The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Sunday, Feb. 11, 2001
outlook 2001

MERCER COUNTY

Cars are doing just about everything but the driving

By Tom Fontaine
Herald Staff Writer

"There is so much mind-boggling technology in cars today, we can hardly keep up with it," said Dave Womer, a salesman for 25 years at Mel Grata Chevrolet-Toyota on East State Street in Hermitage.

"You can get readouts of your tire pressure over the radio," Womer said.

Regarding the onslaught of technological gadgetry, Womer and other area car dealers say one advancement stands out: OnStar, an option thatís becoming the base-model standard in an increasing number of cars.

OnStar is as cool as it is practical.

"Itís a very worthwhile opt-ion, even if you have to use it only once," said Brian Knierman, sales manager at Greenville Motors Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Cadillac-Buick on Sharon Road in West Salem Township.

Examples:

  • "If you go shopping at a mall 100 miles from here and you lock your keys in your car and are alone in a dark parking lot, youíll be glad you had it," Knierman said.

    OnStar can unlock the driverís door via satellite.

  • It can also diagnose your carís problem when the engine light goes off, and tell you where to go to find a mechanic; OnStar will tell the mechanic youíre coming. If you canít make it to the mechanic, OnStar will call a tow.

  • If youíre in a crash and your airbag deploys, OnStar is alerted. If youíre seriously injured and donít contact OnStar within 30 seconds, OnStar calls you and, if necessary, sends help to your location, which satellites can pinpoint within the area of a tennis court.

    "If youíre unconscious in a swamp, OnStar can tell someone within a few feet where youíre at," Womer said.

  • That in mind, OnStar-equipped cars are more difficult to steal considering satellites are tracking them. Itís tough to "lose" a satellite.

  • Hands-free, wireless, voice-activated communication and concierge services are some other OnStar options.
"A businessman who puts on 50,000 miles or more a year or who goes on overnight trips can find the concierge service useful," said Joe Sinkuc of Stupka Motors Oldsmobile - Cadillac - Buick-Pontiac-GMC in Hermitage. Sinkuc said OnStar reserved a hotel room and Tony Bennett tickets for a friend while he was en route to Chicago.

Most of the security features are part of OnStarís basic package, which comes free for the first year.

"Ordinary people are interested in it for safety reasons," said Womer.

Other newfangled options offered to customers include side airbags, infrared windshields and heated sideview mirrors.



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