between vehicle, make, model, and year, but is typically located underneath the dashboard inside the cab. With this vehicle tracking device, you can simply plug into the OBD-II and start receiving the necessary data from your vehicles.
Portable Between Vehicles
Because this GPS vehicle tracking device is so easily installed, it also means that it’s easy to move between vehicles. This becomes extremely convenient when it’s time to replace an existing vehicle within your fleet. There’s no need to plan for vehicle downtime to remove the vehicle tracking device from one vehicle and install it into the next. Simply unplug from the old and plug into the new.
Automatically Receive Engine Diagnostics
The PNP vehicle tracking device automatically pulls diagnostic information from the engine because it is plugged into the OBD-II port. No additional installation accessories are required to see this type of information.
Built-In In-Cab Driver Coaching
This vehicle tracking device comes equipped with a built-in buzzer that when triggered, releases an audible sound to the driver. The buzzer is used to coach in the moment and inform the driver to correct driving behavior such as speeding, harsh braking, or rapid acceleration.
Easily Installed = Easily Removed
Being that this vehicle tracking device is so easily installed, that also means that they can be easily removed. Most OBD-II ports are exposed, making the PNP device also exposed to the driver. The intent does not even have to be malicious for the device to be removed. An accidental hit from a leg getting in or out of the cab can cause the device to be jarred loose from its position in the OBD-II port.
*An additional accessory can be used to install this device underneath the hood and keep the OBD-II port free, but this negates the pros listed above.
Vehicle & Engine Data Only
The PNP device is one enclosed box, so there is no harness to connect accessory wires. This means that there are no options for additional types of monitoring such as input monitoring that would allow you to know information like snow plows up/down, doors open/closed, seatbelt on/off, etc.
Hardwired Vehicle Tracking Devices
Hardwired vehicle tracking devices require a three-wire installation of ground, power, and ignition. This positions the vehicle tracking device up underneath the hood and out of sight. The other component to making this a secure installation is that tamper seal will be applied when utilizing a professional installer.
Far Beyond Vehicle & Engine Data
With a wiring harness, the hardwired vehicle tracking device comes equipped with a slew of possible add-on data recordings such as input monitoring, Electronic Logging Devices, and more. Driver-ID is also possible if you require that your drivers use a key fob to assign themselves to vehicles before driving them.
Professional installers of hardwired vehicle tracking devices usually quote anywhere from 30-40 minutes on average to install hardwired devices. It can take even longer for self-installations. This means that vehicle downtime must be accounted for when you plan to implement a GPS tracking solution.
Secure = Hard to Move
Because these devices are installed by to the vehicle, they take 30-40 minutes on average to complete without any accessories. This means that it is not easy or simple to move these types of vehicle tracking devices between vehicles. Just like installation, you must plan for vehicle downtime if you need to transfer a hardwired device from one vehicle to another.
Make the Choice Right for Your Vehicles
You should carefully weigh these pros and cons when deciding which vehicle tracking devices to install on your vehicles. It can be a headache to roll out devices to your entire fleet and discover they don’t meet your needs down the road. Not to mention, you will have to eat the cost of pulling them out and installing the right devices later.