How to Upgrade OnStar to Version 8

by Lauren Farrelly
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OnStar is a subscription-based service, available in General Motors vehicles, offering various safety features and communication abilities such as roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, navigation and vehicle diagnostics. As of 2009, GM began deploying Version 8 of OnStar in its vehicles. Some of the new features include Bluetooth capability, ignition deactivation and the ability to slow down the vehicle and shut down the engine in the event that the car is stolen or involved in a high-speed chase. Vehicles equipped with certain digital OnStar systems are eligible to upgrade their system to Version 8 if their vehicle meets certain requirements.

Step 1

Determine what version of OnStar your vehicle currently has installed. The early versions of OnStar were analog. Version 5 was also analog, but had digital components making it compatible with later version upgrades. However, starting with version 6, OnStar became a complete digital service. Those car owners with versions 1 to 4 were able to upgrade to a digital service without purchasing the new hardware. Also, versions 6 or lower cannot be upgraded to version 8.

Step 2

Activate or install Bluetooth technology in your vehicle. In order to upgrade to version 8 of OnStar, Bluetooth must already be installed in your vehicle. The new OnStar upgrade will simply piggyback off that hardware that is installed in the vehicle. If you already have Bluetooth, be sure that it is functioning properly. If you do not have it, have it installed through a dealership or other car accessory provider.

Step 3

Contact a GM dealer, or OnStar directly. Any upgrades to your system must be done at a dealership. OnStar is essentially a computer within the car. The upgrades must downloaded directly to the car's internal "computer" for the OnStar system by a technician. If you do not have a GM dealer nearby, OnStar will recommend a location that can provide the software upgrade service for you. Keep in mind that there may be an additional fee to upgrade your system, and the dealership or car accessory shop may charge a labor fee. Overall, though, the upgrade should not cost more than $100.

Step 4

Notify OnStar of the upgrade to your software. This isimportant so that vehicle records are up to date in the event any of the new features need to be activated (ie: stolen vehicle slow-down option).

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