Best Remote Car Starters: Top Devices That Offer Security & Convenience
These top remote car starters make cold winter and hot summer days more bearable
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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON April 17, 2019
If you want to find the best remote car starter, this is the place to start. The technology has been around for a while, and depending on what you're looking for, there are many different options available. Check out our remote starter guide to find one that offers the best performance and features for the best price.
Viper's security and remote start device displays internal temperature and has an LCD transmitter, a range of one mile, a shock sensor, and door and trunk triggers.
- Display allows you to see if your car is running or if it is locked
- Engine shuts off after 12 minutes if the key is not inserted and turned
- You will likely need professional installation for the system
- Viper does not provide tech support unless you are an authorized seller or installer
This device has 2,000 feet of range, and includes two five-button transmitters with lock, unlock, start, trunk release, and multi-vehicle features. There are 31 programmable options.
- Has an excellent range for an entry-level system
- You can remote start your vehicle using a cell phone
- Programming the options for the remote start is relatively easy
- One-way remote does not confirm that your vehicle's engine has started
- Does not include an alarm
- Can stop working after a few months of use
This remote starter kit is designed for the 2013-2017 RAM 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickup trucks. Simply press the lock three times to operate it
- Features plug-and-play installation, with no tapping or wire splicing required
- Installation is easy, and it doesn't take very long to set up
- You need access to Internet Explorer during setup
- Won't work on vehicles with a push-button start
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Benefits of Remote Car Starters
- Make life more comfortable. On a chilly morning, you can use a remote starter to preheat your vehicle before you leave for work or run some errands. When it’s really hot outside, you can turn on the air conditioning so your car doesn’t feel like a sauna when you get in.
- It's a luxury you can afford. The best remote car starter provides convenience and offers a range of options, including security features such as an alarm system and the ability to lock or unlock your doors. They don’t cost a lot of money considering the peace of mind they provide.
- It’s a great upgrade. Some new vehicles come equipped with remote starters, but most older vehicles do not. The best aftermarket remote start systems generally have more advanced features and can start your vehicle easily by simply pushing a button.
Types of Remote Car Starters
A lot of new vehicles have factory remote starter systems already in place. However, they generally are more limited in range and have fewer features than aftermarket car starters. For example, you may need to be within 30 feet of your car when using a factory remote starter in order for it to work.
The best aftermarket remote start systems offer longer range and numerous features, such as water-resistant technology, interactive LCD screens, and USB charging. Some of the best remote car starter brands also feature advanced security systems and sensors to detect theft or impacts (i.e., someone or something hitting your vehicle).
Most remote car starters feature an independent, hand-held remote transmitter that allows you to start your vehicle from a distance. You simply push the button on the remote to start your vehicle's engine. These transmitters are often the size of a key fob and can easily fit in your pocket or in a bag or purse.
Some of the best remote car starters allow you to pair them with your smartphone. You simply download an app and use your phone to start your vehicle. This type of remote car starter typically features two-way capabilities, meaning you receive information about your vehicle on your device, such as confirmation that the engine is running.
Viper, based in Vista, California, produces some of the world's best-selling vehicle security and remote start products. The company is under the Directed Electronics umbrella, which was founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1982. One top product is the Viper 5906V Color Remote Start & Security.
Like Viper, Python is under the Directed Electronics umbrella, which moved from Ohio to Southern California in 1986. Python designs products specifically for vehicle security, including remote start systems. One popular product is the Python 5706P Responder LC3 SST 2-Way Security with Remote Start System.
The KickyRide Company is located in Douglassville, Ga. Owner Mike Thompson founded the enterprise in 2005 after experiencing frustration in installing a remote entry and alarm system on his vehicle. When he discovered it took him over 12 hours, he decided it didn’t have to be that difficult. Today KickyRide specializes in remote start and security systems for DIYers. One of the company’s most popular products is the Plug In Remote Start Kit for Select 2014-2019 Ford and Lincoln Vehicles.
Over the past 20 years, security company Avital has secured more than 100 patents and innovation awards. The company, also under the Directed Electronics umbrella, makes products geared toward vehicle security, including remote start systems. One popular product is the AVITAL 5303L Security/Remote Start System.
Audiovox operates under VOXX Electronics. The company started in 1965 in New York as a car sound company and has since solidified its position in the mobile electronics industry. One top product is the Audiovox APS57E Remote Starter.
Crimestopper Safety & Security
Crimestopper has been focusing on vehicle security and safety products for over 30 years. Based in Tempe, Arizona, the company makes remote starters, Fortin bypass modules, keyless entry systems, and security systems for cars, trucks, and more. One top product is the Crimestopper RS4-G5 1-Way Remote Start and Keyless Entry System with Trunk Pop.
Compustar is part of Firstech, LLC., which was founded in Anchorage, Alaska in 1998. Compustar focuses on vehicle security and remote start solutions. One popular product is the Compustar CS4900-S (4900S) 2-way Remote Start and Keyless Entry System.
Remote Car Starter Pricing
- Under $100: Some remote starters cost as little as $50. Products in this price range are generally very basic and have few added features, such as two-way communication capability.
- $100-$200: The most popular brands typically fall within this price range. They may lack some of the features of higher-end products, but they are just as capable of warming up or cooling down your vehicle.
- Over $200: These remote car starters typically offer alarm security and have LCD displays, which present all types of information, such as the temperature inside your vehicle.
One of the most important features of top remote start systems is the range, which varies from model to model. Some long-range remote starters have a range as far as one mile, which means it has a powerful, reliable, and consistent signal. Other types of remote car starter brands offer less range and may be less capable of working through a building’s walls.
Most remote car starter brands can sense the engine speed to determine if the engine is running. The best remote start system can analyze if the revs per minute are too high, which can flood or burn out the engine. Some products can actually turn off your vehicle if it senses these problems.
One-Way Versus Two-Way Communication
The best-rated remote car starters have two-way communication versus one-way communication. A two-way remote lets you know that your vehicle has started. The fob alerts you with either a sound or flashing light. This type of remote car starter can be more pricey but is worth it if you want reassurance that your vehicle is warming up on a cold day.
- Compatibility: A top-rated remote start will only work if it's compatible with your vehicle's engine. Ensure that the system works with the type of vehicle you are driving before you purchase one. You don't want to return a device because you made a mistake by not doing your research.
- Keyless Entry: Several top-rated remote starters feature lock and unlock buttons, which is convenient if your vehicle has power locks but lacks keyless entry. This is helpful when it's cold outside and you don't want to remove your gloves to unlock your car. Keyless entry is also nice if you have a lock and unlock buttons on a fob that is separate from your vehicle's key.
- LCD Screens: Some of the higher-end, best aftermarket remote start systems include LCD screens. This bonus feature allows you to check several things from a distance, including how long your vehicle has been running and whether it is locked. While this feature is nice, it's not necessary if you're on a slim budget.
- Built-in Security System: The best electric car starter will include a built-in security system, which is good for vehicles that don't have a factory alarm system. You will be alerted if someone is meddling with your vehicle, and it will set off a loud alarm. Consider this feature if you leave valuables in your vehicles, such as a laptop or other electronics.
- Programming: Some remote car starters allow you to start your vehicle at a preset time each day. Simply program your system to turn on the engine several minutes before you are scheduled to take a drive. Keep in mind that some systems automatically turn off after 15 minutes.
- Installation: When you're looking for which remote starter is the best, one of the top considerations is how easy it is to install. Many models are complex and require professional assistance, which can drive up the cost. If you're on a budget and are electronically inclined, find a system that's not too difficult to install.
- Bypass Module: If your vehicle has a computer, a remote starter needs a module to communicate with the system and perform actions such as locking the door. Some remote starters do not include a bypass module, and you will need to purchase one separately so your car starter performs correctly.
- Warranty: Look for top remote start systems designed by companies that stand by their products. More valuable systems typically have longer warranties, which is a testament to their quality. The best remote car starters feature good warranties that will replace your system if it is faulty or stops working properly.
Best Remote Car Starter Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- A vehicle's wiring system can be quite complex and difficult to manipulate. Unless you are very knowledgeable about electronics, the best remote car starter installation should be done by a certified electrician.
- If you decide to install a remote car starter by yourself, it's very likely that it will void your car's warranty. Make sure to check with your vehicle manufacturer before you do the work.
- If you do install the system on your own, read the product's manual first. Be sure to examine the diagrams and thoroughly go over the directions. It should not be too difficult if you are technologically inclined.
- It's crucial that you read your vehicle's manual so you know where all the cables and connections are located. It's important to determine which cables to attach to the remote starter and which ones to avoid. Find a wiring schematic for your vehicle to get the best results.
- When installing a remote car starter, the first thing you need to do is disconnect the battery. Installation involves creating new connections and soldering wires. This can be dangerous if the battery is connected.
- The best smartphone car starter can be very convenient, but it can also cause security issues. If you pair your smartphone with your remote starter, be sure to use a secure password.
- Store your key fob in a container that blocks its signal. This will prevent thieves from using an amplifier and transmitter to steal your key's signal, enabling them to take your vehicle.
- A system with a cut-off switch under the hood is recommended for safety. This enables you to turn the starter off when you or someone else is repairing your vehicle.
- Some municipalities have laws that prevent you from running your vehicle while it's unattended. Make sure you know the local regulations before using a remote car starter.
Q: How does a remote car starter work?
A: The remote starter is connected to several wires in your vehicle, such as the ignition, power, and starter wires. You turn on the system by using a hand-held remote/transmitter. This starts the engine and activates programs such as the heater.
Q: Will a remote car starter work with a manual transmission?
A: Yes, it can work on both automatic and manual transmission vehicles. To make a remote starter work safely with a manual transmission, it needs the ability to monitor the emergency brake and the shifter.
Q: Can you move a remote car starter from one vehicle to another?
A: It may be technically possible, but it may not be compatible if the interface of each vehicle is different. Also, it may cost you a bit of money to uninstall it from one vehicle and reinstall it on another one. Even the best cheap remote start can become costly if you need to use a professional installer.
Q: Will a remote car starter drain the battery?
A: It's possible. If your battery is on the older side, a remote car starter may drain it enough to kill it. To check if your remote starter is draining your battery, first disconnect the system. If the battery remains fully charged, you know the remote starter is causing some battery issues.
Q: Will a remote car starter cause problems with the engine?
A: Your engine will not be adversely affected as long as the remote starter is a high-quality product that is properly installed. Make sure to purchase a device with a warranty from a reputable manufacturer. Also, ensure that it is installed by someone with electrical expertise.
Q: Do you need to charge a remote car starter?
A: Some remote car starters come with micro USB cables that allow you to charge them. The handheld transmitters typically feature batteries that can be changed or recharged.
Our top pick for the best remote car starter is the Viper 5706V 2-Way Car Security with Remote Start System. The LCD display gives you a lot of information, such as whether your car is running or if it's locked. Also, the engine turns off after several minutes if a key is not inserted into the starter.
For a less expensive option, consider the Crimestopper RS4-G5 1-Way Remote Start and Keyless Entry System with Trunk Pop.