The End of 3G Could be Bad News for Cars With This Safety Feature

With all the buzz and excitement about 5G wireless technology, little is said about what’s being left behind. 2G and 3G will soon shut down, and their absence will affect car safety in unexpected ways. If your vehicle has automatic crash notification via wireless technology, the 3G shutdown could be bad news. Find out which makes and models will be affected.

A change to wireless technology will affect a certain car safety feature

A 3G wireless sign on a smartphone screen with no-signal icon in the background
A 3G wireless sign on a smartphone screen with a no-signal icon in the background | Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In the coming months, wireless carriers are preparing to shut down 3G networks. Unfortunately, that means millions of cars could lose their automatic crash notification feature. It’s the technology that automatically notifies emergency services and first responders if a vehicle has been in a collision. Some manufacturers are offering upgrades, but other automakers will permanently lose their connections. 

An automatic crash notification alerts emergency services after a crash, and it shares the vehicle’s location without the driver having to do anything. It uses a cellular connection that is often reliant on 3G wireless service, and these are aging networks. Car manufacturers have known for years about the 3G shutdown plan. However, many are still using the technology in current makes and models. 

Why will cars lose 3G network connection?

The nation will shut down 3G connectivity in 2022. According to Consumer Reports, Ram, Nissan, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Hyundai, and Lexus vehicles equipped with automatic crash notification will lose that safety functionality when 3G shuts down. In-car connectivity is still a relatively new thing in vehicle design, and manufacturers haven’t caught up with the curve when it comes to future-proofing their vehicles. 

The original reason for using 3G was cost-cutting. Manufacturers were looking for the cheapest way to connect services, and 3G was the answer. Automatic crash notification isn’t the only service drivers could lose. SOS buttons and convenience features such as remote start, vehicle diagnostics, and remote unlocking also won’t work when wireless carriers begin operating in 4G and 5G. 

What happens after the 3G shutdown depends on the vehicle make, but everyone — from engineers to car safety policymakers — agrees the situation is a mess. If you own a Lexus, Toyota, Infiniti, or Nissan, you’re out of luck. The automakers have no plans to upgrade these vehicles when 3G shuts down, and they will immediately lose services.

If you own a Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, Jeep, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, or Maserati, they will allow some vehicles to upgrade to 4G. However, there will be a new remote service charge of $10 per month for 2 gigabytes or $30 per month for unlimited data. Unfortunately, that won’t include SOS buttons or automatic crash notifications. 

Honda drivers can download new software to solve the problem, but drivers must pay a whopping $900. Hyundai offers a free upgrade, but any vehicle using the brand’s Bluelink service will lose it when 2023 rolls around. Other vehicles will be eligible for software or hardware upgrades, but it depends upon the manufacturer. 

If you drive a Ford or Mazda, you’re in luck. Those manufacturers connect to emergency services using the driver’s cell phone, so the 3G shutdown won’t affect them.

What owners get with the updates also varies. For example, General Motors’ OnStar service will keep crash notifications after the update to 4G, and Audi has decided to offer a third-party service. 

For full details on how the 3G shutdown will affect your vehicle, contact the dealership or manufacturer. 

RELATED: The 5 Ways Your Car Is Connected and What That Means for Your Security