What is a remote car starter?

On the Road 3 min read

A remote car starter starts your car before you begin driving. Some cars come already equipped with remote start from the factory, but after-market remote starters are inexpensive and easy to install. The convenience of a remote starter outweighs the safety concerns, and with the following tips, you can ensure your remote car starter keeps you toasty and safe.

How does a remote car starter work?

To make it possible to turn your engine on and off at the push of a button, your vehicle needs wiring, a bypass module, a control module, and a remote transmitter. When all these parts work together, they mimic the engine starting sequence you trigger when you turn on the vehicle with your key.

Not all remote car starters have the same features, but here are a few that you can expect.

  • Remote unlock, lock, and trunk release
  • Starting your vehicle from a distance
  • Trunk, hood, and door security sensors that will go off during an attempted burglary
  • Smartphone app integration that allows you to control your car’s systems

How to use a remote car starter

Control the temperature

A remote car starter is a convenient way to thaw out the exterior of your car and warm up the inside of your car. A remote starter can cool your car down in the summer and turn up the heat in the winter.

Protect your car from theft

Some remote car starter systems have additional features that can keep your car from getting hotwired or that disable the starter when the thief stops the car. The remote starter itself does not make your car any easier to steal. There are various levels of security with a remote starter. If the doors aren’t locked, and you engage the remote start, the doors will lock automatically. Another level of security is that many starters require you to place the key in the ignition before the car’s gears will move out of Park. Learn more about how car insurance can cover theft.

Keep your car safe

You decided to go to a late movie, but the only parking spot was quite far back in the lot. You’re a bit nervous about walking out by yourself, and you can’t remember if you locked the doors of your car. With a remote starter, you hit a button on the key fob and your car will lock up tight. While it might still be a bit scary to walk out after the movie, you won’t have the concern of someone hiding in your backseat.

Keep dogs from overheating

Even though remote starters are a convenient tool, don’t rely on them to keep your pooch cool while you run into the shopping mall for an hour. Many remote starters shut off after a certain period if the key isn’t in the ignition, which is why this is not a safe way to use a remote starter.

On a mild 85-degree day, the interior of the car heats up to around 102 degrees in a car with the windows left down. The temperature can spike dangerously in a matter of minutes. It’s truly best to leave your dog at home on a hot day or save the errands for another time. Learn more tips on keeping your dog safe in the summer.

Are remote car starters safe?

While there are a few minor concerns with using a remote car starter, the convenience far outweighs the worries. If you plan on installing a remote car starter, you may want to hire a professional to install it. You also want to take precautions to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Hiring a professional to install a remote car starter

You may be wondering if it is easy to install a remote car starter yourself. While you can get instructions online, there are special considerations for manual cars. One of the best things you can do to ensure the remote car starter functions correctly is to hire a professional to do the wiring. Safewise lists remote starters between $60 and $200, with the cost of installation ranging from $150 to $500 for professional installation. You can order a starter online, but if you lack training in automotive electrical systems, you’re better off hiring a professional to do the work.

Avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning

It’s a busy morning. You’re rushing to pack the kids’ lunches for school, gathering the visual aids for a report you’re presenting at work, and ushering everyone out the door. At least your car’s been running and will be warm and ready to go. The only problem? You forgot that you parked your car in your closed garage, and now your garage is flooded with carbon monoxide. Ensure you only use your remote starter when you have parked your vehicle outside.

Should I use a remote car starter?

The bottom line is to use remote car starters responsibly and safely. As long as you practice the tips above and use your starter responsibly, you most likely will not run into any issues.

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