In 1996, General Motors launched OnStar, an innovative product that allowed GM vehicle users to instantly call for assistance while on the road and also allowed OnStar’s advisors to call First Responders in the event of a collision. Now OnStar has moved into the smartphone world with the release of their new app, Guardian. Guardian has most of the features of the original OnStar system, with some added extras thanks to smartphone technology.
What is OnStar Guardian?
OnStar Guardian is a mobile version of the OnStar button – it can detect crashes, call for help and even get roadside assistance and repairs.
Parents will feel a sense of security, knowing that their new drivers have instant access to help should something happen on the road and that OnStar can send help if the driver can’t.
How OnStar Guardian Works
Guardian has many features, but they all center around location services and connection to the user.
Using the accelerometer and sensors in your smartphone, Guardian can detect if you’re in a moving vehicle (since you’ll be moving too quickly for you to be walking or running). Once it knows you’re on the go, it will monitor the motion of your phone for sudden stops, or high impact crashes.
Setting up OnStar Guardian
You’ll sign up for an account using an email address and you’ll also be required to verify your phone number. It’s important to use a real legit number, since this is how emergency services will reach you in the event of a crash or other emergency.
You will also need to grant the app quite a bit of access two data including motion data, Fitness data, the microphone, location info and give permissions for notifications.
Enabling location permissions allows OnStar to find your phone’s location and contact First Responders, even if you can’t.
If you allow microphone permission, the OnStar advisor can speak directly to you, and OnStar says it doesn’t monitor your microphones at all times for your privacy – only when a problem is detected.
The Guardian App works with Android 7.0 and above, and Apple IOS 12.0 and above, and you’ll need a cellular connection.
Mobile Crash Response
One of the cool and helpful features of having an app-based crash detection system that’s not tied to your car is that it won’t matter if you’re driving or not.
Once Guardian detects a collision, it will alert OnStar HQ, someone there will attempt to speak with you and if there’s no response, OnStar can contact and send First Responders. If you can talk to them, they can begin to assess the situation and they’ll help provide an appropriate response. You also have the option of reporting an accident you’re not directly involved in.
Roadside Assistance with OnStar Guardian app
Not all vehicle incidents are collision-related, and OnStar Guardian can help out with other car issues, even if the driver isn’t an OnStar subscriber. You can choose from several services, and OnStar will give you an ETA for assistance. The services include:
- Lockout (Sending a locksmith)
How many times per year you’re eligible for each of these services will depend on the plan you’ve chosen. You can also call a tow truck directly through the app, but it’s important to share that this will be at your own expense.
Family Coverage & Location Status
You can grant family members access to your OnStar subscription, meaning you don’t need to be the only one who has safety coverage.
You can invite your partner and children and using the Location Status feature also has the added benefit of allowing family members to share their location and see it on a live map, to let you know when they’ve arrived safely.
You can also see the battery life status of their phones. This feature might be less popular with your teenager but could be handy when you’re out for the day and separated, letting the other person know where you are.
What happens if I have no cell service?
Not surprisingly, a cellular signal, GPS signal, and sufficient battery life on your phone are required for the app to operate properly. The app will actually send you push notifications letting you know when you’re on or off the grid. A couple other caveats: The app will not detect all crashes—for example, if your vehicle is parked for an extended period of time; the vehicle must be me moving at a sufficient speed (approximately 25 miles per hour/40km/h) for a certain amount of time (approximately 10 seconds) before it can begin to detect a crash event.
If a crash is detected, the app can connect a call from an OnStar advisor automatically on Android smartphones only; all other devices require you to answer the call.
OnStar Guardian Cost
Current OnStar members enrolled in a Safety & Security Plan (which includes the myBrand app for Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac) can sign up for OnStar Guardian at no extra cost. Safety & Security plans are $29.99 / month and more details about the plan can be found at OnStar.ca Plans starting w/ Safety & Security and above include OnStar Guardian at no extra cost. Pricing for a standalone OnStar Guardian subscription is $15.00 per month.
Overall review: OnStar Guardian app
Overall, this is probably one of the first things I’ve reviewed where I never really got to use it—and that’s a good thing. While I did get popups telling me Guardian was along for the ride and keeping an eye, we didn’t have any collisions or road trouble so I’ve not needed to use it yet. I’ve got an extended subscription though so I will keep using it and report back if I do get any hands-on experience.