A police scanner can be a great way to access the communication of public services and how they work. Many Hams and even other people are particularly keen on listening in on the calls within the police department.
But if you’re looking for a police scanner to use in a car, all the handheld police scanners are out of question. However, there are some great mobile police scanners as well that are perfect to be used in your car. And in this post we will review the 5 best police scanners for cars.
Best Police Scanners for Cars
Here are our police scanner for cars reviews.
The Uniden BCD536HP is one of the most advanced mobile police scanners on the market, and comes with a huge variety of features. Surprisingly, it also manages to be one of the most beginner-friendly police scanners out there, as it doesn’t require any kind of programming. Just enter your zip code and get scanning!
It receives communications from not only the police department, but also fire, public safety, EMS, military, aircraft and more. It also gets you the latest weather updates, which is a great feature to have if you don’t have a dedicated weather radio.
It supports Wi-Fi to allow you to access the scanner’s functionality right from your smartphone or tablet. The speaker is loud, and the build quality is solid.
- One of the most advanced yet beginner-friendly mobile police scanners
- Doesn’t require any programming
- Receives signals from a variety of services in addition to the police department
- Wi-Fi functionality to allow access from your smartphone or other devices
- While the overall functionality is very user-friendly, using the front panel and figuring out all the buttons and functions linked to them can take a while
The Uniden BCD996P2 is another super advanced police scanner that comes with the ability to receive pretty much everything you would ever want – both digital and analog – except the encrypted channels of course. The reception is very good even with a stock antenna.
It offers location-based scanning and other advanced features just like the scanners we reviewed above. It comes with DC power cords, lighter plug, bracket and AC adapter for easy use in your car. It also lets you customize the functionality quite a bit, including many signal adjustments and even color options for the display.
It supports NOAA and S.A.M.E weather alerts too, boasts a massive 25,000 channels, advanced memory system and a lot more. The sound quality is very balanced and clear, too.
- Super advanced scanner with tons of amazing features
- Great reception, and receives all types of signals with ease
- Lots of customization, including signal adjustments
- Great sound quality
- Just like most other advanced police scanners, this unit is difficult to program too
If you’re looking for a cheaper option without compromising much on the advanced functionality, then the Whistler WS1065 would make a great choice. That said, if you know nothing about technical stuff and maybe you never even programmed a simple Ham radio, then the WS1065 would be a bit too much for you to handle.
It’s actually easy to operate, but difficult to set up for beginners. Using a PC to program it using the software does make things a lot easier, though. Once you’re past the programming hurdle, this unit turns out to be a great value for money scanner. After all, there’s a reason it manages to find its way on our list of the best digital police scanners.
There are tons of features, the unit displays help on each menu, memory backup that keeps your memory safe even when the unit runs of batteries, a lot of organization and arrangement features, a Skywarn Storm Spotter function, digital AGC and great sound.
- Great functionality for the price
- Lots of features and menus, basically all the bells and whistles
- Impressive reception and receives communication from all types of public and other organizations
- Large, functional LCD and backlit buttons
- It would be a challenge to program and set up this unit for beginners
The Uniden BearTracker Scanner BCT15X is another great value for money police scanner for car, which wouldn’t fail to surprise you too with its superior functionality. Many users mention in their reviews how they find it to be the best scanner they ever owned, thanks to the variety of features and great performance.
The BCT15X comes with 9,000 channels, is powered by the TrunkTracker III technology, offers location-based scanning just like some of the much more scanners do, Close Call RF Capture functionality, many preprogrammed channels for state police departments, and great reception.
That all said, it too is another scanner that can give you a hard time with the scanning. So it’s not for someone who has never used anything more than a basic handheld Ham radio. However, using the Proscan PC software would make the programming significantly easier.
- Incredibly functional for the price
- Comes with many advanced features and preprogrammed channels for state police departments
- Great reception and trunking
- Loud enough speaker and impressive build quality
- Very hard to program for beginners
- Doesn’t come with a user manual
The Uniden BC355N is the cheapest option on our list, but the cheap price tag comes with a cost too. It’s an analog scanner, meaning there’s no digital trunking. Many state police and other emergency departments use digital communication systems nowadays, which this scanner won’t be able to connect to.
However, if you’re sure your local police department uses a traditional system, then this unit can turn out to be a very affordable way to listen in on the police calls and other emergency and public services. It’s also a great choice for beginners, as it’s easy to use, program and operate. The speaker volume is great although it sometimes gets a little shaky.
It comes with some advanced features too like Close Call RF capture, weather alerts, pre-programmed search and more.
- One of the cheapest police scanners for car
- It does support many public services that use analog communication systems
- Comes with some advanced features like close call mode as well
- Easy to program and use
- No digital trunking, it’s an analog scanner only
Police Scanner for Cars Buying Guide
The very first factor to consider is whether you need a digital or analog police scanner. Just like you have single band, dual band and even triband and quad band options when choosing a mobile Ham radio, there are these two main types when it comes to police scanners as well.
A digital obviously covers the recent advanced communication channels, while the analog would only allow listening to traditional communication systems. If your local police department has upgraded to a digital communication system, an analog scanner wouldn’t be able to pick up their channels. All but the Uniden BC335N reviewed in this post are digital police scanners.
The other public services a scanner can pick up would be an important consideration for many users too. After all, it’s always great to be able to access other emergency and public services like fire and ambulance in addition to the police.
The programming is definitely one of the most important factors too, and perhaps also one of the most overlooked ones. However, if you buy a scanner without understanding its programming needs, you may regret it, especially if you’re not very familiar with advanced scanners and technical stuff.
Advanced police scanners typically have a complex programming process, although in many cases it could be made easier by using a PC to program the scanner.
Our top pick – the Uniden BCD536HP – is one of the rare few scanners that offers the best of both worlds in the form of advanced digital functionality and little to no programming requirements.