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 remote car starters.
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 “3,000-foot range” on their packaging. It is important to keep in mind that these are absolutely perfect numbers – in environments with no RF interference, no walls, no windows and no buildings to go around… In other words, the middle of the desert!
Range is unimportant for most people. Not many of our customers need to start their vehicles from more than 1,000 feet away. But almost everyone wants to start a vehicle from inside a building. That is where transmitter power becomes important.
At our shop, we talk about transmitter power rather than range. Our 500-foot model is the one that all others are based on. Our 1,500-foot model is considered “3X” power (3 times the transmitter strength of our base model). Our 5,000-foot model is considered “10X” power. We feel this gives our customers a better indication of what they are getting.
Don’t shortchange yourself with transmitter range (power). You are going to use your starter in more places than your home or workplace. You will want to use it from the mall, sporting events, parking garages, hospitals, restaurants, 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 the key to a quality remote car starter experience. Do not trust your vehicle to the lowest bidder! Remote starters involve complicated installs in today’s vehicles, so it is important that the installation be done properly. One mistake can create 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, avoiding costly mistakes and helping you maximize the enjoyability of your new remote car starter.
Speaking of your vehicle’s warranty, a properly installed remote car starter will not void your vehicle’s warranty, regardless of what your dealer says!
Do not trust the install to your family or your local mechanic. You wouldn’t bring your vehicle to the local mobile electronics installer for an engine overhaul or transmission repair. Go to a specialist!
Above all, do not trust your cousin, your friend or your cousin’s friend to do the install! Unless someone is a seasoned installer with real-world training and experience, they are not qualified to work on today’s vehicles.
Obviously, there may be some exceptions to these comments, but the exceptions are few and far between. Use your head!
These 2 short videos begin to tell the story of what you can expect from a professional installation facility like Mobile Edge:
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 does the work.
The problem is that most people do not know a high-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 sell and install what they perceive as a high-quality brand. If you trust the shop, you can trust their choice in the products that they carry.
Think about it this way: If that is a good shop, they probably sell and install tons of remote starters. Do you think they would choose an inferior product, knowing that it would create all kinds of headaches for them? Probably not.
At Mobile Edge, we proudly offer the Compustar brand of remote car starters. We invite you to browse Compustar remote car starters here.
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, and nothing more. 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 – that is, every time you turn off the vehicle. This feature has 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 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 down the car.
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 at One Place and Getting It Installed at Another
NEVER…. repeat, NEVER, buy a remote starter at one shop and have it installed somewhere else. That is the biggest mistake you can make. You always want to have your starter installed at the very same place where 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 awhile back that goes into great detail about why you should always have your remote car starter installed at the same place where you buy it. Take the time to read that post 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 a decision when you are armed with the right information. Good luck!
For much more detailed information about purchasing a remote car starter, please consider The Ultimate Remote Car Starter Buying Guide. It is filled with more than 25 pages of great advice to ensure that your buying experience is a great one!