We can’t count the number of times we’ve heard about someone calling a mobile enhancement retailer to get a price on a remote starter. This certainly seems like the logical first step. What most consumers don’t understand is that the performance and reliability of a remote starter system have as much to do with how the components are integrated into the vehicle as the hardware that you choose. Let’s talk about why it’s crucial to have an expert install your remote car starter.
Remote Car Starter Connections
If you have a typical vehicle from the early to mid-2000s, a remote starter system will need to be wired into the high-current wiring connected to your ignition switch. These wire connections include ignition, accessory, ground and start wires. The starter system will also need to control door locking and unlocking, connections to monitor the door pins, and at the very least, a wire to a tilt switch or hood pin in the front of the car. Newer vehicles require that the starter talks to the computers in your vehicle on the CAN data network, so connections to the CAN Hi and CAN Lo wires are also necessary. If any one of these connections isn’t both electrically robust and mechanically secure, it can affect the reliability of the starter system. Worse, in some cases, a poorly executed connection may negatively affect the reliability of your vehicle.
How these connections are executed is the focus of much debate. Twist-and-tape, soldering, crimp caps, butt connectors, T-taps and 3M Scotchlok connectors are some of the most popular options used to connect a wire from your starter system to your vehicle’s wire harness. All can work flawlessly, but when done incorrectly, all can cause problems.
A Remote Car Starter Purchase Analogy
If you wanted to buy a painting for the front hall or dining room in your house, would you randomly call art stores and ask them what their price was on a “piece of art”? With almost guaranteed certainty, whoever answered your call would invite you to visit their store and have a look at the artwork they have in stock.
Buying upgrades for your vehicle is no different. To get the right solution, you’ll need to talk with the retailer’s product specialist about where you park your vehicle at home or work so they can provide you with a remote solution that offers enough range. They will also need to confirm what hardware is required to integrate the starter system into the vehicle, so the year, make, model and trim level need to be checked. Cross-referencing the VIN is also required in some vehicles, where changes were made mid-year.
Most importantly, you’ll want to understand how the shop will take care of your vehicle while it’s in their possession. Do they use seat, steering wheel and fender covers? Do they put the vehicle battery on a charger while it’s in the bay? Most importantly, how do they secure hardware and make electrical connections to the vehicle? Will a module hang down from the dash with wires poking out everywhere, or will the installation look and perform like something that came with the vehicle from the factory? We can assure you that a properly installed high-quality remote car starter won’t come with the least expensive price in town. With that said, a Rembrandt or Van Gogh painting will fetch a pretty penny.
Examples of Poor Remote Starter Installations
The examples you see below clearly indicate that having an amateur upgrade your vehicle is a fool’s errand. Most examples are from retail shops that claim to be professionals. We know that many of these businesses are, at best, hobbyists installing remote starters for a living. That doesn’t make them professionals or experts.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth 10 million. Our friends at Sweet Sounds in Mankato, Minnesota, made a video to show just how wrong things can go when you choose the wrong shop.
Do Your Research and Reap the Rewards
If you have the urge to call a local mobile enhancement retailer to get a price on a car starter, stop. You aren’t doing yourself or your vehicle any justice by shopping based on price. You don’t know what remote you’ll get or have any inkling of how the system will be integrated into your car or truck. Take a drive and visit some shops. Ask to see examples of their work. Ask why they choose the products they offer. Invest the time to select the best, and you won’t have to deal with headaches.