The 6 best remote car starters in 2024

While some modern vehicles come standard with remote start features, it’s still relatively uncommon. That’s a shame because if you live somewhere where cold weather, snow, and ice are frequent concerns, a remote car starter is one of the best auto accessories you can have. If you’re not familiar with them, a remote car starter works similarly to a key fob, except it will actually start your car from a distance instead of just unlocking the doors or trunk. That means you can start your car from the warm comfort of your home or office before venturing out. If you live somewhere hot, you can even start your car and let the AC run for a little bit. You’ll never enter a freezing cold or scorching hot vehicle again.

The best remote car starters have long ranges, replaceable batteries, and other handy features — but how do you know which is best for you? We’ve compiled a list of the best car starters in a range of prices and features. Keep in mind that while you can install some yourself, some will require a professional.

The best remote car starters in 2024

  • Buy the if you want to remotely control your vehicle with your smartphone.
  • Buy the if you want an easy-to-install and DIY-friendly kit.
  • Buy the if you’re on a tight budget but still want excellent features.
  • Buy the if you don’t like any of the other options.
  • Buy the for the best wireless range sans mobile connectivity.
  • Buy the if you want a feature-rich remote starter kit.

Viper VSM550 SmartStart Pro

Best smartphone-compatible kit

Viper VSM550 SmartStart Pro remote starter kit with packaging
Viper

Specs:

  • Range: Anywhere
  • Paging: 4G LTE/3G in the United States, Mexico, and Canada
  • Price: ~$200

These days, everything is controlled or interactive via smartphones and mobile devices, so it makes a lot of sense that you’d want a remote start system that you can control on your phone. Cue the Viper VSM550 SmartStart Pro, which also offers on-demand location sharing, speed alerts for the installed vehicles, and a lockdown alert to detect unwanted movement in, say, a parked vehicle. The speed alert is great if you’re letting your teenager borrow the car — you can see exactly how fast they’re going. Install is fairly easy and it stealthily mounts under the dash, out of view. The most interesting feature of this system is that there’s no effective range limit. You can remotely access your vehicle anywhere you have mobile connectivity via 4G LTE or 3G networks.

Compustar CS925-S

Best easy-install kit

Compustar CS925-S remote starter kit with packaging
Compustar

Specs:

  • Range: 1,500 feet
  • Paging: One-way communication
  • Price: ~$150

This easy-to-use remote starter also offers keyless entry, locking-unlocking and alarm-disarming features, and a trunk release. It’s diesel-engine safe, so it works with a wide variety of vehicles, including trucks, and the system itself is water-resistant, so safe to use in all weather conditions.

Clifford 4105X

Best on a budget

Clifford 4105X remote starter kit with packaging
Clifford

Specs:

  • Range: 1/4 mile
  • Paging: One-way communication
  • Price: ~$70

While affordable, don’t be fooled by its lower price tag. The Clifford 4104X remote start system is still incredibly capable and feature-rich. For example, it’s SmartStart compatible, which means you can [optionally] start your vehicle using a smartphone app. Additional features include keyless entry, onboard remote start relays, separate ESP2 and D2D ports, and two multi-button remotes. While it has no alarm feature, you can honk your vehicle’s horn remotely to locate it or warn off strangers.

Avital 5105L

Another great remote starter option

Avital 5105L remote starter kit with packaging
Avital

Specs:

  • Range: 1,500 feet
  • Paging: One-way communication
  • Price: ~$84

Supremely affordable yet rich in features, the Avital system boasts two remotes, keyless entry, a dedicated trunk release, and 1,500 feet of range. It also improves vehicle security thanks to the Fault-proof starter interrupt, which stops thieves from hot-wiring your car, and a Revenger siren that sounds a loud alarm when the impact sensor has triggered unnecessarily.

Viper 5706V

Best wireless range

Viper 5706V
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Specs:

  • Range: 1 mile
  • Paging: Two-way communication
  • Price: ~$230

Viper has become the default aftermarket system for those looking to upgrade a car’s security or remote-activated functions. The company’s esteemed reputation means you’ll have to fork over a chunk of change for its latest remote starter system, but it’s often worth the cost.

The Viper 5706V, or Responder LC3, offers a maximum range of 1 mile or 4 meters, two-way communication, door and trunk triggers, a rechargeable remote, valet mode, an in-car vehicle temperature display, the SmartStart app, and dual-car integration (you can use one remote for two cars). This version has a 20% bigger LED display than its predecessors, so you can’t miss the new Priority icons. The in-vehicle temperature display lets you know what to expect inside the car before you even leave the house. You can also extend your car’s runtime to warm up or cool down the cabin based on the temperature readings. The extended runtime feature gives you a three-minute warning before shutting off should you turn it on and forget.

Audiovox APS997E

Best feature-packed kit

Audiovox APS997E remote starter kit transmitters
Audiovox

Specs:

  • Range: 2,500 feet
  • Paging: Two-way communication
  • Price: ~$122

The installation for this remote starter kit from Audiovox is a bit more involved, so you might consider hiring a professional service if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself. Otherwise, once set up, it’s intuitive and comes with a bevy of excellent features. The 2,500-foot maximum operating range, for instance, is much more forgiving than comparable systems. You also get two or four-hour automatic starting modes, a parking meter count-down time on the LCD transmitter, remote panic for all modes, a 24-hour timed start mode, and a long list of security features like last-door arming, a multi-tone siren and intrusion alerts with memory support. You can remotely control the headlights or use keyless entry, a remote trunk release, and much more. This system is compatible with hybrid vehicles, and you can connect the transmitter to multiple vehicles at a time. Audiovox pulled no punches here.

How we chose these remote car starters

Before we begin, there are a few things you need to know. Remote starters are not recommended for vehicles with manual transmissions, as the wiring required is not safe. Moreover, some states have laws in place against idling vehicles or unnecessary engine idling, which means that a remote start could potentially get you in trouble if you leave the engine running for too long. Make sure you know the local laws in your state before installing a system.

Finally, while you can install many of these kits yourself, the wiring process can be complicated so you may be better off hiring a professional install service to do it for you. Most dealerships will help you install remote starter kits for a fee. But you may be able to find a local auto repair or maintenance shop that will install the system, too.

What to consider when choosing a remote starter kit

Here are the common factors you should look at when choosing a system for your vehicle:

Transmission Type

A one-way transmission merely sends a signal to the vehicle to start it, which is great and works fine. However, a two-way signal will also send a return signal back to the transmitter to let you know the car engine is running. It’s not necessary, but that can take a lot of guesswork out of the equation. The trade-off is that two-way transmission systems are generally more expensive.

Remote Type

Every remote starter kit will come with one or two remotes, but they can differ in form and function. Most are basic, with a few buttons to start the car, unlock the doors, or pop the trunk. Others are more advanced with a display that reveals more information, like interior temperatures, engine runtimes, and more. Consider which type of remote you prefer and what kind of information you’d like to see at a glance before picking out a remote starter kit. There are even kits that allow you to operate your vehicle from a smartphone — like the on our list.

Security Features

As you may have surmised by now, not all remote starter kits are created equal. Some include additional security features to prevent the car from being hotwired, alarms triggered by motion or unexpected access, and remote alerts, like the option to sound the horn. This may not be necessary if your vehicle already includes these features and they’re accessible from your standard key fob. Nevertheless, it’s something to consider when selecting a remote starter kit.

Signal Range

Outside of systems that tap into mobile networks, the signal range determines the wireless capabilities of the remote starter system and usually ranges from about 30 feet at the low end to over three miles at the high end. Believe it or not, factor remote start systems tend to have a much more limited range, anywhere from 30 to 80 feet. That facilitates an upgrade if you want to be able to control your car from even further away. After-market remote starter kits also tend to include a lot more features, like security modes, advanced remotes with displays, and smart sensors.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

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