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Author Topic: Complete Guide to OnStar Bluetooth / Mobile App Upgrade (2007-2010)  (Read 5088 times)

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HellHoof

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I have spent dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of hours doing research on the internet, and have done 2 of these upgrades. I wanted to put this thread together to help others in a quest for a single place for all information on this upgrade.

What is this?
If you didn't know by now, the 2007-2008 model year does NOT have Bluetooth. This was added in 2009. Also, in (some) 2010 and 2011 model years, OnStar allows you to unlock & lock your doors, sound the panic alarm, and remote start (if factory installed) from your mobile phone, anywhere in the world. If you have a 2011, they will give you this service FREE for 3 years.
Both of these above features are controlled by the OnStar module in your truck, and it is a plug & play upgrade. That means you can get one from a salvage yard and suddenly gain these features.

If you have a 07-08 and want to add Bluetooth and/or the mobile app, OR have an 09-10 and want to add the mobile app, then read this guide in its entirety.


Determining the right module (the hard part)
The first step is to find the right OnStar module for you. To figure out what to get, you've got to ask yourself several questions, as there are up and downsides for the various methods here.
  • Do you want to use OnStar for anything beyond the remote app?
    • It is entirely possible to use OnStar after this upgrade, but beware there are several downsides. OnStar services will be degraded, but maybe not enough to deter you from upgrading.
    • 1. I haven't wrecked, so I can't confirm if crash response works.
      • Since this is a safety measure, it is #1 and bolded for you to read!!!
    • 2. The donor vehicle will be the new vehicle OnStar thinks you are in.
      • You cannot change the VIN or year/make/model to match yours -- if you did that, then OnStar would think you have your truck, which is not equipped for the remote app and therefore back to square one.
    • 3. If you have a navigation system, ensure you get the OnStar box out of a vehicle that came with navigation. In my first upgrade, I had navigation. I don't know if my donor vehicle had it or not, but when I got directions from OnStar, my navigation system never received or displayed anything for the navigation. The only navigation I got was through the speakers when the OnStar voice and chimes would tell me what to do.
    • 4. Some vehicles systems may not communicate properly, such as oil life monitor, odometer readings, and TPMS pressures. They work for me now with my 2009 -> 2011 upgrade, but did not work in my 2007 -> 2010 upgrade.
    • 5. If you want the free mobile app, you have to get the module from a 2011. These modules changed in 2011 where the roof-mounted antenna sent the data and GPS signal through a single wire with a duplexer in the antenna, rather than the module. Due to this, your truck has an extra connection and the GPS antenna is not connected.
      • You will need a $150+ duplexer unit to combine these signals, or connect a newer antenna on your roof.
      • I haven't tried this, so I can't confirm the success of either, but others online have reported success with the expensive duplexer.
      • If you don't, your mirror will have a red light instead of green. OnStar navigation probably won't work. If you're just using the mobile app, then it is fine.
  • Do you want the remote app?
    • If you want to use the mobile app, you can get the module from a 2010 for complete plug & play installation. HOWEVER, to get free service for 3 years, you have to get the module from a 2011.
    • The modules changed in 2011. See the note above in line #5 about this and the duplexer required if you don't want the red light. I just live with the red light on my mirror and everything works fine.
    • If you are only interested in Bluetooth, you can get a box from a 2009-2010 and not worry about the OnStar stuff.
  • Do you have factory remote start?
    • Notice how factory is underlined. That is because this is important. Dealer installed remote start is rumored to not work, and any after-market systems will not work. Period.
    • If you have factory remote start and want to use the mobile app, you must make sure to get the module from a vehicle that came with factory installed remote start. This shows up as AP3 on the RPO code sticker on the glove box of your donor vehicle. If there aren't pictures posted online, be sure to contact the salvage yard and ask them to confirm this.
    • An LTZ will have remote start. If you can confirm the donor is an LTZ (look for markings on the rear doors, tailgate, chrome grille, or take the VIN to www.vindecoder.net and look there). Some LT will have it as well, but you'll need to confirm via RPO codes.
    • If you don't have factory installed remote start, maybe consider getting the module from a similar vehicle that didn't have it. That way you'll save the ones that do have it for your brethren here who are looking for them.
  • Do you care what OnStar thinks you drive?
    • The donor vehicle will be the new vehicle OnStar thinks you are in.
    • You cannot change the VIN or year/make/model to match yours -- if you did that, then OnStar would think you have your truck, which is not equipped for the remote app and therefore back to square one.
    • If it is important to you that they at least have the right make/model/color, then get picky in your parts search.
      • The first time I did this was in my 2007 gold/gray Tahoe. I got the box from a 2010 black Suburban, and it bugged me when I saw that on the app. This time I made sure to find a red Avalanche to pull my box from.
Finding the module
Once you know what to get (2009-10 for just Bluetooth, 2011 for mobile app, AP3 for remote start, navigation if you have it) go start your parts search online. There are 2 good websites to look at.
BE SURE you get a USED module. Not a new one. A new one will have to be programmed with your VIN at the dealer, and by doing so, OnStar realizes you shouldn't have the mobile app and won't let you use it.

  • www.hollanderparts.com
    • This website has lots of pictures.
    • Their search though, doesn't let you filter or sort, so you'll have a lot of scrolling and have to look through each of the ads until you find one that matches what you want. All compatible models are shown and you cannot narrow them down.
    • To get there, select the year > make > model > Electrical > Chassis Control Module > Communication > (Onstar, Opt UE1), (Center Dash, Behind Radio), Voice Recognition (Opt UPF)
  • www.car-part.com
    • This website doesn't have very many pictures.
    • Their search does let you sort by price and distance, and you can narrow your search to only your model (non-interchange).
    • To get there, select the year > make/model > Computer Box Not Engine > Communication, (OnStar, opt UE1), (center dash, behind radio), voice recognition (opt UPF)

Bust out your best negotiating skills, pick up the phone and make a call. Settle on a price and get it shipped to your house. If you aren't picky, you can get a module from a non-Avalanche for $30-50 shipped. The higher your standards, the more you will pay. I paid $100 to get the red Avalanche, but that was because there was only 1 to match my criteria and they were firm on the price.



Installing the module
If you've made it this far, the hardest part is behind you. From here forward it is just a matter of swapping out the box. For this you'll need an interior panel pry tool (or flat blade screw driver), a 7mm socket, and small but strong fingers.


Begin by prying off the wood trim around your radio and HVAC controls. There are 10 clips holding this sucker on, and they hold it in TIGHT. My panel fit so tight, and I didn't want to nick it up, so I used a suction cup to pull it up enough to get a thin screwdriver in behind it.

Here is the location of all the clips. I found that once I got the top corner loose, I was able to shove a screw driver in under and push it right up to a clip. Once it was against the clip, pry up there. This puts all of the leverage on the clip and reduces the likelihood of breaking the trim panel.




Once that is all off, you have to remove the 2 bottom pieces, the HVAC and your 12v plugs & misc. buttons. Each of these are held in by two 7mm screws. You don't need to unhook the wires - just push them to the side.




Now you have to pull the old OnStar module out. It is held in by 2 pressure clips the sides of the box. The clips have to be pushed to the sides, so the box can tilt up and then come out towards you. They are strong plastic, so you'll need some strong fingers to push them outwards, but small hands to get in there.




Once you have the module freed, unplug all of the wires. Plug those new wires into the new module. Don't worry about what goes where, they are all keyed so they can't be crossed when re-connecting to the new module.
Note, if you got a 2011 box you have an extra connector. Either get a duplexer (mentioned above), or leave it hanging freely.

Now, reassemble in reverse. Your installation is done!!! Go grab a beer for the next step (go down past the next picture - that image is just FYI)



If you want to see what is all back there, here is a picture with the radio removed. You shouldn't need to pull yours out, but I did. When my dash was replaced (negotiated into the purchase of the truck) they pinched the wire harness for the OnStar module in the back so it couldn't come forward. I had to remove the radio to get back there and free it.




Using Bluetooth
To use Bluetooth (if you didn't have it before) then push the talk button on your steering wheel controls.
Find the owners manual for the year your OnStar module came from here: http://www.chevrolet.com/owners/chevy-manuals.html


Activating OnStar App
If you upgraded the module to get the free 3 years of OnStar, you'll need to activate that. Turn the key to on (don't have to start the engine) and push the blue button on your mirror twice. You'll be connected to an activation agent. Simply tell them "I just bought this truck and want to get the 3 years of free basic service." They will walk you through setting up a new account (or attaching to your existing if you've been with OnStar before) and try to upsell you. Don't worry, you don't need to give any credit card number on file if you don't want, it is just an upsell technique.

Go install the myChevrolet app on your mobile phone, and enjoy!
« Last Edit: 01/22/17 02:19 PM by HellHoof »
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2009 LTZ

Randy

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Nice write up... Should help a few out...
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More to follow...

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Gold07Avalanche

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Since I'm a little slow on the uptake...for my 2007 LTZ w/remote start and navigation; if I want to use the remote app and have bluetooth I can just install the Onstar module from a 2010 and it is plug-n-play, is that correct?  Does the 2010 module have to be from a navi and remote start vehicle?  Thanks for the help.
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2007 Gold Mist Metallic
LTZ Avalanche 4x4

HellHoof

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The OnStar module from a 2010 will get you Bluetooth and should get you the app, however you won't get the app for free. If you are going to pay for OnStar regardless, this is probably the best route.

The module from a 2011 will get you Bluetooth and the remote app for free, but you will have a red light on your mirror and the OnStar GPS system won't work. If you're only using OnStar to start your truck and not going to pay for their services, this route works.


Since you have factory nav, I would ensure you get the module from one that has factory nav and remote start. I can't guarantee the operation of the OnStar directions sending and working on your nav, but it would be the best option.
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2009 LTZ

Troublemaker

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I recently bought a 2010 Camaro, got the free 3 years of Basic Onstar, but the mobile app won't work.  I was told they are "working on it" for the 2010 model year.  Now I have to look through scrap yards for a 2011 Camaro to swap the Onstar module out of....  :D
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Click the pic to listen along!

HellHoof

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I've been driving around with a very annoying rattle for the past few weeks. I took the time tonight to dig into the dash and figure it out. Learn from my mistakes: if you do this mod and go the route with 1 antenna connection, SECURE THE UNUSED ONE! Otherwise, it will eventually wiggle loose and rattle against something on every little bump. It will drive you mad!
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2009 LTZ

silverxxx

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Great write up! 

Will a module from a 12 or 13 work also? I am being picky and having a hard timing finding an 11 in my color but I found a 13.
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'08 LTZ, 2" leveling kit, Halo headlights, shaved rear tailgate, custom front grill.

HellHoof

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Great write up! 

Will a module from a 12 or 13 work also? I am being picky and having a hard timing finding an 11 in my color but I found a 13.

Everything in my research showed they changed the plugs for 2012 model year.

In 2011 they changed the antenna plugs from 2 plugs to 1. That MAY be the only change in 2012 also, or it could be an entirely different plug altogether; I didn't want to take that chance.
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2009 LTZ

redheadedrod

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For the CTS in order for the GPS to work and to gain full access to Onstar you need to also replace the Antennae. This is likely the same case with the Trucks as well.

You need a 2011 model year VCIM in any GM car to gain full access. VCIM aka Onstar Module.

Rodney
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2003 Cladded Black Z71 - PC installed otherwise mostly stock.
4 Light Brake/Turnsignal
All on high and FTDRL (BCM friendly version)

silverxxx

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Everything in my research showed they changed the plugs for 2012 model year.

In 2011 they changed the antenna plugs from 2 plugs to 1. That MAY be the only change in 2012 also, or it could be an entirely different plug altogether; I didn't want to take that chance.

Ok thanks for your help. I found a '11 red one, not white but it will work.
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'08 LTZ, 2" leveling kit, Halo headlights, shaved rear tailgate, custom front grill.

silverxxx

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I installed my new module tonight and got nothing. Bluetooth didnít work, the light was still green on mirror. I verified the module came from a Ď11 LTZ. Anyway to test and see if the module is good?
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'08 LTZ, 2" leveling kit, Halo headlights, shaved rear tailgate, custom front grill.

redheadedrod

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CTS came with different setups for the VCIM. Some with and without Bluetooth and some with and without Remote start. I suspect this may be the same thing with the truck. Especially since many of the modules were used across vehicles.

So you have to be sure the original truck had Bluetooth support. If they didn't have steering wheel controls then I would doubt they had bluetooth support.
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2003 Cladded Black Z71 - PC installed otherwise mostly stock.
4 Light Brake/Turnsignal
All on high and FTDRL (BCM friendly version)

HellHoof

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Did the module come with the bluetooth antenna? It's the little black chip looking thing on the back of the VCIM. If that isn't attached, it probably won't be able to detect your phone.

Since you have an 08, I think your radio will require you to say "OnStar" before you can get to the bluetooth menu. That's how my 07 (previous vehicle I upgraded) was.
So you'll hold the middle speak button on the steering wheel. Once it beeps or says "Ready" say "OnStar". Then it will say "OnStar Ready". Then say "Bluetooth".

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2009 LTZ

silverxxx

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Thanks HellHoof! That was it, need to say OnStar, then Bluetooth, then needed to delete the 5 devices previously hooked up. It is work great. Thanks everyone for the help.
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'08 LTZ, 2" leveling kit, Halo headlights, shaved rear tailgate, custom front grill.

Morty601

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Will all the bluetooth options work with the 07 radio with navigation or do I have to upgrade the radio as well?
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Full Time Firefighter/Paramedic
2007 Black Avalanche LT Z71
Bull Bar, Billet Fuel Door, Bak-Flip Tonneau Cover, Rancho Quicklift Struts, G2 1.25 inch Wheel Spacers

HellHoof

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Will all the bluetooth options work with the 07 radio with navigation or do I have to upgrade the radio as well?

Your stock radio will work just fine. Just note with an 07 or 08 radio, to get to the bluetooth voice commands you press the button on the steering wheel, then say "OnStar", then "Bluetooth".
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2009 LTZ
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