Benefits of a Truck GPS
- Get reliable service. Very few people use paper maps these days, and a smartphone has its limitations. A truck GPS is powered by the vehicle’s battery, so it will provide a reliable connection and will often stay powered up for at least an hour if it’s unplugged.
- Access truck-specific information. A truck GPS device includes information that is not provided by your smartphone. If you want to know which routes are most accessible for trucks or what the various weight limits and speed limits are on certain roads, a truck GPS will provide that kind of information.
- Access maintenance reports. In addition to navigation, the best truck GPS will provide information about the truck itself. For example, it will report the number of miles and hours driven, fuel usage, and tire mileage. This allows you to keep track of your vehicle and make sure you’re compliant with maintenance requirements.
- Save money. Time is money for many truckers. You want to get to your destination as quickly as possible, and a GPS system for trucks can calculate the shortest routes. Delays can be costly, but a truck GPS can help you reach your end point efficiently and expeditiously.
- Manage your fleet. If you’re a fleet manager, you can track your employees’ driving habits and make sure they don’t engage in any reckless behavior. Drivers will also be aware that their progress is being tracked, so they are more likely to make safe decisions.
Several engineers founded Garmin in 1989. The company, which is headquartered in Olathe, Kan., produces automotive, aviation, marine, fitness, outdoor recreation and wireless products and is the global leader in GPS navigation technology. Two of Garmin’s best truck GPS units are the Garmin dezl 580 LMT-S Truck GPS Navigator and Garmin dezlCam 785 LMT-S GPS Truck Navigator.
Dutch company TomTom was founded in 1991 and is headquartered in Amsterdam with offices in 30 countries. It concentrates on connected vehicles, smart mobility and, in the near future, autonomous driving. One popular product is the TomTom Trucker 620 6-Inch GPS Navigation Device.
Rand McNally has provided motorists with navigational tools and aids for over 150 years. The company uses the best-in-class technology to map out road infrastructure, and its navigation tools are reliable, detailed, and accurate. Two top GPS products are the Rand McNally OverDryve 8 Pro and Rand McNally TND 740 IntelliRoute Truck Navigation GPS.
Truck GPS Pricing
- Under $150: Devices in this price range feature basic navigation controls for truckers to get where they need to go. They don’t typically have advanced features such as voice activation or real-time data.
- $150-$300: There are several, good-quality truck GPS tablets at this price point. Many have nice designs, solid mounting systems, and options such as maintenance reminders and complimentary map updates.
- Above $300: The best truck GPS devices tend to be a little more expensive. They include a variety of features and nearly everything you need from a premium navigation system. One downside is that they may run out of battery life quickly because the extra features can use a lot of power.
The best truck navigation systems will produce a detailed route, but different systems have different features. For example, some include a 3D image of the road and allow you to zoom in for a more detailed look. Certain units may also include approved roads for trucks, turn-by-turn directions, and re-routing should you miss a turn.
One of the best things about a high-quality GPS unit is that information is constantly updated so you can receive the latest information about road construction, traffic accidents, and other delays. The systems include additional alerts about toll roads, steep inclines, and other variables that can affect a trip.
This feature enables you to monitor fuel data, mileage, hours of service, hours of idle status, and driving status. The majority of truck GPS devices are automated, which means the data from multiple trucks is sent to one server. This allows fleet managers to keep track of the drivers and troubleshoot any issues.
Fuel Locations and Pricing
A GPS system can provide fuel stop locations as well as the cost of fuel at these spots. This allows drivers to select the most cost-effective fuel vendors. Fleet owners can also monitor excessive speeding and engine idling times, which can adversely affect fuel costs.
- Screen Size: GPS systems come in several sizes. For easy readability, a trucker GPS tablet should be 5 inches or larger. If it’s too small, it will be difficult to see and use the touchscreen. Larger screens are fine too because the windshield on a truck is much larger than one on a passenger car. Even one that’s 8 inches in size will do the job without blocking the view.
- Driver Assist Features: This added feature can be very convenient. Some GPS systems direct you to points of interest on your trip, including rest stops, restaurants, hotels, and repair and towing facilities. If required, you can also find out where the closest health care facilities, law enforcement agencies, and other emergency services are located.
- Passive Versus Real-Time Tracking: Fleet managers often take advantage of this feature. A passive tracking system collects data from a trucker’s trip that can be accessed at a later point. In contrast, a real-time tracking system uses satellites to provide information about a trucker’s trip in real-time.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Connectivity: Some truck GPS units have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology that allows drivers to use the system hands-free. You can operate the device with a microphone and speakers instead of your hands, which keeps your eyes on the road and minimizes distractions. Some also include ports for backup cameras, smartphones, and other electronic devices.
- Mounting Options: A truck GPS should have a reliable mounting system so you don’t have to hold it in your hands or put it somewhere that’s not secure. Most portable truck GPS devices come with mounting hardware to allow you to install it in a safe, easy-to-see location.
Best Truck GPS Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Truck GPS Overall: Garmin dezl 580 LMT-S Truck GPS Navigator
This truck navigation system has a 5-inch screen and includes free lifetime map updates and free live traffic. You can control the device with your voice and have access to Bluetooth calling and built-in Wi-Fi. The USB storage device is compatible with Windows XP or newer and Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
One notable feature with this device is you can plan your route based on the size and weight of your truck. It also generates alerts for upcoming bridge heights and weight limits. It’s truck and trailer services directory filters truck stops by amenities, such as showers. In addition, you can configure the unit to alert you when it’s time to take a break.
One downside with the Garmin is it may take you down dead-end roads or roads that don’t exist. Also, background information can be distracting. For example, the food icons that show nearby restaurants take up a big portion of the screen. This can be annoying because the screen is rather small. In addition, it can be difficult to hear even at maximum volume.
Best Value Truck GPS: TomTom Trucker 620 6-Inch GPS Navigation Device
The TomTom has a 6-inch touchscreen, lifetime truck maps, more than 1,500 truck-related points of interest, and lifetime traffic with real-time updates. The battery lasts up to one hour, and you can connect it to your smartphone to activate live services. Also, it’s compatible with Siri or Google Now and enables hands-free calling.
The free maps and traffic reports are accurate and timely. The GPS receiver is very fast and starts navigating without touching any buttons. You can configure your own truck size and height as well as if you are carrying a hazmat load. Integration with your cellphone is easy to set up, and the screen is big, bright, and very legible.
Similar to our Garmin top picks, the TomTom may take you places where trucks do not belong, such as back roads or parkways that ban commercial trucks. There have also been some complaints that the device is difficult to set up and the interface is clunky.
Best Truck GPS Honorable Mention: Rand McNally TND 740 IntelliRoute Truck Navigation GPS
Our honorable mention has a 7-inch screen, the largest of all our picks. It includes truck-specific routing as well as free lifetime map updates, which can be updated at mobile hotspots. The device features advanced lane guidance and lane assist. It also has audio out capability and customizable warnings.
One of the best features about this device is that the magnetic mount works great, even over incredibly rough and bumpy roads. It’s well-built, easy to use, the touchscreen works great, and it provides accurate routes. If you miss a turn it instantly gives you the next best available route. It also only directs you on approved truck paths, unlike some competitor brands.
A downside with this unit is it may occasionally take you down some back roads or a roundabout route to your destination. It may also stop working if you don’t update it regularly, and there have been some complaints that it stops working completely after a few months of use.
- Most truck GPS units feature an electronic logging system that records a trucker’s drive time as well as his or her break hours. Fleet managers can use this information to alert drivers when they need to take a break to avoid fatigue.
- We recommend detaching your truck GPS tablet whenever you are not in your truck. Many GPS systems are easy to remove from their mounts and steal. In addition, the GPS tracker may drain the battery when plugged into an idle truck.
- You can sync your truck tracking data with office applications such as taxation, payroll, and billing. This can help you determine what your business needs to operate more efficiently and effectively.
Q: Can a truck GPS help me monitor the condition of the goods I am transporting?
A: Yes. Most truck GPS systems have the ability to capture data concerning the condition of your cargo, including the temperature of refrigerated units. You can also receive alerts when you engage in activities (i.e., speeding) that may compromise your safety when transporting gas or petroleum.
Q: Do truck GPS units have hazmat specific routes?
A: It depends on the type and brand of device you have. Some allow you to input the type of hazmat you are hauling. This will then route you based on the class of hazmat in your cargo.
Q: What do I do if my truck GPS device doesn’t respond?
A: First, disconnect the device from the power source, and turn it off for about 10 minutes. Then power it on. If that doesn’t work, look for a reset button and long-press it. Reconnect the GPS unit to the power source. If the problem persists, contact the brand’s tech support for assistance.
Our pick for the top truck GPS is the Garmin dezl 580 LMT-S Truck GPS Navigator. It has free lifetime map updates, free live traffic, and you can configure the route based on the size and weight of your truck.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the TomTom Trucker 620 6-Inch GPS Navigation Device.
Let us know what you think about various truck GPS units in the comments section below.