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How much do you dread having to start your car in the freezing cold or driving rain? It’s a chore no one relishes. Or how about on a blazing hot day when you open up your car door to release the heat equivalent of an actual oven? Is there something actually cooking in your car? Why does it smell like grilled cheese and feet? All that can be nothing more than a distant memory by simply investing and installing an aftermarket remote start for your vehicle.
If you’re like me and bribe your kid with a few bucks to start your car for you, you’ve probably already spent the same amount as a remote starter. Since we’re all in this together, I’ve come up with a list of some of the top remote starts on the market, as well as a handy buying guide to teach you exactly what to look for to ensure you’re getting the best one to suit your needs and vehicle make and model.
Viper 4105V Remote Start System
- Compatible with up to 95 percent of vehicles
- Can be operated via your smartphone app
- Streamlined, simple remote fob
- Requires professional installation
Avital 4105L 1-Way Remote Start System
- Highly affordable
- Anti-theft and impact features
- Long range operation
- Not compatible with diesel or electric vehicles
- May need to purchase additional equipment for it to work properly
EasyGuard EC003N-K Remote Engine Start System
- Features an sleek and convenient push-button start
- Can be used on vehicles with manual transmissions
- Not compatible with pneumatic or double pulse unlocking vehicles
- Short operation range
- Best Overall: Viper 4105V Remote Start System
- Best Budget: Avital 4105L 1-Way Remote Start System
- Honorable Mention: EasyGuard EC003N-K Remote Engine Start System
- Best with Phone App: Compustar CSX4900-S 4-Button 2-Way Remote Start System
- Best Plug and Play: Start-X Complete Plug N Play Remote Starter
- Best 2-Way: Prestige APS997Z Two-Way LCD Command Confirming Remote Start
When it comes to choosing the best remote starts, I wanted to provide you with a well-rounded list that features a good variety of reputable manufacturers with solid track records of providing high-quality, reliable products. I included a wide range of price points to suit any budget. I focused on remote car starters that use the latest technology and that have innovative features and designs suitable for a wide variety of vehicles. For more information on the selection criteria, click this link to The Drive’s Gear About page, which explains our methodology further.
Best Remote Start: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Viper 4105V Remote Start System
Compatible with up to 95 percent of vehicles
Can be operated via your smartphone app
Streamlined, simple remote fob
Requires professional installation
In terms of reliability, functionality, and cutting-edge technology, the top overall pick has to be the Viper 4105V Remote Start System. This a not only a remote start, but also a keyless entry system with two 4-button, 1-way transmitters that are capable of reaching up to 1/4 mile range.
Unlike some others on the market, this remote engine starter is designed for use with gas, hybrid, and diesel vehicles with automatic transmissions. It’s compatible with up to 95 percent of vehicles on the road today.
Thanks to high-tech multibus and OBD2 connectivity, this system is also able to be controlled through your smartphone via the dedicated app. It does require a subscription, however. Another drawback is the hefty price tag. You also should be aware that this system doesn’t include any installation diagrams or instructions, so unless you’re an old hat at remote start systems, you’ll want to hire a professional.
Best Budget: Avital 4105L 1-Way Remote Start System
Anti-theft and impact features
Long range operation
Not compatible with diesel or electric vehicles
May need to purchase additional equipment for it to work properly
For the budget-conscious consumer who doesn’t want to sacrifice quality and functionality for price, I like the Avital 4105L 1-Way Remote Start System. For a surprisingly low price point, you get a lot of the features and functions that you expect to see in some competing, but more expensive models. This system is equipped with two 4-button remote fobs that can function up to 1/2 mile away. You get remote start, lock, unlock, and trunk release functions for your investment.
Fault-proof starter interrupt gives an added layer of protection from theft, while the dual-zone impact sensor detects blows to your vehicle and warns you with either a chirp or a full siren. One fun feature of this auto starter kit is that you can dictate how long the engine runs before shutting off, this lets you minimize fuel consumption. One drawback is that you may need to purchase an override module if you have a newer car with a chipped key. This unit is also only compatible with fuel-driven vehicles, not diesel or electric.
Honorable Mention: EasyGuard EC003N-K Remote Engine Start System
Features a sleek and convenient push-button start
Can be used on vehicles with manual transmissions
Not compatible with pneumatic or double pulse unlocking vehicles
Short operation range
Another budget-friendly choice that deserves some consideration is the EasyGuard EC003N-K Remote Engine Start System. It’s compatible with most vehicle makes and models that don’t feature a double pulse system for unlocking. The push-button start module is a straightforward and convenient way to start your car from the inside, while the operating range on the remote is between 100 to 165 feet; not as far as most remote start systems on the market, but good for folks who park relatively close to their house.
This system works with gasoline-driven vehicles, but can be modified to work with many diesel-powered cars and trucks, as well as manual transmission vehicles. It’s not compatible with cars that feature a push-button factory-installed start or vehicles that feature pneumatic locking systems. Also be aware that if you have a factory-chipped key fob, you may need to purchase an additional bypass module to make the system work properly.
Best with Phone App: Compustar CSX4900-S 4-Button 2-Way Remote Start System
Durable and water-resistant system
Can be controlled via your smartphone through the app or with voice commands
Equipped with GPS locating technology to prevent theft
Only includes one key fob
Difficult to install — may need professional assistance
If you want the convenience and compatibility of smartphone operation for your car starter remote control, the Compustar CSX4900-S 4-Button 2-Way Remote Start System is the way to go. This remote starter kit features 2-way LED confirmation on a sleek, high-tech, water-resistant key fob. Your smartphone is the backup remote, or feel free to use it as the primary starter.
This system features a range of up to 3,000 feet or approximately 0.5 miles. As an added level of safety and security, it’s also equipped with Drone X1-LTE, which tracks and locates your car, and in many cases, can allow you to start your vehicle by voice command. You’ll probably want professional installation for this auto starter kit since it is a bit more complicated than some others on the market. Keep in mind too, that it only includes one remote. This smart remote starter kit also comes backed by a limited lifetime system warranty for added peace of mind.
Best Plug and Play: Start-X Complete Plug N Play Remote Starter
Easy and fast installation can be completed without a pro
Uses existing key fob for function
Kit includes everything necessary for install
Vehicle specific and not compatible with all makes and models
If you want a system that’s relatively quick and easy to install without the aid of a professional, consider the Start-X Complete Plug N Play Remote Starter. Manufactured and designed in the US, this plug-and-play remote start eliminates the need for annoying wire splicing and will be ready to work in a fraction of the time of other remote starts on the market. There’s also no need for extra remotes to keep track of. This system works with your existing key fobs.
The manufacturers have really thought of everything, even including a prying tool to pop off panels and zip ties to secure the module. This convenience does come at a cost though, and this is one of the more expensive remote start kits on the list. Also, keep in mind that it is vehicle-specific, so you need to be sure that you’re purchasing the one that’s compatible with your car. The range of this starter is also limited to whatever the range is on your existing OEM key fob.
Long operating range
Two-way confirming communication
Included alarm function
Installation instructions are very confusing
Customer service support isn’t the greatest
A two-way automatic start gives you the confidence of knowing that your starter is activated, unlike standard one-way remote controls. The 5-button, two-way transmitter on this remote starter gives you a confirming beep that lets you know for sure that the system is activated. No guesswork. This kit also comes equipped with a second, one-way transmitter as a backup. You can also customize this kit to be a single- or dual-user system with the two independently programmed control outputs.
This kit also features an included car alarm option that’s FlashLogic FLCART compatible. It’s equipped with a glass-mounted antenna with a built-in valet switch and LED light. It has an impressive operating range of up to 1 mile. You also get a new push-button starter for improved compatibility with newer vehicles. This kit loses some love for having vague and confusing installation instructions and lackluster customer service support, however.
If you want the ideal combination between vehicle compatibility, functionality, range, and price point, my top pick to click has to be the Viper 4105V Remote Start System. For a reliable and well-functioning budget-conscious choice, check out the Avital 4105L 1-Way Remote Start System.
Features to Consider
When it comes to aftermarket remote starts, there are a lot of confusing options and much to consider. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all choice. Today’s aftermarket remote starters come in a wide variety of functions and options suitable for different vehicles. Be sure to get the one that most suits your specific needs.
One of the most important boxes to check when buying an aftermarket remote start is ensuring it’s compatible with your specific vehicle make and model. While many are designed to be compatible with a wide range of cars, this isn’t always the case. Some are also only compatible with automatic transmissions, not manual. Still others may be compatible with only fuel-driven vehicles while others may work with diesel or electric powered cars.
Operating range is another important consideration, especially if you live in a complex or area in which you park your car at a distance from your home. Of course, if you keep your car in a garage attached to your house, operating range may be less of a concern, but also consider if you’re going to want to remotely start your car from where you work. Be sure to get a starter with a range that will reach where you need it.
If you want a remote stater that gives you a confirmation that’s it’s activated, you’ll need to be sure you purchase a two-way start kit. These are often a little pricier than their one-way counterparts that don’t give you a confirming beep or sound to let you know it’s on. Two-way communication is preferable in order to ensure that you don’t accidentally activate your starter when you don’t want it to be.
Aftermarket Remote Start Pricing
You can get a reliable, one-way remote start for between $65 to $100. If you want two-way compatibility, smartphone functionality, a decent warranty, optional alarm system or GPS tracking, and plug-and-play installation, expect to spend closer to $150 to $450.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q: Can I install a remote car starter myself?
A: If you want to do your own installation of your aftermarket remote starter, consider buying a plug-and-play product that doesn’t require you to mess around with splicing and clipping wires. If you’re relatively handy, you can install many remote starts without the help of a professional, but for the more complex ones that feature a lot of bells and whistles, it’s best to have it done by a pro to ensure proper function.
Q: Do you still need your key with a remote start?
A: Many remote starts replace your factory key fob. There are a few aftermarket remote starts that use your existing key, however. It all depends on the one you decide to go with.
Q: Does the remote start drain your battery?
A: Generally, no. The simple act of starting your engine will charge the battery, whether you use a remote starter or not. There are instances, however, if the remote start is not properly installed, that can cause unwanted battery drain. That’s another reason why you may want to consider having your aftermarket remote start installed by a professional.
Q: Will fitting an aftermarket remote starter invalidate my warranty?
A: No. Installing an aftermarket remote starter will not void your warranty. In fact, many remote starts that are installed by your dealer are actually aftermarket remote starts. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act actually makes it illegal for a car manufacturer to void your warranty or deny you coverage, as long as the remote start was properly installed.
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