A remote car starter can be one of the best additions that you can make to your vehicle. It can also be a very confusing purchase. Our intent with this post is to help you avoid some of the most common mistakes that people make when buying a remote car starter.
Not Buying a Remote Car Starter With Enough Range
I use the word “range” even though I hate to. Manufacturers have no choice but to put “500-foot range” or “3000-foot range” on their packaging. It is important to keep in mind that these are absolute perfect word numbers. No RF interference, no walls, no windows, and no buildings to go around… In other words, the middle of the desert!
At our shop, we talk about transmitter power. Our 500-foot model is the one that all others are based on. Our 1500 foot model is considered “3X” power (3 times the transmitter strength of our base model). Our 5000-foot model is considered “10X” power. We feel this gives our customers a better indication of what they are getting. Range is unimportant for most people. Not many of our customers need to start their vehicle from more than 1000 feet away. But almost all of them want to start it from inside a building. That is where transmitter power becomes important.
Don’t shortchange yourself with transmitter range (power). You are going to use your starter at more places than your home or work. You will want to use it at the mall, sporting events, parking garages, hospitals, etc. If in doubt, pay a little more to get a more powerful unit. You want your car to be running when you get to it!
Not Having Your Remote Car Starter Professionally Installed
Professional installation is key to a quality remote car starter experience. Do not trust your vehicle to the lowest bidder! Remote starters make for complicated installs in today’s vehicles. It is important that it is installed properly. One mistake can be thousands of dollars in damage not covered under your vehicle’s warranty. I don’t say that to scare you off. A trained professional can do the job correctly. They will avoid costly mistakes and help you maximize the enjoyability of your new remote car starter. And speaking of your vehicle’s warranty, a properly installed remote car starter will not void your vehicle’s warranty regardless what your dealer says!
DO NOT trust the install to your family mechanic. You wouldn’t bring your vehicle to the local mobile electronics installer for an engine overhaul or transmission repair. Don’t take your vehicle to the local mechanic for a remote starter install. Go to a specialist!
Above all, DO NOT trust your cousin, your friend, or your cousin’s friend to do the install! Unless they are a seasoned installer with real world experience, they are not qualified for today’s vehicles.
Obviously, there are likely some exceptions to my comments above but the exceptions are far and few between. Use your head!
Buying A Poor Quality Remote Car Starter
You can buy a remote car starter at the local auto parts store for $79.99. It comes with an instructional DVD that claims that you can install it yourself. Don’t believe it. You probably can’t! These remote starters are usually of lower quality than the units that you would buy at a specialty retailer like Mobile Edge. In most cases, a quality manufacturer of remote car starters will require professional installation and frown upon over the counter sales. They know that the odds of failure decrease exponentially when a professional is doing the work.
The problem is that most people do not know a quality brand from a low-quality brand when it comes to remote car starters. A good rule of thumb is to search out the best shop in your market. It is a fair assumption that they will be selling and installing what they perceive as a high-quality brand. If you trust the shop then you should trust their choice in the products that they carry. Think about it this way: If they are a good shop, they probably sell and install tons of remote starters. Do you think that they would choose an inferior product knowing that it will create all kinds of headaches for them? Probably not.
Not Getting a Remote Car Starter With the Proper Feature Set
Remote car starters offer a lot of convenience options. Be sure to ask the right questions when buying your starter. Some models are simply what they sound like: A remote car starter. They start and stop the vehicle from a distance. That’s it and that might be good enough for you. Others have multiple functions ranging from keyless entry and trunk release to heated seats and rear window defrost.
A common mistake when considering options includes assuming that certain things might “just work” with the starter. For example, the rear window defroster will not just come on if you left it on. It is on a latched output that resets when the power is shut off. This feature needs to be specifically added to almost all installs.
Another common mistake is not adding keyless entry on newer vehicles. On most newer vehicles, the factory keyless entry does not function when the vehicle is running. This means that, when your vehicle is remote started and you walk up to it, the factory keyless will not unlock the doors. You would have to use the key in the door (old school) or shut the car down with the remote starter, unlock it with the factory remote and then restart it with the key. Neither is a great choice. The solution to this is to choose a remote starter that incorporates keyless entry or add a device like Compustar’s EZGO product. A remote starter equipped with keyless entry will allow you to unlock the vehicle without having to shut the car down.
A quality shop can talk you through these options and make recommendations based on your needs. If you find a shop you trust, the rest is easy.
Buying A Remote Starter From One Place And Getting It Installed At Another
NEVER…. REPEAT NEVER do this. It is the biggest mistake that you will make. You always want to have your starter installed at the very same place that you bought it. Do not make the mistake of buying the eBay/Wal-Mart/Auto Parts Store deal. Most quality shops will not install a remote starter that was purchased elsewhere. You will be left with the second and third tier shops that might agree to do this. If the place you are considering buying a remote starter does not offer installation, DO NOT buy it from them. I wrote a post a while back that goes into great detail about why you should always have your remote car starter installed at the same place that you buy it. Take the time to read it if you are tempted by the “deal of the day” online.
A remote starter is an awesome addition to any vehicle. Use the tips in this post and the vast amount of information on our site about remote car starters and you are sure to make smart decisions. Another helpful resource is our Remote Car Starter Buying Guide. It’s not that difficult of a decision when you are armed with the right information. Good luck!
For much more detailed information on purchasing a remote car starter, please consider The Ultimate Remote Car Starter Buying Guide. It is filled with over 25 pages of great advice to ensure that your buying experience is a great one!