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Old 02-22-2014, 10:42 AM   #1
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GM OnStar ... Worth Subscribing?

I've had my new GM tow vehicle for a few weeks, it came with 6 months free OnStar service. This is the first new GM vehicle I've owned for a while, and the first equipped with OnStar.

I can see some benefits to the service, particularly related to maintenance, accident response, and theft deterrence.

But the 24.95 monthly fee ... !

I'd appreciate hearing opinions from GM owners ... is it worth subscribing to OnStar?
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Old 02-22-2014, 10:53 AM   #2
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I'm in your same situation and am thinking no. With a smart phone a lot of the OnStar features aren't needed.

John S.
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:06 AM   #3
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We subscribe.

The phone app for starting and unlocking remotely is handy, if one's vehicle is so equipped.

We do travel off the beaten path some, and it has been my experience the Onstar phone works in places our iPhones don't. This is mainly due to the outside, vehicle mounted antenna.


The price can be bought down some with a yearly plan, compared to a monthly payment.

Having said all that, all of our cars are GM, but the truck we tow with is the only rig we keep Onstar on. In my daily driver, I unplugged the Onstar box and replaced it with a bluetooth interface from these folks: http://www.costartech.com/pb/products/bluestar.html. The device is a plug and play box, once one locates the Onstar box itself.

It connects by bluetooth to a smart phone and allows the use of the Onstar buttons and hands free features to make calls. The caller id even displays in the driver information center.
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:18 AM   #4
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Being an owner of a 2008 GMC, and having used Onstar , I would say it depends. My wife doesn't drive, and she finds that having the emergency feature a benefit for her as we don't own a cell phone and even if we did, there have been many times that we have been with friends camping and have had service when they have not,with their cell phones.
If you spend most of your camping in parks close to cities, then perhaps a cell phone is all you need.
We only hook up when we are going to be on a trip, and $24.95 is cheaper than a cell phone. Remember, there are no roaming fees in North America on Onstar, and being Canadian, we don't have the cheap rates that you enjoy in the US.
George
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmeikle View Post

We only hook up when we are going to be on a trip, and $24.95 is cheaper than a cell phone.

George
George, there's no problem un-subscribing and re-subscribing to OnStar? If so, I would consider subscribing only during the 'trailering' season.
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:26 AM   #6
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We have OnStar & agree with what the other subscribers posted. Being full timers, we especially like the feature that locates the nearest dealer & leads us tom the dealer if we have any mechanical issues or need service. Also, as others have said, our cell phones often won't pick up on remote locations.
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:28 AM   #7
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I have never had a problem.Subscribing changed a couple of years age when all the other manufacturers were allowed to sell a version of " Onstar"
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:56 AM   #8
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We had it on our 2013 Duramax, but we could not access it in Palo Duro Canyon or in the Grand Canyon, yet our satellite radio, worked great. We tried using it as our cell phones were not picking up.
So, we did not renew.

Rick
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:19 PM   #9
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On Star, to me, is an "insurance policy".

Things happen on the road, that most often are surpises.

Reporting an accident could save one's life.

Just depends what a person wants to protect themselves with, especially if they drive solo.

Andy
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:50 PM   #10
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I have had ONSTAR for 7 years and while it is costly I subscribe for the safety and convenience. It is also my backup plan for unlocking the truck doors with a spare set of AS keys stored in the truck. I find their directions to a destination to be very accurate.
Larry
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Old 02-22-2014, 01:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rperrym View Post
We had it on our 2013 Duramax, but we could not access it in Palo Duro Canyon or in the Grand Canyon, yet our satellite radio, worked great. We tried using it as our cell phones were not picking up.
So, we did not renew.

Rick
Outbound communication for Onstar is cellular. I've seen some claims that it can receive some types of data via the satellite network, and I know things like unlocking signals can be broadcast via satellite but with the receiver's ID (similar to the subscription update on a satellite radio). For the most part it's dependent on the cellular network for other features.
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Old 02-22-2014, 02:42 PM   #12
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Thanks. I did not realize the call out feature was dependent upon cell coverage.
Each time I tried I could not use the call feature, nor could I contact Onstar.
Good thing we were not having an emergency.

Rick
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Old 02-22-2014, 03:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rperrym View Post
Thanks. I did not realize the call out feature was dependent upon cell coverage.
Each time I tried I could not use the call feature, nor could I contact Onstar.
Good thing we were not having an emergency.

Rick
Generally you will probably find that if you can't get service with Onstar, you wouldn't have been able to get it with a cell phone, but it quite often works the other way around .
George
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Old 02-22-2014, 03:50 PM   #14
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I've got OnStar in 2 vehicles and appreciate it. Yes, the remote with a smartphone is neat and somewhat handy. My iPhone is ATT and the OnStar is Verizon and usually works better in poor areas than the ATT phone. AND we always buy the minimum of minutes to use with OnStar and if you renew they roll over and add up. I find it very handy to use the phone button to make calls rather than having to fiddle with my smartphone even with Siri! And with the newer GM vehicles you will get a monthly, at least, email with updates on your vehicle: tire pressure, oil change interval, etc. A little expensive but so is XM-Sirius which we also have and enjoy.
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Old 02-22-2014, 03:52 PM   #15
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Durned subscriptions!!!

I know that you can 'negotiate' with XM/Sirius, particularly on second and third radios. Doubtful that GM will, but perhaps I'll give it a try after my six months are up!!
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Old 02-22-2014, 04:03 PM   #16
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I like the emails I get with the status of my vehicle (Oil Life, tire pressure etc.) Don't have any of the apps for my GM truck, but I do have MBRACE on my Benz, with the iPhone app. I really like being able to LOCK the car remotely. Recently, we were walking a mile or so to a concert and I was unsure if I had locked the car properly. Rather than having to trudge all the way back I simply whipped out the phone and told it to lock, and it confirmed it had locked it. Worth every penny.
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Old 02-22-2014, 04:08 PM   #17
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Durned subscriptions!!!

I know that you can 'negotiate' with XM/Sirius, particularly on second and third radios. Doubtful that GM will, but perhaps I'll give it a try after my six months are up!!
My attempts to negotiate additional radios on my Sirius multi-device plan have not been successful when trying to add an XM vehicle. Its been awhile, but at the time (post merger) they told me no deals.
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Old 02-22-2014, 04:12 PM   #18
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I have 2 lifetime subscriptions on SiriusXM. They no longer offer lifetime subscriptions.
Also, XM online used to cone with the subscription. Now it is an extra charge.
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Old 02-22-2014, 04:50 PM   #19
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We've owned GM vehicles for decades and since Onstar became available have maintained the plans. We have our medical information there in case of an accident for first responders, our "who to contact" if we cannot provide that information. So there are other things that Onstar provides with the Sight and sound options.
On their cell service I have been contacted through the truck phone when the commercial network had zero bars, so it does roam, but we do NOT incur the change if you connect like a cell service.
We've also reported many times accidents or possible questionable activity by just a push of the button which provided the exact location by GPS keeping us moving and not being engaged if the situation was dangerous.
We find it to be a great option and will only purchase vehicles that offer this due to the hand free option. I love the fact that we can use the truck phone without it being obvious we are talking on the phone to the Highway Patrol, when someone has decided to share their aggressive driving skills and use international sign language at the same time.
We just purchased a new 2014 Buick Enclave and with the mapping, POIs for fuel and other requirements with towing that can all be done by voice command to include the use of Onstar calling that number it is amazing. So we are considering upgrading the 2005 Duramax just due to this amazing upgrade in 2014.
Keep in mind that if you don't want to by their minutes you can sync your Iphone up with most any system.
I know there are many options out there and everyone has their preference, so good luck in deciding on yours. To us, the investment is worth is as like Andy stated it is like having insurance which by the way insurance Companies offer a pretty decent discount with Onstar active accounts. Worth the deductible.

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Old 02-22-2014, 08:42 PM   #20
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Depends on your situation, I guess.

I don't find Onstar to be useful in a life-threatening emergency insofar as help can be summoned by calling 911. Onstar uses the Verizon network and doesn't have any different coverage than a Verizon cell phone. There is a slight coverage improvement to be gained by using a roof mount antenna, as Onstar does, and as is available for some handsets.

Current 911 technology provides location data to the dispatch center with accuracy roughly comparable to what is achieved with Onstar.

I currently have Onstar activated in one car because I find the remote start to be useful when departing my workplace for home.
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