With the return of winter comes the inevitable wait time for your chilly car to warm up after you start it and crank the heat. While many vehicles now come with remote start, older or more basic models might not have that luxury built in. But that doesn’t mean it’s unavailable. You can buy and install your own starter so that your car will be warm and waiting by the time you’re ready to venture out.
Check out quick info below of the top five remote starters, then scroll deeper for buying advice and full reviews of these models.
What to Consider
When shopping for a remote starter, you will want to be most aware of the type of cars that it’s compatible with. While there are options for almost any vehicle, you’ll be limited if you will want to make sure that your remote starter is compatible if you drive a hybrid, manual, or diesel as not all starters work with every car. Most brands will explicitly say which cars their starters are compatible with.
Even if you know your way around a car, you might still want to get a remote starter installed by a professional, so keep in mind this can cost around $300. If you’re debating between a car that already has a remote starter and getting a more base model in which you can install one yourself, you can actually save up to $200 by going the latter route, since buying a car with it built in right from the dealership can bump the price up $500.
The starter itself will cost anywhere between $50 and $150. As with most products, the price is determined by the features it has, in this case including safety and additional controls. The biggest determination of price, however, is whether a starter is a one- or two-way system. In a one-way system, the car will simply react to the command from the fob and start up. In a two-way, the car will react and then notify you that it has completed the task, giving you an extra sense of security and control.
You will also want to consider the signal range, which tends to be between 1,000 feet and a mile. “Instead of thinking about the long range in terms of starting your car from a distance, think about it in terms of a wireless power signal,” says Auto Quarterly. “A long-range remote start system simply has a reliable and consistent wireless power signal even in short ranges. This means you can still start your car even when there are obstacles such as walls or trees around.”
Finally, take a look at what other features your starter has to offer. Most will have buttons that open your trunk, and lock and unlock your car. Some will have some fancier features, like allowing you to heat or cool your car as well. These are also a replacement for your key fob, so no need to weigh down your key chain with your old key.
How We Selected and Rated Them
We researched 10 expert sources, such as Digital Trends, Auto Quarterly, and Lifewire, as well as scoured consumer reviews to select the top five remote starters of the year. The customer reviews were from retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and others, and we made decisions based on both the overall stars customers gave and individual customer reviews combined with recommendations from reputable and expert publications.
Choose exactly what you want your starter to do.
Type: one way | Buttons: 5 | Range: 2,000 feet
For an affordable price, you get a customizable package that does everything a remote starter should and then some. The Rs4-g5 comes with the usual buttons—locking and unlocking, opening the trunk, and starting the car—but it also has an extra button that you can set to any of 31 options of your choice— most being engine monitoring features. It also has a decent range at 2,000 feet. And if you want to pair your phone to the fob, you can buy an optional Mobile Start MS-3 module. Despite its name however, it is lacking in the security department, and this one doesn’t have anything out of the ordinary to prevent theft or tinkering with the system.
Fancy features and top-notch security
Type: one way | Buttons: 3 | Range: 3,000 feet
While most remote-start systems will have some sort of security system in place, the Easyguard goes above and beyond. It features a loud shock alarm, and it also includes a password-protected keypad if you’re looking for some extra security. The fob allows you to start and stop your car with a single button, as well as pre-heating or cooling your car before you get in. If you don’t use the keypad, your car will unlock automatically when you come within three to six feet of it, rounding out the EC002’s capability as a package complete with luxury and security resulting in a package complete with luxury and security.
Premium quality and high-end features.
Type: two way | Buttons: 4 | Range: 3,000 feet
A remote car starter naturally has a feeling of luxury, and the two-way fobs that come with this set give you that high-end feeling as well. With four silver buttons and a solid plastic build, these feel expensive—fortunately they cost under $130. The buttons have the typical functions of lock and unlock, trunk opening, and starting the car, and (as befitting a fancy two-way system) once you hit the ignition, you will immediately receive a command that states that the car has started. Once the car reaches the end of its 15-minute run time, the fob will chime and blink red, letting you know that the engine will shut off if you don't get in. If you wish to shut it off before then, you need only to click the start button again.
Simple but reliable, this model can start your car from over a mile away.
Type: two way | Buttons: 4 | Range: 1.5 miles
What really stands out on the Avital 4105L is the impressive 1.5-mile range. While you probably don’t want to be that far away from your car when starting it, this gives you a lot of power to send the signal through walls, trees, and anything else in your way—making it a great option, say, if you’re in the house and want to start the car up from the other side of the garage wall. It also allows you keyless entry into your car and is compatible with any make and model, meaning it’s an affordable, universal option. It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles like temperature control, and it’s only a one-way system, but it performs its few functions well for the price.
Audiovox Prestige APS57Z
You can’t argue with the price—or the impressive features.
Type: one way | Buttons: 3 | Range: 1,500 feet
You won’t find much of anything more affordable than the Audiovox Prestige. At under $65, it’s incredibly economical and, though simple, proves reliable and effective. Its range of 1,500 feet should be more than enough for most car owners, easily reaching from your house to the driveway—it also works with hybrids and even pairs with your phone through Carlink. The three-button system makes it easy to use without adding any fancy functions or customization—a plus for those of us that are less technologically fluent. The buttons on the fob allow you to start the car for a set time (from five minutes up to an hour), lock and unlock it, and pop the trunk.
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