Garmin ELD Review


  • One time purchase- no recurring subscription fees
  • Achieves HOS tracking
  • Easy installation process
  • Can replace the need for paper logs


  • Has an issue with recording idle time as time spent driving
  • Need to change duty status frequently manually
  • Very basic features

What Is Garmin? 

Garmin is one of the most recognized names across the globe when it comes to vehicle navigation systems, so it was no real surprise when they made their foray into the electronic logging device market.

Based in Kansas and operating since 1989, Garmin’s ELD was one of the first to market, meeting the ELD mandate as set out by the FMCSA, and can help eliminate the need for keeping paper logs. It is also one of the few solutions out there that offer a one-time purchase device, making it ideal for fleets that are young or trying to keep a strict budget.


Novice Friendly

Installation is very easy to accomplish, as there is no technical setup involved. You are very unlikely to need support when it comes to installing the device.

Saves You Money

Garmin is one of the few devices on the market that do not rely on a monthly subscription model pricing. You simply pay a one-time upfront cost, and there are no extra charges.

Multi-Device Compatibility

Garmin, being one of the biggest worldwide names in the industry, is “well-connected,” pun intended. This means that the device can be connected to a compatible smartphone (android and apple devices), or even other GPS navigation devices. Such devices work on a modified android system but can help remove the need to get a separate device to pair the hardware with.


  • HOS tracking- keeps track of hours driven, as well as hours remaining per week. This helps keep you compliant with the quota set out by the ELD HOS mandate.
  • Ready to use out of the box- simply plug n play; download a necessary app on your smart device (or use the elog enabled navigational device), sync and you’re ready to go.
  • Exportable reports- using the built-in USB port, all the necessary reports can be exported for inspection. This is necessary since all data is held locally on your smartphone and not backed up in the cloud.
  • IFTA report generation- helps you determine fuel taxes by area, to help you save on fees
  • GPS tracking- the quintessential offering of all their products

How To Install 

It is extremely easy to install, which is one of its major selling points. Not needing technical assistance (which costs money) makes this device appealing to solo-drivers or small businesses that want to keep costs low.

To install, you just need to perform the following simple steps:

  • Connect to a compatible J port. This is standard in the majority of semi-trucks
  • Turn clockwise to lock the device into the port
  • Hold the pairing button to sync with a compatible device
  • The light ring will display a blue color while receiving power, dark blue when activating pairing mode, green when USB transfer is ready, and red if an error has occurred.

How Much Does It Cost?

There is a single, one-time fee of $249.99. This makes it one of the most affordable ELD devices you will ever encounter. The fact that you do not need any expensive third-party components is also another plus.


While Garmin is generally regarded as excellent, there are a couple of issues plaguing their ELD solution, the major one being false duty status. You need to continually toggle your status on or off, as the device incorrectly logs you as still driving even though you may be parked.

It will also start logging again upon the slightest tire movement, such as going up a few feet in a queue (think of a gas station) and logging time continuously.

My Recommendation

As is the trend with one-time purchase solutions, Garmin can be considered light on features. Yes, it does accomplish the bare minimum of HOS tracking, but even this seems a bit hit or miss with the duty status issue many drivers encounter.

The price is great for a small fleet or solo-driver, but if you need more detailed reports, you will be disappointed. Its GPS capability is second to none since historically, that is Garmin’s forte as well.

We can see you making do with this for a few months to a couple of years but are likely to want to graduate to a complete solution when the need arises, but for small fleets, the log system can help start getting you accustomed to ELD systems.