One of the many terms you’ll see and hear a lot, especially when you’re looking to buy a car tracker, is ‘Thatcham Approved’, but what does that mean? What difference does it make to your buying experience and what’s the difference between a S5 and S7 car tracker? Let’s take a look.

What is Thatcham?

The term ‘Thatcham’ refers to Thatcham Research, who are the UKs only independent, insurer-approved research centre. It was started in 1969 and was funded by the motor insurance industry with the aim of improving car repairs and subsequently driving up safety and security standards across the industry.

Their approval centres around their Security Certification; a verification programme designed to assess and recognise automotive security products. It verifies all aspects of the product, from their design, functionality and performance, whilst also testing it against a pre-set list of requirements to provide an objective evaluation of the products capabilities. If it passes, it becomes ‘Thatcham-approved’.

In the 50+ years it has been operating, Thatcham have continued to revolutionise the way cars are made, gradually making them safer and more secure with every year that passes.

Over time, the way Thatcham has categorised the products they approve has changed. If you were to go back to 2018, there were 3 categories labelled Category 5, 6 and 7. A year later in 2019, they simplified this slightly by going down to just two categories; S5 and S7.

Each category represents the way the devices are designed, the features they have and which criteria they meet before they can be installed. Depending on the value of your car, many insurance companies will also make the installation of a Thatcham-approved tracker a requirement of your insurance policy. Whilst it might seem the wrong-way around, it’s the S5, not S7, that is the higher of the two, but what’s the difference in real terms?

In terms of an S7 Tracker, like the SmarTrack Protector Pro Global or the ScorpionTrack S7 ALS, this is the standard requirement for theft recovery systems and, as such, is the most commonly fitted tracking device.

Both an S5 and S7 tracker will share some commonality in terms of feature-set. These include monitoring by a control centre which means, in the event of a theft, you will have a team of trained staff who will liaise with the police on your behalf to track the vehicle down using their real-time tracking software.

In addition, both trackers will have worldwide coverage, so even if your vehicle is stolen whilst you’re abroad or it’s exported once stolen, it can still be found.  Finally, both S5 and S7 trackers will have motion alerts to notify you if your vehicle is moved without the ignition being engaged.  This also applies if you vehicle is towed whilst you’re away from it. So those are the features they share, but what sets an S5 tracker apart from an S7?

A Thatcham-approved S5 tracker, like the SmartTrack S5 D-iD T2 or the ScorpionTrack S5-VTS, will have all of those features, but will also include Automatic Driver Recognition, or ADR. This is designed to counteract key theft or key cloning, which has increased in recent years.

Buying an S5 tracker means you get a Driver ID tag, card or encrypted smartphone app which effectively identifies you as the authorised driver of the vehicle. You would keep this on your person and, should the vehicle be moved or towed without the Driver ID being nearby, you will be notified.

Whichever device you choose, you’re going to be getting an incredible piece of technology. You can find our complete range of S5 and S7 trackers in our store, and there’s going to be one that suits you perfectly.