Tired of sitting in your car in the cold, waiting for it to warm up? Or just want to hop in and go? A remote starter could be exactly what you and your vehicle need.

But how do you choose the right one? There are so many products out there! Thankfully, we’ve got the pros and cons to see what might work best for you and your ride. (And remember, installing aftermarket additions to your vehicle can result in changes in your insurance. Before making any decisions, be sure to check in with your insurer!)

What to do first

There are many options for remote starters out there — from the simple to the elaborate. To narrow down your choices and make a decision, first identify which features are most important. Do you simply want to start your vehicle? Or do you also want to include features like keyless entry, trunk unlocking, or even a two-way LED display?

Make sure the device has both proper range and transmitter power. (Range is the distance from which you can start the car.) While you likely won’t want to start your car from a mile away, you may end up trying to start it with walls, windows, buildings, or trees in the way. And that’s where transmitter power comes in. Think of transmitter power as a wireless signal. And you’ll want a lot of that to start your car amid any and all items blocking its path. Maybe you’re at the mall, or a baseball game, even on the ski slopes — if you’re taking the plunge to add on the remote starter, you’ll be glad to have one that works from wherever.

Pros and cons of buying a remote starter

As with any choice, weighing the pros and cons can help make your decision. Take a look at these to help you narrow down your decision.

Why you should buy a remote starter

There are some good reasons to get a remote starter. Live in a cold climate? Or a really hot one? Keep reading …

Comfort

One benefit of a remote starter is that your car will be toasty warm and defrosted before you even get in. Rather than scraping the windshield only to then sit in a cold car, you’ll be set to drive immediately.

On the flip side, if you live in a place that gets so hot the seats might burn the back of your legs when you sit down, being able to start up the car from a distance and preemptively cool it down could be a welcome change.

Peace of mind

Maybe you’re running a quick errand and have your dog with you. Or groceries in the backseat. A remote starter allows the car to stay running while locked — without the keys inside. This means that you can leave the car “on” without worrying about theft.

It’s a simple add-on

Thinking about installing some extras to make your old ride feel new again? If your vehicle didn’t come with a remote starter, or you didn’t add it right when you bought it, don’t worry. The device is an easy aftermarket installation. But just because it’s an easy add-on, doesn’t mean it’s low cost. Which brings us to the next section … the cons.

Reasons not to buy a remote starter

Cost

Installing anything aftermarket can be costly, and a remote starter is no exception. In this case, you’ll likely be paying for both the starter itself as well as the installation. Depending on year and model, these nifty devices can run from $200 to almost $1000. Advanced features will likely cost even more. There may be some less-pricey options out there, but experts advise against paying a deceptively low price as you could end up with a shoddy product or an incorrect installation.

If you do decide to get the remote starter, it’s worth the extra cost to have it professionally installed. It’s a complicated process, so don’t entrust the installation to just anyone — or try to do it yourself.

Environmental factors

There’s no denying that letting a car idle is bad for the planet. So, if you do use your remote starter to heat up or cool down your car, the best way to prevent unnecessary pollution is to know your vehicle. Figure out exactly how long it takes to defrost or cool down. And then don’t spend any unnecessary minutes burning gas without driving anywhere.

Fuel waste

Speaking of burning gas, wasting fuel while you warm up or cool down your vehicle will inevitably lead to spending more money at the pump. As with wanting to do right by the environment, you’ll also want to protect your pocketbook. So, know your car and maximize the idling without costing yourself too much in excess gas. Additionally, think about counteracting the wasted fuel with some simple hacks to save on gas.

Engine wear and tear

If you want to preserve the life of your vehicle for as long as possible, a remote starter may not be your best bet. Habitually turning on your car to cool or preheat it can make the engine work harder, which will lessen the car’s lifespan.

What’s best for you? 

If you decide to take the plunge, make sure you find out which aftermarket products your auto insurance may or may not cover.

And while you’re at it, see if you could be saving even more money on your car insurance. Get a free quote today.

Smart technology | Car tech

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about Hannah

Hannah Fairbanks is a freelance writer living in San Francisco with her husband and 2 daughters. When she’s not writing, you might find her reading, packing bento box lunches for her kids, and making sure she gets in at least 10,000 Fitbit steps a day.