3G Wireless Network Shutdown Means Your Car May Lose Automatic Crash Notification

As 3G networks shut down in 2022, some cars can be upgraded—but others will lose the feature for good

Close-up of the Assist and SOS buttons located above a car rear view mirror in California, October 23, 2020 Photo: Getty Images

As wireless carriers prepare to shut down their 3G networks over the coming months, millions of cars may lose the ability to automatically contact first responders after a crash. Some vehicles just need a software or hardware upgrade, but others—including vehicles from Chrysler, Dodge, Hyundai, Jeep, Lexus, Nissan, Ram, and Toyota—will lose their connections permanently.

Automatic crash notification, which alerts first responders after a crash via a built-in cellular connection, often relies on aging 3G cellular networks to connect drivers with emergency services and share a vehicle’s location. Even though automakers have been aware that these networks are shutting down permanently between February and July, many manufacturers still relied on it until as recently as the 2021 model year.

“Shutting down the 3G network to prioritize newer technologies is positive in the long run,” says Alex Knizek, an automotive engineer at CR. “But it is disappointing that some automakers have failed to offer a solution to owners of 3G-connected vehicles, leaving them unable to take advantage of proven and valuable safety features, as well as other beneficial connectivity functions.”

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The reason is cost savings, according to Roger Lanctot, director of automotive connected mobility at Strategy Analytics, a consulting firm. “It’s the last chapter of the automakers adopting the least expensive connectivity module they can find,” he tells CR. Only recently did automakers start future-proofing newer models, Lanctot says. “It’s a challenge for the industry, but going forward, automakers recognize that they need to put the latest connectivity in.”

In addition to crash notification, many vehicles also have an “SOS” button to contact emergency services, and a lot of those buttons still use a 3G network. It’s usually red and located near the vehicle’s dome light or rearview mirror. Some cars may also use 3G connectivity for convenience features such as remote unlocking, remote start, emergency roadside assistance, navigation map updates, and vehicle diagnostics. These and other features will no longer work without an upgrade to newer 4G or 5G technology—but because of the way many of these vehicles are designed, it can be difficult or even impossible to upgrade the technology to work with the newer networks, Lanctot says.

“What a mess,” says William Wallace, CR’s manager of safety policy. “Wireless carriers, federal regulators, and some automakers seem content to leave people out to dry, even if it means they lose access to a potentially lifesaving technology. Every automaker should deliver to its customers the services they’ve been promised—without charging them extra—and lawmakers should get ahead of the game to keep this from ever happening again in the future.”

See below for a list of automakers and their plans for the shutdown and your options. Your car could be on the list.

Some systems will stop working as soon as next month. And if a car can be upgraded, drivers may need to take action soon. For example:

• Owners of vehicles from Nissan, Infiniti, Toyota, and Lexus are out of luck so far. There are no announced plans for a connectivity upgrade, even though some of the cars that will permanently lose services are as new as the 2019 model year. 

 Honda owners have to act fast. Owners of some Hondas have until Feb. 22, 2022, to download new software free of charge. Otherwise, they will have to pay upward of $900 for a hardware upgrade or lose certain features. The automaker is sending out update reminders to owners of affected vehicles—both via mail and directly to the vehicles’ infotainment screens.

Hardware and software upgrades are available for some vehicles. But exactly what owners get depends on the manufacturer. OnStar users will retain crash notification after a software update, and Audi is giving owners access to a third-party service that offers SOS and crash notification, for example.

• Some cars will keep convenience features, but they will lose crash notifications. A spokesperson for Stellantis—which owns Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Maserati, and Ram—told CR that the automaker will allow owners of certain vehicles affected by the shutdown to upgrade to 4G to keep some remote services for a monthly fee of $10 for 2 gigabytes of data or $30 for unlimited data, but their vehicles will no longer have automatic crash notification or SOS. 

• Not all automakers are affected. Ford and Mazda, for instance, connect to a driver’s cell phone for crash notification. And Mitsubishi has never used 3G, says Jeremy Barnes, spokesperson for the automaker. “We foresaw this time coming and designed around it,” he told CR.

OnStar Guardian on phone
OnStar Guardian. Some smartphone-based services offer automatic crash notification.

Photo: GM Photo: GM

Is Your Car Affected?

What you need to do next depends on what kind of car you drive. Call your local dealership.  Some vehicles already have 4G capability, so you might only have to perform an over-the-air software update at home—the same way you would on a phone or laptop—to keep your car’s connected services. Other vehicles require a hardware update, which may require a trip to a dealership. If that’s the case, make sure to ask your dealer in advance whether the update is free or comes with a charge.

There are also third-party systems that can use your phone’s built-in motion sensors and location sensing to detect a crash and notify emergency services, Lanctot says. Although CR hasn’t tested any of these systems, they include GM’s Guardian app, which can be used on any car and requires a monthly fee to operate. Some newer smartphones have a similar feature built in.

Below is the list of vehicles with automatic crash notification and E911 services that operate on a 3G network. We’ve also included whether they can be updated and, if so, how to do that.

Acura

Vehicles affected: 2014 to 2017 MDX (Tech Package and above), 2015 to 2017 TLX (Tech and Advanced packages), 2016 and 2017 ILX (Tech Plus Package), 2014 to 2016 RLX (models with navigation), 2016 and 2017 RDX (Tech and Advanced packages), and 2017 NSX.

The fix: According to Acura’s website, certain vehicles will lose automatic crash notification and other features, but drivers may continue to access AcuraLink services “if the hardware in your vehicle is updated with a new device.” Acura recommends contacting a dealership for more information.

Audi

Vehicles affected: Audi vehicles that connect to a 3G network will lose connectivity in February 2022. These include the 2016 to 2018 A3 E-Tron; 2013 to 2018 A4, A5, and Q5; 2014 to 2018 Allroad; 2012 to 2015 A6 and A7; 2012 to 2018 A8; 2015 to 2018 Q3; 2012 to 2018 Q7; and 2019 RS5, according to Audi’s website.

The fix: Audi is partnering with a company called Mojio to provide owners with a device that plugs into their cars and allows them to keep automatic crash notification and SOS. Called Motion for Audi Connect, it’s not available yet, but owners can sign up to get more information when it’s released in January 2022. Audi spokesperson Jacob Brown tells CR that it requires professional installation and that the company is contacting customers who are eligible.

BMW

Vehicles affected: All BMW vehicles that connect to a 3G network will lose connectivity in February 2022. The automaker hasn’t published a list of affected vehicles but says it has contacted owners directly.

The fix: BMW said in a statement that not all vehicles would be eligible for a free technology upgrade. ”Customers will be notified via email or First-Class Mail about whether their vehicles are eligible for an upgrade or not,” the statement said.

GM, Including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC With OnStar

Vehicles affected: General Motors–brand vehicles using OnStar on a 3G network will require a software update by February 2022. Owners can find out whether their vehicle is affected on this website.

The fix: According to OnStar, owners with an “active, connected vehicle” will receive an over-the-air software update. These updates began in October 2021, and owners may have to accept a prompt on the vehicle’s screen to install the new software. “Once the over-the-air software update is completed, OnStar voice services will continue to work after the 3G sunset and members will be able to connect with OnStar advisers as expected,” OnStar spokesperson Stephanie Obendorfer told CR.

Close up shot of car inner rear view mirror with SOS button
OnStar-equipped vehicles, such as this one, require a software update.

Photo: Getty Images Photo: Getty Images

Honda

Vehicles affected: Accord (Touring trim, 2018 to 2020), Odyssey (Touring and Elite trims, 2018 to 2020), Insight (Touring trim, 2019 and 2020), Passport (Touring and Elite trims, 2019 to 2021), and Pilot (Touring, Slite, and Black Edition trims, 2019 to 2022).

The fix: Owners must complete a software update by Feb. 22, 2022. If they update in time, they’ll need to get an updated telematics control unit (TCU), which could cost as much as $900. “The only way to update firmware on the TCU is through an OTA [over-the-air] update via AT&T’s mobile network,” says Chris Naughton, a spokesperson for Honda and Acura. “Since the TCUs in question are currently communicating via 3G, once that network stops operating, there is no further opportunity to communicate with the TCUs to perform the update.”

Hyundai and Genesis

Vehicles affected: 2016 to 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT; 2017 and 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport; 2015 to 2017 Hyundai Azera; 2017 Hyundai Elantra; 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric; 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid; 2017 and 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe; 2015, 2016, and 2018 Hyundai Sonata; 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid; 2016 and 2017 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid; 2016 Hyundai Tucson; 2016 and 2017 Hyundai Veloster; 2014 to 2016 Hyundai Genesis; 2017 to 2019 Genesis G80; and 2017 Genesis G90.

The fix: Some newer Hyundai and Genesis vehicles will receive a free software update. But about 22,000 others—including those listed above—will not, and their Bluelink services will end Dec. 31, 2022, Hyundai spokesperson Michael Stewart tells CR.

In addition, some 2012 to 2016 Hyundai vehicles equipped with Bluelink used an even older 2G network. These vehicles will permanently lose their Bluelink features Jan. 1, 2023, according to Hyundai’s website. The fine print on Genesis’ Connected Services page says any Genesis vehicle with 2G or 3G “will be unable to connect to Connected Services, and your vehicle may not be updated to support other wireless technologies.”

Jaguar and Land Rover

Jaguar and Land Rover did not respond to CR’s questions in time for publication, and the automaker’s website did not have any information on the shutdown. CR research shows that the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace and XE, the 2016 and 2017 Jaguar XF and XJ, the 2015 to 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport, the 2017 Land Rover Discovery, and the 2016 and 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Sport, and Range Rover may be affected by the shutdown. We will update this article if we learn more.

Kia

Kia did not respond to CR’s questions in time for publication, and the automaker’s website did not have any information on the shutdown. We will update this article if we learn more.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes did not respond to CR’s questions in time for publication, and the automaker’s website did not have any information on the shutdown. According to Lanctot, Mercedes may be preparing an aftermarket solution similar to what Audi is doing. We will update this article if we learn more.

Nissan and Infiniti

Vehicles affected: 2016 and 2017 Nissan Altima, 2017 and 2018 Nissan GT-R, some 2011 to 2015 Nissan Leaf, 2016 and 2017 Nissan Maxima, 2017 Nissan Murano, 2017 Nissan Pathfinder, 2016 and 2017 Nissan Rogue, 2017 and 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport, 2016 to 2018 Nissan Sentra, 2016 and 2017 Nissan Titan, 2017 Nissan Titan XD, 2014 to 2018 Infiniti Q50, 2017 and 2018 Infiniti Q60, 2013 to 2018 Infiniti Q70, 2017 and 2019 Infiniti QX30, 2013 to 2017 Infiniti JX/QX60, and 2013 to 2017 Infiniti QX56/QX80, according to Nissan’s and Infiniti’s websites.

The fix: Nissan Connect and Infiniti InTouch will stop working on these vehicles Feb. 22, 2022, and these vehicles will permanently lose automatic crash notification and other features.

Porsche

Vehicles affected: 2017 to 2019 911, 2014 918 Spyder, 2017 to 2021 718, 2015 to 2019 Cayenne, 2015 to 2018 Macan, and 2014 to 2018 Panamera, according to Porsche’s website.

The fix: Some of these vehicles will be eligible for what Porsche calls a “technology upgrade.” Owners of those vehicles will be notified by email, and must schedule an appointment with an authorized Porsche dealer to perform the upgrade before Feb. 22, 2022, according to the automaker. If you own one of these vehicles and have not received an email, CR recommends contacting your dealership.

Stellantis, Including Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Maserati, and Ram

Some vehicles with Uconnect Access have already lost their 3G connections. Representatives from Stellantis told CR that the automaker will convert certain 3G vehicles to accept 4G as long as they subscribe to data packages. These allow for 2 gigabytes of data for a $10 monthly fee, or unlimited data for $30 per month. These options will include all necessary hardware and 4G WiFi, but they will not include automatic crash notification. Some vehicles will be eligible for a plug-in 4G adapter from T-Mobile.

Subaru

Vehicles affected: 2016 to 2018 Forester 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, and 2.0XT Touring; 2016 to 2018 Legacy 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, and 3.6R Limited; 2017 and 2018 Legacy 2.5i Sport; 2016 to 2018 Outback 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, and 3.6R Limited; 2017 and 2018 Outback 2.5i Sport; 2016 to 2018 Impreza 2.0i Limited; 2016 Impreza 2.0i Sport Premium with Eyesight and 2.0i Sport Limited; 2017 and 2018 Impreza 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Sport; 2016 and 2017 Crosstrek 2.0i Premium with Eyesight and 2.0i Limited; 2018 Crosstrek 2.0i Premium; 2017 WRX 2.0T Premium with Harman Kardon; and 2017 and 2018 WRX 2.0T Limited and 2.5T STI, according to Subaru’s website.

The fix: Only Subaru drivers with an active Starlink Safety and Security subscription will be eligible for a free hardware upgrade, which an authorized Subaru dealer must perform by February 2022.

Toyota and Lexus

Vehicles affected: 2011 to 2017 Toyota Sienna, 2012 to 2016 Toyota Prius V, 2013 to 2018 Toyota Avalon and Avalon Hybrid, 2012 to 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV, 2012 to 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in, 2013 to 2017 Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid, 2016 and 2017 Toyota Mirai, 2010 to 2016 Toyota Prius, 2014 to 2018 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid, 2011 to 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser, and 2010 to 2019 Toyota 4Runner, plus all 2010 to 2017 Lexus models except certain 2016 and 2017 CT200h hybrids, and the 2018 Lexus GX, according to Toyota’s and Lexus’ websites.

The fix: Toyota Safety Connect and Lexus Enform Safety Connect will stop working on these vehicles Nov. 1, 2022, and these vehicles will permanently lose automatic crash notification and other features. “Although these circumstances were created by factors beyond our control, we sincerely regret any inconvenience this may cause,” Toyota said in a statement on its website.

2017 Toyota Highlander
Toyota Highlander. Some Toyota and Lexus vehicles will no longer have automatic crash notification after 3G wireless networks shut down.

Consumer Reports - John Powers Consumer Reports - John Powers

Volvo

Vehicles affected: 2015.5 to 2018 S60, V60, and V60 Cross Country; 2015.5 to 2017 XC60; 2015.5 and 2016 XC70, and 2016 XC90, according to Volvo’s website.

The fix: Volvo has yet to announce what will happen to vehicles with 3G technology and the Volvo On Call telematics service after AT&T’s network goes dark Feb. 22, 2022, but Volvo spokesperson Russ Datz tells CR that the automaker will soon be offering owners a hardware upgrade to retain full On Call operation and that details will be provided to customers directly within a few weeks.

Volkswagen

Vehicles affected: 2018 and 2019 Atlas and Arteon; 2014 to 2019 Beetle, Jetta, Golf, Golf Sportwagen, Golf R, eGolf, GTI, Passat, and Tiguan; 2014 to 2018 CC; and 2014 to 2017 Eos.

The fix: Volkswagen says that its Car-Net services, including automatic crash notification, will stop working when AT&T’s network goes dark in February 2022. However, the automaker’s website says that “additional information” will be available for those who want to continue to use Car-Net after the 3G shutdown.

Other Brands

Ford and Mazda use a driver’s cell phone to call emergency services in the event of a crash, so their vehicles are not affected by the 3G shutdown unless drivers are using an older 3G cell phone. All Mitsubishi vehicles with crash notification and SOS use 4G networks and are not affected by the shutdown. Tesla vehicles do not have automatic crash notification, but owners of older Teslas with 3G-based telecommunications modules who want to keep their vehicles connected must pay $200 for a hardware update.

SOS button to call emergency services in a Toyota Corolla, California, December 6, 2021
An SOS button. Some may become inoperable after the 3G shutdown.

Photo: Getty Images Photo: Getty Images

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include new information from Hyundai and GM. It was originally published Jan. 11, 2022.


Head shot photo of CRO Cars CIA editor Keith Barry

Keith Barry

Despite my love for quirky, old European sedans like the Renault Medallion, it's my passion to help others find a safe, reliable car that still puts a smile on their face—even if they're stuck in traffic. When I'm not behind the wheel or the keyboard, you can find me exploring a new city on foot or planning my next trip.