Google maps is a web mapping system created by Google. You get access to satellite images, street maps, real-time traffic updates, and route planning for three modes of transportation (bicycle, car, walk) – all for free.

Location services on your phone allow you to pinpoint your exact location so make sure it is a setting that is turned on in your cellular device. Furthermore, you will need to be connected to the internet so that means a data plan is required if you’re going to be away from Wi-Fi hotspot (which you likely will be). The moment your data connection interrupts, you could risk using your directions. There is however a feature to use Google Maps offline, but it is very limited in what it can do, and turn-by-turn directions are not feasible.

How to use Google Maps as a Sat Nav

  1. Download and open the Google maps application.
  2. Search for a place to set as the address or hold to pinpoint a specific location
  3. In the bottom right-hand corner, click Directions
  4. Choose driving
  5. Multiple routes may be displayed, if you want to choose a course other than the selected one, then click the grey line.
  6. Tap start to begin navigator
  7. Press exit to stop or cancel the navigation.

If your vehicle has Bluetooth connectivity, Google Maps will automatically synchronize with the system and give you voice directions as they come near. You still, however, will need to set the sat nav to a specific destination before proceeding.

Red lines along a route indicate there is heavy traffic and it would be wise to take an alternate route. Google Maps doesn’t necessarily select the best route for you but does give you the options so you can make the decision best for yourself.

Additional Tips

Consider using a phone mount because it is illegal to use a phone sat nav while driving. To do this, you will need to get a mount, and we recommend an air vent supported mount because there has been some controversy over the dashboard and windscreen mounts. Here are two great options from MPOW, a leading UK seller of device mounts for vehicles:

Mpow Car Magnetic Air Vent Phone Mount

This is a magnet-based phone mount that has a ball head construction with a 360-degree swivel that allows you to adjust the phone to optimal angle placement. The best thing about it is the magnetic hold because there is no need for a bracket, cradle, or clamp. It is compatible with iPhone XS, MAX, 8, 8 Plus, 7, 6s, 5s, LG, Huawei, Samsung Galaxy, S5, S6, S7, S8, and Google Nexus.

Mpow Car Phone Mount

If you don’t like the sound of attaching a magnet to your phone for whatever reason then you can opt for a cradle type phone mount that will connect to your vehicle’s air vent. This phone mount is made from high-quality rubber and can withstand road vibrations or impacts without falling apart. It has a one button release system that lets you easily unequip your cellular device. While the height of the holder is 4.65 inches, you can adjust the width of the mount for phones between the sizes of 4 to 6 inches.


In conclusion, it is entirely feasible to use Google maps as your sat nav, but you will miss out on some of the features that an actual sat nav will provide you. For example, Google Maps relies on a data connection and the moment you lose your internet connection then you can be left stranded without directions. Sat navs, however, are pre-programmed with the maps stored inside the processor and hard drive, and it communicates with wireless satellites from space to give you the correct directions. You also miss out on reversing cameras, dashboard cameras, and other neat features a traditional satnav can offer you. Google maps is an excellent alternative to a sat nav if your budget does not permit you to get a TomTom or Garmin. We hoped you learned how to use Google maps as a sat nav and be sure to check out our related articles.

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