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.