Top 10 List: Remote Car Starter Buying Guide

My store has been installing Remote Car Starters since the early 1990s. This experience has taught us what is important in a quality remote starter installation.  With the cold season almost upon us, we thought it would be a good time to post our Top 10 List (in no particular order):

10. Warranty

The actual remote starter brain should be warrantied for as long as you own the car.  Many quality companies offer this.  If they do not, it is a possible sign of inferior equipment.  Remote controls, however are rarely warrantied for more than a year.   Our Pro line remotes carry a 2 year warranty and all our 2 way remotes have a $25 replacement plan.

9. Engine Speed Sensing

A good remote starter should have some method of monitoring the engine RPM’s.  Why is this important?  There are a couple reasons:

  • On a very cold day, the car might not start on the first turn of the key.  The same is true with a remote starter.  It might not start the first time the starter does it’s thing.  Without a method of sensing engine RPM’s the remote starter will have no way of knowing that the vehicle has failed to start.  The end result is that you go out to your car and it is still cold.
  • The other main reason is over-rev protection.  A quality remote starter will know if the engine speed is too high and shut off.  A remote start that does not offer RPM sensing cannot know if this level is exceeded and could end with damage to the vehicle.

8. Transmitter Range

You want to make sure that the remote start that you are buying will allow you to start/stop/lock/unlock, etc from a long distance.  Many people say that they just park their car right outside of their house and do not need a long rang transmitter.  Just keep in mind the trips to the movies, the mall, the amusement park, etc.  You will want to use your remote start then also and you will not be parked as close as at home.  Our transmitters offer a minimum of 800 feet and some are over a mile!

7. Hood Safety Switch

Make sure that there is an emergency cutoff installed under the hood.  This cutoff is designed to prevent the vehicle from remote starting if the hood is up.   This protects you and your mechanic from forever having someone else open your ketchup bottles!  DO NOT OVERLOOK THIS!  Many shops skip this step because it saves time.  Mobile Edge integrates a hood cutoff on every single job.

6. Manufacturer

Make sure that the manufacturer is a company that specializes in remote car starters.  There are many companies out there that simply throw a label on a product and call it their own.  You want to avoid that.  It is our experience that these companies provide little if any support for their products and many will not be in business next year.  Stick with the experts.

5. New Car Warranty

Do not let your car dealer tell you that an aftermarket remote car starter will void your warranty . This is against the law.  The Magnuson Moss Act prevents a dealer from voiding a warranty simply because of the addition of aftermarket equipment.  If that equipment or associated installation causes damage to the vehicle, the dealer does not have to warranty the job.  This is more of a reason to go to a specialist shop that sell good remote starters and installs them professionally.  I have a detailed PDF on this subject.

4.  Do it Yourself?

Unless you are a certified technician with experience in remote car starter installation, DO NOT attempt to install your own remote starter.  I know… The one you saw at WalMart comes with an instructional video.  That video will teach you enough to make you dangerous.  Trust me!  It will not teach you how to integrate the transponder in a 2004 Ford or bypass the security in an 06 Trailblazer.  The instructional video may have worked in the early 1990’s, but today’s cars are very sophisticated.  Save yourself a ton of expense and headache and have it installed by someone who does this for a living and can be responsible for the job.  This brings us to number 3.

3. Buy it Here / Install it There?

Do not buy your remote starter on eBay (or WalMart or Amazon, etc) and expect to find a quality, reputable shop that will install it for you.  While many aftermarket shops will install stereos and amps purchased elsewhere, few if any will install a remote start purchased elsewhere.    During remote starter season, the good shops are busy enough trying to keep up with their own work.  If you find a shop that will install someone else’s remote starter, they are likely not very busy.  Do you want to trust your vehicle to that guy?

There is another very important reason not to buy a remote starter at one place and have it installed at another.  Let’s say something goes wrong.  A remote starter is an electronic product and can fail.   The guy that puts it in will blame the product and the manufacturer will say that it was installed wrong.  Guess who is stuck in the middle with no recourse.  When you have the shop that you buy a remote starter from install it, you have one place to go in the event of a failure.  There cannot be any finger pointing.

2. Go to a  Specialist

Look for a specialty shop.  Not to bash any of the chain stores, but they have a much higher turnover rate with installers than a specialty shop.  These are people that likely have less experience than a long term employee at a specialty shop.  It is my experience that many installer “cut their teeth” at a chain store and, once they have more experience, move on to a specialist (We pay more!).

Many specialists (not all though) will solder all of their connections.  I feel that this is very important.  Crimp connectors can save up to an hour of installation time, but when dealing with the vehicle’s electrical system, I want a rock solid connection.  The only way to get that is by soldering the wires together.  Mobile Edge has soldered every connection on every job for nearly 15 years.

Will a remote starter from a specialty shop cost more than from a chain store? Sometimes yes.  But put that into perspective.  Even if the job cost $100 more from a specialist, that difference is less than 1/10 of 1% of what you probably paid for your car.  Why take the risk.  Not to mention, when you deal with a specialist, you can talk to the installer, salesman and, in many cases, the owner.  There is definitely a value in that.

1. More than Just a Remote Starter

Make sure that you review all of the convenience features that can be added to your remote starter with your salesperson before the installation!  Most higher quality remote starters will allow a ton of cool features to be added or controlled from the remote. Anything from heated seats to keyless entry and rear defrost can be integrated with most better systems.  It is A LOT cheaper to have this done at the time of installation.  If you want to add it later, you may be paying for several hours of additional labor.

The Bottom Line

In summary, the cheapest price does not always save you money!  When selecting a shop to have a remote starter put in, ask a lot of questions.  How long have they been in business?  How much experience do their technicians have?  Do they have sophisticated computer programs to aid with installation? How do they handle warranty issues?  You get the idea.  The better shops will clearly rise to the top.   They might cost a little more up front, but that extra expense will pay dividends in quality and piece of mind.  I am sure that you will find that Mobile Edge is one of the best shops for your Remote Car Starter Installation.

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!

About Mitchell Schaffer

Founder of Mobile Edge.... Technology geek.... Author.... Ethical Businessperson... Avid landscaper.... Master of 2 Basset Hounds, 1 Beagle and 2 cats.... Big picture kind of guy....

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Comments

  1. This site is very informative. It makes me think more of the value of my investment in my vehicle. Why ask for the cheapest product when it would have so much potential to cause damage to my car. Thanks for the advice in this column. I will be asking a lot of questions when purchasing my remote starter. To bad I don’t live near your shop, I could just go to you.

  2. Thank You……Thank you…..
    I’m looking to purchase a Remote Starter for my husband and had no clue how to go about it. Your article answered many of my questions.

  3. I do almost all my own car repairs but when it comes to remote starters, I leave it to someone that i can trust , Mobile edge, because if you do one thing wrong during installation, you can destroy a piece of electronics in your car and then you will be very upset you did not leave it to a professional. The cost to replace a computer in the car far exceeds the cost to buy a good remote starter from Mobile Edge. I have bought many from them and refer anyone that ask to do the same. Not fast, in this case a good thing, but on time, big difference, and done right the first time.
    P.S. This is not a paid endorsement, haha, just one of their satisfied customers.

  4. What’s the difference between 1 way and 2 way starters?

  5. I have a 2004 Chevy Malibu Maxx and the factory starter works great. However, the remote doesn’t seem to work at all anymore. I tried replacing the battery and nothing fixes the problem. Is it easy to install a new system in a factory present starter or is it better to remove the original equipment and go aftermarket. It’s very annoying when its 25 outside and I’m trying to start my car only to find out my remote doesn’t work.

  6. Hi. I wish I found this site before I got my newest car starter. The two things I asked for anti-grind and programmable timer so it will come one before and after work and I can get into a warm car I was told it would have. Guess what it doesn’t have. The owner refuses to remove it and give me my money back. I also asked about t-taps and he bad mouthed them. I went to him because I had my first starter installed there and I had no problems. In between I had to get a new car(crash) and had tweeter install a viper with a programmable timer. It worked great (crashed car- no idea how to remove starter or timer). Any idea on real programmable timers and how to get this owner to guarantee what he sold me as what I wanted. I wanted programmable because on the first plain remote I always forgot to start it before I went to the car. Made it useless. He sold me a car starter with a 24 hour count down timer that can be set one time per day. Who gets in their car once a day. You get in to go to work and to come home from work. Why would I want to freeze my tush off once a day. Even if I remember to start it 15 minutes before I leave and use the countdown at night I take a commuter bus and have no way to schedule it 24 hours in advance to start 15 minute before the bus hits my car. It doesn’t have 10 mile range. Plus large building block my car. Thanks and any advice on the starter I want and how to get my money back. I called my bank but who knows.

    • Tara,

      I sorry but I won’t be able to give you much help on this one. Assuming that you went to a respected, reputable dealer, they should stand behind their product. It is impossible for me to know exactly what the conversation was or what was promised. Only you and the deal know this. Assuming that your invoice indicates a programmable timer was to be added, i would go back to the dealer and let them know that it was not installed and you would like to have them install it. Mistakes do happen. We make mistakes sometimes and miss something on a workorder. We have procedures in place that things like this are caught 99% of the time before the customer picks up. The fact is however that they might have just made an honest mistake. I would not be asking for a refund and removal. I’d simply be asking for what was sold to me and spelled out on my invoice. Good luck with your issue.

  7. Thanks for responding. Not sure what is going to happen. I really did check around and I thought he was reputable. I found the patent for the product I want. Now I have to find the product. :)

  8. Very informative do you have a shop in Ill. ?

  9. Esther Savard says:

    Great info to help me know what to ask when I finally get the starter installed, but I’m just so frustrated with the first ever starter (installed 7 years ago) I’ve had installed by the dealer where I had purchased my new car (they used a company that is now out of business, and my starter actually locks the car starting system, I have to wait 20 min to manually start the car whenever I try to use the car remote starter now!) Now, I just purchased a 2013 Honda Accord (I live in Alberta, Canada) and paid the car dealer for them to install a remote starter in it (apparently the Honda one has much shorter range and as expensive as the one they sold me). The dealer told me that because the car is so new it would be a couple of weeks before that company can install the remote. Two months after purchase I still don’t have it. Finally the dealer called me and said that they will use a different remote starter company. The one they want to use is called “Automate car security” (never heard of them) and the model they will install is called Automate Car Security 2 Way starter. Do you know this product? Is it a good one?

  10. I’ve been trying to find someone to install a remote starter in my 12 VW Golf TDI and keep getting told that they won’t install on my car…is this really that hard of a car to install one on?

    • Until about 1 month ago, we did not offer remote car starter installations on Volkswagen Vehicles. We have found a solution now that we are very happy with and works for many (but not all) VW vehicles. We have not yet made a formal announcement of our intention to offer installs on VW however we should be doing so very soon.

      So to answer your question, I believe that your vehicle would be one that we would do but we would want to look it over first. If you are in our market, please stop by with the vehicle and we can look it over. If you are not in our market, I would recommend that you search out the very best facility in your area. These installs need to be performed properly (as is the case with all remote starter installs)… If you need assistance locating a facility to do your installation I would like to recommend my e-book “The Ultimate Remote Car Starter Buying Guide.” It is not free, but the small investment will teach you everything that you need to know to find the right facility to do your installation. The book is available for purchase here: http://www.remote-car-starters.com
      Good luck in your search!

  11. when you suggest soldering ALL wires do you mean all of the “heavier” gauge wires and not the smaller “secondary” wires, I’m sorry – I’m not in the industry – but there are some “relay” wires and a guy that we are looking into to do our install suggests that these “relay” wires won’t benefit from being soldered and that taping them in is best. What are your thoughts?

  12. Hi Mitchell,

    I’ve read your article and was relieved to find that adding an after market part such as a remote car starter will not void a new vehicle’s warranty…. Could you please advise if this is true for the Canadian market as well?

    I am looking to purchase a new Infiniti SUV and the dealer here in Canada is not helpful in clarifying whether or not adding a remote starter to the the vehicle will void the warranty… I would really like to have some comfort around this before I make the purchase.

    Regards,

    Janet

    • Janet,

      I am not familiar at all with Canadian laws. I cannot help you with that. I would check with a reputable installer in the area and ask them to provide you with proof.

      • I heard lots of good and bad thinks about remote starters. I got a Jeep and factory installed remote starter,and so far I’m happy with it.My wife have Subaru Forester ,and on time of buying it (2005) dealer simply refuse to install it. Commenting that can interfere with Subaru electronics.How much is truth in that statement?

        • This is something that we hear from time to time from car dealers. It is completely false. If a quality remote car starter is installed properly, it will have no impact and not interfere at all with vehicle electronics. Subraru’s are a more challenging vehicle, but a skilled installer would have no problem with your vehicle. We do them all the time.

        • We install remote starters in Subarus all the time. If they are installed properly, there is no cause for concern.

  13. Edward Geserin says:

    Is it true that a remote starter cuts the life of your battery by half?
    Thank You
    Eddy

  14. Speaking from first-hand experience, I would say soldering is in a different world altogether than crimping in terms of quality.

    Crimped connections are just not as solid as a soldered connection. Over time, if there is any work to be done near the crimped connectors, people pulling on the wires, etc….the crimped connections can be pulled apart. You cannot pull a soldered connection apart.

    I am not a licensed auto tech, but I have installed MANY things and I dont ever use crimp connectors anymore. They just arent as reliable a solder long term.

  15. Any installer that does not solder every electrical connection should not be installing. This is especially true for something as involved as a remote starter. These can easily have 10+ connections to a vehicles factory wiring. If one of these wires were to ever come loose, unless you can figure it out yourself, I doubt any installation shop will even look at it.

    • I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for the comment!
  16. Thanks for the compliment, however I am confused by your statement that “Our site, not going to put it on here because I am not going to be a punter.” I just looked at your site and this post is copied nearly word for word? The only real changes are to add the name of your store in place of ours. Oh yeah, you also made the lame attempt in the “Go To A Specialist” section to try to make the argument that 3M Butt connectors and tape are better than solder. I never saw a properly soldered connection fail.

    Please be creative and make your own content instead of taking it from those that work hard to educate the public.

  17. I am a certified tech and I couldn’t agree more. It is essential to insure the best quality connections possible to minimize the possibility of shorts and opens. I’ve seen such hacked garbage come into my shop from customers that had someone (or themselves) put something in that they thought was a bargain, only to leave them with a world of electrical nightmares for the rest of their time owning that vehicle. When I’m asked to fix their mistakes I usually take one look before I tell them to take it back to where the work was done- not worth the time and liability on my hands to fix their butchering.
    I’d sooner have someone that specializes in this and THAT I TRUST TO DO QUALITY AND NEAT WORK do a remote start install than even do it myself!
    You have to take into account product fimiliarity and warranty from your tech when you’re interfacing with the vehicle’s main computer interfaces (ECU, smart junction box, ect) and expecting the result you’re after for the length of time the vehicle will be driven. Otherwise I’m afraid you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.