Our Complete Guide To OnStar: What’s Free, What’s Included and What You’ll Love

Agirlsguidetocars Guide To Onstar Services

Lives have been saved, trips improved, and drivers assisted, all because of OnStar.

When we look at buying a new car we always make sure it is equipped with OnStar. Launched in 1996 as a wholly owned subsidiary of GM, OnStar is available in Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Opel and Vauxhall models. The peace of mind and convenience provided by OnStar is crucial to my family.

There are over 11 million customers subscribed in North and South America, Europe, and China. GM is focused on providing connected solutions that create personalized, seamless, on-demand experiences. Do you have OnStar in your car? Here’s a guide to what OnStar can do for you and your family.

Stay connected with OnStar WiFi Hotspot

GM began including an OnStar Wi-fi hotspot in all its models in 2015, and it can be a lifesaver on a long trip. Buy a short term data plan or the $20 per month unlimited data plan and you can connect your tablet or phone to Netflix or YouTube, stream movies and music, or play games all while in your vehicle.  The Wi-Fi hotspot is available in cars with OnStar 4G LTE and each hotspot can connect with up to 7 devices. Keeping the family entertained on the road makes for a very pleasant trip!

4G Lte Can Provide A Wi-Fi Hotspot That Up To 7 Devices Can Connect To. Photo: Onstar

4G LTE can provide a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 7 devices. Photo: OnStar

Crisis Assist: Helping you through the storms

The OnStar command center is constantly monitoring severe weather and disaster situations to keep you safe. OnStar’s Crisis Assist is available 24/7 365 days a year during a natural disaster, severe weather, or any other crisis. Advisors are trained to help you find a safe route, locate loved ones or find shelter: whatever you need. You can even use complimentary hands-free calling minutes to contact a loved one if necessary. Crisis Assist is available at no additional charge with all paid plans.

OnStar AtYourService: A concierge in your car

OnStar AtYourService can help you find the closest store, restaurant, coffee shop, gas station, or museum. It is a great way to effortlessly find places you need to go along the route you are already traveling.  Just push the blue button to speak to an advisor to find what you need along your route.

A few weeks ago when I asked my advisor for directions to Best Buy she asked me if I wanted her to text me a coupon. I sat there thinking, how cool is this? Coupons can be sent right to your phone through the OnStar app. In 2016, customers opened more than 1,541,741 money-saving offers from participating partners, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Parkopedia, ExxonMobil, Groupon and more. More than 12,000 hotel reservations were booked using Priceline via AtYourService.

KeyMaster: Never be locked out again

Ever locked your keys in your car? Most of us have. With KeyMaster it’s not a problem. Just call 1-888-4ONSTAR to have an advisor help you or use the app and unlock the car yourself. Each day more than 1,600 people use OnStar to unlock their car.

OnStar Mobile App: Power at your fingertips

The OnStar mobile app can do so many things for you: unlock your doors, turn on the heat or AC to get the car to optimal temperature, turn on the horn, or turn on your lights. The app also shows you what’s going on with your car like how much gas and oil you have, the tire pressure, and your MPG over the lifetime of the car. It also provides the phone umber and directions to your preferred dealership. If you have an electric car, the app shows you how much charge you have left and how many miles you can go before charging. Also, OnStar’s  Owner center website provides lots of useful information about your car.

The Onstar App Shows Important Information About Our Chevrolet Volt

The OnStar app is full of useful information. Our Chevrolet Volt has plenty of charge and gas for today’s road trip. Photo: Sara LaFountain

Turn-by-Turn Navigation: An easy way to find your way

Some OnStar plans include Turn-by-Turn navigation. Just push the blue OnStarPush button and your advisor will send Turn-by-Turn navigation to your car.  This is VERY helpful when you have young children and you need to get to the closest restroom immediately.

The Onstar Button Is A Touch Away From Endless Possibilities. Photo: Sara Lafountain

The OnStar button is a touch away from endless possibilities. Photo: Sara LaFountain

Roadside and Stolen Vehicle Assistance Provide More Peace of Mind

Have a flat tire or run out of gas?  It can happen to anyone. But, with the push of the button an OnStar advisor will have help on the way with roadside assistance from Allstate Roadside Services.

No one thinks their car will ever get stolen. But if it does, Stolen Vehicle Assistance will track your car’s location with GPS and help the police recover it quickly. With Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, advisors will even send a signal to the car to slow it down when police are nearby. Remote ignition lock will remotely lock your ignition so the thief cannot turn the car on. And Theft Alarm notification sends a call, text or email each time your car alarm goes off, alerting you of a potential theft situation.

Does your car need maintenance? Don’t worry, it will let you know

With OnStar’s Vehicle Manager, your vehicle can run a thorough check of its engine, transmission, antilock brakes and more, and email you the results. And if you want to run a diagnostic check when you’re behind the wheel, just ask an advisor to run one for you.

Automatic Crash Response and Injury Severity Prediction: Help when you need it most

We hope you never have an accident, but if you do, OnStar’s Automatic Crash Response and Injury Severity Prediction will immediately connect you to the right medical professionals. With Automatic Crash Response you will be in touch with an advisor even if you can’t reach the button. Built in sensors collect and analyze information the second a crash occurs.  An emergency advisor speaks to you over your speaker and quickly sends help if you need it.

3 Years On GM and More Good News From OnStar

Having all these services at your fingertips is a gift and OnStar wants everyone to have it. So they’re offering three years of basic OnStar services for US owners of 2011 and newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicles that have OnStar installed but don’t have it activated at no cost and no commitment. All you have to do is push your OnStar button and ask for “3Years On Us” to get started

By the end of 2017 a new feature called OnStarGo will be released to current AtYourService customers. GM and IBM Watson collaborated to create the first cognitive mobility platform. Personalized content will be pushed through the car’s dashboard to maximize productivity and quality of life.

Just think about it, a busy mom gets a reminder that her prescription is ready at the pharmacy 2 miles before she passes it.  Or better yet, your favorite coffee would be pre-ordered, paid for and ready for pickup right as you approach your usual coffee stop. Sounds life changing to this busy mom!

What OnStar Costs: Pick the services most important to you

Every new GM car and truck comes with a 3-month trial of the full OnStar experience. After you’ve learned what you want to keep, there are four plans to choose from: Basic, Protection, Security and Guidance.

Basic is free for 5 years and includes an app with auto start and lock, engine diagnostics, driver feedback, alerts if something is wrong with the car and you can get notifications when service is due from your dealer.

Protection, which is $200 per year, offers emergency response, emergency service and advanced diagnostics in addition to the basic plan’s services. The Security plan, which is $250 a year, adds stolen vehicle notification, vehicle slowdown, which assists police in recapturing your car if it’s stolen, and remote ignition block so if it’s stolen the thieves can’t start it up again. The Guidance plan, at $350 a year, is the top of the line, adding turn by turn navigation, OnStar Advisor services, which is like having a concierge at your service and 30 minutes of phone service–great for drivers who don’t have a cell phone (the car has its own).

Owners can add on a data plan for wifi, more phone calling minutes and the Family Plan, which lets you keep track of a car’s location for $4 per month.

And when you have teens or older drivers out on the road, knowing where they are and that they have access to safety services if they need it gives you great peace of mind.

Sara LaFountain is a former teacher and current Blogger and Caterer. Five years ago Sara founded her blog, Cook... More about Sara LaFountain