Garmin ELD Device Review- ELD 50 No Monthly Device

Overview of Garmin ELD 

The Garmin electronic logging device (ELD) is simple and easy to use for logging drive time.  The standalone device fits just about any semi-truck and quickly captures hours by day or by week depending on the motor carrier’s requirements.  

There are no subscription costs or any associated fees beyond the initial purchase price. Once removed from its box, the device is ready for use, no assembly required.  It just needs to be attached it the vehicle’s port. A free app is downloaded and will begin to track hours immediately.

The Garmin ELD eliminates the need for manual drive time logging.  Drivers don’t need to spend any extra time ensuring accurate logs are submitted for review as has traditionally been required with pencil and paper logging.  Garmin ELD

The device is smartphone compatible and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compliant. It works to ensure the driver and the motor carrier company are following all federal guidelines for drive time reporting.

There have been pros and cons reported with using the Garmin ELD.  

Those who have needed to quickly switch to electronic logging in order to keep up-to-date and in compliance with industry standards have reported that the device is simple to install and use.  

There is no need for extensive programming and the learning curve is nominal.

However, there have been some reports regarding malfunctions that have cause lag time in tracking, inaccurate tracking,

and a need for a switch to temporary manual reporting.  Similar complaints have been issued for other electronic devices, and many have to do with the sensors include that allow for automatic logging.

According to developers, the ELD tends to work well as long as smartphone software is kept current and the firmware is updated periodically.  Drivers must note and follow any notifications whenever updates are needed to ensure they are staying in compliance and the ELD is working as it should.

 If manual reporting is needed, this can hinder a company’s productivity. Hours must be documented a very specific way and on industry-compliant tracking sheets.

According to Garmin, there will be additional features made available on the ELD in the near future in order for the device to keep pace with industry requirements.  

Whenever features are made available, motor carriers and their drivers will be notified of changes to functionality and will be able to update the device in order to begin utilizing these at the click of a button.  There will be no need to order additional hardware.


The Garmin ELD is a standalone device that comes complete and ready for use right from the package.  It is small, easy to plug in, and will not cause any sight obstruction while driving. There is a USB port on the device for easy records retrieval by the motor carrier company after the drive time has been electronically documented.  Some models come pre-installed with the free app required for use.

This app is also easily accessible for download from any current smartphone. A cable cord is included with the original package, and the devices are also Bluetooth compatible.  All drive time is automatically recorded on a smartphone, which eliminates the need for time-consuming paper and pencil reporting.


The Garmin ELD is an easy to install, all-in-one device that fits just about any truck.  The setup is quick and simple – just remove the device from the box, plug it in, and download the free Garmin eLog app.  Unlike some of Garmin’s competitors, there are no subscription fees or additional fees for use.

The device was designed to be used exclusively for hours tracking.  There are no confusing, nonrequired features that limit accessibility.

The Hours of Service (HOS) recording is FMCSA compliant which reduces risk for the motor carrier company and ensures that drivers stay on the road as much as possible.

The ELD securely and accurately stores time logs that are accessible for viewing via the device’s USB port or FMCSA web services via Bluetooth at a later time.  

Reports can be viewed electronically immediately as well or printed for file keeping. Some models do not require a smartphone because the app comes pre-installed on the device.

Drivers and motor carrier companies are encouraged to review the features and specifications carefully before purchasing to ensure they are using the right model for their company’s needs. Garmin ELD

Many drivers have reported that the Garmin ELD is one of the simplest to install and to use on the market and have made the switch to the Garmin device after being unable to figure out competing devices that are not so intuitive to set up.  

Because there are no additional fees required and the product comes complete with everything that’s needed, it is more accessible than many of these other models.

Companies looking to quickly become compliant with changing industry requirements can purchase the Garmin ELD and update both the firmware and software as new features become available rather than worrying about purchasing paper and pencil logs every time the requirements change.  This greatly reduces costs.


Some trucks will require a certain adapter cable for the ELD to work properly.  This is sold separately with a price range of $25-$40. However, the device is compatible with most truck models.

Also, because the Garmin ELD relies on e-logging, errors have been noted by some drivers, and there is a very specific protocol for reporting these in order to remain in compliance.  The driver must note any device malfunctions and provide written notice to the motor carrier within 24 hours.germin eld

The driver must also reconstruct the Record of Duty Status (RODS) for the current 24-hour period as well as the previous seven days on graph-grid paper logs which are 49 CFR 395.8 compliant and continue to manually record hours until the device is reinstalled and working properly again.  

Meanwhile, the motor carrier must repair or replace the device within eight days and ensure the driver is manually recording hours during any downtime.

If the Garmin ELD malfunctions, the need for retrospective recording in addition to adding logs for any drive time that occurs during this period can be costly and time-consuming, leading to lower productivity.

Drivers have also reported that the device has a tendency to malfunction every time the vehicle is turned off, or there are significant delays with rebooting once the engine is restarted.  This is because the ELD needs to relocate the Bluetooth ready smartphone each time there is a reboot.

The Bluetooth can, at times, disconnect and reconnect when a truck is turned off, then restarted, causing another log entry and thus making the entries far more extensive than needed when printed.  

Drivers have also indicated the ELD’s text is very small and difficult to read, particularly when on the road, and the device’s light installed for use during nighttime commuting is far too bright and can be distracting.  Both of these issues can cause drivers to momentarily take their eyes off the road.

Since the device beeps when the vehicle is started and beeps again once the operator begins to drive, sometimes the device will continue to beep repeatedly in stop and go traffic.  The sensor activates even though the truck is still in motion. 

The Garmin ELD also has a tendency to begin recording drive time as soon as the engine starts rather than when the truck is in motion, and since there is no way to edit the logs,

a driver cannot manually fix inaccurate recording.  Some drivers have reported there is a lag time when changing duty status which affects time tracking.

The Garmin ELD firmware needs to be kept updated in order to maintain compliance.  If truckers do not take the time to update the firmware, the time logged will be inaccurate or the device may cease to document time altogether.  This will induce a need for manual reporting.

Truckers need to pull over and park their vehicles with the engine running until all updates are completed,

which can cause delays on the road.  It is important for the driver to be aware of any notifications that come across the screen, however, and follow the instructions carefully.

Many drivers have inquired about IFTA tracking and this is not currently available on the Garmin ELD.  However, developers have indicated the feature will be coming soon.

The International Fuel Tax Agreement (or IFTA) is an agreement between the lower 48 states of the United States and the Canadian provinces that simplifies the reporting of fuel use by motor carriers that operate in more than one jurisdiction.  

This is a new requirement, so the device was not developed to include such tracking.

The ELD does not support Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (or DVIR), which allows drivers to complete and submit daily vehicle inspections via an in-vehicle tablet.  There is currently no solution available for this.

Costs Of Garmin ELD

The only required cost associated with the Garmin ELD is the initial purchase price, which is estimated at $250.  This makes the ELD affordable for large and small operations alike. There are no subscription fees to utilize the ELD, or any other costs associated with use. 

The compatible app is free to download, and all updates are free. Cell phones and carrier plans are sold separately. Some navigators have the app pre-installed, so a smartphone is not required.  An adaptor cord may need to be purchased depending on the type of port the truck has in order for the ELD to function.  

This can cost anywhere from $25 to $40. Vehicles with Volvo engines and a 16-pin J1962 require a separate cable.  An additional protection plan can also be purchased, which will come into effect should the ELD need to be repaired or replaced at a later date.  Some restrictions apply.


A quick start manual comes in the ELD package and acts as an easy setup guide.  There are just a few simple steps a driver or motor carrier must follow in order to enable the Garmin ELD.

 The driver must have the Garmin ELD and smartphone handy prior to installation, and the phone’s software must be up-to-date in order to properly complete the process.

A driver should begin by opening the app store on the smartphone, searching for the Garmin eLog app, and downloading it once it appears on the screen.  

Then, the driver would open the app and review and agree to its terms and conditions of use, selecting ‘continue’ when ready.

A notification to allow location services should appear and ‘always allow’ should be selected from the list of options.  Then, the truck should be turned on and the device should be plugged into the port. Installation is complete once the lock ring is turned clockwise and the ELD is secured into the port. 

The driver will then push the button on the ELD for one second until a beeping noise is heard.  On the smartphone, ‘view nearby adaptors’ is selected and the phone should automatically find the device.  

Sometimes the model will need to be manually inputted in order to finish setup.

From there, an administrator account with all required information is created and the driver should log into the account.  Once logged in, the Garmin ELD is ready for use. Hours will begin to be tracked as soon as the vehicle is in motion.


Motor carrier companies and their drivers hoping to ensure compliance and looking for an easy to use solution for recording drive time will appreciate the Garmin ELD’s quick installation and automatically time tracking.  

Those who are not particularly tech savvy or who are hesitant about making the switch from manual to electronic logging will especially appreciate the simple step-by-step process. Many companies have opted to transition from more complex models to the Garmin ELD in order to get up and running more seamlessly.  

The Garmin ELD stands alone and fits into the port of just about any semi-truck.  The driver needs only to remove the device from the box, plug it in, and download the free Garmin eLog app in order to initiate time tracking.  A simple setup manual is included in the packaging.

No Hiddent Fees is Most Important Factor When Choosing Garmin ELD

There are no additional fees for using the Garmin ELD beyond the initial purchase price, which is estimated at $250, unless the vehicle requires an adaptor cord which is sold separately for $25-$40 depending on the specific plug needed.  

The app used for documenting drive time hours is free to download and sync to the device. A protection plan can be purchased separately for an additional nominal fee if desired.


There have been some cons reported by drivers and companies using the Garmin device.

Some owner operators have indicated there is a lag time when making status switches, which must be made whenever a driver changes between being on and off duty.

This lag time can lead to inaccurate logging, which cannot be manually edited.

The device has also been known to malfunction when a vehicle is turned off, then restarted again.  Each time a truck is restarted, a new log appears, which leads to a lengthy printed report when the timesheets need to be reviewed.  

Many drivers have also indicated that the Garmin ELD will make a beeping noise in stop and go traffic, because the device beeps whenever the engine is started and again whenever a truck is put into drive.  The sensor activates even though the driver is not actually parking then moving again.

The Garmin ELD works well with any updated smartphone.  The phone’s software needs to be kept updated in order for the device to function properly, and the device’s firmware also needs to be kept up-to-date.  If the phone’s software is not current, it will need to be updated prior to beginning the installation process. Otherwise, setup will fail.

Anytime there is a delay in documenting hours or the device malfunctions altogether, a driver is required to report this to the motor carrier company within 24 hours.  The company must then repair the product within eight days, and during this downtime, the driver must manually record hours.  germin eld

The recorded hours need to be documented and submitted on federally compliant time sheets.

Therefore, it may be necessary for drivers to continue to have these sheets handy in the vehicle with them should a malfunction occur that disallows them from electronically reporting their time.

Since the Garmin ELD is Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compliant, ensuring it is installed and working as it should is the best way to track hours without worrying about inaccurate or nonexistent reporting.

 Reducing errors and the time it takes to document hours driven allows truckers to stay on the road longer and keeps productivity up.

According to Garmin developers, in the near future, the ELD will include IFTA tracking, although this is currently unavailable on device.  Drivers need only to update the app once this feature is rolled out in order to begin using it.  

As more industry compliance requirements are mandated, developers will continue to update Garmin ELD features.  Since the device can easily be brought up-to-date via a smartphone and by updating the firmware periodically, there is no need to purchase additional hardware.


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