Monday, September 19, 2011

Mirror, Mirror On the Car

One of the first popular high tech wireless services available to drivers is OnStar. Using a combination of cellular and GPS technologies, OnStar has been around since 1995 beginning as a partnership between General Motors and Hughes Electronics. I am sure you have seen or heard one of the commercials showing an accident victim being soothed by an OnStar operator or a person faced with keys locked inside a running car gaining entry with the aid of a friendly OnStar representative. OnStar has garnered a solid reputation for providing superior customer service and ease of use. Up until now, since the system was a factory installed option and was integrated into the systems of the car, it has only been available for those with cars and trucks manufactured by General Motors. Beginning this year the service is being expanded as an after market option for most any car regardless of make and model.

Called OnStar FMV (OnStar For My Vehicle), this expanded product packs all the electronics into the body of a rear view mirror. This special mirror replaces the existing mirror in your car and is connected with a few small wires to your car’s innards. Once installed the customer has the choice of two levels of service as well as a mobile phone service, albeit expensive, in your car.

Once you check to make sure your car is compatible with the system by going to, you will need to purchase the OnStar Mirror with the initial price of $299.00. Installation charges will vary.

Two service plans are then available. The first, called “Safe & Sound,” has a monthly fee of $18.99 and provides assistance if you are in an accident or your car becomes disabled. The second plan, called “Direction & Connection,” provides added services like navigation assistance, dinner reservations, stolen car recovery assistance and more. It is pricier at almost $30.00 per month. You can also get telephone directory assistance and place calls from your car but the cost per minute is very expensive.

The one thing that sets all OnStar services apart is the customer assistance. There are real live human beings at the call center. While I have not used it myself, those who do use it report exceptional support and service. This might well be an example of getting what you are paying for since the first level of service will cost almost $500 even if you never push that OnStar button.

You will need to decide if you think it is worth it. It is a service that works, and works well. If peace of mind and worry free driving is a high priority for you, OnStar FMV is worth a look.

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