Do You Need Onstar To Use Remote Start? [Here’S What You Need To Know!]

Are you planning to cancel your OnStar subscription, and you want to know if you will be unable to use remote start without it? You’ve come to the right place, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.

If you cancel your OnStar subscription, you will not be able to use remote start through the vehicle manager of the OnStar mobile app. However, you can still access the remote start feature through the key fob of your vehicle.

Let’s talk more about the remote start feature of your vehicle in the following sections. Learn more about the OnStar subscription in the sections below.

Read on!

Automatic door key fob or smart car key, Do You Need Onstar To Use Remote Start? [Here'S What You Need To Know!]

OnStar And Your Car

If you have a newer vehicle from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac, your car might have OnStar.

OnStar RemoteLink app in play store

OnStar is a subsidiary of General Motors. It provides several services that focus on in-vehicle communications and security. Its services are available in the US and several other countries like Canada and Mexico.

The OnStar Guardian app became available to US vehicle owners on June 14, 2021. The app uses the accelerometer and GPS receiver of your phone to provide some OnStar services like crash notifications. These services are available regardless of the vehicle that the user was riding at the time of the crash.

OnStar has partnerships with different internet providers in different countries where OnStar’s services are available, like China, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Some of OnStar’s services require an internet connection, and this partnership allows OnStar to deliver all of its services to subscribers.

The OnStar app provides you with access to Bluetooth-powered features like the remote start. Although you already have access to remote start through the key fob, the range is limited to the range of the key fob.

On the other hand, remote start through the OnStar app has the advantage of range. You can pair your phone with OnStar through Bluetooth, then access the remote start functionality through the app. Since you’re going to remote start your car through the app, then the effective range of remote start through the app is the same as the effective range of Bluetooth.

Modern versions of Bluetooth have an effective range from less than a meter to more than 1 kilometer. This is a much greater range than the transmission range of your key fob.

Key Fob

Car remote control by smart key, Hand holding smart key to lock doors of white car

Key fobs contain an RFID chip.

RFID stands for radio frequency identification. It is a short-range radio transmitter. The chip sends a coded signal to another RFID receiver chip inside your vehicle.

The information sent by the key fob’s RFID chip must match the information that the receiving RFID chip expects to receive. If the codes match, the receiving RFID chip will send a signal to the car’s computer to perform the start-up process.

RFID systems use the UHF (ultra-high frequency) band. The UHF band normally has a range of up to 25 feet.

Remote Start And OnStar

The OnStar app has several other features in addition to the ability to start your car remotely.

The app will only allow you to remotely start your car twice. This limit is reset when you enter your car and the system detects the presence of the key fob. The app only counts the number of remote starts if you do not enter your car before it times out.

The limited number of remote starts helps to preserve the car battery’s charge. This is also a protection against accidental activation of a remote start. Without this feature, there is a risk of draining your car’s battery by accidently activating the remote start. 

Another thing to remember about OnStar’s remote start feature is that it does not work on all vehicles even though they are new models. The OnStar remote start will only work on vehicles that have an automatic transmission.

You will not be able to use the remote start feature through the OnStar mobile app, even with an active subscription, if your vehicle has a manual transmission.

Can I remote start my GMC without OnStar?

A 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Pickup Truck at a dealership

Newer GMC models have an RKE (remote keyless entry) feature. These vehicles have a receiver inside the vehicle and another transmitter inside the key fob.

Activating the remote start from the GMC key fob will start the engine of your GMC vehicle. This feature will also activate the automatic climate control system to make the temperature inside the cabin more comfortable. If the vehicle does not have an automatic climate control system, it will activate the heater or AC and use the previous settings on them.

Most newer GMC vehicles come with a myGMC mobile app. MyGMC allows you to remotely start your GMC vehicle through the app. Keep in mind, however, that the remote start feature on the myGMC app requires that you have an active myGMC Remote Access Plan or a myGMC Unlimited Access Plan.

Thus, if you have an active myGMC and an active OnStar account, you will have three ways to remotely start your GMC vehicle. You have the option to start it remotely through the key fob, through the OnStar mobile app, or through the myGMC mobile app.

Buick Remote Start

Buick has a similar feature through the myBuick mobile app that is available to newer Buick vehicles. This app’s features are similar to the myGMC mobile app.

How to start your GMC or Buick remotely through the mobile app?

You can follow the same steps below to remotely start your GMC or Buick vehicle through the mobile app.

  1. Open your myGMC or myBuick app.
  2. Navigate to “Remote Commands.”
  3. Select the “Key Fob” option. Selecting “Key Fob” gives you access to several options like remote start, remote lock, remote unlock, or flash the lights of your vehicle.
    • Flashing the lights of your vehicle is useful if you can’t remember where you parked it in a crowded parking lot.
  1. Select remote start to start your vehicle remotely.

Do you need OnStar for Chevy’s myChevrolet mobile app?

The myChevrolet mobile app provides your mobile phone with the functionality to interact with your Chevy vehicle.

The myChevrolet app requires an active subscription. The type of subscription determines which features are available to you through the mobile app.

It is possible to link your myChevrolet mobile app with an existing OnStar subscription. Linking the OnStar app to your myChevrolet app will allow your myChevrolet app to access subscription-based features from your OnStar subscription.

However, even without the OnStar subscription, you will still be able to access remote start through the myChevrolet mobile app if you have an active myChevrolet subscription. If you do not have an active myChevrolet subscription, you can link an active OnStar subscription to your myChevrolet mobile app to access the remote start feature.

Why do I need OnStar?

Control your car just by pushing a button on your smartphone

The value of OnStar goes beyond providing your mobile app with the ability to remotely start your vehicle.

OnStar provides assistance during emergencies. Its services assist with injuries that you might suffer in the event of an unfortunate vehicular accident.

Here are other benefits of an OnStar subscription, plus the downsides.

OnStar Benefits

OnStar has advisors that you can contact during an emergency or a crash. You can speak with these advisors, and they will guide you on what to do during such emergencies.

OnStar automatically sends a response unit to your vehicle if it gets involved in a crash. Their response team doesn’t need a call from you to send someone. This is a useful benefit in case the driver falls unconscious during the crash.

OnStar also provides roadside assistance to its subscribers.

If your vehicle gets stolen, OnStar’s technology can help law enforcement to locate your stolen vehicle and retrieve it for you faster.

Disadvantages Of An OnStar Subscription

The biggest disadvantage of an OnStar subscription is that it is specific to a single device only. If you have more than one vehicle or more than one person who drives that vehicle, then you’d need more than one subscription.

Another downside to an OnStar subscription is that you can get similar services elsewhere. And you can get most of what they offer for free.

You can get navigation through Google maps for free. The members of your family can even share a Google map location with you, and you can easily use that to navigate there.

You can have access to vehicle manuals through your phone by downloading the vehicle’s manual in PDF format and saving it to your phone. Install a PDF reader on your phone or tablet if you don’t have it, and you have a softcopy of your vehicle that you can access anytime.

You can access remote start through your key fob.

You can replace maintenance notifications through any calendar app on your mobile phone. It is also possible to set the alert to trigger a week, a day, or even a month before the time of your vehicle’s maintenance to give you time to prepare for it. The calendar alert can contain all other related information that you will need for that maintenance.

Thus, aside from roadside assistance and emergency assistance (that you can also get elsewhere), the rest of the features that you pay for are available elsewhere for free.


Automatic door key fob or smart car key

You do not need an active OnStar subscription to access remote start through your key fob.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might find the articles below equally enjoyable to read:

Remote Start Is Draining My Battery – Why? What To Do?

My Remote Start Is Not Working & Check Engine Light Is On – Why? What To Do?

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