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The Difference Between Category 5, 6 & 7 Car Trackers?

11 Dec 2014 15:42:37

If you’re buying a new car, your car has been stolen or you want to lower your insurance premiums - you may be thinking about purchasing or replacing a car tracker.

While you were conducting your research, you probably came across ‘Thatcham approved’. They’re an industry-accredited body, so you’ve probably heard the name even if you didn’t know who they were.

When you were doing your initial research into Thatcham trackers, you may have noticed three different category classifications: cat 5, 6 and 7.

New Accreditations

Before we progress any further, we need to inform you that Thatcham Accreditations have undergone significant change.

In January 2019, category 5 and 6 trackers are no longer sold (but they’re still valid) and have been replaced with the S5 and S7. See the image below for a visual representation.

New Accreditations

To clarify, if you want a new tracker you need to buy a 5S or S7, but if you have an old 5, 6 or 7 tracker it’s still valid.

We’ll give you a breakdown of the new trackers, plus their benefits and features. But first, let’s explore who Thatcham are and whether they’re reliable.

Who Are Thatcham?

Established by British insurers in 1969, Thatcham is an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to establishing and maintaining strict safety and security standards for road vehicles in the UK.

Thatcham is funded by the insurance industry, with the core aims of reducing the cost of motor insurance whilst staying at the forefront of the latest vehicle technology research.

Who Vets Thatcham Trackers?

The criteria that tracking devices must meet for categories 5S and S7 are set by the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, more commonly known as Thatcham Research.

If a product has the Thatcham Quality Assurance (TQA) attached to it, you can guarantee it’s a quality product because it’s approved by the insurance industry.

So, any manufacturer can build a product and sell it as long as it’s approved by Thatcham.

Thatcham Device Categories 

What is Thatcham Category S5?

In January 2019, Thatcham category 5 was replaced with Thatcham S5. Although all category 5 systems are compliant, all new S5 systems require Driver ID Tags.

Thatcham category S5 is the gold standard of insurance industry accreditation, and is awarded only to the very highest specification tracking devices providing the greatest level of security and recoverability.

To qualify for category S5 devices are required to provide level 1 police response, a police or licensed security agreement, driver identification, motion sensors, plus street mapping and position data reporting utilising GPS and GSM technology.

Category 5S systems are more likely to be approved by high-end vehicle manufacturers such as Lamborghini, Bentley, Hummer, Bugatti, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche and Audi.

With such a high spec, cat S5 trackers are popular with owners of high-value and high-performance vehicles, but they'll offer added security and peace of mind to drivers of any vehicle. They’re also popular with fleet owners.

Benefits That Are Exclusive to Category 5 Trackers

  • Driver ID card - if your car is stolen you’ll be notified within minutes via the card, meaning there’s more chance of the police getting to the culprit. The only way the driver ID is ineffective is if you leave it in your car or on your keys and the thief has stolen them.
  • 1st Police Response - the police use three levels of response when dealing with crimes: one, two and three. One is an immediate response, so if your vehicle is stolen you will take priority (unless there are extreme circumstances).

What’s the Difference Between Category 5 and S5?

  • Remote Engine Immobiliser - if your vehicle has been stolen and the police cannot get to it, you can request an engine immobilisation. The police will wait for the right moment (usually when the car is stopped) and disable the engine. However, insurers don’t deem this a necessary function anymore because of the low rate of usage.

Common Category 5 Features

Features will vary from device to device, but here are some of the most common:

  • 24hr Monitoring
  • Nationwide Installation
  • European Coverage
  • Motion Sensing Alert
  • Battery Backup
  • Low Battery Alert
  • Battery Disconnect Alerts
  • Transferable
  • Internet Enabled
  • GPS & GSM Blocking Alerts
  • 2-3 Year Warranty

Although all our products are Thatcham approved, there are several products on the tracker market. We supply category 5 trackers from Vodafone Automotive, SmarTrack, and ScorpionTrack.

What is Thatcham Category 6?

The Thatcham category 6 device was replaced with Thatcham S7 device on the 1st of January 2019. If you have an S6 device it’s still valid, so don’t worry about buying a new device.

Thatcham category S6 devices deliver many of the same advantages as category S5, including positioning and street mapping.

Some category 6 devices may also include optional driver identification and a police or licensed security agreement. However, category 6 does not include remote immobilisation or level 1 police response.

Most category 6 trackers also now offer the facility to track your vehicle over the internet.

What is Thatcham Category S7?

Thatcham category S7 trackers also provide an excellent level of tracking ability, and although they don't quite meet the full criteria for cat 5 or 5S, they can provide a selection of the features that you would find on more advanced models.

They’re the most popular category as they provide coverage for most mid to low-range vehicle models and offer reliable protection against vehicle theft such as Nissan, Mitsubishi, and VW - and some packages even cater specifically to high-end models like BMW.

Benefits of Category S7 Devices

  • 24/7 Control Room Monitoring - if your vehicle is stolen, there’s a fully-staffed control room that can direct the police towards your vehicle using real-time tracking.
  • Global/European Coverage - sometimes thieves steal vehicles so they can export and sell them abroad, a tracker will identify if your vehicle has left the country. Also, using your car abroad is safer.
  • Motion Alert - thieves can move cars without starting the ignition, a motion sensor will detect any attempts to tow your vehicle and report back to the control room.
  • Tamper Alert - the tamper alert will automatically report back to the control room if the battery wires are cut, or if it’s disconnected.
  • GSM Jamming Protection - GSM jammers are devices that disable the GPS signal on a tracking device, however, a jamming alert will be sent as soon as any intrusion is detected.

Common Category S7 Features

  • Insurance Approved
  • 24hr Monitoring
  • Nationwide Installation
  • Fitted by Approved Installers
  • European Coverage
  • Motion Sensing Alert
  • Battery Backup
  • Low Battery Alert
  • Battery Disconnect Alerts
  • Transferable
  • Internet Enabled

Our cat S7 devices, including the Tracker Vantage and RAC Trackstar TM470, offer excellent value for money for drivers on a budget.

What's the Price Difference Between Category S5 and S7?

Prices for a category S5 tracker range between £500 pounds and £700 from Trackerfit. Prices for S7 category trackers range from £200 to £450. The tracker you buy will depend on your vehicle and your requirements, so you can pay anywhere between £200 and £700 - visit our product area for more information and specifications.

How Can Trackerfit Help Me Get the Right Tracker?

If you're still not sure which category or brand of tracker is right for you, we'd be more than happy to talk through different options.

We have more than 25 years experience of supplying and installing a wide range of systems to track and recover stolen vehicles, and we are Thatcham approved installers for Vodafone Automotive, Trafficmaster, SmarTrack and Tracker.

We source our trackers from leading manufacturers and meet the highest standards of quality, manufacture and reliability.

For moreinformation or to speak to a specialist, call us now on 0800 096 3092.

Posted in News By Mike Farrar