Even before they became a division of Government Motors, Scotty has never been a big fan of GM cars — sorry about that folks, but in recent years I considered one just because of the OnStar system. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock OnStar provides:
- GPS and directions (ho-hum, so does my cell phone);
- Bluetooth voice activated connectivity with your cell phone (nice but you can get a Bluetooth speaker for your car more cheaply);
- GPS tracking if your car is stolen;
- a call center that can do everything that a human can do that a computer can’t; and
- automatic crash response — if they unit senses a crash and you don’t respond, they send out emergency support.
And now it’s available for non-GM cars as an add on! It is called OnStar FMV (For My Vehicle), and is available at Best Buy and other electronics stores. It comes in the form of a rear view mirror which replaces your car’s existing one.
That’s the good news. This is a perfect gift for any family member who spends time on the road. It will give them an extra added measure of safety and you greater comfort when they are on the road.
The bad news? Well, installation is a challenge. The unit can’t be installed on all cars, and even if a car is listed as compatible, installation might not be possible. Installation also can run more money than the unit itself and sometimes more than was quoted.
And I assume y’all figured out there’s also a monthly service charge for the call center. It’ll run you around $20-$30 depending the features you want.
This is not a product to buy on the cheap from www.crappyelectronics.com. Buy it from the place that will install it so if it is not possible to install you can return it. Best Buy has a handy “check if we can install OnStar in your car” widget here. But as I said, even that’s only a preliminary determination. An installer will have to see your car, and maybe even work on it to know if it will install properly.
If Mrs. S or I drove around a lot I would buy her one in a flash, but we’re homebodies ever since I retired from Star Fleet. But at $275 including “basic” installation, the OnStar FMV gives a heck of a lot of peace of mind.