Car owners who live in areas where there’s cold weather know how inconvenient it is sitting in a frozen car waiting for it to warm up. That is unless you have a remote starter on your vehicle. In the most basic sense, a remote starter allows you to start your vehicle’s engine remotely, this way you can warm up your car and its interior before getting inside. It also works great if you live in warm weather climates, allowing you to cool off your seats and cabin before getting on your way.
While some new vehicles come equipped from the factory with some form of remote starting, most vehicles leave the dealership lot without the convenience. Luckily there are plenty of aftermarket options to serve your needs if a remote starter sounds appealing to you.
Along with being able to remotely start your car, some kits will serve as alarm systems, allowing you to lock/unlock your doors remotely, pop the trunk, and more.
If you’re in the market for a remote starter system, take a look at our list of the 10 best kits currently available. To learn more about remote starter systems, refer to our table of contents.
Updated on 12/17/2020 with new product recommendations!
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: Viper Responder LC3 Two-Way Remote Start and Alarm System (5706V)
- 2. Best on a Budget: Viper One-Way Remote Car Starter (4105V)
- 3. Compustar Two-Way Remote Start and Alarm Bundle (CS7900-AS)
- 4. Avital Remote Start System (4103LX)
- 5. Crimestopper Cool Start Two-Way Remote Start System (RS7-G5)
- 6. Compustar One-Way Remote Start and Keyless Entry (CS920-S)
- 7. EASYGUARD Remote Starter Kit (EC002NS)
- 8. Prestige Two-Way LCD Remote Start & Alarm (APS997Z)
- 9. Crimestopper Car Alarm with Remote Start (SP-402)
- 10. Avital One-Way Remote Start System (4105L)
- What is a Remote Starter?
- One Way vs. Two Way
- What You Need to Know about Remote Starter Systems
1. Editor's Pick: Viper Responder LC3 Two-Way Remote Start and Alarm System (5706V)
If you have ever been in the market for a car alarm, you have likely heard of Viper. The company also offers a few remote starter options, including the Responder LC3 which is a two-way remote start and alarm system. Boasting an impressive 1-mile range, this kit’s primary remote features a large LCD with an onboard lithium-ion battery with micro USB recharging. The system also includes a one-way long range remote.
Although expensive, the remote allows you to command and monitor your vehicle unlike any other kit on the market. Along with clear text labels on the large LCD screen, there’s Priority User Interface that uses five buttons to control 24 functions. When in remote start mode, the Responder LC3 will display temperature if Active Temp Check has been selected. This way, you can see the actual temperature of your vehicle’s interior before trying to get inside.
Other features incorporated into this system include D2D Serial Data Port, Virtual Tach, Flex Relays Onboard for Remote Start and Light Flash, Control Center, and Priority User Interface and Features, which includes SmartStart, Timer Start, Runtime Reset, TempCheck, and Silent Mode2 siren-less alarming modes.
2. Best on a Budget: Viper One-Way Remote Car Starter (4105V)
An entry-level system from Viper is its one-way Remote Car Starter. This is a remote start and keyless entry system designed to work on fuel injected, diesel, and hybrid vehicles, but only equipped with an automatic transmission. This kit comes with a pair of four-button one-way transmitters that work up to 1,500 feet away. The remote also allows you to lock and unlock your vehicle, as well as arming and disarming a factory security system in most cars. With two auxiliary channels, you can add other functions such as opening your trunk or lowering your windows.
For added versatility, this remote start is compatible with Viper’s SmartStart module, which allows you to use your smartphone to start your car without any limitations on range. For added security, the transmitters use a clone-safe, code-hopping technology.
3. Compustar Two-Way Remote Start and Alarm Bundle (CS7900-AS)
Boasting a 3,000-foot max range, this package is a two-way remote start and alarm bundle from Compustar. The CS7900-AS includes a two-way interactive LCD remote, the CM600 control module, shock sensor, siren, and LED. This will allow you to lock and start your vehicle from a distance, with the remote providing visual and audible cues when commands are sent successfully.
With this system, you’re able to add door, hood, trunk, and impact sensors all around your vehicle for added security. If there is a breach, the LCD remote will let you know what’s going on near and around your vehicle. The alarm siren is nice and loud, rated at over 105dB.
Like most remote starter and alarm bundles, this kit should be installed by a professional unless you really know your way around wiring.
4. Avital Remote Start System (4103LX)
This is a remote start with keyless entry system that includes two remote transmitters with dedicated AUX outputs. Although a bypass module is needed for installation, this kit does use Virtual Tach, which eliminates the need for a tach wire in most installations. Each remote can also be used to lock, unlock, and pop the trunk in addition to being a remote start.
Panic mode on this system can sound the alarm and flash your parking lights, while valet mode will not arm the security system with the remote transmitter. Like other remote start systems, it’s highly recommended for a professional to install this kit, especially since a bypass module is needed.
5. Crimestopper Cool Start Two-Way Remote Start System (RS7-G5)
Capable of working up to 3,000 feet away is Crimestopper’s Cool Start Two-Way Remote Start System. This system is a two-way FM/FM paging remote engine starting system that uses a two-way rechargeable LCD transmitter and a one-way sidekick transmitter to operate. The two-way transmitter features a brushed aluminum and titanium finish, along with a standard USB and wall charger. On the LCD pager, there is an out-of-range notification along with a remote start run time countdown. The display also has notifications for real time confirmation of lock, unlock, and trunk pop.
Other features on this system include twin data ports, tachometer sensing, horn honk, and extra auxiliary outputs through data when used with a data module. This remote starter kit is compatible with manual transmissions, diesel engines, and OEM remotes.
Crimestopper also offers 1-way kits for 1,500- and 2,000-feet ranges.
6. Compustar One-Way Remote Start and Keyless Entry (CS920-S)
If you’re looking for another budget option, consider Compustar’s CS920-S, which is a one-way remote start and keyless entry system. This kit comes with a pair of one-way remotes with four-buttons each and works through the CM900 control module. Compatible with diesel engines, the CS920-S has a 1,000-foot max range, which is a bit limited compared to other options.
With this system, you’ll be able to remotely start your vehicle, lock and unlock your doors, and also access a pair of auxiliary outputs for power sliding door control using a combination of buttons. Valet mode, horn honks, and passive/active arming functions can be turned on and off using other button combinations. One thing to note, the CS920-S is only compatible with automatic and CVT transmission vehicles only.
Compustar provides a one-year warranty with this system.
7. EASYGUARD Remote Starter Kit (EC002NS)
A comprehensive, but expensive solution is offered by EASYGUARD with its EC002 system. This multi-function car alarm system features PKE-passive keyless entry, push start button, remote engine start, and touch password entry backup. It’s a universal package that will fit most vehicles on the market and can help make an older vehicle feel more modern. Some vehicles will require a bypass module for installation, and diesel vehicles may require an extra timer delay switch.
The PKE-passive keyless entry system will automatically unlock a car door when the key fob is within three to six feet. It will also automatically lock the doors when the key fob is six to nine feet away from the vehicle.
Each kit includes two transmitters equipped with three buttons (arm/panic mode, start button/trunk release, disarm) each along with an LED indicator. There is even a place to put a spare key blade.
If you’re looking for a package that offers more than just remote start, this is a great kit.
8. Prestige Two-Way LCD Remote Start & Alarm (APS997Z)
An affordable, two-way remote start system with an alarm is offered by Prestige. With this kit, you’ll receive a five-button, two-way LCD confirming transmitter and a five-button, one-way transmitter. Prestige claims up to a one-mile operating range, which is impressive. You’ll get fairly standard features such as automatic arming, automatic locking, and illuminated entry, along with multiple vehicle control and remote keyless entry.
The system includes a multi-tone mini siren, starter interrupt, and dual stage shock sensor with city mode. A total of 11 NOC outputs and 19 control options are available, along with four auxiliary outputs with 10 control options. It’s also Carlink ready if you want to control everything from your smartphone. Programmable features include 24-hour time start mode, cold temperature start mode, two- or four-hour automatic start mode, and even a parking meter countdown timer mode on the LCD transmitter.
9. Crimestopper Car Alarm with Remote Start (SP-402)
Another offering from Crimestopper is an affordable all-in-one alarm system that features remote start, keyless entry, and engine disable. This package comes with two 5-button transmitters sporting a stylish brushed aluminum and titanium silver finish. Operable up to 2,300 feet away, this is a 1-way system that includes a dual-stage shock sensor, starter kill output, and a 25-watt single-tone siren.
This kit is packed with the latest in remote start technology, such as tachometer sensing or tachless sensing modes, and has a 2-way data port for an easy connection to a data module for installation. Programmable features include remote panic protection, arm and disarm chirps for passive and active arming mode, car jak protection, as well as auto lock and unlock.
For added versatility, this kit can be converted to a 2-way system with the addition of an antenna and 2-way remote pager.
10. Avital One-Way Remote Start System (4105L)
If you only want a remote start system and don’t care about having an alarm, take a look at this recommendation from Avital. It’s a straightforward, basic system that includes two four-button remotes and the company claims they have up to a one-and-a-half mile range. The key fobs allow you to lock, unlock, pop your trunk, and remotely start your vehicle, as you’d expect.
The system also has outputs for optional horn and starter kill/anti-grind relays, and it’s Directed SmartStart compatible. If you’re really savvy, you can use Bitwriter to program and configure the system.
Keep in mind that this is for the remote starter only and you’ll likely want to get a professional to install it.
What is a Remote Starter?
In the most basic sense, a remote starter will allow you to start your vehicle remotely, without having to physically get near or inside your vehicle and turning a key. Remote starters are handy when you want to warm up your vehicle prior to entering, or even cool it down on a real hot, sunny day. For this to work, remote starter kits feature a wireless starting device that must be installed in your vehicle. That wireless starting device is equipped with a radio receiver that waits for a signal from a transmitter (remote). Some newer remote starter kits are even compatible with a smartphone app, allowing you to use your phone to start your car from any distance.
If you’re in the market for a remote starter, you’ll notice that several kits will come with additional features such as a security system, or a keyless entry system. These packages are great if you’re looking to add an alarm to your car or some form of security system if your vehicle didn’t already come with one.
One Way vs. Two Way
When shopping, you may notice that many of these systems are labeled as one-way or two-way systems. One-way systems are more affordable because they’re only capable of sending a signal from the key fob to the starter receiver that has been installed in the vehicle. Essentially, one-way systems don’t receive information back from the vehicle, which means it can only receives signals.
Knowing that, you can probably guess what two-way systems are. These more expensive kits also receive information from the vehicle, so they can keep you updated when certain functions are active. In the most basic form, this could be LED lights providing updates on a remote, while some kits have LCD displays that can send messages or even imagery to let you know the status of your car.
At the end of the day, it’s really up to you on whether you want to spend extra for a two-way system. Two-way alarm systems will notify you if your alarm has been triggered, or if the doors, hood, or trunk have been opened. This extra layer of security may be important to you.
What You Need to Know about Remote Starter Systems
When you’re shopping for a remote starter kit, there are a few things to keep in mind. For starters, you’ll need to determine whether or not you want to purchase a security system with your remote starter kit. There are several options for standalone remote starter kits, which are extremely basic and simply add the functionality of being able to start your vehicle remotely. If your car already has a security system, this may be your best option.
Pay close attention to make sure a particular kit or system is compatible with your car. Some remote starter kits won’t work on vehicles with manual transmissions, or diesel vehicles. You’ll need something that’s compatible with your car.
The most important factor is to keep in mind that it’s highly recommended to have your remote starter kit installed by a professional. This is especially true if you’re purchasing an alarm system package, as they are fairly complicated and requires extensive wiring knowledge.
Speaking of alarm system kits, you may be wondering if there are any benefits to purchasing an alarm system without a remote starter. An obvious answer to this would be whether or not you need a remote starter—if you don’t, then you can save some money and just simply purchase an alarm. But if you find that the price of a particular system is comparable with a product that includes a remote starter, you may be wondering if there are any cons to adding it on.
To answer this, you need to be aware that remote starters add complexity to an alarm system, and this could affect how much it costs to install a particular kit. In fact, some installers may not even be willing to install a remote starter on your car. In addition, there’s naturally a higher chance of something failing with the added remote starter. In other words, if you know for a fact you’ll never use the remote starter, you’re better off purchasing an alarm system without one.
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