News 4 Investigates: OnStar -

News 4 Investigates: OnStar

In slick commercials OnStar tries to convince you that it is a lifesaver, and that you should buy it to protect yourself on the road.

There's no question OnStar provides a service that can save lives. In fact, a spokesman for the vehicle communication service says it interacts with 100,000 customers every day, and each month it communicates on behalf of 2,000 customers who are in their vehicles, but unable to call OnStar themselves. Those cases, often following a vehicle crash, are particularly important.

However, it's also clear that there are obvious weaknesses in OnStar's service. The company website features a coverage area map, which clearly shows most states have large areas with "limited" coverage. Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana and Texas have significant areas with no OnStar service at all.

Obviously, OnStar provides many people with convenience and peace of mind. If you are considering buying it you should read the terms and conditions provided by the company. This is one of the most important documents you can read about any product.

Here are some excerpts provided in the OnStar terms and conditions that I've never seen in any OnStar commercial:

"OnStar service works using wireless communication networks and the Global Positioning System ("GPS") satellite network. NOT ALL OnStar SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE, PARTICULARLY IN REMOTE OR ENCLOSED AREAS, OR ON ALL CARS, AT ALL TIMES. The area that you are driving in may affect the service that we can provide to you, including but not limited to routing service."

OnStar service can't work unless your Car is in a place where we have an agreement with a wireless Service Provider for service in that area. OnStar service also can't work unless you're in a place where the wireless Service Provider we've hired for that area has coverage, network capacity, and reception when the service is needed, and technology that's compatible with the OnStar service. OnStar service that involves location information about your Car can't work unless GPS satellite signals are unobstructed, available in that place and compatible with the OnStar hardware as well."

Is OnStar worth it? That depends on what you consider affordable and necessary. The service can cost up to $70 a month. CNET tries out OnStar during a test drive. OnStar says customer surveys show it's a hit. Consumer Reports wrote a review of OnStar several years ago. Many of the issues discussed in the CR report are still relevant today. Although OnStar has upgraded its system and that is worth noting as well.

So, is OnStar worth it? Again, it depends on what you are willing to pay for a service that will probably give you more comfort and peace of mind.

Powered by Frankly