HomeNewsHow Disappearing 3G Networks Could Affect Your Car

How Disappearing 3G Networks Could Affect Your Car

by TK Sanders
Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With the introduction of fifth (5G) and sixth (6G) generation networks on the horizon, all major mobile carriers plan to shut down their 3G networks at some point in 2022. Technology always marches forward, and rarely does innovation hurt the consumer. Because of the swift computerization of automobiles in the last 10 years, though, the extinction of 3G might negatively impact your used car.

Why are carriers abandoning 3G when it obviously works perfectly fine? To free up mobile bandwith for 5G rollouts. Most smartphones and tablets should already be equipped with 4G capability, but many vehicle models released from 2010 to 2021 are not equipped.

No, your out-of-date car will not shut down because of the infrastructure upgrade. But you may lose some creature comforts like traffic assistance, location services, bluetooth, or voice and emergency call capabilities. If you use these services via your car’s computer (rather than using your smartphone for navigation, for example) then you may want to prepare yourself. The best way to prepare is to know which mobile carrier your car company aligns with, so you’ll know how much time you have before final 5G rollout.

AT&T’s 3G shutdown will occur in February, which will affect Honda, Nissan, and Volvo. Brands like Toyota and Lexus align with Verizon, who has vaguely said that they will shut down 3G by the end of 2022. T-Mobile and Sprint will shut down 3G by summertime.

Many auto companies have acknowledged the impending frustrations. Mostly, the car companies advise customers to see a local dealer for a software upgrade. Some of them acknowledge the exact models which will need updating, while others admit that their cars will be affected but do not specify any more details.

Some of the Affected Models Which Will Need 3G Upgrades to 4G

Acura identifies seven different models with AcuraLink features running on 3G. Features affected include traffic and maintenance reminders, emergency calls and roadside assistance services, as well as personal concierge services.

Audi details ten models which will require an upgrade. Stolen vehicle locator and real-time gas prices need updating, in addition to other features.

BMW claims that it will contact owners individually, but has not released specific model information as of yet. Industry insiders suggest that any BMW owners up to 2019 models should consider a trip to the dealer.

General Motors’ OnStar computing system will certainly need upgrading from 3G. In October, GM began offering wireless software updates to prepare owners, which OnStar says will occur in February. According to GM, some models update automatically, while others will receive a prompt on the dashboard.

Honda publicly announced February 22, 2022 as the date that the 3G shutdown will go into effect for their cars. The company is offering a wireless software update. The update should reenable many features like remote locking, enhanced roadside assistance and Wi-Fi hotspots.

This list is not extensive. Obviously, many other car manufacturers exist, so if you don’t see mention of your brand on this list, be sure to reach out to your manufacturer for more details.