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      See Steve's exclusive Gumball Rally video from NBC-TV's Whipnotic website (copy and paste): Over 120 gas-guzzling super-exotic sports cars, Hummers, Cadillac Escalade SUVs and an occasional interesting older car roared on May 2, 2009, from a California beach-side parking lot directly onto I-10, the Santa Monica Freeway, also known as the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway, for the start of this year's Gumball Rally. The world's most politically-incorrect automotive street event, the Gumball Rally 3000, left Santa Monica (CA) Pier on Saturday, May 2, 2009 and headed toward its ultimate destination of Miami, FL eight days later. Participants reportedly paid $44,000 per car/team to enter the event. Though the Gumball stresses the skills of its drivers (and their cars) there are only two race track "special section" stops scheduled for the 3,000-mile long event, which will be run on public roads with all entrants subject to all highway rules and regulations. All photos (c) 2009 by


    August 16, 2006


    Jim Zabaneh

    I recently bought a 2007 saturn outlook xr. Like others mentioned above, it does have the CAT button and when pushed it displays xm feature, but no ability to tune to any channels. I tried calling xm radio to activate an account but there was no radio # listed under my VIN. They asked me to tune to channel 0, but no luck. do I need a new radio or an antenna or more hardware? On star works in the vehicle but I do not have it activated.


    I have 2007 HHR which has the XM feature when you push the "cat" button, but no antenna or OnStar ... Any ideas on how to get XM to work? Dealer says they have no idea, nor do the factory reps.



    Todd Yates

    I have a 2006 Chevy Malibu and I can't seem to find out if the factory radio is satellite ready or not and if not what can I do to get either xm or preferably sirius to play through the existing radio?


    I bought a 2007 HHR with the XM button avaliable, but not set up. When I took it to the Chevy dealer to have the XM antenna installed, they tore my entire inside of my car out. Two days later they called me to say that I cannot get XM through the factory system because I do not have OnStar installed in my vehicle. Does this sound right to you?


    Hi Steve - great blog.
    I need help:
    I have recently purchased a 2007 Hyundai Elantra and it came with a factory-installed XM radio (meaning that there is an XM button on my factory installed radio/cd player head). Once I push this button, I receive the following message: "XM radio not ready". Therefore I can not tune into channel zero and get the code to active the XM radio.
    So here is the question: do I need to buy any hardware or this is just a configuration issue? The dealer have no idea on how to fix the problem...
    The car came with a roof antenna that looks like the satellite antenna so I guess I would not need to buy another one?



    Help! It seems I have confused the boys at the local audio store. Here is the deal..I have a 2003 GMC Envoy with a Premium Bose RDS radio not listed as XM ready(the 2004 with identical looking radios are) and NO one can tell me if i can install a sirius or xm system that will work through the factory radio's display. Crutchfield says that they have a Sirius unit but it says the radio must me satellite ready. Any advice would be much appreciated.


    Hey I have a 2005 Pursuit with the upgraded sound package and mp3 deck. And its that time of the year where i need to listen to as many hockey games as possible now i called XM becasue it said to subscribe call xm and they said i would have to buy a unit and my car isnt xm ready. but before spending money i wanna make sure that its 100%. Dont know if this helps but the buttons on my front dash are eject, band,srce,eq,autoeq,seek left and right,auto volume,speaker levels, msg, p type and clock.
    Thanks so much


    I recently got the 2006 Saturn Ion that my parents purchased last year. I also am having a problem understanding the XM feature on this radio. When you push the CAT button it comes up XM feature, but the Saturn dealer states it does not have it on the radio, the book does not list it as being an "extra" it clearly reads, you need to contact the XM number to get it started. I have gone rounds with the dealer about this and they stand behind the statement the car does not have it. My question is what to do now? How do I get this XM without having to replace the entire radio? Any help would be appreciated



    I need help:

    I have a 2007 impala ltz with XM radio. I have a sirius contract from a prior leased car. I like sirius better and want to have it in the 2007 impala. They tell me there is no converter kit yet for my car. Is there anything I can do to get the delco radio to have sirius programs? If so can you also e-mail me at my e-mail address that you probably see.. Hope you can help.


    Steve Parker

    Thanks for visiting our site,, and for taking the time to drop us a note.

    Your Sirius radio can not (yet) be converted to XM. We say ‘yet’ because the two companies are trying to merge in the next year, in which case we might all be dealing with a new monopoly … which is why Congress is against such a merger. Which means it probably won’t happen, at least not soon.

    But why switch from Sirius to XM? Although I think XM will always at least seem a bit ‘better’ than Sirius, mostly because it was first out of the gate, the first sat radio available, I find both services to be very similar.

    If you want Sirius in the that Merc, you’ll have to go ‘aftermarket’, I fear.

    Thanks again, and hope this helps.


    Steve Parker

    Aldridge Murrell

    Just came across your blog, very nice. My question is - In the Mercedes Benz, They are committed to Sirius, Is there someone out there that can convert the radio to XM??.

    Steve Parker

    Hey Mark, thanks so much for visiting our website and especially for taking the time to drop us a note.

    As far as that module being the XM module … Have NO idea. But let me ask you … Why do you want to know that specific info? There’s really no reason to be messing around back there … it can only go BADLY (as a girlfriend once told me, but not about sat radio) …

    Do you know if your vehicle came with XM? Did you order it and pay for it, is it on the invoice? Does ‘sat radio’ or ‘XM feature’ come up on the radio’s screen? Is there a ‘sat radio’ button on the radio?

    If so, you have XM built into the radio and all you need do is activate it by visiting the XM website or calling the 800 number for XM (which is also on their website). If you have OnStar the radio is definitely ‘XM ready’ as far as the antenna and wiring go.

    Now, you can do all that and more as long as you can find the activation/serial number for the radio, which should either come up on that screen OR will be in the paperwork for the radio which came with the OUTLOOK and is probably in the car’s glove compartment (under all those gloves). Go through all those papers (probably you’ll find the tire warranty, too, and maybe some other surprises) and see what you can find.

    Hope all this helps … Let us know what happens, and thanks again for stopping and writing us!

    Steve Parker


    I just bought a 2007 GMC Acadia and it did not come with the XM radio. Although, when you hit the CAT button it says "XM feature". The dealer is willing to put an aftermarket unit which is a 1" by 2.5 " display. I am just wondering what it would cost to just install a factory unit with XM already available. It just seems to me that it should be an easy exchange. Please advise.


    I have a 2007 Saturn Outlook. No one can tell me exactly where the XM tuner is located. The best I have gotten is that it is located behind the panel for the jack. I see 3 modules there and the one that looks like it might be the XM tuner is buried behind what looks like the GPS module. Can you confirm that this is actually the XM module?


    Steve Parker

    Hey Dustin!

    Thanks for all the info ---I bet that a lot of readers here will really appreciate it. Quality should be fine ... Digital is digital, and there isn't much you can do to the signal to hurt it. It will either work and sound fine ... Or it won't!

    As far as the read-out on the screen ... That might be more of a problem then the digital radio signal. Anyone out there have an answer for Dustin?

    Thanks again for stopping by and dropping us that note!

    Steve Parker

    Steve Parker

    Hey, Dodgenut! Thanks so much for stopping by our site and dropping us a note.

    Yes, everyone has to somehow ‘activate’ their XM service, one way or another. Understand there’s a fee for the activation itself then there are a bunch of packages you can buy … for a certain number of months, etc. I think some of the channels MIGHT be premium, such as some of the sports channels.

    If the message on your XM screen is showing a registration number and the XM 800 phone number, then just call that number (with a credit card handy, as they say) and your service will be ‘up-and-running’ before you hang up (if everything works ok).

    You should be able to make sure everything is working correctly by visiting a Saturn dealer … Not a bad idea, especially after you’ve done some of the work on your own.

    All you SHOULD need is the activation. Let us know what happens and, again, thanks so much for stopping by and writing!

    And yes, having OnStar means that your car is pre-wired for the sat radio, too. At least you have the right antennae!

    Steve Parker


    Looked through here but couldn't find the answer I needed. I have a 2006 saturn ion level 2 that came with the base radio just am/fm/cd/aux, I just purchased the upgraded radio from ebay, the one with the cat. button, and I get the same message that everybody else is getting now; but the radio my car came with didn't have the button, so now it does via 41.00$ and ebay. So does the same rule apply to my car where i can just call xm or the dealer and have them activate my xm or would I have to add the box and wiring. And my car came with active OnStar if that helps

    Steve Parker

    It might have the XM antenna and you don't know it ... We picked up a Nissan Altima hybrid today (oooh, the sheer excitement!) for testing and it has XM but NOT the clunky-looking rear deck antenna; it has a much better-looking unit which you'll see when we post the road test and photos on the main page soon ... And if the vehicle has OnStar, it definitely is pre-wired for XM, too. Satellites is satellites, as they say...Let us know what you find out and enjoy that HHR of yours!
    Steve Parker

    Daniel Armstrong

    I bought a 2006 HHR LT used. When I push the "cat" button on the radio it says "XM Feature." I don't have the XM antenna on the back of the roof but someone told me that LT's are pre-wired. Is there truth to that?


    Hey Steve, great blog. I am thinking about purchasing a 2007 Chevy Tahoe LTZ, which comes equiped with an "XM ready" radio. I currently have Sirius and I am concerned about the ability to covert the XM radio to Sirius. I called Sirius and they informed it could be done via the:

    SiriusConnect Tuner for Class-2 Bus GM Vehicles

    Model#: SIR-GM1

    The SiriusConnect SIR-GM1 is designed to operate on the GM Class-2 bus vehicles from 2003~2006.

    Is this true, and if so what is the quality? Also, would the data stream from Sirius come through on the Chevy Tahoe display as with streaming XM? Meaning, if there is an artist and song playing, would it show on the display?

    Thanks for your help

    Steve Parker

    Hey Spencer! Thanks for stopping by and especially for writing! Well, you have personally experienced the single weakest link in the satellite radio chain –-- the dealers. Because neither sat service pays a handsome ‘spiff’ (money) to salespeople in the dealership for selling XM or Sirius to any customers, why would a salesperson put their sale in jeopardy by having to raise the price for the vehicle --- When they can get it cheaper WITHOUT the sat radio down the street? BIG mistake. You don’t take care of the salespeople, you are (ahem) screwed. My advice? Go to a TRUSTED aftermarket chain store, like a GOOD GUYS, CIRCUIT CITY or your local equivalent and have them simply ACTIVATE your XM-ready radio. Quickest, simplest, easiest way to do it … It’ll take 30 minutes and you’ll be a happy camper. $450?!?! FOR WHAT!??! If the car has OnStar, it already has the XM antennae (I think…better check for sure…with the aftermarket store). When you see the XM prompt on your radio, do any numbers come up, looking like a code? If you have that code on the radio’s screen or in the paperwork which came with the car (check the glovebox thoroughly), YOU can activate the service YOURSELF by calling the 800 XM number (get it from their website) and giving them the code … They don’t care if the vehicle is a company car or not, they just want someone to pay for it. And you are not nuts … I do believe every GM vehicle which has OnStar also is XM-capable. Once again, the factory tries to shove something down the dealers’ collective throats and doesn’t want to pay them anything for it. Let us know what happens and stop by again soon! Hope this helps! Steve Parker

    Steve Parker

    Don't worry, JP, they'll fix up that nice little Elantra of yours just right. I believe the 'old' antennae remains IN PLACE, because you need it for local AM and FM stations. Enjoy that new car and let us know how you like XM radio!



    I have a 2007 Hyundai Elantra, XM ready, and it will be installed by the dealership's parts department in a few days. What will happen to my regular antenna when the satellite is installed? I don't want a gaping hope where the antenna is now!


    Steve!!! Great blog! Thanks for doing this.
    I am one of those "XM Feature" prople who keeps getting conflicting info from the dealer. I have a 2007 Impala LT. It has the MP3 radio upgrade and the CAT button gives me the XM Feature prompt. It is a company car so I was not involved in the order process. I inquired about XM and was told it would cost $450! I would need a new antenna and a module installed in the dash. I did some research and I believe the 2007 GM cars have XM built in, no extra hardware needed, just a feature change with the Tech 2 diagnostic tool. Am I nuts? Where did the $199 list for XM go? BTW, the accessory guy first sold me an Ipod dock saying it was what I needed for the XM to work. And this is the second dealer I went to. The first blew me off. Thanks !!!

    Mystified in North Carolina!

    Steve Parker

    Hi Joe! Thanks for visiting and writing!

    I do not think there is such a “Sirius-to-XM Converter”. I do believe there may be radios being sold which can access BOTH Sirius and XM, but as far as converting one to the other … Don’t think so.

    The two are planning to merge anyway within the next year, so if there were such a unit, it would DEFINITELY be an aftermarket item.

    If anyone out there knows any different, please let us know!

    Thanks again!

    Steve Parker

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