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Car Monitoring

Car monitoring systems can track your vehicle using a computer or satellite. When your car is stolen, you simply notify the police, and they are able to find your vehicle and the car thief. Examples of monitory systems include LoJack, OnStar, and GPS locating devices.

LoJack and GPS Transmitters

A LoJack is a silent radio transceiver installed by a professional into your car. In the event that your car is stolen, the police locate the LoJack using a computer and are able to reduce the search to within a block of your car. The LoJack makes it possible to find cars hidden in garages or other buildings. LoJacks have a 90% recovery rate. LoJacks can cost around $700 so other GPS locating devices might be more reasonable. You may have to pay a monthly fee for the GPS, but if it helps you find your stolen car, it will be worth it.

Onstar

Another car monitoring device is OnStar; however, it is only available on General Motors vehicles. When a car with OnStar is stolen, it can quickly be tracked down and recovered. OnStar is alerted when you are in an accident and can notify police of your location and condition. In addition to monitoring your location, it also monitors your oil, tire pressure, motor functions and air bags. It can unlock your doors when you accidentally lock your keys inside. OnStar is also handy in situations that aren’t emergencies. For example, you can use OnStar car monitoring for navigation, making phone calls, or reserving hotel rooms. In 2009, General Motors began to include a new optional feature called Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. Through this feature OnStar can slow down stolen vehicles.

Privacy issues have been raised about OnStar. The car monitoring company knows where you are, how fast you are going, where you are at certain times, and if you used the brakes. Privacy advocates are worried that insurance companies can use recorded data from OnStar to prove reckless driving and deny claims. OnStar can also switch on the car’s microphone and record conversations inside the car between passengers. Since OnStar is also used for hands-free calling, privacy advocates worry that OnStar can eavesdrop and record phone conversations. However, OnStar claims that they are unable to “listen to, view, or record the content of calls.” OnStar’s privacy statement can be found at http://www.onstar.com/us_english/jsp/privacy_policy.jsp.