Skip to content

Does OnStar Work Without Cell Service?

OnStar is a division of General Motors and offers a range of in-vehicle services.

Users of the OnStar service can dial the call centers in case of an emergency.

Advanced automatic collision alert features are capable of transmitting data about the state of the car.

OnStar also offers GPS location to contact centers in the event of a collision that is detected by airbags installation or other sensors.

Can OnStar be used without a cell signal?

The Verizon Wireless company was the main provider of CDMA cell phone voice and data interaction for the OnStar service.

Based on 4G technology, AT&T announced the agreement to replace Verizon.

Its audio interface allows users to connect with OnStar agents for emergency assistance, vehicle diagnostics, and specific directions.

Where Can You Find the OnStar Features?

Turn-by-turn navigation guidance, automatic crash reaction, and roadside assistance are some of the services provided by OnStar.

A red rescue button, a hands-free calling button, or a blue OnStar click can be pressed to activate these features.

OnStar operates round-the-clock emergency contact centers in Warren, Michigan; Charlotte, North Carolina; Ontario, Canada; besides there are call centers in Makati, the Philippines; and Oshawa, Ontario.

Being a feature in GM vehicles, OnStar was made available within 4 years.

GM introduced a standalone product that gives users access to OnStar services.

The carrier that manages the voice and information connection does not charge extra because OnStar customers pay an annual cost for the service.

See also  How To Use Bluetooth Without OnStar?

Does OnStar Need Cell Service to Function?

OnStar provides acceptance to customers and depends on wireless carrier collaborations and their cellular networks.

Some vehicles might experience service loss, whereas others might gain from expanded service.

A CDMA cell function connection is used to deliver all of the in-vehicle services offered by OnStar.

Both the onboard diagnostics structure and the built-in GPS capability can be used by each OnStar system that is set up as original equipment to collect data.

Code-division Multiple Access, or CDMA, what is It?

Any of the various protocols utilized for second-generation and third-generation wireless connections are referred to as CDMA.

It is a type of multiplexing that enables several signals to share one channel for transmission, making the best use of the available bandwidth.

The 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands of ultra-high-frequency mobile data phone systems use this technology.

Spread spectrum technology and analog-to-digital conversion are both used in CDMA.

The transmitted signal’s frequency is then changed by a specified pattern code.

The cellular architecture of wireless networks using CDMA is formed by cell clusters.

A transceiver with the transmitting power is located in each cell, and mobile units are dispersed throughout the cell’s protection area.

On Which Cellular Network Does OnStar Rely?

There may be problems with voice services in some vehicles as U.S. cellular recipients make the switch to 4G and 5G connectivity.

OnStar and AT&T started collaborating on network updates and they also started carrying out software updates to make sure that members wouldn’t find interrupted network transition.

See also  Can OnStar Locate My Car Without Subscription?

You will be led to where you’re going and given turn-by-turn directions by an automated voice.

You can use the mobile app for your car to search for guidance and send it to the in-dash navigating system, if it is equipped, by turning the directions directly to your car.

Does Your Cell Phone Work with OnStar?

For nationwide coverage, OnStar collaborates with several wireless carriers.

You enter quickly using your vehicle’s mobile app, whether you’re lost or experiencing car trouble.

For both major and minor emergencies, OnStar and the car mobile app have solutions.

All GM vehicles come with OnStar, and a few non-GM vehicles also come with it.

The Japanese car manufacturers included in the agreement Acura, Isuzu, Subaru, and Audi also agreed to participate.

Setting up the OnStar FMV device enables OnStar access in non-GM vehicles.

You can use many of the features offered by OEM GM OnStar systems with this product, which substitutes your rearview mirror.

A subscription to OnStar might be included when you buy a GM car.

Do OnStar Functions Have Cell Service?

For cell services, OnStar utilizes the CDMA and AMPS cell phone networks via Horizon (land-based).

The GPS in OnStar is powered by satellites.

Both the onboard diagnostics (OBD-II) system and the built-in GPS functionality can be used by each OnStar structure that is set up as original equipment to collect data.

For voice and data transmissions, they also use CDMA cellular technology.

The carrier that manages the information connection does not charge extra because OnStar customers pay each month for the service.

To provide turn-by-turn directions, OnStar may send GPS data using the CDMA tandem to the main OnStar system. In an accident, OnStar can call for assistance by using the same GPS data for rescue functionality.

See also  How Do You Get OnStar to Stop Talking?

The OBD-II system’s data can be transmitted by OnStar. OnStar can track your driving habits for insurance purposes, give you vehicle health reports, or ascertain whether you’ve been in an accident.

How Many Features Are Offered by OnStar?

OnStar offers four different subscription plans, which are required for it to function. The least expensive plan, a connected vehicle, excludes a lot of the features found in the more expensive plans. The connected vehicle plan’s features are,

  • Advanced diagnostics
  • Remote access
  • Locate vehicles

To put the connected vehicle features in perspective, the premium plan, the top-tier option, also offers the following features: automatic crash response, emergency services, crisis assistance, roadside assistance, the OnStar Guardian app, assistance with stolen vehicles, and turn-by-turn navigation.

Certain features can be purchased as an add-on and are not included with the basic plan. Details on these plans, including all the features and available pricing, can be found on the OnStar Plans and Pricing page.


Many OnStar features can be useful in the event of theft. The system can function as a tracker, enabling the recovery of the stolen car. Some people have raised privacy concerns because OnStar has got access to a lot of information about your driving habits.

However, the 9th circuit court of Appeals rejected the FBI’s request to use the system to listen in on private conversations. OnStar requires cellular connectivity to operate, but if your vehicle is fitted with GM’s OnStar service, you won’t even need to look for your cellphone.

The OBD-II system alerts OnStar customer service when it defines that your airbags have deployed because you might be unable to access your phone following a serious accident. Then, if necessary, you can ask for assistance!