What are the differences between hard wired and OBD port car trackers?

This blog highlights the differences between plugin OBD car trackers and ones that are hard wired into a car.

Hard-wired and OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) port car trackers are two different types of vehicle tracking systems with distinct installation methods and functionalities. Here are the key differences between them:


Hard-Wired Trackers: Hard-wired trackers require a permanent connection to the vehicle’s electrical system. They are typically installed by a professional technician who integrates the tracker into the vehicle’s wiring harness. Depending on the features that the tracker has, the time needed for installation can be around one to two hours. Should you choose an installer who does not offer a mobile installation service, additional travel time will be required to drive to and from their premises.

What are the differences between hard wired and OBD port car trackers?

OBD Port Trackers: These trackers plug directly into the OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics) port, which is a standardised diagnostic interface found in most vehicles manufactured after 1996. No professional installation is usually required, as the device can be easily plugged in or removed by the vehicle owner. This means that they are usually delivered to the end user who can plug the tracker into the port themselves.


Hard-Wired Trackers: Once installed, hard-wired trackers are hidden and not easily accessible or removable by unauthorised individuals. They are typically discreetly placed inside the vehicle’s wiring system within the panels, making them more difficult to detect or tamper with.
OBD Port Trackers: OBD port trackers are easily accessible, as they plug directly into the OBD-II port located under the dashboard of the vehicle. This accessibility makes them more susceptible to theft or removal by unauthorised individuals who do not want their movements tracked.


Hard-Wired Trackers: Since hard-wired trackers are integrated into the vehicle’s electrical system, they can often provide additional features such as engine immobilisation, battery level monitoring, driver behaviour information, authorised driver identification and detailed diagnostics. They will also have more advanced tracking capabilities, such as geofencing and offer real-time tracking through the use of advanced GPS, GLONAS, GPRS and UHF technologies.

What are the differences between hard wired and OBD port car trackers?

OBD Port Trackers: OBD port trackers primarily focus on basic vehicle tracking functionality, providing location information and other standard tracking features. They may also lack some of the more advanced features available with hard-wired trackers.

Hard-Wired Trackers: Hard-wired trackers can be installed into any vehicle including plant machinery, regardless of the make or model. They are not dependent on the presence of an OBD-II port.

OBD Port Trackers: OBD port trackers are only compatible with vehicles equipped with an OBD-II port. Whilst most modern vehicles have this port, older vehicles, more specialised vehicles such as caravans or trailers and water borne transport such as jet skis and boats for example may not have one.

Ownership and Transferability:

Hard-Wired Trackers: Hard-wired trackers are typically permanently installed in a vehicle and are not easily transferable. If you change your vehicle, you may need to seek the services of a professional Engineer to remove and reinstall the tracker system for you.

What are the differences between hard wired and OBD port car trackers?

OBD Port Trackers: OBD port trackers are easily transferable between compatible vehicles. You can unplug the device from one vehicle and plug it into another without the need for reinstallation.

It’s important to note that the specific features and functionalities of car trackers can vary between manufacturers and models. When choosing a tracker, consider your requirements, the level of security needed, and the compatibility with your vehicle.

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