It’s easy, when you’re researching the right car tracker for you, to become bamboozled by brands and juxtaposed by jargon. One of the common expressions you’ll see, especially when talking about Thatcham-approved car trackers are the terms ‘S5’ and ‘S7’. There is a lot more to these two terms that you might think. 

Here we wanted to take a look at what these terms mean and, more importantly, what features do you get in one rather than the other? What makes a S5 tracker different to a S7? Let’s take a look. 

Both the terms S5 and S7 are just the most up-to-date categories of security products that were first conceived by Thatcham Research. Thatcham was established in 1969 by the motor insurance industry with the aim of reducing the cost of insurance claims within the motor industry, whilst also maintaining safety standards.

Over the years the work Thatcham does has gradually increased to incorporate things like training, reducing whiplash injuries, repair methods, cyber crime and, since the 1990s, addressing car theft. This ultimately led to Thatcham Security Certifications, a robust verification programme for the assessment and recognition of automotive security products. Whilst the categories have changed over the years, this is where the S5 and S7 classification comes into play.

Thatcham test all manner of security products and each is tested rigorously against a set of predefined criteria that they have established. By assessing a product’s functionality and performance, manufacturers and consumers can receive an objective evaluation of the products capabilities that goes beyond sales pitches and marketing taglines.

Difference between S5 & S7:

S5 is a term used to describe ‘Vehicle Tracking Systems’, whilst S7 is deemed to be an ‘Asset Location System’. Of those two, S5 has the higher specification. Simply put, S5 systems are designed to detect unauthorised use of a protected vehicle and increase the probability of the recovery of a stolen vehicle. S7 systems are solely assessed against increasing the probability of the recovery of a stolen asset, whether that’s a car, motorbike, van, etc. 

When you buy a S7-rated tracker (which replaced the CAT 6 version), you get a system that incorporates GPS tracking technology as a minimum. Many will also incorporate GSM, VHF and MESH technologies, but all will utilise a 24/7 control room with monitoring facilities.

S7 trackers will also incorporate global coverage, meaning that if you’re abroad when your car is stolen, or it’s stolen in the UK and moved abroad, the tracker will still be able to locate it. You will also receive motion alerts if the vehicle is moved without the ignition being activated. 

When it comes to the top-of-the-range S5 car tracker, you will get all the features of an S7-rated device with one important difference; Automatic Driver Recognition (ADR). Designed to counteract the rise of key theft and key cloning vulnerabilities, S5 trackers come with a small fob which identifies you as the owner of the vehicle with the tracker installed. 

This ADR fob designed to be kept on your person, rather than installed on your keys, and stops the engine being started if it is not in close proximity to the vehicle. If thieves somehow find a way around this, when movement in the vehicle is detected, an alarm is triggered with the owner and, more importantly, the 24/7 control centre, which will immediately start locating the vehicle. 

There is actually a sub-level above S5 called, not very adventurously, S5+. Devices that meet this criteria also include the ability for police forces to temporarily be given authorisation to immobilise the vehicle.

We hope this has cleared up some of the confusion for you. If you’re looking for a tracker and are somewhat bewildered by all the technicalities of each model, our friendly, knowledgable team are on hand to help you. Give us a call and we’ll do all we can to assist you.