Can Onstar Locate My Car Without Subscription?

Can Onstar Locate My Car Without Subscription

Do you know if Onstar can locate my car without a subscription or can Onstar track my car if not activated? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

While OnStar offers a plethora of services, one of the main services on offer is vehicle tracking.

Yes, OnStar will be able to know exactly where your vehicle is via GPS. Of course, since OnStar is a paid service, a lot of people wonder whether they will lose access to the service should they cancel the subscription. Let’s take a look.

Can OnStar Locate My Car Without Subscription?

In the past, you would have lost access to OnStar car tracking services if you stopped paying for your subscription. Obviously, this was frustrating for many people. It meant if they lost access to their vehicle, that was it.

They wouldn’t have been able to track it, because OnStar would not have provided access to that information.

In 2011, OnStar changed the way that it did things. It meant that those who canceled their OnStar subscription service would still have their vehicle tracked by OnStar.

You would lose access to the vast majority of other features with OnStar, but vehicle tracking would remain. OnStar would also retain the ability to slow your vehicle down if it had been stolen.

The reason why OnStar did this is to make it a little bit easier for people to reactive their subscriptions to the service, and they noticed a huge customer boost when this happened.

Although, of course, it is also going to be beneficial to those who have used the OnStar service before and wish to ensure that their vehicle can be tracked.

Remember, you will need to be subscribed to the OnStar service at least once in order to take advantage of this service.

Do You Have To Tell OnStar You Want To Continue Vehicle Tracking?


As long as you have had an active subscription to OnStar at some point, then the vehicle tracking is going to remain, even if your subscription ends up lapsing. There is absolutely nothing that needs to be done.

This also applies to those that had a subscription pre-2011. Those who had a subscription that lapsed before 2011 should have received an email that stated that the tracking for the service would be ongoing. 

How Do You End Car Tracking With OnStar?

As we mentioned before, OnStar is going to track you, as long as you have had an active subscription with them at some point. Even if you end that subscription, the tracking is going to continue.

The only way in which you are able to get the car tracking with OnStar to stop is to reach out to them and tell them. You will have to do this over the telephone.

Remember, it is important that you end your OnStar car tracking if you plan to sell your vehicle on. After all, the new purchaser of your vehicle probably won’t be a huge fan of you knowing where they are driving all the time!

It is unknown how much data OnStar actually keeps when it is tracking your vehicle. Obviously, it is going to be able to keep a log of your GPS coordinates, but it is unlikely that other things will end up being tracked via the service.

We suggest that you do not end your car tracking with OnStar. While there are some people who, understandably, are not going to be too keen on having their vehicles tracked, it is something that is probably going to come in incredibly beneficial should you end up losing your vehicle.

As we will note, later on, there is also a small chance that it will be able to decrease your insurance premiums! 

How Do You Take Advantage Of Vehicle Tracking With OnStar?

You are not going to get direct access to information about where your vehicle is if you have canceled your subscription. There are only two groups of people that will be able to access this information:

  • The police
  • OnStar

If you believe that your vehicle has been stolen, then you should reach out to the police first. You can let them know that you are using the OnStar service.

Most police forces in the United States will have direct access to OnStar, and they should be able to access your vehicle information pretty quickly.

In addition to this, we suggest that you reach out to OnStar via the telephone. They will carry out a few identity checks, but nothing too strenuous.

They may be able to provide you with a rough location about whether your vehicle is although, of course, since your vehicle is likely going to be continually moving, they won’t be able to do that much else.

OnStar will provide an incredibly useful service here, though. They will be able to slow down your vehicle until it is located. This means that whoever has your vehicle will not be able to drive it above a certain speed. At this point, many vehicle thieves will actually ditch the vehicle.

The vast majority of them have absolutely no way that they are going to be able to turn the OnStar service off.

Other than this, there is not really going to be a whole lot more that you can do. Obviously, because having OnStar is going to make the police’s job a whole lot easier, we are sure that you are going to get your vehicle back sooner as opposed to later.

Will a Subscription-less OnStar Service Lead To Lower Insurance Premiums?

One of the main reasons why people opt for the OnStar service is because it helps to lower insurance premiums. After all, OnStar can help to prevent theft, amongst a whole host of other things.

It is unknown whether a subscription-less OnStar tracking service will lower insurance premiums. Most insurers that do lower their costs based on OnStar are going to require you to have an ongoing subscription.

Still, it is something that may be worth discussing with the insurance company. They may be able to help you out.

In some cases, it may actually be worth activating the OnStar service subscription anyway. Many people, especially younger drivers, have discovered that the monthly subscription cost for OnStar ends up being a whole lot less than the money that they will save from having it activated.

Again, this is something that you are going to want to talk to your insurance company about. They will be able to provide you with advice.

Final Word

If you have ever had an active subscription for OnStar, then the vehicle location data will be continually tracked by OnStar, however, they will not save any further information beyond this.

If you have had your vehicle stolen, then the police will have access to this vehicle and may be able to track it down for you.

Do bear in mind that if you do not want OnStar to track your vehicle, you are going to need to actively opt-out of the service.

You can do this by giving them a call. However, it is likely going to be worth keeping it in place, just in case the worst does happen, and your vehicle ends up going missing. Recovery rates are better with OnStar.


Steve P.

Steve is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Riviera. Steve is based in Boise, Idaho.

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