When the temperature outside drops, it’s common for car and truck owners to want to warm their vehicles before driving off. Unfortunately, thieves know this is a great time of the year to steal vehicles idling in driveways and parking lots. Let’s look at how a remote car starter can make it safe and convenient to warm up your vehicle and prevent warm-up thefts.
What Is Warm-Up Theft?
In what police call a warm-up theft, the most common scenario is where a thief would steal your car or truck that you’ve started with the key and left it running. With the key in the ignition, your vehicle is prime picking for someone to hop in and drive away in it.
A question we saw the other day involved vehicles with keyless entry and push-to-start ignition systems. The person asked whether their car was safe if they had the key fob in the house. Unfortunately, once started, if a thief can get into the vehicle, they can drive off. If you can lock the doors with your key fob once you start it, that’s a huge step in keeping the vehicle safe.
Remote Car Starters and Vehicle Safety
Unlike starting your car or truck with a key, remote car starters are explicitly designed to keep your vehicle safe until you are ready to leave. When you press the start button on the remote or a smartphone app, a message is sent to the remote start controller in the vehicle. The system will start the engine and monitor the brake and clutch pedal. You unlock the doors with the provided remote when you want to drive away. The next step depends on the vehicle. You’ll put the key in the ignition and turn it to the run position for cars or trucks that still use a key. Then you can drive away. Vehicles with keyless entry systems vary in their operation. Some require you to press the start button, but many allow you to drive off with no additional interaction.
While the car is running under the control of the remote starter, the doors are locked. This simple security measure ensures that it’s just as difficult to enter the vehicle as when parked. As we mentioned, the starter system monitors the clutch and brake pedal. If someone pushes either pedal without the ignition being on (with the key or with the presence of the key fob), the engine will shut down immediately.
Some vehicles need to unlock the doors during the starting process. This process typically takes a few seconds. The doors will lock again once the vehicle starts. Theoretically, if a thief knows you start your truck at 8:05 every morning, they could open a door when they unlock. However, they won’t be able to steal the vehicle as the system continues to monitor the clutch and brake pedal. You can’t put a manual transmission into gear without the clutch. Similarly, you can’t move an automatic transmission from the park position without pressing the brake.
Additional Benefits of a Remote Car Starter System
Aside from allowing the engine to start warming, other features in most vehicles can be active automatically. Most high-quality remote car starters include a temperature sensor. If the starter system detects that it’s around freezing, it can automatically activate the rear window defrost, heated seats and a heated steering wheel. If your vehicle doesn’t have heated seats, adding them to most vehicles is typically straightforward for a reputable specialty mobile enhancement retailer.
Another option for many remote starters is to upgrade the system with security features. These include sensors that monitor the vehicle for impacts, motion, tilting or glass breakage. If you are worried about someone stealing a set of wheels or your catalytic converter, adding a security sensor is a good investment.
The Importance of Remote Starter Range
Depending on where you park your vehicle and the distance to your home, you may need a remote starter system that offers a lot of range. The range is the distance between you and the vehicle. Higher-power transmitters in the key fobs provide more range. While outright distance might not be critical, the ability of the signal to penetrate through building walls is often an issue. A starter system that offers 1,500 feet of range might not have enough power to successfully transmit a signal to a vehicle in a parking garage. What’s more likely a problem is that you might not be able to start the vehicle in your apartment or an office building. A system with 2 or 3 miles of range is a better choice.
Two-Way Remotes Confirm Starter Functionality
Another consideration when purchasing a remote starter is to choose remotes with two-way operation. Conventional one-way remotes broadcast a signal to the vehicle. You have no way of knowing whether the signal was received and executed. Two-way remotes also broadcast signals, but they will confirm that the command was received and executed by beeping and flashing an LED or an icon on an LCD screen. You’ll never have to wonder whether the vehicle is warming up if you have a two-way remote.
Is There a Safe Way to Warm a Vehicle without a Remote Car Starter?
If you haven’t invested in a remote car starter, is there a safe way to warm up your vehicle? If you have to leave a key in the ignition, use a second set of keys to lock the doors. You’re still at a much higher risk of someone breaking a window and stealing the vehicle.
Choose an Expert to Install Your Remote Start System
When shopping for a remote car starter, look for a facility with the best products and services. Finding this will usually mean you won’t pay the lowest price. However, here are a few things to think about: The technician working on your vehicle should fully understand how the starter system integrates into your specific vehicle. They should be able to test the function of the wiring to ensure that it matches what the hardware is looking for. They should use reliable electrical connection methods so that the starter and vehicle remain reliable. The starter hardware you purchase should have a good controller and remote warranty. The remotes should be, at the very least, weather-resistant and durable.
The shop should start the client qualification process by asking about your vehicle’s make, model, year and trim level. They will likely need to see the key or key fob to confirm whether there is any anti-theft technology already in the vehicle. Next, they should ask you where you park the vehicle at home, at work, and when you’re shopping or out for dinner. Using that information, they can suggest a remote solution with enough range to ensure that the system will start every time. Think about it: What good is a remote starter if it doesn’t work when you’re at work? You can learn a lot about a shop by the questions they ask. Be sure to look at examples of their work on their website and social media.
Make It Difficult To Steal Your Vehicle.
Don’t allow thieves to steal your vehicle. Invest in a high-quality remote car starter to ensure someone can’t hop in your car or truck and drive away. Check out our Dealer Locator to help find a shop near you.