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How Will the Switch to 5G Impact My Vehicle’s Safety Features?

Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Protect the Rights of Those Injured in Collisions.

Wireless carriers are shutting down their 3G networks to free up mobile bandwidth to upgrade to the state-of-the-art 5G wireless technology, which is much faster and more reliable. However, while the newer, more advanced technology certainly has its benefits, it also means that millions of connected vehicles that rely on 3G technology will lose key safety features, including being able to call for help in an emergency, remote engine start, and automatic collision notification. While some vehicles need a software or hardware upgrade to be compatible with the 5G technology, others will lose their connections permanently. Without access to potentially life-saving technology, motorists may be at an increased risk of being injured in a car accident.

For years, automakers have known that all major cellular carriers would be shutting down their 3G networks. However, as recently as 2019, they continued installing 3G technology into new vehicles, despite knowing that customers would no longer be able to access essential safety features once they upgraded to 5G. While some cars may require a software or hardware upgrade to be compatible with the 5G network, many car companies are not covering the costs associated with the promotion. Car companies could take steps, but it would cost money that they are unwilling to spend.

According to an automotive engineer at Consumer Reports, shutting down the 3G network to allow for newer, faster technologies has many long-term benefits. However, automakers have not offered a viable solution for drivers who own 3G-connected vehicles and can no longer take advantage of convenient and potentially life-saving safety features.

Automakers should have a plan to upgrade the technology from 3G to 5G while continuing to deliver the services they have promised to their customers. Suppose upgrades to software or hardware are necessary. In that case, automakers should have a plan to make these upgrades without holding consumers financially responsible, said Consumer Report’s manager of safety policy. The following are examples of safety features that will no longer work when the 3G network is shut down:

  • Remote unlock
  • Remote start
  • Emergency roadside assistance
  • Automatic collision notification
  • Navigation map updates
  • Vehicle diagnostics

Which Automakers Are Impacted by the Switch to 5G?

The 3G shutdown will affect a wide range of vehicle models released between 2010 and 2021. Depending on the make and model of the car, customers may have access to information about whether their vehicle is affected by the shutdown and the steps that can be taken to avoid losing their connected features once the 3G network has been shut down. The following is a list of vehicles that are being impacted by the network upgrade:

  • Nissan, Infiniti, Toyota, and Lexus: Owners of these vehicles may lose services permanently, even if their vehicles are as new as a 2019 model year. The automakers have no plans for a connectivity upgrade.
  • Honda: If Honda owners did not download new software before February 22, 2022, they might be responsible for a hardware upgrade to maintain certain features. The cost of the upgrade could be as much as $900, which the consumer will have to pay. The automaker notified the owners of affected vehicles to remind them to download the software. However, customers who miss the cutoff date are responsible for the cost of the new hardware, which must be installed at a dealer.
  • General Motors, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC: Unlike some other automakers, GM has taken proactive steps to update older technology, particularly in models from 2015 or newer. Many of these vehicles receive automatic updates to their software. If not, the company will notify the car owner to install the latest technology. GM has been proactive about updates since the fall of 2021, so most vehicle owners should have the newest software.
  • BMW: Several BMW and Mini models manufactured before 2019 may be eligible to upgrade to a 4G antenna. Drivers interested in purchasing a used model will need to contact BMW to determine whether the vehicle they are buying is eligible for the antenna upgrade.
  • Subaru: Only specific 2016 through 2019 model-year vehicles equipped with the Starlink touchscreen infotainment systems will lose SOS connectivity and remote functions when the 3G network is shut down. Subaru offered a free software update for customers with an active Starlink Safety and Security subscription. However, according to Subaru’s website, if the vehicle did not get the update before the shutdown, the subscription would be canceled.
  • Volkswagen and Audi: While several Volkswagen and Audi models manufactured between 2014 and 2019 will lose connectivity, the automakers have presented two possible solutions to the 3G shutdown, including the following:
    • Certain models will be eligible for an aftermarket device called Mojio, which includes an 18-month subscription for a range of safety and convenience features. The cost for the device is $295. Newer models may qualify for hardware upgrades, which restore connectivity. However, Volkswagen does not have the replacement parts.
    • Some Audi models will need to have their 3G hardware physically deactivated. Only an Audi deal can deactivate the 3G hardware, but there is no cost to customers to have this done.
  • Tesla: Model S electric cars manufactured before June 2015 will need an upgraded modem installed. This needs to be done at an automaker’s service outlet and costs $200. If the new modem is not installed, car owners will lose access to live traffic data and music streaming, and Tesla’s Summon technology autonomously moves a car from a parking space to its owner.
  • Porsche: Certain Porsche vehicles will have lost connectivity effective February 22, 2022. As a result, consumers will have lost various remote, safety, and security features. Some cars will be eligible for a technology upgrade, which will keep the parts working. The company will notify car owners about whether their vehicle is eligible.

Can the 3G Shutdown Increase the Risk of a Car Accident?

One of the critical safety features affected by the shift from 3G to 5G technology is the automatic crash notification feature. The 3G shutdown means that millions of vehicles could lose this feature, which notifies emergency services and first responders if the vehicle has been involved in a collision. There are other services, but the safety features that help prevent an accident are a top priority.

When this technology stops working because it is not compatible with the 5G network, the driver is no longer protected by the safety technology they paid for when purchasing the car. This could put the driver and other motorists in the vicinity at risk of a severe car accident.

What Should I Do if I am Injured in a Car Accident?

Getting into a car accident can be a shocking experience, mainly if your vehicle’s collision prevention technology stops working due to the 3G shutdown. However, if you keep the following steps in mind, the experience can be much less stressful:

  • Call 911 and report the accident. Notify dispatch if you were injured so that they can send an ambulance to the scene.
  • Get immediate medical attention, even if your injuries seem minor.
  • Exchange information with the other motorist, including driver’s license number, license plate number, contact information, and insurance information. Do not apologize for the accident, as this can be interpreted as an admission of fault and may be used against you if you file a claim.
  • Notify your insurance company that you have been involved in an accident.
  • Contact a skilled lawyer as soon as possible.

Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Protect the Rights of Those Injured in Collisions

If you have a severe injury because of a collision, do not hesitate to contact one of our Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call us at 302-888-1221 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Dover, Newark, and Middletown.