Is Navigation in Cars Free?

Is Navigation in Cars Free?

Nobody uses the built-in navigation systems in cars anymore, and that’s not an exaggeration. CarPlay and Google Maps have sent navigation systems into oblivion. If you’re considering using your car’s navigation system, you should know if it’s even free to use.

The built-in navigation system in many new cars costs anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000, but they don’t require a monthly subscription to use. Using an external navigation system will only cost you around $200, but your phone is the best option, and it’s free.

In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about the navigation system in cars, especially about the cost. Also, I’ll compare the cost of a standard navigation system with that of alternatives like Google Maps to help you make a decision.

Do All Cars Come with Navigation?

Is Navigation in Cars Free?

The first car with a navigation system appeared in 1981. Since then, car manufacturers have slowly adopted the practice of providing a standard navigation system in their cars.

While there are obvious upsides to a navigation system in a car, some manufacturers still don’t include a navigation system in their cars. Even owners who have standard navigation systems in their cars still resort to using navigation apps on their phones instead.

Also, some car manufacturers offer the option of adding a navigation system to their cars. If you want built-in car navigation, you usually pay a premium, about $1,000 to $4,000 more.

Is Navigation in Cars Free?

If your car houses a built-in navigation system, you must have paid for it, either knowingly or unknowingly. Some cars come with a GPS navigation system out of the box without letting you choose if you even want it.

These internal navigation systems may seem free, but they’re included with the cost of the vehicle. The entire system is made of a screen with a processor and some memory. Navigation systems also require a GPS to be built inside the car.

All of these requirements to fix a navigation system in a car aren’t free. If you don’t pay for them during your purchase, then who will?

Optional navigation systems do a better job of declaring the cost. If you want them included in the car, you must pay an additional amount, usually between $1,000 to $4,000, which is hard to justify.

However, you don’t have to pay to use the navigation system after completing the purchase. Just like Apple CarPlay and Google Maps, most navigation systems don’t require any monthly subscription to work properly.

However, you may have to connect to your cellular data while driving to access internet-related functions since you can’t bring your Wi-Fi router with you inside your car. Some cars have cellular connectivity to enable you to access the internet without having to use your existing cellular data.

Also, if your car doesn’t come with a built-in navigation system, you can use your Android or iPhone as an advanced navigation system with Google Maps and CarPlay. These are usually better than the built-in navigation system in most cars and don’t incur any additional costs.

If you don’t use an Android phone or an iPhone for some weird reason, you can install an external navigation system in your car. These devices are usually cheaper than phones and built-in navigation systems, but they work just as well.

Unless you’re using your phone as your car’s navigation system, you’ll have to pay for it in one way or the other. Even if you’re using your phone, you must always connect to cellular while using the available navigation apps, which incurs additional costs.

Do Navigation Systems Require Subscriptions?

Is Navigation in Cars Free?

The built-in navigation systems on most vehicles don’t require a monthly subscription. Once you’ve purchased the car, you can always use it for free without getting bugged about any monthly subscriptions.

However, you may need to pay around $100 to $300 when you need to update your car’s navigation. While this may sound steep, it isn’t, considering that you only have to update it once every 12 to 18 months.

If you want a free, no-questions-asked navigation system that updates over the air effortlessly, it’s right inside your pocket. Open up Google Maps or Apple CarPlay and you can navigate all you want without ever having to pay for a subscription or an update.

How Much Is the Navigation on a Car?

A built-in navigation system will add up to $4,000 to the original price of your car, which isn’t worth it, given that you can get equally functional or even better navigation by using your smartphone or an external navigation system.

If your car lacks a navigation system, there are many portable GPS navigation systems you can buy and install to add the functionality after the fact.

Some good GPS navigation systems include the Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic which costs $140, the TomTom Go Comfort which retails for $200, and the TomTom Go 620 with Google Assistant, Siri, and a hefty price tag at $210.

While all of these are extra expenses, they’re a more economical option than paying $1,000 or more for a navigation system that only receives an update in a blue moon. For the best experience, simply use your phone.

Do You Have to Pay to Update Navigation in a Car?

If you’re using Google Maps or Apple CarPlay as your car’s main navigation system, updates are frequent and free. As long as you have internet connectivity, the system will always update itself with new roads, businesses, places, and traffic laws.

However, if you’re using your car’s built-in navigation system, updates aren’t usually that easy. Most times, the system can’t download updates over the air. You must purchase a USB stick containing the update before you can run the installation if you’re tech-savvy.

Updates to a car’s navigation system can cost anywhere from $150 to $300, and you may need to hire someone to help install the update if you aren’t very tech-savvy.

On the other hand, most external navigation systems can connect to Wi-Fi and update over the air. In short, you don’t need to purchase any pricey USB stick or pay any installation fees. Simply using your phone is as low-maintenance as a navigation system can ever get.

Gui Hadlich

Hey there! I'm Gui. To be honest, I'm not really that interested in cars. But what I'm really, really not interest in is spending lots of money fixing my car up. Thankfully, I have a father-in-law who's obsessed with cars and a brother getting a PhD in internal combustion engines, so I get to learn about fixing cars. And with Fixing Engines, I hope to help you save a lot of money and take good care of your cars.

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