Onstar offers a wide array of roadside emergency assistance services to thousands of people every day, but what about if you forgot to pay your subscription or just never had a subscription while having an OnStar Compatible vehicle?
Can Onstar unlock my car if I don’t have a subscription?
Unfortunately, OnStar doesn’t offer its services to vehicles that haven’t paid for their subscription. From the moment your subscription expires your car sends out a signal to OnStar to disconnect virtually all services from your car.
OnStar does offer limited functionality to their vehicles that have expired subscriptions but only for emergency purposes. These are mostly GPS tracking services that can be used in the event of theft, kidnapping, or similar crimes for law enforcement purposes. However, users will not be privy to this information or other services offered by OnStar until they have paid their subscription fee.
Additionally, if you live in a region where a natural disaster has just occurred, OnStar offers Crisis Assist functionality to all eligible vehicles regardless of their subscription status.
Crisis Assist provides information on nearby essential services, disaster status, and surrounding road conditions. Otherwise, they have no obligation contractually or otherwise to provide you with a service that hasn’t been paid for.
Onstar confirmed that they not only cannot offer remote unlocking services to cars with unpaid subscriptions but they also will not allow you to subscribe to Onstar if you aren’t in your vehicle.
This confirmation was made in 2019 following an incident where a mother had accidentally locked her keys and baby inside her GM SUV. The mother quickly called OnStar to request a remote unlock to get her daughter out of the vehicle but OnStar informed her this wouldn’t be possible due to the fact the car’s subscription hadn’t been paid for.
The mother then requested to pay for the subscription immediately to receive the service, to which OnStar informed her that this wouldn’t be possible until she pressed the blue OnStar button on the inside of the car.
Being unable to reach the OnStar service button inside the locked car, the mother was essentially told by OnStar that they can’t assist her in any way, forcing the mother to resort to using local authorities to come and break her windows to rescue the child.
Having received heavy backlash on social media for this incident, OnStar responded on Twitter saying
Currently, the only way to activate the system and restore that connection is by pushing the blue OnStar button inside the vehicle. 4/5— OnStar (@OnStar) August 14, 2019
How does OnStar unlock my car?
OnStar sends out a remote unlock command to compatible cars with paid subscriptions from their service centers if you call to confirm your situation.
If you cannot unlock your car and can’t access your keys, you can call OnStar and they will ask you for your 4 digit security pin, or a series of security questions to confirm ownership of the car.
Once your identity has been confirmed Onstar sends out an emergency unlock command to your vehicle. This remote command comes as a part of your subscription package and can be done anywhere where cellular service is available.
What if OnStar won’t unlock the car?
If Onstar can’t unlock your car using the app, then switch to calling an OnStar representative directly to receive assistance. If that doesn’t work, wait for an OnStar-appointed locksmith to come to assist you manually.
The Onstar recommended method of remote unlocking your car is to use their app. If for some reason the app is unable to unlock your car or you aren’t able to use the OnStar then the alternative is to call a representative on 1.888.4ONSTAR (1-888-466-7827).
It is possible for an OnStar call representative to be unable to unlock your car. OnStar relies on a cellular network in order to send out remote unlock commands to their subscribed cars, if you’re outside their coverage area or there’s an issue with your car’s connection to the network such as bad weather conditions then the remote unlock command may not reach your car.
It is also possible that your car may be experiencing any number of malfunctions that have disabled your central locking systems such as a dead battery, electrical fault, or damaged locking mechanism. In which case, even a successful remote unlock command signal may not unlock your doors.
In that case, your only option is to request a locksmith to come manually to unlock your vehicle. Depending on the circumstances of why your car wasn’t able to be remotely unlocked, OnStar may waive any liability for potential damage that a locksmith may cause trying to unlock your car.
How much does it cost for OnStar to unlock your car?
Pricing for Onstar remote unlocking services starts from $14.99 per month for their remote access subscription and goes up to $49.99 per month for their comprehensive premium package.
The base Connected Vehicle package for $24.99 includes all of the remote connected vehicle services such as remote unlocking, vehicle located, vehicle diagnostics, and more. However, it lacks all of the essential emergency OnStar support features that the company became famous for including roadside assistance and automatic crash response.
For those, you can get the Safety and Security package for $29.99, but then you forgo all of the features of the connected service you could get on the connected vehicle package.
To get the best of both you can get the Essential package for $39.99, but then you’ll miss out on the additional goodie features on the Premium package for $49.99 such as built-in Alexa voice assistant, streaming services, and Super Cruise.
However, you’re able to get remote access as a stand-alone service allowing you to simply unlock your doors and start your car and car services from outside your car via the OnStar app or affiliate apps for only $14.99.
Does OnStar unlock your car for free?
No, Onstar does not unlock your car for free. You need to have a subscription with OnStar active in order for them to unlock your car remotely.
You will need to purchase an Onstar subscription package for a bare minimum of $14.99 in order to receive remote unlocking access. If you don’t pay for this service OnStar will not be able to unlock your car regardless of the circumstances.
Even in the event of an emergency, OnStar will not unlock your car for free. They will need a confirmation of a paid subscription in order to proceed with initiating the service; in order to activate the service, you will need to press the blue OnStar button on the interior of the car and initiate a subscription payment to which you will need to wait up to 24 hours for confirmation.
If you need your car unlocked on the spot because you have accidentally locked your keys inside the car, OnStar will, unfortunately, be unable to offer you any kind of material assistance.
Can OnStar start my car without a key fob?
OnStar can start your car without a key fob via its remote access features. This feature can be accessed via the key fob section of the OnStar RemoteLink, myChevrolet, myCadillac, myGMC, or myBuick app.
Remote start is a feature mainly designed for people in extreme climates that need cooling or heating in their car to a comfortable temperature before they enter the cabin or to make the car safe to use before driving.
In order to initiate a remote start, you’ll need to access any one of the OnStar linked apps from GMC, go to the key fob section, and enter your 4 digit pin to start the engine of your car.
Once the engine is started you’ll have a time period of 10 minutes without user interaction before the engine automatically shuts down. You can start the car twice from the app without getting inside the car, which makes for a total of 20 minutes of engine idling without direct interaction with the car.
The car’s doors will remain locked after a remote start until the user specifies otherwise, even if the engine automatically shuts off.
However, if the app doesn’t work you can call in a remote start request directly from OnStar on 1.888.4ONSTAR (1-888-466-7827).
It is possible that the app and the call center may not work, in which case you may either have a mechanical issue with the car, have an issue preventing a remote start, or be outside OnStar’s area of coverage.
If you’re struggling to have the car remote started, check the cellular signal around your area, then check if your car keys are in the ignition (this can prevent a remote start), then check if the car’s hood is popped open, then check if the car’s battery isn’t dead or weak.
If your car still won’t remote start, call OnStar for further assistance with a mechanic recommendation.
Can onstar unlock my car with a dead battery?
Onstar cannot unlock your car with a dead battery, your car needs to be in good mechanical order for OnStar to be able to function properly.
However, for all OnStar compatible vehicles from 2006 onwards, an Onstar battery has been offered as an add-on that provides you with limited OnStar emergency assistance.
This limited OnStar emergency assistance unfortunately doesn’t include remote unlocking. Vehicular unlocking mechanisms rely on the car’s main battery and if that isn’t working efficiently then the car won’t be able to communicate with the OnStar system regardless of whether or not your OnStar system has its own battery.
If your car has a dead battery but your OnStar has its own battery you can call roadside assistance to be jump-started or have your car towed. Alternatively, you can also use the OnStar app, or call OnStar directly.
No, Onstar cannot remotely unlock your car if you haven’t paid for a subscription nor do they have the ability to even in the event of an emergency situation until your subscription has been processed.