How OnStar Stolen Vehicle Assistance Works

If there is one thing that annoys drivers even more than congested traffic or police officer, that's having their car stolen. In fact, we are quite sure a driver who finds himself staring at an empty parking spot would like nothing better than to catch the guy who left with his/her car and really beat some sense into him. Unfortunately for most, once your car got stolen, that's about all she wrote. Even if you get to the scene, and see your car drive away while your not in it, there's not much you can do. You can reach for the sky, cry for help, run like crazy from place to place, throw rocks at the car in the hope you'll convince the villain to stop, get out, hand you the keys and apologize, or you could brake down in tears. Nothing will work. It's a gonner, and you might as well start surfing through dealerships in search of a new one. And since you are now looking for a car, make sure you'll get one who can fight back. Or at least allow you to fight back. We know you want to... The only viable stolen vehicle assistance system is currently being offered in the US by OnStar. OnStar's system is basically comprised of two major components: the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown (SVS) and the Remote Ignition Block. Combined, they will prove to be a powerful weapon against those desiring that which is not theirs. Stolen Vehicle Slowdown
SVS is a system first introduced two years ago. Developed from the existing stolen vehicle service provided ever since 1996 by OnStar, SVS allows law enforcement and OnStar personnel to work together in finding the stolen vehicle.

SVS uses the existing GPS satellites to locate the stolen vehicle. Once the deed has been acknowledged, the owner of the car calls OnStar and tells them about the vehicle. Once the call is made, a frightening (for the thief, that is) machinery is set in motion.

As with any paid for service, SVS needs a subscription. After you called and asked for assistance, OnStar will check if you are indeed a service subscriber. If you are, good, if not, good for the thief... We'll assume you are.

After the subscription has been verified, OnStar people turn to their crystal bowl and conjure GPS. Satellites pinpoint the car and relays the information back to the operator. The operator then calls law enforcement and tells them about the whereabouts of the car.

Meanwhile, the thief has no idea...

Once police gets on the move and establish a clear line of sight with the vehicle, they call OnStar and ask for the SVS to be activated. The operator does his/her magic, sends a remote signal to the vehicle and it – guess what- begins to slow down. The spell initiated by the operator finds its way into the car's powertrain system and begins reducing engine power.

Meanwhile, the driver starts suspecting something's up...

With police already trailing the car, the now scared thief can only opt for an escape on foot. We've all seen how those end...

Remote Ignition Block

Of course, they may be cases when the thief, probably an experienced former automotive test pilot, can still manage to elude OnStar, the police and all the magic. This is why GM devised Remote Ignition Block. Operating on about the same principles as the SVS, the ignition block behaves entirely different.

It all starts with the same car, the same villain and the same sine qua non OnStar subscription. Once you've passed the initial panic and managed to call OnStar, the process, once again, is set in motion. GPS is again used to locate the vehicle's position and informs the police.

Now comes the unlikely part. Ignition block does exactly what it's name says. It block the ignition of the car. Say the thief, once sure he is out of the hot zone, decides to make a stop and buy popcorn. He needs to stop the car and remove the keys so that, you know, he doesn't have his recently stolen car stolen.

By the time he gets back, ignition block messed up the car's ignition system so much that, try as he might, the car won't start again. The only option for the bad guy is, as we described above, to make a run for it...

OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Assistance was born after a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistic showed that the US is witness to some 30,000 police chases every year, which result in some 300 deaths.

Even if it is some two year's old, SVS proved its value only recently. The system was used, in full, for the first time, this week, in California. A local resident found himself in the middle of an armed carjacking, which left his without his prized possession, a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe. The joy of the robber was short-lived, as Jose Ruiz, the victim, happened to be an OnStar subscriber. Full package subscriber...

Unknown to him, after stealing the car, he only had 16 minutes of freedom left. He of course tried to elude the police on foot but, as we repeatedly hinted, THAT NEVER WORKS!
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Daniel Patrascu
Daniel Patrascu profile photo

Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories