How to Activate OnStar Without Being in the Car

How to Activate OnStar Without Being in the Car

OnStar is not just your average in-car telematics system; it’s a cutting-edge technology that has revolutionized the way we interact with our vehicles. Founded by General Motors (GM), OnStar is a subscription-based service that combines GPS navigation, hands-free calling, emergency assistance, and vehicle diagnostics into one comprehensive package. At its core, OnStar is designed to enhance the driving experience, providing drivers with an array of features that promote safety, convenience, and peace of mind.

One of the standout features of OnStar, and the focal point of this article, is its ability to be activated remotely. This means that even when you’re not physically inside your vehicle, you can still tap into the full range of OnStar’s capabilities. The importance of this remote activation capability cannot be overstated. 

It opens up a world of possibilities, offering solutions to a wide array of scenarios. Whether it’s locating your vehicle in a crowded parking lot, remotely locking or unlocking your doors, or, in dire situations, summoning emergency assistance, the ability to activate OnStar remotely can be a lifesaver. In this article, we will delve into the details of how to activate Onstar without being in the car.

Benefits of Remote OnStar Activation

Benefits of Remote OnStar Activation

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Remote OnStar activation offers a multitude of advantages, making it a game-changer for vehicle owners. In this section, we’ll explore the compelling benefits of being able to activate OnStar without being in the car and highlight specific scenarios where this feature can be particularly useful.

Emergency Assistance 

One of the most critical benefits of remote OnStar activation is its role in emergencies. Imagine you’ve lent your car to a family member or a friend, and they find themselves in a dire situation. With the ability to remotely activate OnStar, you can instantly provide them with access to emergency services, regardless of your physical location. Whether it’s a medical emergency, an accident, or any distressing situation, OnStar can be a lifeline, ensuring swift response and potentially saving lives.

Enhanced Vehicle Security 

Vehicle theft is an unfortunate reality, but OnStar’s remote capabilities act as a powerful deterrent and recovery tool. By remotely activating OnStar, you can track your vehicle’s location in real-time, and if necessary, disable it to prevent theft. This feature brings peace of mind, especially when your car is parked in unfamiliar or potentially risky areas.

Convenience and Peace of Mind 

OnStar’s remote activation is not limited to emergencies alone; it offers day-to-day convenience. Forgot to lock your car? Want to start the engine to warm it up on a cold winter morning? With a few taps on your smartphone or computer, you can take care of these tasks from the comfort of your home or office. It’s the kind of convenience that simplifies your life and eliminates those nagging worries about your vehicle’s status.

Parental Supervision 

If you’re a parent with a newly licensed teen driver, OnStar’s remote features can help you keep a watchful eye on their driving habits. You can monitor their speed, and location, and receive alerts if they venture into restricted areas. This feature promotes responsible driving and provides reassurance for parents.

Fleet Management 

For businesses with a fleet of vehicles, remote OnStar activation is a valuable tool for optimizing operations. It allows fleet managers to track vehicles, schedule maintenance, and ensure driver safety efficiently. This can lead to cost savings and improved productivity.

Pre-requisites for Remote OnStar Activation

Before you can enjoy the convenience and security of remote OnStar activation, it’s essential to understand the prerequisites and requirements involved. This section outlines what you need to have in place to make the most of this valuable feature.

OnStar Subscription 

The foremost prerequisite for remote OnStar activation is an active OnStar subscription. OnStar offers various subscription plans, so ensure that you have the appropriate subscription that includes remote access features. These plans typically vary in terms of service duration, features, and pricing. Make sure your subscription is up-to-date to access remote activation services.

OnStar-Equipped Vehicle 

To benefit from remote activation, your vehicle must be equipped with OnStar technology. Most modern GM vehicles come with OnStar pre-installed, but it’s essential to verify that your car is compatible with the service. If you’re purchasing a new vehicle, ask your dealer about the OnStar capabilities of the model you’re interested in.

OnStar Mobile App 

The OnStar mobile app is your gateway to remote activation. It’s available for both iOS and Android devices. Ensure you have a compatible smartphone or tablet, and download the app from your device’s respective app store. Be sure to keep the app updated for optimal performance and access to the latest features.

App Registration and Account 

To use the OnStar mobile app for remote activation, you’ll need to create an OnStar account and register your vehicle. This process typically involves providing your vehicle’s identification details and linking it to your OnStar subscription. Once registered, you’ll have access to the full range of remote features.

Internet Connection 

Remote OnStar activation relies on an internet connection, either through cellular data or Wi-Fi. Ensure that your smartphone or tablet has a stable internet connection when using the OnStar app. Without an internet connection, you won’t be able to communicate with your vehicle remotely.

Login Credentials

To access your OnStar account and control your vehicle remotely, you’ll need your login credentials, including your username and password. Keep this information secure to prevent unauthorized access.

Location Services 

Make sure that location services are enabled on your mobile device. This is essential for features like locating your vehicle on a map.

How to Activate OnStar Without Being in the Car

How to Activate OnStar Without Being in the Car

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Activating Onstar without being in the car is a straightforward process that offers convenience and control over your vehicle from a distance. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to activate OnStar using the OnStar mobile app or website

Step#1 Download and Install the OnStar Mobile App

To begin, you’ll need to download and install the OnStar mobile app on your smartphone or tablet. This app is available on both iOS and Android devices, making it accessible to a wide range of users. Simply visit your device’s respective app store, search for “OnStar,” and download the official app. Once the installation is complete, you’re ready to move on to the next steps.

Step#2 Login to Your OnStar Account 

Upon opening the OnStar app, you’ll be prompted to log in using your OnStar account credentials. This typically involves entering your username and password. If you haven’t registered for an OnStar account yet, you can do so through the app. Having an active OnStar account is essential for accessing and controlling your vehicle remotely.

Step#3 Vehicle Registration

If you haven’t already registered your vehicle within the app, this step is crucial. Registering your vehicle involves providing specific identification details about your car, which allows the app to establish a connection with your vehicle. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete this registration process, ensuring that your vehicle is properly linked to your OnStar account.

Step#4 Access Remote Features

Once you’re logged in and your vehicle is registered, navigate to the remote control section of the app. This is where you can access various features, such as

If your vehicle supports remote start, you can use the app to start the engine from a distance. This is particularly useful for warming up your car in cold weather or cooling it down in hot weather.

Lock or unlock your vehicle’s doors remotely. This can be handy if you’ve forgotten to lock your car or need to grant access to someone.

Use the app to locate your vehicle on a map. This feature is valuable for finding your car in a crowded parking lot or tracking its whereabouts.

Check your vehicle’s status, including fuel level, tire pressure, and more, right from your smartphone.

Step#5 Follow On-Screen Prompts

Depending on your specific needs, select the desired remote function from the app’s menu. For instance, you can choose to remotely start your vehicle to warm it up on a chilly morning. The app will guide you through the process with on-screen prompts, ensuring that you complete each action accurately and securely. In some cases, you may need to enter a PIN or use biometric authentication (like fingerprint or facial recognition) to verify your identity.

Step#6 Confirmation and Feedback 

After initiating a remote command, the app will provide you with confirmation and feedback. This feedback informs you whether the requested action was successful or if any issues occurred. This step is crucial for peace of mind, ensuring that you’re aware of the status of your vehicle and that your remote commands have been executed as intended.

Step#7 Using the OnStar Website 

Alternatively, if you prefer to use a computer, you can access remote OnStar features through the official OnStar website. The process is similar to the mobile app but uses a web interface. You’ll log in to your OnStar account and manage your vehicle remotely from the website. This option is convenient for those who prefer the desktop experience or need to access OnStar services from a computer.

OnStar Remote Activation Common Issues and Solutions

OnStar Remote Activation Common Issues and Solutions

Activating Onstar without being in the car is generally a smooth process, but there are occasional challenges that users might encounter. Here, we’ll address some common issues and provide solutions and tips for resolving them.

No Cellular Signal

If your vehicle is located in an area with poor or no cellular signal, your ability to communicate with your car via the OnStar app may be compromised.

If possible, relocate to an area with a stronger cellular signal before attempting remote activation.

Consider using external signal boosters or antennas to improve cellular reception in remote or low-signal areas.

App Connectivity Problems

Connectivity problems with the OnStar app can prevent you from accessing remote features.

Ensure that your smartphone or tablet has an active and stable internet connection. Use Wi-Fi or cellular data as needed.

Check for updates for the OnStar app in your device’s app store. Keeping the app up to date can resolve known issues and improve overall stability.

If you encounter persistent connectivity problems, try closing the OnStar app and reopening it. You can also restart your smartphone or tablet to refresh its connectivity.

Vehicle Compatibility

Not all vehicles have the same level of OnStar functionality, and some older models may have limited remote features.

Refer to your vehicle’s user manual or contact your vehicle’s manufacturer or dealer to determine the specific remote features available for your vehicle.

In some cases, you may have the option to upgrade your vehicle’s OnStar system to access additional remote features.

Account Issues

Problems related to your OnStar account, such as incorrect login credentials or an expired subscription, can hinder remote activation.

 Double-check your username and password to ensure they are entered correctly.

Confirm that your OnStar subscription is active and includes remote access features.

If you’re having trouble with your account, contact OnStar customer support for assistance, including account recovery and subscription inquiries.

PIN and Security

Forgetting your PIN or encountering security-related issues can prevent you from using certain remote features.

If you’ve forgotten your PIN, follow the app or website prompts to reset it securely.

Use secure authentication methods, such as biometrics (fingerprint or facial recognition), to protect your account from unauthorized access.

App Permissions

On some devices, the OnStar app may not work correctly if it doesn’t have the necessary permissions.

Review and adjust the app permissions in your device settings to grant the OnStar app access to location services, cellular data, and other relevant permissions it requires to function properly.

Network Overload

In peak usage times or areas with heavy network traffic, remote activation commands may experience delays.

During network congestion, be patient and wait for a moment before retrying the remote command. Network conditions can improve rapidly, and your command should eventually go through.

App Updates

Outdated versions of the OnStar app may have compatibility issues or lack new features.

Keep the OnStar app up to date by checking for updates in your device’s app store. Updated versions often include bug fixes and improvements, ensuring the app functions smoothly.

What Security Measures Protect Remote OnStar Activation

When it comes to remote OnStar activation, security and privacy are paramount. Users rightfully want assurance that their data and control over their vehicles are protected. In this section, we’ll delve into the security measures in place to safeguard remote OnStar activation and how user data and privacy are upheld

Secure Authentication

OnStar utilizes strong authentication methods to ensure that only authorized users can access and control their vehicles remotely. This includes requiring a secure login with username and password or biometric authentication (such as fingerprint or facial recognition) for added protection.

Data Encryption

All communications between the OnStar app or website and the vehicle are encrypted using state-of-the-art encryption protocols. This encryption ensures that any data transmitted, including remote activation commands and vehicle status updates, remains secure and confidential.

Secure Channels

OnStar employs secure channels for remote commands and vehicle data retrieval. These channels are designed to prevent unauthorized access and tampering.

Privacy Controls

Users have granular control over the data shared with OnStar. They can choose what data is collected and how it is used for various services. OnStar is committed to respecting user preferences regarding data sharing.

Data Protection Policies

OnStar has stringent data protection policies and complies with relevant data privacy regulations, ensuring that user data is handled responsibly and in accordance with the law.

Emergency Access

While remote activation is primarily a user-controlled feature, OnStar retains the capability to override certain vehicle functions in emergencies, such as assisting law enforcement in locating a stolen vehicle. This capability is used responsibly and under strict legal guidelines.

Regular Security Audits 

OnStar conducts regular security audits and assessments to identify and address potential vulnerabilities. This ongoing process helps ensure that the system remains resilient to emerging threats.

User Awareness 

OnStar provides educational resources to users, helping them understand the importance of protecting their login credentials and the potential risks associated with remote access. Promoting user awareness is a vital aspect of maintaining security and privacy.

Incident Response

In the event of a security breach or data incident, OnStar has established incident response procedures to swiftly address the issue, mitigate any potential harm, and notify affected users as necessary.

Alternative Methods for Remote OnStar Activation

In some situations, the primary methods for remotely activating OnStar may not be accessible or may encounter difficulties. This section explores alternative methods and contingencies for remote OnStar activation when the standard approaches face limitations

Phone Call to OnStar Customer Support

If you’re unable to use the OnStar mobile app or website, you can always contact OnStar’s customer support through a phone call.

This method is beneficial when facing technical issues with the app or website or in a location with poor internet connectivity.

Simply dial the OnStar customer support number provided with your subscription, explain your needs, and the OnStar representative can assist with remote activation or provide guidance.

OnStar Remote Services Button (If Available)

Some vehicles equipped with OnStar have a dedicated “OnStar” or “Remote Services” button on the rearview mirror or dashboard.

This method is helpful when your smartphone or internet access is unavailable.

Press the designated button to initiate communication with an OnStar advisor who can assist with remote activation requests.

OnStar RemoteLink Key Fob (If Available)

Certain vehicles come with an OnStar RemoteLink key fob that allows limited remote control over the car, such as locking/unlocking doors and starting the engine.

This key fob can be used when you don’t have access to a smartphone or the internet.

Follow the instructions in the vehicle’s user manual for using the RemoteLink key fob to activate remote OnStar features.

Emergency Services (911)

In critical emergencies, you can always dial 911 for immediate assistance, which may include contacting OnStar for vehicle location and assistance.

Use this method when you require urgent help, and remote OnStar activation is not possible or too time-consuming.

Dial 911 and explain your emergency to the dispatcher, who may coordinate with OnStar to assist you.

Vehicle Dealer Assistance

If all else fails, your vehicle’s dealer may be able to provide guidance or assistance with remote OnStar activation.

Seek help from your dealer when you encounter persistent issues or challenges with remote activation.

Contact your vehicle’s dealer, describe the problem, and inquire about potential solutions or support.

How to Activate OnStar Free Trial

Activating an OnStar free trial is an excellent way to experience the benefits of OnStar services without committing to a subscription. Whether you’ve purchased a new vehicle with OnStar or are eligible for a trial period, follow these steps to get started with your free trial

1. Vehicle Purchase

If you’ve recently purchased a new GM vehicle equipped with OnStar, your vehicle may come with a complimentary OnStar trial period. Review your vehicle documentation or contact your dealer to confirm eligibility.

2. Existing Owners

If you already own a GM vehicle with OnStar and haven’t previously activated a free trial, you may still be eligible. Contact OnStar customer support or visit the OnStar website to inquire about available trial offers.

3. Contact OnStar

To initiate your free trial, reach out to OnStar’s customer support. You can contact them via phone or visit their official website.

4. Provide Vehicle Information

Be prepared to provide information about your vehicle, such as the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), your contact details, and any additional information requested by the OnStar representative.

5. Choose a Service Plan

During the free trial activation process, you may be asked to select a service plan. OnStar offers various plans with different features, so choose the one that best suits your needs. Note that you won’t be charged during the trial period, and you can change your plan later if necessary.

6. Enjoy the Trial

Once your free trial is activated, you’ll have access to a range of OnStar services, including emergency assistance, vehicle diagnostics, and more, depending on the selected plan.

7. Trial Duration

Be aware of the duration of your free trial. OnStar trial periods typically last for a few months, allowing you to experience the service before making a subscription decision.

8. Cancellation Reminder

As your free trial approaches its end, OnStar will typically remind you about the trial’s expiration. At this point, you can decide whether to continue with a paid subscription or opt-out. If you choose not to subscribe, OnStar services will be deactivated when the trial ends.

9. Subscription Options

If you find OnStar’s services valuable during the trial period, you can explore the various subscription plans available. These plans offer extended features and benefits, including remote vehicle access, turn-by-turn navigation, and more.

How Long Does It Take For Onstar To Activate

The time it takes for OnStar to activate can vary depending on several factors, including the specific services you’re activating, the method you’re using for activation, and any potential verification processes involved. Here’s a general overview of the activation timelines:

Some OnStar services can be activated almost instantly, especially if they are critical for safety and security, such as emergency services like Automatic Crash Response. These services are typically available as soon as your vehicle’s OnStar system is set up.

Services like remote door unlocking, remote start, and remote diagnostics may require a brief setup process but can often be activated within minutes using the OnStar mobile app or website. These services typically require a secure connection between your device and the OnStar system.

If you’re subscribing to a paid OnStar plan, activation can vary. In some cases, it can be immediate, while in others, it may take a little longer. Activation may involve account setup, payment processing, and configuring your vehicle’s OnStar system to access the subscribed features.

Depending on your location and the specific services you’re activating, there might be additional verification steps to ensure your identity and vehicle ownership. These steps can add some time to the activation process.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve explored the world of remote OnStar activation, shedding light on the convenience, security, and peace of mind it brings to vehicle ownership. Let’s summarize the key points discussed and reiterate the advantages of embracing this feature:

Remote OnStar activation is a game-changer, allowing you to access and control your vehicle’s functions from afar. Whether you’re facing an emergency, concerned about vehicle security, or simply seeking convenience, OnStar has you covered.


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