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GM corrects mandatory OnStar service fee mistake, sorta


When the new 2023 GM models started rolling out of the factory, new buyers noticed a  $1,500 mandatory OnStar service fee for 3-years of service put into the price. Fortunately, this mandatory fee has been mostly dropped for the 2024 model year.

A news story on Autonews.com says GM will stop this practice of a mandatory OnStar service fee except on specific models.

What is the mandatory OnStar service fee?

If you missed the news last year, the 3-year mandatory OnStar service fee was tacked onto the price of many GM vehicles like the 2023 Chevrolet Silverado, 2023 GMC Sierra 1500, GMC Yukon, Buick Avenir, Cadillac Escalade and other models. It was a $1,500 fee and was not able to be negotiated off the purchase price.

“GM began including a three-year OnStar premium subscription with both connectivity and safety features in the middle of the 2023 model year as a way to add value for consumers, said Arnie Magnotta, director of sales for GM’s digital business group, which includes OnStar according to AutoNews.com. “The subscription was listed on window stickers as a $1,500 line item until October, Magnotta said, when it was moved to the listing of standard features instead.”
The vehicle price stayed the same even though the line item was taken off the window stickers.

If you are a fan of this outlet, you know I was impacted by this change since I bought a 2023 Chevrolet Silverado High Country for a long-term test model. My frustration with this mandatory OnStar service fee is I rarely keep long-term test vehicles more than a year since my business model dictates I buy something else to stay current with model year to model year for reviews and comparisons.

GM is changing this program to include a safety and connectivity service standard on higher-trim levels while optional on lower trims.

OnStar Premium vs OnStar Remote Access

The new plan is for high-trim level GM vehicles like the GMC Denali and Buick Avenir trims to come with OnStar Premium. Lower trims will come with three years of OnStar Remote Access.

OnStar Premium includes features like automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance, remote vehicle access and unlimited data streaming inside the vehicle.

All other lower trims and all 2024 Chevrolet models will come with three years of OnStar Remote Access at no extra cost. These features are accessed through a smartphone and allow the owner to lock, unlock, remote start, remotely share routes with the navigation system and see the vehicle’s location on a map.

After three years, OnStar Remote Access is $24.99 per month while OnStar Premium is $49.99 per month according to Onstar.com.

The bottom line

Is this better? Yup except for this is just a speed bump on the way to more monthly subscription fees. For example, using the advanced features like hands-free driver assistance system, aka Super Cruise, you’ll need to pay for not only the hardware but also the monthly subscription to make it work.

The fact is vehicles are getting more expensive to buy, more expensive to fix if something goes wrong and will come with monthly fees on top of the payment and insurance. Buyer beware.

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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