A Guide to Selecting a Remote Start System
With the winter approaching, you’ll encounter days when your car develops frost on the windshield. Or it’ll be unbearably cold when you get inside your vehicle to start it. Fortunately, many cars now include a factory remote start system, which allows you to defrost your vehicle’s windows and start the engine on cold days. But the range of the factory remote is usually no more than 30 feet away. You can also try a remote start system, which can start your car from a distance of 3000 feet or more! And some have useful security and tracking features as well (which can be much more important than just avoiding the discomfort of getting into a freezing cold car).
We’ll look at some features of the best remote start systems, including ones that provide you a notification is everything with your car is in order and ones that you can operate from your cellphone. There are some that are essentially “plug-and-play”, and others that will require an expert to install. But either way, you’ll see that a remote start system is a worthwhile addition to your vehicle!
What is a remote start system?
A remote start system will usually consist of two parts: 1) a control module/radio receiver that you install in your car, and 2) a remote transmitter that you hold in your hand. You install the control module inside your vehicle, usually under the steering wheel. When you press a button on your remote transmitter, the control module starts the car.
Why would I want a remote start system?
A remote start system will help you start your car without having to get inside. They’ll start your car, even without your car keys being placed in the ignition. It can be essential on both very cold and very hot days since you can allow the vehicle’s air conditioning to get your car at the right temperature in advance. It can also help you defrost the windows on your car.
Newer cars already have a factory-installed remote start system, with a 30-ft range. But these products can give you a range of 800 ft to up to 3 miles! And some can be operated with your cellphone as well!
What security measures can I find on remote start systems?
You’ll find remote start systems that include sensors to detect someone trying to break into your car or break a windshield. The system will send a notification, either to a handheld transmitter device, or to your smartphone.
Types of Remote Start Systems
If you look over the Best Reviews Guide list of remote start systems, you’ll see some variations between their features and capabilities:
Remote starter only: There are simple devices that only start your car for you so that you can defog your windshield or warm up your engine. An example is the Start-X Remote Start Kit. But you must make sure that it is compatible with your model of car.
Start-X Remote Start Kit
Remote Starter and Security Kit: There also are remote starters that provide you with security as well. For example, the Avital 5105L Remote Start and Security System has an amazing 1.5-mile range and includes a dual-zone impact sensor. It detects any blows or impact on your car, and responds by either chirping or sounding a siren.
Avital 5105L Remote Start and Security System
Remote Starter with GPS: There are remote starters that provide you with GPS of your car’s location, helping you monitor your car from anywhere. The Viper VSM550 SmartStart Pro GPS Module is one such device. It will also lock your device if it detects any unwanted movement, and send an alert to your smartphone.
Viper VSM550 SmartStart Pro GPS Module
Smartphone starters: We’ve seen devices that have a range of 3000 feet. But there are remote start systems that allow you to start your car from your cellphone, with practically unlimited range! The MPC Remote Start Kit with Smartphone Control is a plug-and-play unit, and although you’ll have to open up the paneling underneath your steering wheel, you should be able to install the receiver unit in 10 minutes.
MPC Remote Start Kit with Smartphone Control
One-way remote start and two-way remote start: You’ll notice that some remote start systems are “one-way” systems, and some are “two-way” systems. A “one-way” system only transmits commands from your handheld unit to the receiver in your vehicle, but won’t notify you whether the command was implemented. An example is the Crimestopper RS3-G5 Cool-Start 1-Way Remote Start and Keyless Entry System. It works within a range of 1500 feet, and the car’s horn honks when it receives a message. But such a notification won’t help very much if you’re 1000 feet away.)
Crimestopper RS3-G5 Cool-Start 1-Way Remote Start and Keyless Entry System
But a “two-way system” can send a command to your vehicle and also receive a confirmation that the car’s ignition actually went on. That’s especially important for devices with a very long range, as far as 3000 feet. An example of such a two-way system is the Crimestopper RS7-G5 Cool Start 2-Way Remote Start System. The handheld transmitter has an LCD screen and audible tones to notify you about what’s going on with your vehicle.
Crimestopper RS7-G5 Cool Start 2-Way Remote Start System
What reviewers say
We went over some customers’ impressions of the remote start system that they bought:
Security advantages: One customer who bought the Viper VSM550 SmartStart Pro GPS Module said that a car’s factory security system is not really that effective, because they only detect someone unlawfully opening the car door. They won’t detect someone breaking your windshield or stealing your wheels. Thus, the Viper was a welcome addition.
Requires phone service in the area: Those remote start systems that can be operated by a smartphone will still require phone service in the area where your car is located. So, even though it’s a good answer to the short range of the factory start system, you might still be stuck if there’s no phone service in your car’s vicinity.
Here are some features that are worth looking for when selecting a remote start system:
Range: There are cars that have built-in remote starting systems, but their range is limited to only around 20 feet. However, there are systems that you can install that have a range of as much as 3000 feet, such as the Compustar CS7900-AS All-in-One 2-Way Remote Start and Alarm Bundle.
Some require professional installation: Some remote starting systems, like the Compustar CS4900-S 2-Way Remote Start and Keyless Entry System, come without installation instructions because it’s assumed that you’ll refer to an experienced technician to perform the installation. On the other hand, there are also remote starting systems that you can install yourself in as little as 5 minutes! The Start-X Remote Start Kit’s T-harness can be installed in the OBD-II port underneath your dashboard. The MPC Remote Start Kit is also a plug-and-play device, but the installation requires a few tools, as well as an instructional video to see how to do the wiring.
Controls to lock and unlock your car: Besides a button to start your car, the transmitter on these systems can also lock and unlock your car or trunk, as well as a “panic” button to set off your vehicle’s emergency alert system.
We noted some of the features of today’s remote start systems for vehicles. Besides the convenience, they can help you track down your car in a huge parking lot, or add an extra level of security in dangerous areas. After making sure that a remote start system is a match for your vehicle, and that you can install it correctly, they can serve you and your car well!