Tips for in-car Navigation Systems

Scott Benjamin

A couple of years ago, I received an aftermarket in-car navigation system as a gift. It's a portable device -- one that I can easily move from vehicle to vehicle, keep hidden away when it's not in use or even take it along with me when I fly someplace new and need to rent a car. I've used it on local road trips, long cross-country road trips and everything in between. I think it proved itself most-valuable, however, when I was house-shopping a little more than a year ago. For awhile, I used it nearly every day to get in and out of twisty, unfamiliar neighborhood streets -- definitely a helpful device to own.

If you recall, I recently wrote a post about tips for using Bluetooth in the car. One of the things I discovered was that when you search for "Bluetooth tips," you'll get a huge assortment of tips...buying tips, installation tips, troubleshooting tips and more. Well, as you might guess, it's a similar situation for in-car navigation systems.

So, instead of going through all of that (and creating a huge, exhaustive list), I thought I'd just give you a few simple user tips that I've picked up on over the past few years:

Always pre-program your destination before you begin driving. Similar to texting while driving, attempting to enter a new destination into your GPS unit while you're driving is really distracting -- and extremely dangerous for you and other drivers, too.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the features and capabilities you're most likely to use. In addition to all of the standard features (and even on the most basic systems, there are plenty), a lot of the newer navigation systems can get real-time traffic and weather reports (a subscription service, of course), Bluetooth compatibility, video playback and much, much more. Again, you don't want to find yourself fumbling around with those features when you're on the road.

Never leave your aftermarket navigation system in an unlocked vehicle. This one's probably the most obvious, but I figured I'd include it anyway. Actually, it's a bad idea to leave your navigation system anywhere in plain sight within your car or truck -- locked or unlocked. Put it under the front seat, lock it in your car's glove box, store it in the trunk or better yet, carry it with you instead of leaving it behind.

And one last tip that goes along with the previous suggestion: Spend a few extra bucks on a removable dash-mount for your device. Did you know that car thieves are looking for those telltale suction cup marks on your front window? That's right, if they see evidence of a window-mounted device, the bad guys know there's a good chance you've got some potentially valuable in-car electronics stashed inside.

And speaking of stashed away valuables and GPS systems, do you remember this guy and his $50,000 mistake?

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