The Best Place to Put a GPS in a Car

By David Lipscomb

Locating a GPS system involves safety and convenience.
i Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

Standalone navigation systems offer accurate location mapping for your vehicle. Using the orbiting GPS satellites, these devices allow you to navigate your way through unfamiliar towns and cities. Placement of the GPS navigation unit should be a considered process, observing safety considerations and local ordinances. Using windshield, dash or vent mounts, place your GPS unit where you can glance at the device without taking your eyes completely off the road.

Basic Placement

Sit in the driver's seat as you normally would. Place the GPS display on the dash, as low as possible. Experiment with positioning to determine the most comfortable location when glancing at the unit. According to TomTom and many windshield obstruction laws, you should never place the unit directly under the rear view mirror. The device should be located such that you can easily see the display, but it does not interfere with your view of the road. Apply the suction cup to the windshield at this location. If local regulations or the angle of the windshield do not allow windshield mounts, place the unit on the dash using one of the many available dash or vent mounts.

Laws and Ordinances

Be certain that windshield mounting is legal in your state. California, for example has a law prohibiting obstruction of a driver's view. Known as VC Section 26708, the law applies to side windows in addition to the windshield. This law was amended in 2008 to allow corner windshield mounting of GPS units when no other option is available. Laws for mounting GPS units on windshields generally revolve around placing nontransparent items on the glass in a certain area. Regulations that prohibit center windshield suction mounting of a GPS unit typically allow placement of a 4 square inch to 7 square inch device at one of the corners on the windshield. Determine your local specific ordinances prior to committing to a mounting location. If your local or state ordinances restrict windshield placement entirely, your best bet is to place the unit as low as possible on the dash, using one of the many available weighted friction mounts. Dash mounts are generally not governed by these ordinances since the unit is not mounted to the glass, and since most GPS units are not large enough to block your view when dash mounted.

Mounting Alternatives

Innovative kits are available from a number of manufacturers for mounting the GPS unit using a weighted dash mount. These mounts keep your GPS unit at eye level, while keeping the unit mostly out of your field of vision. These mounts allow convenient and useful placement of the unit while complying with windshield-mounting ordinances. Friction mounts facilitate quick removal of evidence of the installation if you are leaving your vehicle unattended for some time. Mounts include universal units with adjustable side clamps for a phone or GPS unit, to polished flat discs to use with the suction mount that came with your GPS device. Vent mounts are also available to clip the GPS unit to one of the heating and cooling louvers.


In addition to safety, there may be a cosmetic concern involving outlet plug and other tethered wiring stringing throughout the cabin of your vehicle. Many cars offer cubby holes on the dash, typically in close proximity to the stereo. This allows you to place the unit close to another electronic device you frequently glance at, while keeping your view of the road unobstructed. The space inside the storage holes potentially allows you to tuck away the mess of wiring attached to the GPS unit. These storage nooks often incorporate a USB power port and other attachment points for cabling for a variety of devices besides your GPS unit.