You've got mail... from your car

Tech Culture

Remember that '50s television classic, "My Mother the Car" where Jerry Van Dyke conversed with the reincarnation of his departed mother (voiced by Ann Sothern) in the form of a mid-1920s Porter automobile?

Well, automaker General Motors is handing out some of its own motherly advice through certain OnStar-equipped GM vehicles.

The company has begun a free opt-in service where OnStar subscribers receive monthly e-mails containing a diagnostic report on the status of a vehicle's engine transmission, anti-lock brakes, airbag and OnStar. If necessary, the e-mail then recommends specific types of maintenance repairs based on the vehicle's current odometer reading.

The car needs to be a 2004 model, or a newer car, van or truck with GM's Oil-Life System and diagnostic capabilities to take advantage of the service.

Subscribers can enroll at the OnStar Web site or by pressing that blue OnStar button and asking an adviser to enroll them in the service.

This kind of owner/vehicle relationship is something OnStar customers have apparently been clamoring about. About 85 percent of surveyed OnStar subscribers told the company that they feel much better about convenient vehicle diagnostic services.

J.D. Power and Associates did a similar study this year and found that more than half the people surveyed were interested in some type of remote vehicle diagnostics. When asked to rank it as a feature on a future purchase, the satisfaction measurement firm found remote vehicle diagnostics ranked third among the 18 traditional and new features included in the question.

While a regular e-mail reminder that you car is getting old is a great idea, sitting down and having a good long heart to heart with your mid-1920s Porter can also be very cathartic.

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