What is OnStar?
OnStar is ‘connected car’ technology. It provides information on your car, assists with navigation and helps you out in the event of an accident, among other things.
Your Vauxhall has three extra buttons mounted above the windscreen: a blue one used to contact an OnStar advisor 24 hours a day, a red SOS button for emergencies and a privacy button to switch the GPS locator off.
With OnStar, Vauxhall is bringing the latest connectivity technology to a wider audience. OnStar will make driving safer as well as offering new innovations in infotainment and telematics. And best of all, the system will be free for the first year of ownership.
What does OnStar Do?
All new Vauxhall’s that are fitted with OnStar have a GPS tracker, a telecommunications device and a diagnostic tool. Basically, it’s the equivalent of a ‘black box’ that is fitted to airliners which constantly monitors the cars safety systems and location.
The GPS signal broadcasts your location to the OnStar command centre in Luton, which has a dedicated team on hand 24 hours a day. The OnStar command centre knows where you are at all times when you contact them. The GPS is linked to your sat nav (if specified in your model), so advisors can download route information to your car.
OnStar also provides a Wi-Fi hotspot for mobile devices, so your passengers can stay connected while in the car (as long as there is an internet signal). The hotspot can be connected to up to seven devices at any one time.
The system also provides up-to-date diagnostics information.
There’s also smartphone app can be used to do things like remotely locking or unlocking the car and also allows you speak to an OnStar advisor.
How can OnStar help me?
If the unthinkable happens and you are involved in a road accident the OnStar command centre will be automatically notified if your airbags deploy. The location service will then notify the emergency services of your exact location. The system can also immobilise the engine in the event of a vehicle theft.
If your Vauxhall has sat nav you can also use OnStar to help locate a place or point of interest by simply calling the command centre, telling them where you would like to go and your route will be automatically entered into your sat nav system.
The OnStar system comes with Wi-Fi enabling your passengers to work away from home, stream movies or TV or even play games to pass the time on a long family trip.
The vehicle diagnostics system provides data on things like your tyre pressures and engine oil level. That information can be sent in a monthly email if you request it, or you can ask for it any time by calling an OnStar advisor. This will be particularly useful if you’re about to take your car on a long trip. If a warning light appears, an OnStar advisor can try to diagnose the problem and even book you in for a service at a Vauxhall dealer if they think it's necessary.
The smartphone app has the ability to lock or unlock your car remotely. If you’ve somehow left your keys inside the car, one tap of the app (or even a quick call to the Command Centre) will unlock the car for you.
The app can also honk the horn and flash the lights, just in case you lose your car in a massive multi-storey car park.
What about my privacy?
Unlike the US version, the Vauxhall OnStar system has a privacy button which switches off the GPS tracker, so advisors at the OnStar Command Centre in Luton won’t have access to your current location. The only time this will be overridden is in an emergency.
You will also need a PIN number to access the remote door locking and stolen vehicle tracking system, which you set up when you’re activating the service.
How much will OnStar cost?
OnStar is free for the first year with any new car purchased from September 2015. After that there is a £79 annual fee. You will also need a 4G data connection for the Wi-Fi to work, which may incur an extra fee after the free trial ends.