The parent company of BestCarAudio.com Magazine offers social media management services to car audio shops. As part of that service, we see the sorts of questions consumers ask on Facebook and Instagram. We’ve realized that consumers could use a little help to be more focused and save themselves and the store staff time. Let’s kick this off by talking about remote starter estimate questions.
Be Specific with Your Remote Starter Estimate Questions
By a long way, the most popular question we see on our clients’ social media is, “How much for a remote starter?” While this is a 100% valid question, it’s as open-ended as asking a car dealership, “How much does a new car cost?” or going to a grocery store and asking, “How much is food?” There are so many possible answers that assigning a single value is impossible. Let’s break down some of the considerations and provide some details that you ought to include in your inquiry.
Be Specific About Your Vehicle
Before the staff at the shop can even begin to narrow down the pricing on a remote car starter system, they need to know the year, make, model and trim level of your vehicle. The trim level is vital as some basic models use keys for the ignition system while others are push-to-start with a keyless entry system. How the remote car starter interfaces with the vehicle changes dramatically depending on which system your vehicle uses. Always include that information in a request for pricing on a starter. If possible, provide the 10th and 12th characters in the VIN code on your dash. This information confirms the manufacturing date, which can be beneficial in some instances as the vehicle model year may not align with the selling date of the car or truck.
Remote Car Starter Optional Features
Next, you’ll want to narrow down the features you want in the starter. If all you want is remote starting with door lock control, then you should specify that. If you want to be able to open the trunk or hatch from the remote, you should include that information. Most name-brand starter systems offer simple one-button remotes or multi-button remotes with additional features. The price of the system changes depending on the options.
You might be interested in adding a few features. Automatic low-temperature rear window defroster activation is very popular. If your vehicle has heated seats or a heated steering wheel, you may also want to include automatic activation of those features. Some starter systems can open the door automatically if you have a minivan with a power sliding side door. Automatic power window roll-up is another option that’s great in the summer. Make a short checklist of the features you want from the items above and include them in your email.
Remote Starter Range Is Vital to Reliable System Operation
The range is the distance between where you are when you press the button on a remote and where the vehicle is parked. For most remote starter manufacturers, the range is specified in feet or miles and as a maximum distance. You can expect about half to two-thirds of those published numbers in cities with interference from radio stations and buildings. If you live in the desert with nobody around, you’ll get a lot more range.
More important than the outright distance are obstacles. If you work in a large office tower or a manufacturing plant, the walls inside the building present a challenge for radio-frequency transmission. You might only be a few hundred feet from the vehicle, but you need a high-power remote transmitter to allow the signal to penetrate the walls. Be sure to spell out where you need the remote starter to work.
The next option regarding remotes is the choice of one-way or two-way communication. A one-way remote works like the remote for your television. You press the button, and it transmits a signal. The only way to know whether the vehicle received and executed the command request is to look at the vehicle. With a two-way remote, the remote start controller in the vehicle will send a message back to the remote to let you know the command has been executed. This response comes in the form of a beep and either a flashing LED or an icon on an LCD screen.
Smartphone Remote Car Starter Control Options
The last item is a smartphone interface. A smartphone interface service is a wise upgrade if you are concerned about range or want to track the vehicle’s location. These systems use cellular radio to relay commands from your Apple or Android smartphone to your vehicle and back. You could be at your desk high atop an office tower and still be able to remote start your vehicle that’s parked a block away. As long as you have access to the internet, you can be anywhere on the planet. If you’re sitting on the beach in the Bahamas and want to ensure that the doors on your car are locked, no problem!
Remote Starter Question Checklist
Here’s a basic list of the information you should provide in a request to a local specialty mobile enhancement retailer to obtain an accurate estimate on a remote car starter system:
- Vehicle year, make, model and trim level?
- Keyless entry and push-to-start ignition or key ignition?
- Does your vehicle have an automatic/CVT or manual transmission?
- Do you want remote trunk, hatch or tailgate release?
- Is there a button for trunk, tailgate or hatch release, or a lever?
- Do you want automatic rear window defrost activation?
- Do you want automatic heated steering wheel activation?
- Do you want automatic heated seat activation?
- Did your vehicle come with heated seats?
- Where do you park at home and work relative to the vehicle?
- Do you want one-way or two-way remotes?
- If you want a two-way remote, do you want LED or LCD?
- How many remotes do you want?
- Do you want a smartphone remote starter interface?
- Do you have both keys that came with the vehicle?
Choose Your Installer Carefully
One mistake we see frequently is consumers who’ve chosen a less-than-ideal shop to integrate the remote car starter into their vehicle. The process might be simple in some applications and only involve a few connectors or wires. Other vehicles might require more than a dozen wire-to-wire connections, including high-current, large-diameter wire connections for the starter solenoid and ignition. How they make these connections plays a significant role in the reliability of your vehicle and the remote car starter. You don’t want someone cutting and wrapping wires together with electrical tape, as these will eventually corrode and fail.
Likewise, how shops protect your vehicle is crucial. Do they use seat covers and floor mats? Do they put the vehicle on a battery charger while working on it? How much experience do they have removing trim panels from the dash and kick panels? Do they warm up cold vehicles before working on them?
The answers to these questions are best answered by visiting the shop. A few retailers have excellent websites explaining how they care for their clients’ vehicles. Do your research and never shop on price alone. You want the most reliable remote car starter system available, and while it might be the best value, it likely won’t be the lowest price. Buying the least expensive option will likely only cause trouble down the road.
Shop Wisely for a Remote Car Starter
If you’re asking a retailer for a remote starter quote online, keep the above questions in mind and provide as much information as possible. However, visiting a shop in person will tell you much more about whether you want them to work on your vehicle. Just as you’d never commission a piece of art before qualifying an artist’s capabilities or ask someone to design a home without seeing examples of their work, picking the best shop to install a car starter on your vehicle requires the same level of research.