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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Truck GPS Systems for Drivers

Truck drivers can feel confident on the road, even when driving long distances across the country.

by PITeam

Buyers Guide & Information

Best Truck GPS Systems for Drivers

Truck drivers can feel confident on the road, even when driving long distances across the country.

by PITeam

by PITeam

As a truck driver, it is essential to use a reliable navigation system. Not only does a GPS help with arriving at the desired destination in a timely manner, but it also enhances safety while on the road. That being said, choosing a low-quality truck GPS can have the opposite effect, which is why investing in a high-quality navigation system is a must.

You might be wondering, "What’s the difference between a traditional vehicle GPS and one that is used by truck drivers?"

Both systems work similarly, but a truck's GPS is often larger and has more detailed information that is relevant to a truck driver. So no, you can't just take the GPS you use in your car and use it for your commercial truck routes.

Finding a truck GPS that offers things like crystal-clear graphics, special trucking routes, and bridge and overpass information can be challenging. This review is here to help by providing information on all the best truck GPS systems on the market today. Each of these products allows truck drivers to feel confident on the road, even when driving long distances.

Image

Product

Screen/Display Size

Storage Capacity

Check Price

Car GPS Navigation,9 inch Truck GPS Touchscreen...

NAVRUF

9 Inches

Detail

Garmin Dezl 780 LMT-S 7-Inches Advanced Truck...

Garmin Dezl 780 LMT-S

7 Inches

Uses MicroSD Card (8, 16, or 32 GB)

Garmin Nuvi 57LM GPS Navigator System with Spoken...

Garmin Nuvi 57LM

5 & 6 Inches

Uses MicroSD Card (8, 16, or 32 GB)

Garmin dezl 770LMTHD, Truck GPS Navigator with...

Garmin dezl 770LMTHD

5 & 7 Inches

Uses MicroSD Card (8, 16, or 32 GB)

Rand McNally TND 740 IntelliRoute Truck Navigation...

Rand McNally TND 740 IntelliRoute

7 Inches

16 GB

TomTom VIA 1535TM 5-Inch Bluetooth GPS Navigator...

TomTom VIA 1535TM

5 Inches

4 GB

How Truck GPS Systems Work

According to Physics.org, “the Global Positioning System (GPS) is a network of about 30 satellites orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 20,000 km. The system was originally developed by the US government for military navigation. Now anyone with a GPS device, be it a SatNav, mobile phone or handheld GPS unit, can receive the radio signals that the satellites broadcast.”

No matter where you are on Earth there will be at least 4 “visible” satellites. Every GPS unit uses this network of satellites to navigate roads, even truck GPS devices. But a truck GPS works uniquely compared to other GPS devices. A truck GPS is programmed specifically for truck drivers with things like approved roadways and up-to-date weigh station information.


Choosing a High-Quality GPS for your Truck

Passive vs Real-Time Tracking

A passive GPS device does not provide real-time updates. It basically just stores roadmap information through an internal memory system and then offers navigation notifications using this stored data. A truck GPS that uses real-time tracking can process and deliver data in real-time. This provides up-to-date information on things like traffic patterns and road closures.

The common assumption these days is that real-time - or active - tracking is always best when investing in a GPS. This assumption is 100% correct, especially for truck drivers. A huge reason to invest in a truck GPS in the first place is to receive accurate information relating to the roads ahead. A passive GPS tracking system just can’t offer this.

Detailed Mapping

Huge semi trucks are very limited on the roads they can use, which is where detailed mapping comes into play.  A truck GPS device with detailed mapping will show preferred vs forbidden routes. It will also provide information on getting to the final destination as quickly as possible, while only using approved roadways for truckers.

The most accurate mapping systems will display everything there is to know about the optimal routes from start to finish. Truck GPS devices with the most detailed mapping capabilities allow drivers to zoom specific aspects of the route, view streets and roadways in 3D, and even estimate fuel costs for the entire journey.

Driver Assist Features

A truck GPS is designed to assist truckers in commercial driving settings. It contains guides and instructions specific to the trucking industry. For example, when driving in a particular area, the GPS will provide helpful information to a driver that is in need of assistance. This includes info on things like towing services, truck stops, weigh stations, lodging, and dining options.

Trip Logging & Fleet Management Integration

Almost all modern truck GPS devices have trip logging capabilities. This means that a GPS device is equipped with automated electronic logs to monitor the entire driving experience. This includes things like driving status, amount of sleep time, meal breaks, mileage, fuel information, etc. The best truck GPS systems even have the option to change trip logging between multiple drivers.

Creating an effective fleet management plan is essential for commercial truck drivers. GPS fleet management integration allows industry managers to manage their fleet of drivers by monitoring start and stop times, tracking specific locations, and follow the driver's overall performance.

This isn’t just meant to keep tabs on a driver, but also improve customer service. Drivers that utilize truck GPS systems with fleet management integration can inform clients and customers on shipment pick-up and delivery times. Properly managing a fleet is also a matter of safety. Managers will be notified immediately of peculiar activity thanks to an integrated GPS, such as theft or injury to the driver.

Fuel Conservation

It’s no surprise that the fuel emissions for commercial trucks and buses are incredibly high. Even without a supply loaded into the container, commercial vehicles weigh a massive amount. They burn through fuel quickly, which is why a driver needs to conserve fuel in whatever way he or she can. The best truck GPS system can help with this task.

A truck GPS device notifies truckers of the fuel prices of each nearby gas station as soon as it’s time to fill up. This information can also be accessed before hitting the road, so a driver can pick and choose the best gas stations to use along the way, even before departing. A GPS for truckers will also provide alerts to the driver when excessive speeding takes place. This helps to avoid burning through gas too quickly.

Alerts & Notifications

Traffic alerts aren’t the only type of notifications that come along with the best GPS for truck drivers. Top GPS models also alert a driver about upcoming restaurants right off the highway when it’s time to eat and truck stops when it’s time to rest. Take the Garmin dezl 770LMTHD as an example. This GPS comes programmed with the Foursquare app, which offers recommendations on shops and restaurants based on your preset preferences.

Mounting Options

The fact that a GPS device is mounted for easy viewing is what makes it so much safer than navigating from a phone. There are 2 common mounting options available for truck drivers: window mounting and dash mounting. A window-mounted GPS is a more popular choice, but if you prefer to have a completely non-obstructed window view, then deck-mounting is an awesome alternative.

Connectivity & Versatility

Are you looking for a GPS device that offers several connectivity options, like Bluetooth or WiFi? If so, you’re in luck - the best truck GPS in 2019 is likely to have both of these and more. Modern GPS devices often come equipped with a microphone and speaker, allowing you to have hands-free conversations while on the road. Look for a GPS that comes with input ports for quick connections to mobile devices.

If you need a versatile device, you'll want to avoid a GPS that is permanently installed within a truck. Installing a GPS in the dashboard might seem like a good idea at first… until you are assigned to drive a different truck. You’ll want a model that can be easily detached. Not only does this allow a driver to change the placement of the GPS within a truck, but it also means that a driver can use it in any truck he is required to drive.

Extra Features

In today's technologically advanced world, it's all about the extra features. There's no shortage of cool additional features when it comes to the best commercial truck GPS system. Look for added features like instant device updates, sunshade screens, and 3D maps. Some modern truck GPS devices even come with lifetime map updates.

Price & Warranty

Unless you work for a trucking company that is paying for the GPS themselves, value for money is a major consideration. There’s no need to spend thousands of dollars on a navigation device when some of the best semi-truck GPS systems are a much better fit within your budget. It’s possible to buy a top-rated Garmin GPS designed for truckers for under $300.

If navigating cross-country routes is your livelihood, investing in a GPS that is covered under warranty is a smart idea. The best-rated truck GPS systems typically come with some sort of warranty period, but it is improbable that you'll find one with a warranty that lasts for more than 1 year. Keep in mind that a refurbished product is unlikely to come with the original warranty coverage. In most cases, refurbished or renewed GPS systems offer a 90-day warranty.


6 Best Truck GPS Systems Reviewed

1. NAVRUF

Screen/Display Size

9”

Display Resolution

800 x 480

Battery Type & Life

Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 1 hr

Connectivity

None

Storage Capacity

8 GB

Warranty

No

The best truck GPS device on our list of reviewed and rated truck GPS systems is the Navruf model. The main reason that this is our top pick for a truck GPS tracker is the large screen size. Every trucker knows the importance of a large GPS screen, but unfortunately, a lot of navigation devices fall flat when it comes to screen size. This isn’t the case for the 9-inch Navruf device.

The screen isn’t just large, but it also features fast-reaction touch screen capabilities. This means that you’ll never experience a lag when pushing buttons. On top of that, the screen comes with a unique cover for satellite navigation. This allows the device to effectively block the bright sunlight during daytime driving and reflective glares while driving at night.

The real-voice navigation of the Navruf provides navigation updates, current driving speed, active lane assistant, remaining distance display, ETA, and even intelligent speed camera alerts. With so many real-voice updates offered, drivers don't have to continually look at the screen to effectively navigate. Not only is this convenient, but it's also much safer.

The real draw of this device is the amazing stability of the GPS signal. The Navruf quickly receives and transmits satellite signals, so you won’t have to worry about that annoying “Rerouting” signal due to loss of satellite connection. The only downside is that this device is meant specifically for commercial truck drivers in Europe. Truck drivers in non-EU countries will have better luck with a Garmin GPS system.

Pros

  • Free lifetime map updates
  • Large sunshade screen
  • Intelligent voice navigation
  • Stable satellite signal

Cons

  • Geared towards European drivers
  • Short battery life

2. Garmin Dezl 780 LMT-S

Screen/Display Size

7”

Display Resolution

1024 x 600

Battery Type & Life

Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 2 hrs

Connectivity

Bluetooth, WiFi

Storage Capacity

Uses MicroSD Card (8, 16, or 32 GB)

Warranty

90 days

Garmin is and always will be a well-known name in the GPS industry. A good percentage of the world’s drivers have used Garmin devices to help them get from point A to point B, and this includes truck drivers. But you shouldn’t invest in just any Garmin device if you plan on using it for commercial trucking. You’ll want to purchase the Dezl 780 LMT-S GPS model.

This device was specifically designed with semi-truck drivers in mind. It features a premium 7-inch screen, powered magnetic mounting, and of course, free map updates. If you download the Smartphone Link app, you’ll have access to free live services like traffic and weather updates. CDL drivers love that this GPS provides customized truck routing based on the size, load, and weight of the truck.

The coolest feature of all is the fact that the dezl 780 has voice control capabilities.  While on the road, you’ll be able to enjoy hands-free calling thanks to the Bluetooth feature of this GPS. It even has built-in WiFi, which means there is no longer a need to plug-in to a computer or laptop for device updates. The free map updates that are included with purchase include coverage of the US, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas.

Another thing that sets this GPS apart from the rest is the easy break planning feature. To simplify life on the road, this Garmin device provides time notifications to make the most of each stop. The top of the screen will read something like “Break in 1 Hour”, letting you know when it’s time to stop and rest. One drawback is that it needs some improvement in real-time traffic updates. Keep in mind that since this is a renewed product, it does not come with the normal 1-year Garmin warranty. Instead, you’ll be covered for 90 days.

Pros

  • Easy break planning
  • Bluetooth for hands-free calling
  • WiFi for computer-free updates
  • Customized truck routingCustomized truck routing

Cons

  • Lacks real-time traffic updates
  • Renewed GPS system

3. Garmin Nuvi 57LM

Screen/Display Size

5”, 6”

Display Resolution

480 x 272

Battery Type & Life

Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 2 hrs

Connectivity

None

Storage Capacity

Uses MicroSD Card (8, 16, or 32 GB)

Warranty

1 year

Another top choice from Garmin, the Nuvi 57LM GPS system comes highly recommended among professional truck drivers. Part of the reason for this is the well-respected Garmin name, but there’s more to it than just that. The Nuvi may be small - only 5 or 6 inches in size - but it is a powerful tool for truck drivers everywhere. 

This device comes with built-in Foursquare data that provides information on millions of roadside businesses, restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and other destinations. While you’re en route, you’ll have all of this info right at your fingertips thanks to this device. Drivers can find exactly where they need to go with the “spoken turn-by-turn directions” with Garmin Real Directions. The GPS guides you like a friend by using recognizable landmarks and buildings.

All drivers, not just truck drivers, agree that the best aspect of choosing Garmin are the detailed maps with free updates. The Nuvi 57LM is no exception to this; it comes with detailed maps of the lower 49 US states and free lifetime map updates. To download new maps onto this GPS device, simply register for Garmin Express to update software and sync your device.

One of the most unique features of the Nuvi tracking system is the lane assist capability. The Garmin company describes this cool function: “Nuvi 57LM has lane assist with junction view that displays upcoming junctions and uses brightly colored arrows to indicate your proper lane.” Many truck drivers claim that once they become accustomed to this safety feature, they’ll never use a non-lane assist GPS system again.

Pros

  • Backup camera compatible
  • School zone warnings
  • More information at-a-glance
  • Millions of POIs with Foursquare

Cons

  • Small 5” display

4. Garmin dezl 770LMTHD

Screen/Display Size

5”, 7”

Display Resolution

800 x 480

Battery Type & Life

Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 1 hr

Connectivity

Bluetooth

Storage Capacity

Uses MicroSD Card (8, 16, or 32 GB)

Warranty

1 year

This is the last Garmin product on our list, but it’s certainly not the least. The dezl 770LMTHD is similar to the dezl 780, with a few minor differences. The 5” or 7” display provides customized route tracking based on truck size and weight. There are also millions of preprogrammed options for establishments to visit along the way. Users receive lifetime access to map updates of the North American continent, plus Lifetime HD Digital Traffic.

The glass display screen allows you to see more, and the Spoken Garmin Real Directions allow you hear better. The clearly-spoken turn-by-turn directions create a much safer driving experience. Rather than only referring to the names of hard-to-see street signs, this navigation system refers to easy-to-see landmarks and buildings as references.

Not every Garmin device comes with the HD Digital Traffic feature, but the dezl 770MTHD does. The Garmin company feels that this is the best possible solution to dealing with on-road traffic. With the HD Digital Traffic software, the device receives traffic updates every 30 seconds. This is 10 times faster than any other GPS system manufacturer has been able to offer. In addition to traffic information, this device offers helpful HD Weather updates.

Did we mention that the 770MTHD is Bluetooth compatible? What about the fact that it offers highly-rated truck-specific points of interest, like truck stops, weigh stations, parking, and lodging. We could continue to go on for days about the cool features of the dezl 770LMTHD. The only potential downside is that some truck drivers feel that this GPS is complicated to use at first. All the high-tech features can be challenging to get used to, but the Garmin support team can help. 

Pros

  • Customized truck routing
  • Relevant POIs recommended by Foursquare
  • Road warnings and traffic updates
  • Voice-activated navigations

Cons

  • Difficult to use at first
  • Short 1 hr battery life

5. Rand McNally TND 740 IntelliRoute

Screen/Display Size

7”

Display Resolution

1024 x 600

Battery Type & Life

Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 2 hrs

Connectivity

Bluetooth, WiFi

Storage Capacity

16 GB

Warranty

90 days

The lightning-quick, cutting edge, fully redesigned Rand McNally TND 740 is another top choice when it comes to the best truck GPS systems. This model is a fifth-generation TND device, meaning that the TND line of GPS systems was redesigned 5 times before the impressive 740 IntelliRoute was created. With so many updates and reconfigurations, the Rand McNally company has learned the ins and outs of effective navigation for truckers.

A driver can set customized warnings on the things that he or she would like to hear. This includes alerts on speed limit changes, sharp curves, narrow roads, and more. The device has WiFi connectivity, allowing a driver to easily connect in order to search for local fuel prices, live traffic updates, and weather information.

Truck drivers love the advanced lane guidance of the TND 740. This feature allows drivers to prepare for whatever is ahead, no matter if it’s a sharp turn or complicated highway junction. You can even view these junctions in 3D with the split-screen display, which provides lane guidance for drivers managing these complex interchanges.

The powered magnetic mounting system holds the device securely to the dash or window. When it’s time to remove the device, it can quickly be done by releasing the mounting mechanism in one even movement.  Some reviewers claim that the maps need to be updated before using the device, but this is easy and can be done in a matter of minutes. 

Pros

  • Customized warnings
  • Live traffic and weather updates
  • Advanced lane guidance
  • Provides toll cost information

Cons

  • Needs map updates before use
  • High cost

6. TomTom VIA 1535TM

Screen/Display Size

5”

Display Resolution

480 x 272

Battery Type & Life

Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 2 hrs

Connectivity

Bluetooth

Storage Capacity

4 GB

Warranty

1 year

The TomTom VIA is a trusted tool among the trucking community. This GPS model has everything you could ever need. Even though it lacks WiFi connectivity, it ranks high for everything else. The most-loved feature of the TomTom 1535TM is the Advanced Lane Guidance. The GPS tells you exactly which lane you should be in ahead of time, so there’s no confusion at congested highway junctions.

Drivers also love the voice recognition feature through the device’s Bluetooth. You’ll be able to tell your TomTom exactly where to go, without ever having to touch the screen or take your eyes off the road. This voice recognition also makes hands-free calling possible. Just connect your TomTom to your mobile phone via Bluetooth, and you can start taking and making calls while on the road - completely hands-free.

Local information is right at your fingertips with the TomTom GPS. The pre-installed maps come equipped with tons of POIs, including gas stations, restaurants, and truck stops. If you ever need help while on the road, TomTom has got your back. The device offers roadside assistance by connecting you to a specialist wherever and whenever you need one.

In addition to updating maps, TomTom, users can easily update safety camera information. This allows a driver to drive with the latest safety camera information throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico.  The main drawback of the 1535TM device is the limited storage capacity. If you need to update your maps - which eventually you will - you might need to purchase an additional microSD card. The device has just 4GB internal memory, but this can easily be fixed by investing in an 8, 16, or 32GB SD.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Free lifetime updates
  • Voice recognition
  • Options for roadside assistance
  • Integrated mount for window or dash

Cons

  • Small screen size
  • Limited storage capacity

Truck GPS vs Regular Car GPS

There are some significant differences between truck GPS systems and GPS devices meant for driving cars and SUVs. Just consider the differences in the driving experience as a whole. The maximum weight for a semi-truck in the United States in 80,000 pounds, while the average car weighs less than 4,000 pounds. The massive size and heavy weight of a truck mean that the same roads and routes cannot be taken.

Using a regular car GPS for truck driving isn’t just inconvenient, but it can also be very dangerous. Truck drivers need to use a navigation and alert system that is specifically designed for driving a commercial truck. A regular GPS will not provide necessary information on things like forbidden routes and weigh stations along the way.


Truck GPS Phone Apps

These days, there’s an app for everything. There’s even an app for truck drivers in need of GPS service. In fact, there are several truck GPS phone apps to choose from. Whether you’re looking for the best truck GPS app for iPhone or Android, these are a few of the most popular trucking apps available right now.

Phone App

Android

iPhone

Best Feature

Yes

Yes

Real-time truck parking availability

Yes

Yes

Unlimited number of truck routes

Yes

Yes

Reliable offline maps

Yes

Yes

Routing profiles for multiple drivers

Yes

Yes

Complete list of fuel prices

Yes

Yes

Provides weigh station bypasses

Yes

Yes

Management of trucking business

Yes

Yes

Lowest prices on over 7,000 gas stations


How to Use a Truck GPS

We can’t give you specific details on how to use a truck GPS only because each GPS device is different. You’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions on setting up and operating your new truck GPS. However, you can use these steps on how to set up a truck GPS as a guide:

Step 1: Remove the device from the packaging and locate the product’s official user manual. Always refer to this manual for installation and operation.

Step 2: Inspect the 3 main pieces of the device. These include a power cord, the GPS mounting mechanism, and the GPS itself (a small box with a screen on the front).

Step 3: Place the GPS device into the mounting mechanism and mount the device within the truck. The mounting position should never obstruct a driver’s view of the road.

Step 4: Plug the appropriate end of the power cord into the GPS device and the other end into the truck’s power source.


Truck GPS Maintenance

Just because you have purchased the absolute best GPS for commercial truck drivers doesn’t mean you can forego caring for and maintaining the device. Just like all top-rated electronics, truck GPS requires maintenance. The main thing you can do to preserve your device is to keep up on updates. Many GPS systems update automatically, but some require the user to do it manually.

Do your best to keep the GPS system clean from dust and dirt. This is easy, just take a damp cloth or paper towel and wipe it down every now and then. Avoid overcharging your GPS; continually charging the battery can cause the device to overheat and malfunction. The risk of overheating also occurs when the device is kept in direct sunlight for long periods.


Truck GPS: Common Issues & Fixes

The most common issue relating to a truck GPS has to do with out-of-date information. As we mentioned above, it is important to update the device whenever an update is available, just like you would with your smartphone. As long as you do this, you can prevent outdated information from taking over your GPS and causing it to malfunction.

Another GPS issue experienced by some truck drivers is the inaccuracy of location. This is a major problem, but luckily it’s one that can easily be fixed. Inaccurate location is almost always due to an antenna experiencing difficulty picking up or holding on to satellite signals. To fix this, simply adjust your antenna (or GPS system) to a  position that has clearer views of the sky.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you set Google Maps for trucks?

No, Google Maps does not have an official "truck mode" as it does for driving a car or walking on foot. This is why a commercial truck driver must invest in a truck-specific GPS and download helpful truck driving apps.

Can a car GPS be used on a truck?

Absolutely not. Commercial trucks are required to take unique routes and are forbidden from certain roads due to their massive size. A GPS that is only designed for driving a car should not be used for driving a truck.

Is it worth it to buy renewed and refurbished GPS trackers?

Not really. Similarly to buying a refurbished iPhone or renewed audio turntable, a GPS that has been refurbed or renewed isn't likely to last as long as a brand new device. You might get some good use out of it, but the average lifespan of a modern truck GPS tracker is much longer. However, investing in a renewed device isn’t a bad choice for anyone on a budget.

How do I update my truck GPS?

Most GPS systems can be updated by connecting the device to a desktop or laptop. This can be done using a mini USB cable. Once connected, you’ll be prompted to sign in or create an account with the manufacturer’s website. Then, just follow the steps provided to update the device.

Can GPS work without an internet connection?

Technically, you never need an internet connection for your truck GPS to function. The device works by picking up satellite signals from the sky. You might have difficulty picking up a signal on cloudy or rainy days, but the top manufacturers of truck GPS systems have done their best to prevent this from happening.


Conclusion

It’s easy to assume that a Garmin GPS device would come first on our list of truck GPS systems. But we’ve decided to give the #1 ranking for best truck GPS to the Navruf 9” Truck GPS. The main reason for this is the oversized 9-inch screen.

In addition to this helpful feature, the Navruf has a lot going for it. However, if you’re looking for more connectivity options, you’ll want to choose a different device, like the dezl 780 by Garmin.

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