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Jenny Malcolm

Author: Jenny Malcolm

Marketing Communications Manager

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Compare GPS Vehicle Tracking Devices: Plug-N-Play vs. Hardwired

gps vehicle tracking devices pnp vs hardwired

As you research GPS vehicle tracking devices, you will find there are two main device types, hardwired vehicle tracking devices and plug-n-play (PNP) devices that connect directly into the OBD-II port.

Based on your business, employees, vehicles types, and a variety of other factors, one of these options will be the better fit for your tracking needs. To help you decide which, we put together a pros and cons list for both options so you can compare the differences side-by-side.

Plug-n-Play Vehicle Tracking Devices


  • Easily self-installed.
  • Portable from vehicle to vehicle.
  • Monitors engine diagnostics.
  • Enables in-cab driver coaching with a built-in buzzer (the device buzzes with an audible sound).


  • Easily disconnected by the driver (could lead to inaccurate GPS reporting)
  • Only works in OBDII-equipped vehicles (No assets or jBus).
  • Only available for light-duty vehicles.

Hardwired Vehicle Tracking Devices


  • Monitors engine diagnostics.
  • Covertly installed (device is hidden).
  • Additional functionality available (integrates with Garmin, driver ID, switches, and sensors, etc.).
  • Option for an internal or external antenna (for best GPS accuracy and convenient placement).
  • Works in all vehicles and assets with an external power source (battery).


  • 3-wire installation (30-45 mins).
  • Not designed to be portable (from vehicle to vehicle).
  • Enables in-cab driver coaching, but needs a separate buzzer installed (used for Driver ID).

You should carefully weigh these pros and cons when deciding which GPS tracking devices to purchase. 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.



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