Some Acura Owners Stuck With Useless OnStar Units

Reader Charlie writes in with a complaint about Acura and OnStar. Charlie has a 2003 Acura TL that came equipped with OnStar. Usually he renews for 2 years at a time, but this time something was wrong. OnStar wouldn’t let him renew because his Acura had an analog OnStar system, and due to a FCC ruling, the wireless carriers that provide service to OnStar will no longer be required to maintain analog networks.

“I was told that all of the carriers are switching over to all digital system, and that after next year, my OnStar system will be useless,” Charlie writes. OnStar’s website confirms the accusation.

    If your vehicle has analog-only equipment, you will not be able to upgrade the equipment nor will your vehicle be able to receive OnStar service as of January 1, 2008.

We found this a little hard to believe, so we called OnStar, asking them to confirm that Charlie’s 2003 Acura could not be upgraded, or a new unit installed. After all, a 2003 Acura isn’t exactly an old car. OnStar’s CSR confirmed that Acura owners could not install a new unit, because Acura has decided not to participate in the upgrade program—choosing instead to push their own AcuraLink unit. So, can Charlie get an AcuraLink installed? Nope. Not according to Acura. In effect, Charlie is stuck with an useless unit, which is not only annoying, but will effect the resale value of the car. Shame on Acura for not standing by the products they install in their vehicles. —MEGHANN MARCO

Analog to Digital Update [OnStar]
Helpful Info [OnStar]

Charlie’s email inside.

Charlie writes:


    Here’s the story in a nutshell. I have 2003 Acura TL. It came with an OnStar system. Usually I renew my OnStar service online for 2 years at a time because of some savings. Recently I went to renew as usual, but the system wasn’t taking my 2 year renewal. I called OnStar to find out what was going on. I was told that all of the carriers are switching over to all digital system, and that after next year, my OnStar system will be useless. I called the President of OnStar, Chet Huber (313-665-2786) in Detroit, to complain. His assistant (Rhonda) passed me off to Christy Bailey (313-667-6901), who agreed this was unfair and would check into it. She got back to me after a week and a half and said I should call Acura. I called the office of Jeffrey Smith, Assistant VP, Corporate Affairs and Communications of Acura, in Torrance, California (310-783-2000), and his assistant told me someone would get back to me. I received a phone call this morning from someone named Joseph, who would not give his last name, and using corporate-speak, basically told me, “too bad for you, but we’re not going to do anything about it.” I think this is unfair. When you sign on to a service like OnStar and a prestigious car company like Acura, it is with the expectation I will have it for the life of my vehicle. What they are doing isn’t right and Acura, and OnStar, as well as all of the other car companies that put OnStar in their vehicles should do the right thing for everyone who has a car that’s only 3 years old, and provide free-of-charge upgrades to so it can be continued to be used. Infact I recently received a letter from OnStar squarely laying the blame with Acura because it’s Acura’s hardware that needs to be upgraded. As more and more people try to renew their OnStar service, this problem is going to become worse and worse. Now, as it turns out, Acura is abandoning OnStar altogether and substituting AcuraLink which is neither compatible with OnStar, or usable on slightly older Acuras. This just isn’t right.