Best Remote Car Starters for 2022
A remote car starter is something you don’t truly appreciate until you have one. In the winter, it starts the car and warms it up while defrosting the windshield. During the hot summer months, it cools the car so you don’t roast when you get in. It even comes in handy when you’re caught in the rain and need to make a run for your car.
Unfortunately, many people miss out on this little luxury. They don’t know you can install an aftermarket remote car starter. Or, they think it’s too expensive and won’t work well. What they don’t realize is that for less than $200 you can get a great remote starter that works as well or better than the original equipment from the car manufacturer. Additionally, most remote starters come with other features like keyless entry, alarm systems, and ignition overrides.
Between a lack of knowledge about remote car starters and the list of available options, it can be intimidating to know where to start. That’s why we put together this guide. Not only will we list our choices for the best remote car starters but we will also cover what to look for and some of the worthwhile features.
Why We Picked These Products
There are many different brands of remote car starters, but they all generally perform the same functions. To select the starters on this list, I compared the top models from the top brands, combining expert and user reviews to identify the highest rated options. Where applicable, I added my personal experience and knowledge to narrow down the options.
Next, I factored in different criteria many people consider for remote car starters to organize the list into categories. This approach helped narrow down the list while allowing me to present options for consideration based on specific features. The goal is to not just rate the remote car starters we think are the best but to help you make an informed decision to purchase the one that best meets your needs.
Best Overall: Viper 5706V
Why It Made The Cut: Viper’s 5706V is the top pick because it offers a lot of great, useful features, customizable options, and a legitimate one-mile range.
— Range: One mile
— Remote: Two way, five-button, and LCD
— Security: Shock sensor with alarm and starter interrupt
— Realistic one-mile range
— Monitors interior car temperature
— Customizable LCD screen
— Wide range of customization options
— Expensive compared to other aftermarket remote starters
— Difficult to set up
Viper is one of the big names in car security. The 5706V is our top pick, offering a complete suite of remote start, keyless entry, and security. The remote starter lets you start or turn off your car at a range of one mile or less. You can also open your doors and trunk and even see the status of your car on the LCD display.
Equipped with Responder LC3, the Viper 5706V monitors the status of your car. LC3 provides information like your car’s internal temperature and sends you alerts and reminders if you leave your car unlocked or running. If anything happens to your car, the shock sensor activates, and the system alerts you to the status of your car, including the doors and trunk. Additionally, it can start, unlock, and monitor systems on two separate cars.
Another nice feature of the Viper 5706V is how it displays icons on the LCD screen. The most important or relevant icons show up in the center while unused icons disappear to keep the display clean and simple. For example, if you switch to Valet Mode, the padlock icon appears with the words ‘Valet Mode.’ Once you’re back in normal mode, the padlock appears with info on the status of your car’s security.
There are two drawbacks to the Viper 5706V. First, it is a complex system to install. If you don’t have experience wiring car stereos or security systems it’s best to leave the installation to a professional. The second drawback is cost — it’s more expensive than most other systems on the market. However, it’s still less than the cost of an original equipment dealer installed remote start system and offers more range and features.
Best Budget: Avital 4105L
Why It Made The Cut: For a great basic, inexpensive remote starter with all of the features you want like an alarm and keyless entry, the Avital 4105L is the top budget pick.
— Range: Half a mile
— Remote: One-way fob with four buttons
— Security: Shock sensor with alarm and starter interrupt
— Low price
— Easy to operate
— Customizable features
— One-way transmitter doesn’t receive info from your car
— Range isn’t as good as other systems
If you want a basic, reliable system for remote start, keyless entry, and security, the Avital 4105L is your ticket. It offers the same features as most original equipment remote starters and is very easy to use.
The Avital 4105L comes with two four-button fobs that will start your vehicle, lock and unlock it, and open the trunk. The fobs will remotely start a vehicle up to 1,500 feet away but since the system is one way, you won’t receive confirmation it’s running. The system offers good security features including a shock sensor, alarm, and starter interrupt.
Avital also bills the 4105L as being compatible with original equipment systems, making it an inexpensive option for replacing factory key fobs if necessary. It’s Bitwriter programmable, letting you customize some of the features like run time for the remote start function.
Because it’s not as complex as other remote start systems, the Avital 4105L is not as difficult to install. But don’t let that or the price fool you — this is a very good quality basic system making it our recommended pick for a low-cost remote starter.
Best with Phone App: Viper VSM550
Why It Made The Cut: While it’s not a standalone remote starter, the Viper VSM550 offers a number of compelling features through smartphone access, making it easy to monitor your vehicle from another part of the world.
— Range: Virtually unlimited
— Remote: Two-way via smartphone
— Security: Varies based on remote starter
— True global range capability with GPS
— Lots of smart features
— Works with multiple cars
— Requires a separate remote starter
— Almost requires professional installation
We do a lot of things with our cell phones so it makes sense to have an app to track and receive information from your car. If you like the idea of controlling your car from your cell phone, the Viper VSM550 offers one of the best apps in the game and includes a lot of capabilities.
Perhaps the best feature of the Viper VSM550 is how it ties functionality to GPS. Using the app, you can start the car or lock and unlock the doors from just about anywhere in the world. The system also pairs with Viper’s premium features like Viper Motor Club, SmartPark Car Location, SmartSchedule, and other car connectivity features. Most of these features are included for a monthly fee, but if you frequently travel or leave your car parked for long periods of time, they can be well worth the expense.
Another thing to note is that a dedicated remote start system is not included as part of the package. You’ll either need to tie the Viper VSM550 to your existing remote start system or purchase one from Viper or another company. Like other Viper products, the VSM550 is highly complex to install and may be best left to professionals.
Best DIY: Compustar CS4900-S
Why It Made The Cut: If you want a system that makes DIY installation easier, the Compustar CS4900-S has a lot going for it, including two-way features at a reasonable price.
— Range: 2/3 mile
— Remote: Two way with security and remote start
— Security: None
— Oriented for DIY installation
— Compatible with just about any vehicle
— Diesel engine safe
— Lacks the bells and whistles of other remote start systems
— Does not include an alarm system
Most remote car starters are a pain to install and almost need to be left up to a professional. However, if you’re determined to do the work yourself, the Compustar CS4900-S may be your best bet. You’re still going to have to splice wires and make a variety of connections, but it’s a more straightforward setup than other remote start systems.
The CS4900-S’ operation is straightforward as well. Four buttons control the ability to lock, unlock, start, or open the trunk. One nice feature is a light-up icon that displays when you are out of range. The range is about two-thirds of a mile, putting it in about the middle of the pack. But it’s an honest range and your vehicle will start in a building or even when obstacles block it from view.
The key tradeoff for the ease of installation is the CS4900-S lacks an LCD screen or anything that provides a “wow” factor. It also doesn’t have a built-in alarm system or starter interrupt. But it is a quality system that covers the basics and works extremely well.
Best for Diesel: Compustar CS7900-AS
Why It Made The Cut: This remote starter’s intuitive fob and versatile compatibility make it a great pick for diesel engines.
— Range: 2/3 mile
— Remote: Two-way with security and remote start
— Security: Dual-stage shock sensor and alarm
— Compatible with just about any vehicle or engine type
— Intuitive, easy to use fob
— Includes CM900AS(blade ready) control module
— Complex installation and confusing instructions
Many remote starters are not compatible with diesel engines. That may seem strange on the surface, but diesel engines have different starting requirements than gasoline engines. The Compustar CS8700-AS is a two-way model that’s tailored to work with diesel engines in addition to gas and hybrid vehicles. The package includes a remote start with an alarm bundle, a 2-way interactive LCD remote, and a backup four-button remote.
The CS7900AS-BL has a 2/3 mile range and can unlock the doors and pop the trunk in addition to the remote start function. It includes a CM900AS/BLADE-AL control module with bypass, which is almost a must-have to override the starter-interrupt feature on modern cars. The alarm includes an impact sensor, shock sensor, siren, and two-way alarm notifications. Additionally, you can add additional modules for door, hood, and trunk sensors to monitor against vehicle intrusion.
There are a number of complaints about the complex wiring installation and confusing instructions. But the challenge with modern cars is bypassing the anti-theft and starter interrupt systems. This is where the BLADE-AL comes in handy because it simplifies setting up the bypass. It’s still a difficult process but easier than some systems on the market.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Remote Car Starter
Buying the best remote car starter isn’t as simple as going to the store and picking out the one you like. There are a few things to consider first:
The range specifies how far away you can start or lock your car. Many remotes will work from a half-mile away or more. That’s overkill for most people, but you still want to consider the furthest distance you would expect it to work, either from home, your workplace, or when running errands.
The most common types of remotes include ones with standard buttons and ones with an LCD screen, but there are also other things to consider:
One-Way Remote: A one-way remote is only capable of sending a signal to your car but cannot receive signals. This type of remote is usually the cheapest and will work to start the car, unlock the doors, and pop the trunk.
Two-Way Remote: A two-way remote works the same as a one-way remote to transmit signals to your car, but it can also receive signals. This feature comes in handy if you want to get info on your car to determine if it’s running, the interior temperature, or security status.
Cutoff Switch or Override
An override or cutoff switch is important if you want to bypass or disable the remote start or other features. Reasons for overriding the remote start and other features include if you’re valet parked or your car is in for repairs.
Most remote start systems are intended to work with cars equipped with a gasoline engine and automatic transmission. If your vehicle runs on diesel or has a manual transmission you’ll need to find a compatible remote starter.
Q: How much do remote car starters cost?
Most remote starters cost between $100 to $150. To have a remote starter installed costs between $300 and $400 for most cars, including the remote starter and installation/labor.
Q: How do remote car starters work?
Remote car starters use a radio frequency to transmit a signal from the key fob to a switch connected to the car’s ignition. When you press the start button on the fob, it sends a signal to the switch to start the car.
Q: Will installing a remote car starter void my warranty?
If the remote starter is installed properly, it will not void the car’s warranty.
Q: Are remote starters worth it?
In addition to the benefits mentioned in this review, many people feel remote starters are beneficial to your vehicle’s engine, helping it warm up before driving in cold weather. This is especially true with turbocharged or diesel engines.
A remote starter is an inexpensive way to add luxury and convenience to your life. However, installation may be best left up to a professional installer due to the complicated wiring and bypass switches. But even with professional installation, most people can save money with an aftermarket remote start system as opposed to one installed by a car dealer.
We think the Viper 5706V is the top pick for its features and all-around versatility, but we also recommend the Avital 4105L for anyone who wants a basic inexpensive option. Both the Compustar remote starters are good options for diesel engines. The Compustar CS4900-S is the more basic option, while the Compustar CS7900-AS includes more features and an alarm system.
Regardless of which one you choose, make sure it includes the features that are important to you and is compatible with your vehicle.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.