Maybe your car didn’t come with a remote start system, and you’re jealous that your friends and neighbors can start their vehicles on those cold winter mornings, so they're warm and comfortable for their morning commute. Meanwhile, you’re out there scraping the windows and shivering while waiting for the car to heat up, or waiting for the car to cool down enough to grab the steering wheel in the summer.
Thankfully, there are plenty of aftermarket remote starters available for virtually every budget. Some are very basic, while others come with as many bells and whistles as you can think of such as key-less entry, trunk unlocking, 2-way LED displays that confirm whether the car is running, and so on.
However, before you dive into the rabbit hole of remote starters, consider the pros and cons of having one, and then decide if it’s worth the expense and the hassle of installing one.
By far the greatest advantage of having a remote start system is the convenience and comfort it affords. Whatever the weather, you can start your car and have it warmed up or cooled off and ready to drive as soon as you get in. And you can do all of this without having to leave the comfort of your home or office. Also, many remote starter systems also allow you to unlock your car, which is nice since you don’t have to fumble for your keys if it’s raining, or if you’re in a dark parking lot and you need to get in your vehicle quickly.
Another advantage to a remote starter is the ability to see via the 2-way remote if your car is running or not if your system has this function. This is advantageous in case the vehicle stalls, and you can quickly restart it.
A key advantage to a remote starter is that your car stays running while it’s locked, which is a big deal if you’re worried about someone stealing your car because you left the keys in the ignition to warm it up while you went back in the house. Or, if you have to leave your pet in the car while you run into the store on a hot day. A remote starter enables you to keep the car running with the air conditioner on and the doors locked, so both your car and your pet are safe.
Lastly, a remote starter is excellent for those times when you have your hands full either with the kids or with groceries. In addition to starting the car with a push of a button, many remote start systems also allow you to unlock the car as well, so even with your hands full, you can start the vehicle and get in without too much fuss.
Now, while all of that sounds great, here are the downsides of having a remote starter.
The biggest disadvantage of getting an aftermarket remote starter is the cost. Depending on the device and your knowledge of installing electronic devices, you could be spending hundreds of dollars on the starter and on the installation if you have it done professionally. And it should be noted; unless you’re experienced at wiring, you need to have a professional tackle the installation.
If you have a FOB or device that came with your vehicle for unlocking the doors, and such, and you purchase an aftermarket remote starter, that’s another device that you have to stuff in your purse or pocket.
Another disadvantage to a remote starter is the fuel you’re wasting while warming up the vehicle. And while most people don’t think twice about this aspect, the fact is that you’re going to be filling up more than usual when you use your remote starter.
If you’re worried about wear and tear on your engine, then a remote starter is something to avoid. Frequently preheating and cooling your vehicle before you drive puts extra stress on your engine, which could shorten its lifespan. This is especially bad in the summer when your engine relies on the radiator fan to cool the engine instead of the air rushing through the system while driving.
Another thing to consider is the type of vehicle you have. While most cars are automatic transmissions, some manuals are still out there, and getting a remote starter to work on a manual transmission is tricky if not impossible with certain models of vehicles.
Lastly, if you’re conscious about the environment, then you need to be aware of the extra pollution your vehicle is putting out when you let it idle.
Having a remote starter can be a great convenience, but weigh the options carefully before you make the investment.