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  • Remote start isn’t available for all vehicles. Cars built after the mid-2000s have dealer-manufactured remote-start systems available.
  • Remote-start systems cost around $50 to $100. With professional installation, you’re likely looking at paying between $250 and $400.
  • With remote start, you can slide into your car the minute you’re ready.

Remote start is a helpful feature found in modern cars. By allowing you to turn on your car from a distance, remote start can help warm up your vehicle and make it more comfortable to ride. But if your vehicle came without a remote start installed, can you add it after the fact?

Which Cars Can Have Remote Start Installed?

The good news is that you can add remote start to a car, but keep in mind that this feature isn’t available for all vehicles. In general, you’ll find that cars built after the mid-2000s have dealer-manufactured remote-start systems available. Official remote starters are often available for cars in this era and after, and you can likely bring your vehicle to the dealer to have them install one.

For cars built earlier, it’s a little trickier. There are aftermarket options for many older cars, but it’s best to enlist the help of a professional when buying and installing an aftermarket remote-start system. Attempting to do so yourself can damage your vehicle.

Keep in mind that remote start is a feature generally found in automatic transmission vehicles. The reason for this is that the last thing you want is to remote-start your car if it’s been left in gear. Aftermarket remote-start sets are available for some stick shift cars, but it’s best to avoid these entirely to be safe.

How Much Does Adding Remote Start Cost?

Remote-start systems alone can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 for the parts alone. With professional installation, you’re likely looking at paying between $250 and $400. The final price will ultimately depend on your vehicle’s make and model and the cost of labor in your area.

Advantages of Remote Start

Remote start was developed for the driver’s convenience. As a result, there are a number of advantages to adding remote start to your car.

Comfort and Convenience

While you shouldn’t leave your car idling too long, one of the primary advantages to adding remote start to your vehicle is the convenience and comfort it provides. The convenience is evident enough. With a click of a button, you can slide into your car the minute you’re ready, buckle up, and take off. With remote start activated, your car is set to go the moment you sit down.

Remote start is also especially handy in the winter months. By turning your vehicle on a few minutes before you step inside, you’re able to also turn on the heater. This ensures you a toasty welcome when it’s finally time to get behind the wheel.

Warmed Engine

The interior of your car isn’t the only thing warming up. By letting the engine run for a few minutes before you hit the road, you’re allowing it to warm the oil in its system. Cold oil is thicker and a cold engine runs a little harder than a warmed one. Once the engine is warmed up to its optimal operating temperature, it can run more easily because the oil flows better through the system.

Thawing Ice and Snow

The exterior of your vehicle also benefits from the warmth. Snow and ice that might’ve formed on the windshield and your headlights will fall off more easily if the vehicle is warmed up through remote start. This can be a big time saver if you’re in a rush to get on the road.

How Does Remote Start Work?

Remote start works by mimicking the engine starting sequence upon ignition. To use remote start, you need an entire complex system that includes a bypass module, a control module, a remote transmitter, and all the wiring that connects the different parts. The control module links to your starter mechanisms and ignition switch. It receives signals from the remote transmitter, which is either a physical fob or an app on your phone. From there, the control module can instruct the car to start, unlock, lock, and more.

Remote start is a whole system that needs to be installed properly to work well. That’s why we don’t advise adding remote start to your car yourself. The job is best left to the professionals who know how to add remote start to a car properly.

Remote-Start Tips and Tricks

Once you have remote start installed, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Don’t remote-start your vehicle if it’s parked in an enclosed space liable to trapping exhaust gases like carbon monoxide.
  • Don’t leave your vehicle idling for more than 30 minutes to avoid wasting gasoline and releasing more exhaust gases than necessary.
  • Take care of your remote-start key fob, and make sure it doesn’t get accidentally activated.
  • The warranty on your remote-start system will often depend on when you got it installed, whether upon your car’s purchase or later.
  • Many vehicles manufactured after 2016 actually come installed with an app-controlled remote start, and the system only needs activation based on the manufacturer’s telematics services.

Ultimately, whether remote start is worth it is up to you. Now that you know more about the system and its advantages, you can decide if it’s worth adding remote start to your car or if you can go without it.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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