Did OnStar ever save your life

Holden OnStar review

What if someone steals your car? Or did you forget the keys? What's Worst Happening When You Have a Serious Car Accident?




Fortunately, for most of us, this ultimate reality never occurred, so the thought of consistent action was unnecessary. Sure, we probably assume or hope that passers-by will call an ambulance if we are unable to do so, and we also hope the ambulance can find us quickly.

This is a scenario no driver would ever want to find himself in. held There will be a system in place shortly to help you and you won't even have to push a button.


It's called Onstar and it has evolved and saved lives over two decades.



Starting in 2019, Holden will introduce the OnStar system in its cars. To find out what it's all about, we came to Detroit, Michigan, home of the American automobile, to test the system.

First, this is nothing new. It was put into operation for the first time in 1996 and has developed massively over the years. The 11th generation of the hardware and software unit will come onto the market from 2019 with the Holden Equinox and other models.

What is OnStar In short, it's basically a black box with an LTE 4G connection that's in your car. It allows you to call and speak to a real person during times of need, and even during times when you want to find the best pizza place nearby or directions to a place you just can't find.




It's fully integrated with your vehicle's electronics and drivetrain, so not only can it be tracked in the event of theft, but it can also be remotely stopped and deactivated. Forget keys? No problems, it can unlock and lock your car automatically. Really hot day? No problems, it can automatically start your car and air conditioning remotely. Are you driving and the navigation device cannot be used? No problem, call and talk to a real person who will wirelessly send the navigation data for your desired location to your car!

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it's already up and running, and as we've found out, it works pretty well.

Our first introduction to OnStar was the Detroit call center. In the US alone, there are over 2,500 call center employees who answer a call every three seconds and handle an average of 245,000 calls per day. The command center looks like something straight out of Hollywood, with red dots on a map of the US indicating hotspots and crisis areas. It's fascinating to see.

In the United States, around 5000 calls per month are automatic crash response notifications, with the OnStar dialing system reporting immediately after an airbag is deployed. OnCall agents typically answer these calls in less than five seconds.

OnStar's Director of Global Expansion Jon Hyde advised us that automatic accident response calls are typically dialed and answered while the vehicle is still moving after the accident Hill. The system calls for help so quickly.

The idea is simple: as soon as an airbag is triggered, the vehicle immediately calls for help. OnStar employees receive a variety of data that they can use to determine the severity of the accident. This includes the vehicle speed at the time of impact, which airbags were deployed on which side, the age and gender of the vehicle owner (older women most likely to be injured in an accident), and so on.

For example, in Australia, when a Holden automatically calls for help and passes on the information that the airbag has been deployed on the right side of the vehicle, both on the front and side airbag sides, and at a relatively high impact speed It is Fair to OnStar personnel to assume the driver is injured or passed out.




Attempts are immediately made to communicate with the occupants of the vehicle in order to assess the situation. If communication is not possible, emergency services are called urgently with the exact position of the vehicle up to a GPS accuracy of about one meter.

OnStar employees stay on the phone until emergency services arrive. You can even go so far that the lights come on and the horn sound so that an ambulance can find the vehicle in low light conditions (e.g. a vehicle that has rolled down a hill at night).

If the inmates are able to communicate, an emergency procedure will be carried out to assess the situation. This includes the question of who is injured, whether someone is trapped, and so on. General Motors says it used all of the 911 call center intelligence to support and evaluate these types of post-accident situations.

The way it works is for the first OnStar staff to begin determining whether or not the situation calls for an ambulance. In this case, a second OnStar representative will call the emergency services and inform them of the crash situation, the location of the vehicle and the occupants in the vehicle, while the first OnStar representative remains on the phone to the occupants for emergency care and the telephone search to care.

We got to hear half a dozen examples where the OnStar automatic crash response system had saved the lives of those in need. In one example, an elderly grandmother and her granddaughter were in a vehicle that had left the street and was upside down in the water and quickly drowned on a dark street very late at night.

OnStar employees were able to quickly locate the vehicle, blink the lights and operate the horn remotely, allowing the ambulance to find the sinking vehicle much faster than before. In situations like this, every second was of the essence.

Another interesting feature of OnStar is the crisis management system. For example, in the event of a Queensland flood or a Victorian-style bushfire, OnStar employees can help those stuck or trapped in their vehicle by not only providing a location for emergency services, but also allowing others to avoid the same route.




General Motors used recent examples of Texas hurricanes, with many OnStar-enabled vehicles calling for help to find a way out of the affected areas and find a working gas station. OnStar immediately worked with MasterCard, which provided data for nearby locations where credit cards were used at gas stations, and which enabled OnStar staff to identify potentially working stations to which customers should be sent. All of this happened in real time as part of OnStar's crisis management system.

If you look through the list of features, perhaps the next useful feature of OnStar is the ability to basically make the vehicle theft proof.

If an OnStar-enabled vehicle is stolen, its owner simply has to call Holden, and the vehicle is immediately provided with an ignition switch. This means that the vehicle cannot be switched on the next time it is switched off. They will then contact the local police to locate the vehicle.

If the vehicle is stolen and then driven continuously (e.g. as part of a criminal activity or high-speed hunt), OnStar can remotely deactivate the vehicle's accelerator. In the US, this is only done when a police vehicle or helicopter has a view of the car to see if it is safe to do so. OnStar forces the vehicle's hazard warning lights to turn on (without showing it on the instrument cluster) so that police can correctly identify the vehicle and warn other motorists of the impending slowdown.

As part of a demo, we took to the streets of Detroit and pretended to be criminals in the best possible way. During our escape with Eminem on the stereo, OnStar staff were able to remotely disable the right pedal which meant we could only come to a stop. We got out and ran. OnStar also has the ability to lock the vehicle remotely, but has chosen not to do so in the event of a hostage situation or other unforeseen innocent person involved.




According to available data, more than 99 percent of the vehicles stolen with OnStar can be restored within a short time and are therefore almost theft-proof.

These are the most important, and perhaps most useful, features of OnStar. Its ability to automatically call for help and ensure the accuracy of the vehicle should not be underestimated in situations following a serious accident. It can and has been proven to be the difference between a fatal accident and a life saved.

There are three buttons for OnStar; The system is usually located on the rearview mirror. The red button is for emergency situations, the blue button is for when you just need help navigating or otherwise, and the white button is for allowing you to go incognito and turn off vehicle tracking if you are Value your privacy (if available) When an airbag is deployed, the location services are automatically renewed.

Many OnStar customers also use the system to call others who have had a traffic accident. Even if the other vehicles are not OnStar-enabled, the accident report with the location immediately finds its way to the rescue service.




The system requires telephone reception. However, unlike your smartphone, the OnStar system has a noticeable and large antenna on the roof that allows for better phone reception than you would get from your iPhone. General Motors allowed us to hear an example of a husband and father who OnStar employees frantically used to contact his wife and children who were stuck in their vehicle in a disaster area. All phones had no coverage, but OnStar managed to get through with a stronger signal.

But it is not so bad. It can also be quite funny if, for example, after releasing a warning post, we used our robbery the blue button to find directions to our hotel. We then asked for a recommendation for a good pizzeria on the way to the hotel.

OnStar employees were able to send turn data directly to the car remotely, eliminating the need for annoying programming with the car's infotainment system. We literally just pushed a button. Strangely enough, the navigation system is purely turn-by-turn without a map. Which we found strange.

After pressing the blue button, we waited maybe 25 seconds for a response, which is not that bad. The red button is given far more priority for obvious reasons.




Perhaps the funniest and most commercial part of OnStar is the iPhone and Android app, which is called MyHolden in Australia. This allows the owner to remotely unlock and lock their vehicle, as well as start and stop the engine using just the phone.

It also means you have direct access to the health of the vehicle so you can see how your oil level is developing or what the tire pressures and brake pads are. In addition, you can book a service and share your vehicle's details with the dealer for a better service experience. This ensures that the parts you need are in stock before they arrive, without ever actually having to speak to a service manager.

The app also informs you about any recalls or other service measures that may be pending on your vehicle.

Another feature that most families will love is OnStar's ability to provide the kids with an in-vehicle 4G LTE hotspot. OnStar uses the same SIM card and modem that power the rest of the system and creates a Wi-Fi connection in the car, which iPads will love for Netflix streaming.

In every way, OnStar is fantastic for its security benefits alone. The addition of the other features is a bonus but you will pay more for it. Oh yeah, did we forget to mention? It's not free.




In fact, the fact that the basic security system isn't free is disappointing. It is hard to fathom that an OnStar-equipped Holden who was not paid to subscribe to the service would have had a major car accident and his system was inactive for calling for help, so his inmates needlessly need help suffer just for one small monthly fee sake. But business is business, and with over 13 million active users, OnStar is good business for General Motors.

With the system still more than a year away, the fees for our market are still undetermined. In other markets, they start at around $ 25 per month for the basic security system and anti-theft protection and rise to around $ 45-50 for the full whiz bang of features, including in-car Wi-Fi.

Is it worth? We think you'd be crazy if basic security wasn't enabled just in case you ever need it. Holden also offers a free trial version of every new car for a few months. Depending on how good your negotiation skills are, you can likely use it for an extended period of time when making a purchase.

Nissan Quest

We look forward to testing the system on site when it arrives at Holden Equinox in 2019, but right now we're wondering why every automaker doesn't offer a similar system.