Choosing the Right Remote Car Starter

As the months start getting colder and the snow piles higher, some of us may start to think about finally installing a remote car starter. Stepping into a warm car when it’s -30°C outside is certainly more comfortable, but it is also better for your vehicle as well. Warming up your car prior to driving makes your engine oil more fluid –providing better lubrication once you are ready to go. However, with so many remote starters on the market, it can be hard to find the right one to fit your lifestyle and vehicle’s requirements. Here is an easy-to-follow guide to help you find a remote starter that is right for you:

Step 1: Review your warranty information

Check your vehicle warranty information.
This is always a good idea before installing any aftermarket equipment. If any damage is caused during the installation of the starter, or if the starter causes any problems with your vehicle’s electrical system – your dealership or car manufacturer may not honour the warranty in those areas.

Read the warranty on the remote starter system you are considering.
Many companies will guarantee the remote starter system for as long as you own your vehicle. However, the remote itself is rarely warranted for more than a year or two, so find out what the remote replacement cost will be.

Step 2: Select features that fit your lifestyle

Figure out the transmitter power that you need.
Range is not as important a factor as you might be led to believe. Not many people need to start their car from over 1000ft away. However, most drivers will want to start their vehicle from inside a building. This is where transmitter power comes into play.

Consider additional features you would like included.
Remote starters are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and, depending on the brand and model you choose, can do more than just start and stop your vehicle from a distance; they can also be programmed to:

  • Open/Lock your car,
  • Open your trunk,
  • Turn on headlights,
  • Turn on heated heats,
  • Turn on rear window defrost,
  • Operate windows/sun roof,
  • Monitor cabin temperature and control heating/air conditioning, and
  • Start your car at specific times.

Additional features also include:

  • Two way remote system – this notifies you when your car has started,
  • Car alarm, and
  • Panic button.

Step 3: Be Prepared to Pay for Quality

Select a remote starter system and brand that suit you and your vehicle.
When making your purchasing decision, go with a brand that specializes in remote car starters and select a model that fits your lifestyle, needs, and budget. Some major brands on the market that perform well in consumer reviews include: Viper, Avital, Directed Electronics Inc., and Bulldog. If you drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, make sure that the remote starter system you are looking at is compatible.

There are some very intuitive remote starter systems available to consumers. Some models can be controlled through an app on your smartphone and allow you to program more than one vehicle into them – making them convenient for multi-car families. However, for the budget minded, there are more basic models that allow you to control your starter system through a fob on your key chain. It comes down to what you want, the features you want to include, and how much you are willing to spend.    

Check the safety features of your car starter.
A good remote starter should always have the following safety features:

  • A hood safety switch – this prevents the car from starting when the hood is up, allowing maintenance to be performed safely on your vehicle.
  • An RPM Sensor – on a cold day, your car might not start right away. Without an RPM sensor the remote starter system has no way of knowing that your vehicle has failed to start – resulting in you arriving to a cold car. Conversely, if the RPMs of your car are too high, the starter can turn off your car and prevent any damage to your vehicle.

Purchase and Install your remote car starter at a specialty shop.
Although it can be tempting to go for the “deal of the day” online, purchasing and installing your remote starter at a specialty shop can save you in the long run. Some shops will not install a remote car starter that has been purchased at another retail outlet or online. This may be more expensive; however, there are several good reasons to purchase your starter from a specialty shop. First, you are more likely to buy a quality product as the shop is less likely to carry a brand that causes issues for them. Secondly, a car starter is an electrical product and can fail. If your car starter fails, your installer could blame the product while your car starter’s manufacturer could blame the installation – leaving you caught in the middle with no recourse.

Doing it yourself may also seem more cost effective and some remote car starters even come with an installation video, however, cars now feature electrical and computer systems that are a lot more sophisticated. Self-installation only increases the risk of damaging your vehicle.


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