A Smooth Ride

Smart cars that dispatch emergency help and purchase hard-to-get tickets

access to your whereabouts 24-7 may seem more like “Big Brother.”

OnStar offers two service packages to subscribers: Safety and Security, at $199 per year, and Premium Service, at $399 a year. The cost of the three-button system when installed at the dealer is $695. If OnStar is factory-installed, then the hardware and one year of service are included in the price of the car.

There are some communication issues. OnStar’s service operates only in those geographic areas where cellular coverage is available. Also the system will not operate if, for some reason, a wireless carrier has deactivated cellular service.

Moreover, in any given area, the local cellular system can only handle a limited number of calls at one time. Once the system has reached maximum volume, additional callers will be denied access to OnStar. Radio signals created by other electrical devices could impair the performance of OnStar’s system. Note: OnStar is powered by the car’s battery; if it goes dead-you get the picture.

If you are in the market for a new car, you might fancy getting OnStar. That’s given your sights are set on any of GM’s models. If not, you can check with other dealers or even your auto insurance carrier about similar security systems and services.

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