do you need onstar to use navigation

Do I Need Onstar to Use Navigation?

Key points to highlight:

  • Navigation on GM vehicles works without Onstar, but Onstar enhances it with features like turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Onstar offers various services beyond navigation, including RemoteLink, Wi-Fi connectivity, and roadside assistance.
  • Canceling Onstar subscription means losing additional features, but basic navigation functionality remains accessible through the vehicle’s onboard system or other apps like Google and Apple Maps.

It is an integral part of the navigation system in General Motors (GM) vehicles so much so it is somewhat unimaginable to think of GM vehicles without Onstar. Question you might be asking is “Do I need Onstar to use navigation on GM vehicles?” We are going to be tackling that question in this article.

In short, no, navigation on a GM vehicle will work fine without Onstar. You will lose turn by turn navigation, but the Onstar system allows you to connect through Google and Apple CarPlay which you can use for navigation.

Interactive window screen to showcase the security system on the car

What is Onstar and How does it Work?

OnStar is a comprehensive in-vehicle safety and security system offered by Chevrolet and other GM vehicles. It has become an important part of General Motors’ offering and has grown to be much more than what was intended when it was introduced back in 1996.

When it was first released onto GM vehicles back in 1996, it was installed as a safety feature that would report if you had an accident and emergency service personnel were sent to your aid. Instead of picking up a cell phone to call, all you had to do was press a button and help would be dispatched. The system allows people at the Onstar call centre to know that you have involved in an accident by sending a report to them.

The information includes the extent of the damage to your vehicle. These were the humble beginnings of the Onstar system. Today it has evolved into something much, much more.

Here is a list of some of these services:


This function allows you to control your vehicle remotely. You can start or stop the engine and are also able to locate your vehicle if it is stolen.

Wi-Fi – 4G LTE Connectivity

This feature creates a Wi-Fi hotspot in your vehicle capable of connecting up to 7 devices at a time so you and your passengers remain connected on the go.

Roadside Assistance

Just push a button and you will get road side assistance which covers things like emergency fuel, flat tire replacement, emergency towing service and a lot more.

Turn by turn Navigation

This feature helps you get to your desired destination via turn by turn navigation.

Other Functions of Onstar

Among the other benefits you get from Onstar is a list of restaurants in a specific area or the latest stock prices. In actual fact, the above list covers only about half of the features of Onstar.

Does the Navigation System Work Without Onstar?

I hope you are getting a clearer understanding of what Onstar is. Since we are looking at answering the question of whether navigation on a GM vehicle works without Onstar, let’s tackle that right away.

You actually do not need Onstar to use navigation on your GM vehicle. New cars will come with a 1 month trial. When you are on this trial, navigation will automatically reroute to Onstar once you engage navigation.

However, when the trial period expires, you will simply be directed to the onboard navigation system. Onstar gives you the ability to connect to Google and Apple services. So most drivers simply use these instead of paying the monthly Onstar subscriptions which are just over $30 per month.

Interior of a car with navigation

What Do I Lose if I Cancel Onstar?

When you opt to skip the subscription, you will lose all the other Onstar features mentioned above. However, if your main worry is navigation, there’s no possibility of you losing that capability.

Some of the features like roadside assistance and emergency response can be obtained through other, more affordable options.

Some other functions can be obtained through free Apple and Google apps. GM touts Onstar as an essential must have but it really isn’t. In the worst-case scenario as a result of not having Onstar, your life will just continue as it always has.


The Onstar service is definitely a great offering when you look at it. It provides great peace of mind for you and your loved ones on one side and also gives you other benefits that have been added over the years.

The biggest question that you might ask yourself in choosing whether to keep it or not is a personal choice. You need to measure the pros and cons of having it and if that is worth paying an additional $30 or more per month.

However, when it comes to navigation, you really do not need to have it. There are other alternatives that you can incorporate for the same or better benefits.

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