What is it?
Not all that long ago the idea of tracking a car as it moved was reserved for Bond movies, but nowadays there are numerous companies offering vehicle location tracking. Most require some kind of annual subscription though, typically with a tracker that is linked to a specific car and can’t be moved around.
That’s fine for most users, there are also various alternative solutions on offer that can be moved from vehicle to vehicle and don’t require permanent subscriptions, including the model tested here. Called the Enforcer 4, it comes from trackershop-uk.com and costs a fairly steep £300, plus top ups for some functions as and when required.
What's it like?
Out of the box it comes fully charged and enabled - all the buyer needs to do is log into the Trackershop webpage to enter their code and voila - the device’s current location is presented on screen. The device itself comes in a durable case, most of which is filled with batteries giving the Enforcer 4 a battery life of around six months. It can be recharged easily with a provided charger.
The case has two extremely powerful magnets on its exterior, meaning it can be fitted to the underside of a vehicle or hidden away somewhere inside, such as in the spare wheel well. We’d recommend the latter - the magnets may be exceptionally strong, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. The design is versatile enough for the device to be fitted to trailers, caravans, farm equipment and cargo containers.
Another benefit is that the unit can be taken out of one vehicle and transferred to another, so a company with a fleet of vans or plant vehicles can fit trackers to vehicles that are most at risk from thieves, or that require monitoring for other reasons, but without buying permanent kit for every single vehicle on the fleet.
Tracking tools are versatile and powerful
The software used to track vehicles is online and works in a web browser on desktop, laptop, phone or tablet - plus there are Android and iPhone apps. It’s fairly straightforward for basic tasks - those who simply want to check where a vehicle is at a glance only need the login details and nothing else. But for those who want more detailed information there’s a suite of powerful tools on offer.
For example, a virtual ‘fence’ can be drawn on the map - if the vehicle strays out of or into this area an alert will be triggered and sent via text message to any phone number set by the owner. In fact you can even set it to send an alert if the vehicle moves full stop, which is good for classic car owners with vehicles in storage.
Users can also choose the frequency at which the device transmits tracking information. For vehicles that aren’t expected to move often or far, less frequent updates are fine and will prolong battery life, but for accuracy users can set the tracker to transmit data every few seconds, which plots where a vehicle is and where it has been down to a few feet.
Location history can be plotted on a map and even replayed on screen, with information on speed, the roads used and various other functions related to the device. These functions include details on time spent on charge, when the device was shut down, booted up or in ‘sleep’ mode, as well as various other pieces of info.
Should I buy one?
In order to function properly the device uses a SIM card, like a mobile phone. As with all SIM cards, this is linked to a mobile phone network, so it will need to be ‘topped up’ periodically via the Trackershop website. Top-ups are split into position credits or text credits - one position credit is used everytime the device sends a location update, one text credit is used every time the device sends a text alert.
Thankfully there is as much versatility in the way things are paid for as there is with the device itself - users can buy just a few credits to watch their vehicle for a couple of weeks when on holiday, or they can go the whole hog and pay for a year of unlimited position credits with as many as 200 text alerts.
Even the most expensive, full-year top-up is more affordable than a yearly subscription required by some tracking companies such as Tracker.co.uk. But Tracker has a dedicated call centre in the UK and is officially supported by the police force - so if a car is stolen the police force can use its own equipment to track down a car on the go and recover it.
Durable case contains battery pack good for six months
But the Enforcer 4 has versatility on its side. It can be moved around and used only when and where it's needed. It’s easy to see the appeal of this strong, durable tracking device, but it's likely only going to be genuinely useful to owners of less secure cars, as well as classic car or caravan owners who want to keep an eye on a vehicle that is stored away from their local area. It also has practical uses for commercial or plant vehicle operators.
Additionally the price is quite high, so we’d recommend one of the cheaper devices from the same company - they offer more or less exactly the same functionality but for around half the price - though battery life tends to be shorter. Trackershop also offers tracking devices for pets and even people, which might be useful for keeping tabs vulnerable relatives or badly-behaved dogs.