Garmin ELD 2020

Stay Compliant with Ease

Whether you’re buying a brand new ELD device or looking to replace one, one of the top options is the ELD eLog. Stay compliant while relying on a reputable brand!

Staying compliant with the ELD mandate has led many drivers to seek out the highest-quality ELD devices available on the market. These items come in a variety of prices and have all kinds of unique features to set them apart from one another. One of the most-used devices is the Garmin ELD eLog, which helps you track your miles and time driven for HOS, IFTW, and IRP.

This ELD was one of the first units to hit the market, and it remains one of only a few that doesn’t have a subscription fee. While a lot is going for this device, we want to be sure you have all the facts before you make a purchasing decision. We’ll be looking at everything from what to expect from the eLog to what drivers’ opinions are of it and how to install it if you do choose it for your driving.

The Garmin ELD Important Specifications

The Garmin ELD Important Specifications

While there are tons of great features available with the Garmin ELD eLog, we first want to take a look at this device’s specifications. This will give you an idea of whether this item is right for your needs right off the bat. Afterward, we’ll share what makes this a stand-out product that many drivers have chosen for their trucks.

  • Dimensions: 2.7 x 1.7 inches
  • Weight: 2.6 ounces
  • Supported ports: 9-pin J1939 and 6-pin J1708 with an included adapter
  • FMCSA ELD mandate compliant: Yes
  • USB port for simple record retrieval: Yes
  • Compatible with smartphones: Yes, both Android and Apple devices that are GPS and Bluetooth capable
  • Operating systems supported: Apple 9+ and Android 4.1.x or higher

Garmin Company History

Garmin Company History

Knowing a little about the company behind a product is essential so you can determine how reputable they are and whether their products tend to be of high quality. What you want is a brand that has been working with truckers to provide ELD solutions for a long time, which is precisely what you get when you work with Garmin.

This company was founded in Kansas in the late 80s and focuses on GPS technology. By 2000, Garmin had sold over three million of these GPS devices. Beyond the automotive world, Garmin also provides GPS items for fitness, marine, outdoor, and aviation activities. Garmin is quite well known for offering smartwatches and activity trackers, as well.

Garmin has more than 60 offices and over 11,000 employees to bring GPS and wearable navigation tech to all sorts of markets, with the ELD being no exception. Now that you are aware of a bit about the company, let’s delve into this particular product.

Basic Information About the Garmin ELD

When you purchase a Garmin ELD, what you are getting is a device that can comply with the ELD mandate while offering many of the typical features you would expect. This is a stand-alone logging device that is ready straight from the box. It works with both 9-pin J1939 and 6-pin J1708 ports for versatility to fit almost any semi-truck.

After getting your Garmin ELD ready and recording relevant information, you’ll want to download the Garmin eLog app to an Apple or Android phone or tablet. While this device does record your driving time, it also makes it easy to change or set your drive duty status so you can see the remaining hours you can drive by day or week. All of the records are kept secure on your phone so you can reach them easily during inspections using the USB port or Bluetooth FMCSA Web Services.

Components and Features Included with the Garmin ELD

While this isn’t a high-tech device, it has everything you could want from a basic logging product. The components included with the item are the following:

  • Light Ring – This small ring around the device lights up with a blue color whenever it is powered on. It switches over to a darker blue when you are pairing it with another device. When you connect to it through Bluetooth, the darker blue will light up. The device has a green light when it’s ready for USB transfer and will flash a red color if there is a detected error.
  • Lock Ring – This component of the Garmin ELD is included to make sure the device is secure within a diagnostic port or an adapter cable that leads to the port.
  • Pairing Button – When you hold down this button, it turns on pairing mode so the logging device can find other devices in the nearby area.
  • Rubber Cap – A protective cap is located on the top of this ELD device that can be lifted to find both the pairing button and the USB port.
  • USB Port – The USB port allows you to move files to and from a storage device of your choice.

Benefits of Choosing the Garmin ELD

Benefits of Choosing the Garmin ELD

There are a variety of benefits associated with choosing the Garmin ELD. The first of which is probably the most important, in any case. This is a largely universal device that is simple to install and can fit into nearly any truck out there.

Also, setting up the device is as simple as plugging it in and downloading an app on your tablet or smartphone. Another huge perk of this ELD is that there is no need to pay for a subscription or deal with extra fees just to use the device. That’s something most competitors can’t promise you.

If you want something simple and free of confusion, this is an item made entirely to track your hours. There aren’t going to be a dozen other things going on with it that might distract you. It also ensures the device is good at everything it does, rather than being marginal at offering several things.

All of your time logs are securely and accurately stored when using this ELD by Garmin. Also, you can view them at any time through the USB port of the item or the FMCSA web service. This makes it easier to see logs on your own or to provide them at an inspection station while on the road.

Who is the Garmin ELD Designed For?

As an FMSCA approved device, the Garmin ELD is an excellent product for truckers, fleet owners, and owner-operators who need to keep track of their hours of service (HOS). When you are fully aware of the hours remaining throughout the week, you can avoid being put out of service or needing to pay expensive fines. This is an ideal addition to any truck for drivers who want a complete but easy compliance ELD.

How to Install the Garmin ELD

Unlike many other ELDs on the market, this one from Garmin can be used as soon as it gets to you. It’s also created in a way where it should fit nearly any semi-truck. However, there are a few items you should be aware of during the installation progress to ensure the best results.

You want this logging device to be securely installed so it doesn’t get in the way of the controls to operate your truck, such as the pedals. This can not only lead to lower performance but can also cause an accident in some cases.

Regardless of the vehicle, this item will install into a diagnostic port. How you install it depends on which port is present:

  • Using a J1939 Port – Make sure your truck is off before you start the installation. All you have to do is connect the device to the port while the ring arrow is lined up with the port channel. Next, turn the ring clockwise to lock it in so it’s secure with the port.
  • Installing a J1708 Port – As with the other method, turn your truck off first. Next, take the eLog and connect it to the cable that came with it, being sure the ring is in alignment with the cable channel. Twist the lock ring clockwise, which will lock it into the cable. After that, place the cable into the port and then turn the ring clockwise to secure it properly.

After the actual eLog is installed, it’s time to pair the device with your Garmin ELD eLog application. If you don’t do this, you aren’t going to be compliant with the ELD mandate and will only have a limited amount of functionality. You can get the app for your smartphone or a Dezl android device.

Next, make sure that you pair the device for recording, remembering that all the records are stored securely on your phone or tablet. All records are local and will never upload to the cloud, which can be an issue if you are driving in an area without towers for cell phones.

The Garmin ELD and Driver Feedback

In general, most drivers find that the Garmin eLog works quite well. However, some users have experienced issues with going into non-compliant status. Sometimes this can show up after driving for only 10 hours or so, which can be a hassle. The same problem can also occur with the mileage, where additional miles seem to pop up from nowhere.

It can also be a bit challenging to sync this device to your phone or tablet, especially in situations where many people are working to connect to their devices. The reason for this is that it’s only designed to connect to a single Bluetooth device at one time.

Aside from that, driver feedback on the device is overwhelmingly good. It isn’t hard to use the device, so most drivers will intuitively understand how it functions. However, others might find it takes a bit of time to get used to all of the features.

Pros & Cons of the Garmin ELD

Pros & Cons of the Garmin ELD

While there are plenty of good things to say about the Garmin ELD, we want to be sure you have a full picture of what using it is like. As such, we’ve rounded up a list of the significant pros and cons of using it so that you can make a better purchasing decision.

  • •Thre are zero subscription fees and continuing costs to deal with
  • Electronic logging device is registered with the FMCSA and compliant with current laws
  • The device is easy to set up, simple to work with and fits onto nearly all semi-trucks today
  • Designed to be a stand-alone item rather than requiring additional purchases
  • Can be installed and used straight out of the box for convenience
  • Features compatibility with many of the Garmin Dezl truck navigators on the market
  • Not known to be the most reliable ELD on the market
  • Sometimes connecting to GPS doesn't work or the adapter loses its signal
  • Can place you into drive status any time you go over 5 MPH
  • Might lead to a decrease in phone battery life


Most of the drivers who use the Garmin eLog ELD find it accurate and inexpensive while ensuring you are FMCSA compliant and avoiding any violations. It works well at automatic time tracking and has an easy installation that makes it a cut above some ELDs out there. While it isn’t as high-tech at some models, many choose it anyway because it simply works.

This device has an affordable price with no subscription fees, but the software can be a bit tricky, and you might lose connection on occasion. However, it fits into nearly any semi-truck so you can get started with storing your records in minutes. Since it works with your smartphone, all you have to do is pull that out when you reach an inspection point.

If you’re looking for a simple electronic logging device that is budget-friendly and offers HOS recording, the eLog from Garmin is a great option. It shows you your remaining hours every day or week to ensure you are compliant at all times and not putting yourself at risk.


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