Does A Car GPS Need Internet Connection? (Solved)

Wondering if your car needs an internet connection for the GPS to work? Many high-end cars DO come with Wi-Fi hotspots, but are they needed for the GPS to run?

The article below will answer all your questions, including informing you on the advantages of having an internet connection while using the car GPS.

How Does a Car GPS Work Without Internet?

GPS does not need the internet to operate as it is a self-contained system that comes with all the map data already installed inside. Also, the GPS signal works independently of the Internet which means you can even switch Internet data off while using GPS.

You can use offline maps to navigate your directions if you do not have access to the internet at the moment.

Since routes do not change often, the maps already stored in your car’s navigation system will not require the internet to get you where you want to go.

How Does a Car GPS System Work?

To understand why a car’s GPS can work without the internet, first, you need to understand how the GPS navigation system works.

Most modern vehicles come with a GPS navigation system already factory installed. But if your car does not have one, you can purchase it as an additional accessory.

The GPS system uses signals from satellites with maps from your navigation system to plan routes of the destination you have in mind.

For this system to work, you will not require the internet.

Why Doesn’t GPS in Cars Need the Internet?

As we have already mentioned, a GPS is a self-contained system that comes with data preinstalled.

And what we call car GPS is a complex system with the GPS being a minor part of it.

Your car’s GPS is a whole navigation system with some major components, as highlighted below.

The GPS Receiver

The GPS only receives data. In other words, one cannot transmit messages through GPS.

The role of the GPS receiver is to listen to or get signals from satellites and then calculate one’s position on earth based on longitude and latitude.

So the receiver is basically used for positioning.

An Elaborate Map

When you buy a car, its navigation system is already loaded with a map.

In most cases, the map will be of the country the car has been made in, and in other cases, the map can include other countries.

This map contains every landmark and road in the whole country and the associated longitude and latitude coordinates. There is no rule set in stone when it comes to navigation maps.

They can be smaller or bigger and even include the entire continent.

However, note that the maps can be updated or enlarged, which needs internet access.

An Internal Navigation System

By using accelerometers and gyroscopes, the internal system can calculate your movements, turning them into exact geographical locations for you to see where you are at the moment.

So, how do these three components come together? When you turn on your car’s GPS navigation system, it does not know where you are located.

As much as it has a map, it cannot actually tell your location.

The GPS receiver provides you with the initial position, and, in most cases, this is all the GPS contributes to identifying your location.

Once you have a fixed position, it will be matched against an elaborate map to show where one is located.

Once this is done and the drive starts, this is where the third component, which is the internal navigation comes in.

The system calculates the miles or kilometers you have covered and in what direction. It also knows the exact place you turned and where you are going.

What Technology Is Used for a GPS Signal?

The GPS signal uses a network called Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).

The network comprises various satellites using microwave signals that are transmitted to GPS devices to provide information on location, direction, car speed, and time.

That means a GPS not only provides real-time information but can also give you historical data about where your car has been.

To measure the accurate location of your car, a signal receiver will need at least three satellites in line of sight. However, that accuracy will increase if there are even more satellites in sight.

GPS has 32 satellites covering the whole earth for geolocation. Only 24 contribute to the functioning of a GPS system, and the other eight are used as backups.

Benefits of Using GPS While Offline

Here are some benefits of using GPS without the internet.

Save Internet Cost

Though you can have Internet in your car, it’s not always an economical option. When traveling, especially if it is a new place, you are often very keen on your budget.

To save on costs, you can use offline maps instead of connecting your car’s GPS to the internet. Even if you have the internet, you can use it on other things like music apps.

Reduce Internet Dependency

Another advantage of using GPS without the internet is that you will not depend on the internet to get to where you are going.

So, even if you are traveling to rural places where signal coverage is problematic, you will not get lost.

You Still Get Assistance

There is not much difference in terms of support for whether your car is connected to the internet or not.

Even if your car’s navigation system is not connected to the internet, you will still get the support you need. That is because a GPS monitors your position via satellite.

Disadvantages of Using GPS Without the Internet

The navigation system works efficiently with constant updates.

Even if you still get directions while offline, you may miss some details when offline. Here is the major drawback of using a car’s GPS while offline.

No Traffic Details And Live Updates

When online, you will get updated regularly on elements like directions and traffic. But when you are offline, you do not get detailed information on driving directions.

So you might find yourself stuck in a traffic jam because an accident happened, and you did not get an update that could have helped you opt for another route.

Furthermore, sometimes Google maps can be inaccurate, especially if you are going to a remote area.

When you are offline, it will be much more difficult to navigate such an area safely.

We suggest connecting your car’s GPS to the internet anytime you travel to an unfamiliar area.

How Much Data Can a Car GPS Use?

If you choose to connect your GPS to the internet, it is going to use some data. The navigation app uses less than 20 MB per hour.

Note that besides loading maps, the navigation system will also be receiving additional real-time information that uses data.

When you are offline, the navigation system only uses the data installed inside it.

Do You Get More Accurate GPS Directions With an Internet Connection?

Cellular and Wi-Fi towers can enhance GPS direction when you are driving.

What I mean is that the internet accelerates the acquisition of satellite data, allowing you to get accurate directions.

So, while you may not need data to get where you are going, if you need real-time data, then you have to be connected to the internet.

Plus, if you miss a turn when you are online, the navigation system can immediately recalculate and give you an updated route option.

Benefits of having an Internet Connection When Using GPS

As we have already mentioned, using GPS with an internet connection allows you to get accurate data.

Let us break down some of the benefits of connecting a car’s GPS to the internet.

Get Directions Instantly

With online Google maps, there are no delays.

You get your directions immediately, and you can even add markers for restaurants, parking, or any other places you are interested in and get your route immediately.

Get Accurate Directions

One of the advantages of using Google maps online is that you are likely to get accurate directions of where you are going. That is because you are using real-time data and not historical data.

As such, you will not find yourself 5 miles from where you wanted to go.

Get the Best Routes

When using Google maps online, you will always get the best route to use to get to your destination.

While there will be several routes to your place, Google map looks into things like traffic trends, the distance to your destination, the speed allowed on each road, and other factors in determining the best route.

Inform You About Traffic

Another advantage of using Google maps online is that you get real-time data on traffic. You will get informed on whether the traffic jam ahead will add 40, 30, or 5 minutes to your trip.

This can help you decide whether you still want to use that route or seek an alternative.


Car GPS has become important in today’s world, allowing drivers to know where they are going.

When you know you will not have a data connection when traveling, you do not have to panic, as offline maps will still get you where you are going.


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