Does anyone use GM OnStar anymore?

Remember when GM Onstar was like the new technology wave? It called help for you, found directions for you, made you feel like you were never alone while driving? This now makes people feel like ‘the man’ is always a part of their daily life, but at the time most thought it was the greatest automotive technological advancement since power steering. Which if you’ve ever driven a car without power steering, you would know its values is incalculable. 

GM OnStar was introduced in 2011 and at the time was one of the greatest driver-assist technological advancements. It allowed you to call for help if in an accident. It seemed like your friendly onboard assistant. Which turned into your friendly onboard snitch.

OnStar’s legal troubles

Soon there were lawsuits relating to accidents where driver’s OnStar information was being pulled and used as evidence in criminal and civil proceedings. Instead of being a friendly driver assist, it became questionably a part of a driver surveillance system that really only served to benefit the insurance companies and the police.

People became fearful of just what kind of information OnStar was collecting and just who would have access to it. As OnStar listened for verbal commands, there were concerns, and reports, that it was collecting information of personal conversations inside the car and that this information may later be available to insurance companies and legal authorities.

GM OnStar was introduced in 2011 and at the time was one of the greatest driver-assist technological advancements.

With technology increasingly becoming a part of people’s daily lives, and ‘listening’ devices become a part of many people’s homes, it seems like the general public forgot about the invasive nature of all of these types of technology and has seemingly embraced it.

The downfall of OnStar

It also looks like GM took many privacy concerns seriously and modified its OnStar services. There was a recently reported incident in Detroit where a woman had locked her child in a hot car accidentally and GM OnStar was unable to access the vehicle and unlock the doors. The woman had disconnected service and the only way for GM OnStar to be able to assist was by her entering the car and pressing the OnStar blue button. Something she clearly was not able to do.

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As technology has advanced, systems like GM’s OnStar have become less useful as drivers have apps on their phones such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay that serve a similar purpose. Most vehicles now come with a built-in infotainment system that allows drivers to plug their phone into the console of their car and utilize apps on their phone in order to connect with their car and its features.

GM’s OnStar really serves more usefulness to older drivers and those more concerned about keeping information secure in terms of having different devices to control different things. Some drivers don’t want their car being accessed through the phone they use for business or personal use.

Instead of being a friendly driver assist, it became questionably a part of a driver surveillance system that really only served to benefit the insurance companies and the police.

Despite all of these concerns, GM’s OnStar is really quite helpful. It does a large variety of tasks that can help in a pinch. The services OnStar provides includes turn by turn instructions, remote control of the vehicle, GPS tracking of the vehicle and a variety of other services depending on the plan. This can be great for families with smaller children and older drivers.

Levels of GM OnStar coverage

GM OnStar offers four different plans with varying levels of coverage.

The basic plan is free for the first five years, with the purchase of the vehicle at new. It includes remote door locking and unlocking, remote horn and lights control, remote vehicle start and destination download which is a GPS assist.

The protection plan is priced at $19.99 per month and offers the same features as the basic plan. It also adds the remote vehicle status app, emergency services, automatic crash response, crisis assist, and roadside assistance. The security plan includes all of the features of the protection plan and adds stolen vehicle assistance for a total of $24.99 per month.

Top of the line GM OnStar service is the guidance plan with retails for $34.99 per month. The guidance plan includes all of the features of the security plan and adds turn-by-turn navigation, and also adds 30 minutes of hands-free calling. All plans include OnStar Smart Driver and AtYour Service and the availability of a la carte add on features of Location Manager and Wi-Fi Hotspot.

As technology has advanced, systems like GM’s OnStar have become less useful as driver’s have apps on their phones such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay that serve a similar purpose.

GM OnStar has reduced some of the services from prior years as cell phone apps have increased in popularity and have started to provide similar services for free. In the long run, the likelihood is that GM and other companies will still continue to offer these features with their car, but they will likely be made to integrate further with drivers’ phones. It will be interesting to see how GM’s OnStar services adapt. 

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