The 10 Best Remote Start Systems

We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Commuters in snowy climates often dread walking down the driveway in the morning. When hot coffee and mittens just won’t cut it, turn to one of these remote car starters. Beyond heating up the vehicle before you get in, many also come with handy additional functions, like trunk release, carjack protection, smartphone connectivity, and defroster control. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work.

10. Crimestopper SP-402

Featuring nearly indestructible titanium buttons and a sophisticated silver finish, the Crimestopper SP-402 can also interface with your smartphone, so you can see and control the status of the car from your device, and its data port can run one way or two.

  • Dual phase shock sensor
  • Includes carjack protection
  • Instructions are confusing

Brand Crime Stopper
Model SP-402
Weight 2.9 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Compustar CS800-S

The Compustar CS800-S is user-friendly, and includes everything you need for a swift setup. This is a universal kit that will work with all cars, the buttons are all well-labeled, and it’s dependable – the range never wavers and the fobs function consistently.

  • Comes with mini carabiners
  • Remotes are bulletproof
  • Minimal programmable features

Brand Compustar
Model NATAL-MR-PN-8738253
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

8. Viper 4105v

The mall parking lot will no longer be an issue with the vehicle finder on the Viper 4105v. With the push of a button, the headlights can flash 5 times up to 1,500 feet away. You can also program up to two additional functions, like trunk release, using the extra channels.

  • Panic mode can connect to horn
  • Instructions are not comprehensive
  • Automatic transmissions only

Brand Sound of Tri-State
Model pending
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Crimestopper RS4-G5

The brushed metal on the remotes of the Crimestopper RS4-G5 won’t chip or break, and it offers 31 programmable options, so you can fully customize settings like alarm sensitivity. It also boasts a 2-way data port for an easy module hook-up, all for a low price.

  • Delayed start feature
  • Range of up to 2000 feet
  • Can be programmed for multiple cars

Brand Crime Stopper
Model RS4-G5
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

6. Easyguard EC003

The Easyguard EC003 locks the door automatically when you’re beyond 2 meters away, which is helpful if you’re the forgetful sort. This system is a bit more complicated than some others, so you’ll need a professional to get it set up for you.

  • Works with manual transmissions
  • Tries 3 times if car won’t start
  • Instructions are difficult to follow

Model ec003
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Avital 4103LX

If you’re just darting inside for a minute and want to keep the car warm, the Avital 4103LX has a special mode to let the engine remain running without the key in the ignition. This unit can also be bundled with a Start-X system for smartphone control.

  • Comes with two remotes
  • Lights flash with alarm
  • Some vehicles require bypass parts

Brand Directed Electronics
Model pending
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Audiovox APS997C

The Audiovox APS997C boasts a powerful antenna, and a valet switch that lets parking attendants move and lock the car as needed without worrying about alarms sounding. Plus, it offers a 24-hour start mode, allowing you to schedule your car to turn on at set times.

  • Cold temperature program
  • Lights up if someone enters your car
  • Alert sirens are too quiet

Brand Audiovox APS997C
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Viper 5706V

The pocket-sized remotes on the Viper 5706V fit on a key ring, and are equipped with a clear LCD screen to indicate what mode it’s in. It even has an active temp check that tells you the climate inside your car, so you’ll know when it’s warm enough to leave the house.

  • Alarms are very loud
  • Alerts you if door is open
  • Silent alarm signals remote only

Brand Viper 5706V
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Direct Electronics Python 5303P

The Direct Electronics Python 5303P will signal your remote if the vehicle is being tampered with, so you’ll know about the incident even if you are too far away to hear your alarm. It also tells you whether or not the doors are safely locked.

  • Includes an alarm clock
  • Can turn the defroster on or off
  • Window control sensors available

Brand Directed Electronics
Model 5303P
Weight 5.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Viper 5906V

The Viper 5906V features a remote with an OLED screen, so the picture is bright and clear. It boasts a one-mile operating range, and the buttons respond instantly, so you won’t need to press them again and again in an emergency.

  • Fob charges via usb
  • Very easy to install
  • Signal can go through walls

Brand Viper
Model 5906V
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

How Remote Starters Work

Remote starters, also sometimes referred to as remote keyless ignition systems, are rather complex systems that allow a person to start their car without having to be physically inside of the vehicle. Most can work from some distance away. For example, a person may be able to start their car from inside of their home or office, depending on the system and the strength of the signal.

As when you start your car normally, starting a car with a remote keyless ignition system will also turn on all of the settings you left on when last exiting your car. If you left the stereo and air conditioner on, they will also turn on when you remotely start you car. The same can be said of the heater. Some newer models include options to control these systems remotely. This makes them ideal for locations that experience extreme temperatures.

Remote start systems work in much the same way as a keyless entry system, car alarm remote, or even a television remote. When a button on the remote control is depressed, it sends a signal to a receiver box installed inside of the vehicle. This signal frequency is generally encrypted to prevent tampering.

The receiver box is connected to the car’s starter wire, brake wire, power wire, ignition switch, ignition wire, tachometer, and ground wire. All of these systems or wires are involved in some way in the ignition of a car. Some remote start systems may also be connected to a car’s electronic door locks, as well. When the box inside of the vehicle receives the signal, it supplies power to the car’s ignition system exactly replicating what happens when a driver turns the key.

Most keyless ignition systems are connected to the tachometer so they can monitor a car’s RPM. This allows them to verify that a car has started, in which case they stop supplying power to the starter. This ensures they do not grind the starter once ignition has taken place. Some systems will provide visual confirmation of ignition, like blinking the lights, so that the vehicle owner knows the car has started successfully. Systems that are connected to a car’s electronic locks will lock the doors as a theft prevention measure.

The History Of Remote Car Starters

The electronic ignition system for automobiles was invented in 1915 by Charles Kettering, but it would be much later that a remote ignition system was developed. In fact, the first mention of a remote starting system is from 1966. It was called the Model 100 and sold by a Winnipeg-based company named A.A. Auto Matic Products Limited. It was comprised of an under-hood module, a female receptacle, and a house-bound starter switch box that included 30 feet of cable. There were also a few other various components, such as a secondary vacuum control and electrical splice pieces. Unfortunately, the exact procedure of how it worked once the switch was flipped seems to have been lost to obscurity at some point in the past.

The first patent for a remote automobile ignition system wasn’t issued until 1971. It lists Giuseppe Re Baratelli and Theodore J. Galvani as the creators. Before they received their patent, however, it was featured in the November 1968 issue of Popular Science. It was touted as being able to start a car from 500 yards away. At the time, it sold for $595, which equates to over $4,000 in today’s money. It certainly wasn’t cheap and was priced out of range for most home consumers.

In 1983, American Motors started manufacturing remote starters, which were included in the Renault Alliance. It is cited as being the first production car to have come with a remote starter option. In 1989, GM included remote starters in a number of their models like the Pontiac Grand Prix, Buick Regal, and Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Since that time, they have gained in popularity, and now there are even models available that can be controlled via smartphone.

What To Consider When Buying A Remote Ignition System

Most aftermarket remote car starters are universal. This means they are designed to work with practically any vehicle, but it is still smart to double check that the system you are considering is compatible with your vehicle model and year. For example, older, carbureted engines require models with fuel delivery controls, while newer vehicles often require a system that is compatible with their anti-theft module.

Other things to consider are the additional options that a system may or may not come with, as well as its various features. Remote car systems are available with varying ranges. Some may be able to work in ranges upwards of one mile, while lower-cost systems may only work in a 200-foot radius. If you generally park your vehicle far away from your home, it is wise to choose a model that accommodates the distance.

If you share your vehicle with anyone, there are systems available with two or more access control fobs. These allow each user to have a remote for the system. Some kits may be expandable so that you can add additional fobs at any time. This can be a smart choice if you have a child that will soon reach driving age and you plan on giving them their own set of keys at some point in the future. There are also systems convenient for those on a tight budget. They allow a vehicle owner to start with a relatively basic and low-cost system, and then add features over time as their budget allows.

Ideally, one should always choose a system that comes with a tachometer monitor. Not only will this prevent the possibility of damaging the starter system by continuing to grind it after the vehicle has started, but it will also notify the remote starting system that the engine has not started. When this happens, a system that includes a tachometer monitor will attempt to re-start the engine.

Other features that one can consider are defroster and seat heater activation, car alarm control, keyless entry, car locating features, smartphone activation, and a two-way LCD key fob.