A reader named Josh recently asked about remote starters:
“I’d really like to see some recommendations on a remote starter. I live in Minnesota and it gets a bit chilly up here. I am wondering if the Toyota remote starter or a third party (Viper, other?) is the best way to go in terms of range, usability, and features?”
I actually grew up in Minnesota, so I know exactly what he’s talking up in terms of “chilly” weather. 🙂 But now that I live in the Deep South, remote starters are one of the last things on my mind.
What I do know is this: The Toyota remote start system leaves a lot to be desired, so Josh is justified in his search for info on 3rd party solutions.
Based on reports from other owners, the range of the Toyota remote start system is quite short — on the order of 100 ft or less in open air. This isn’t particularly surprising given that the system uses the factory key fob which, as you’re likely aware, has rather limited range.
The other major complaint is that your Highlander shuts off when you unlock/open the door to get in after having started it remotely. This is (apparently) by design. Presumably, it’s a safety/security feature. But that certainly doesn’t make it any less annoying.
On the flip side, aftermarket remote starters typically offer much better range and typically don’t shut the engine down when entering the car. And many of these systems offer two-way communication so the fob will provide feedback on things like whether or not the car is running.
Then again… You may need to carry around a second fob on your keychain if you get an aftermarket remote start system. For some owners, this will be a worthwhile tradeoff. For others? Not so much.
As for which brand is best, I’m not really sure. As Josh noted, Viper is one fairly well known option. As far as I can tell, they have a great reputation. But I really don’t have much experience with this, so…
If you can provide any insight, please leave a comment below. Do you have a preferred brand? Which features are a “must have”? And is there anything in particular that prospective buyers should try to avoid?
P.S. As I was writing this, it occurred to me that the hot summers down in our neck of the woods would be just as good a reason to install a remote starter as the cold winters up north. Hmmm…