In this article: We'll review our top pick remote starter picks for your car, truck or SUV along with some of their key features, photos and more.

Some people might wonder why anyone would want a remote start. At first thought, it might seem like a useless option. At least for those who live in a mild climate all year round.

Then, it’s summer and you walk four blocks in the sweltering sun, only to find that the interior of your car feels like a blast furnace when you open the door. Your sweating, your child might be screaming.. You get the picture. With one of our recommended best remote starters, you could have started your car when you left the store and had the A/C blasting like a freezer by the time you got inside.

Or maybe it’s December and the snow just won’t stop falling, but you still have to go to work. Start your car from the kitchen with a remote car starter, and it’ll be warm as Grandma's house by the time you get down the driveway.
There are literally thousands of remote start systems on the market today. Prices vary from “Whoa, that’s cheap” to “OMG, who can afford that?” and every price point between. Identifying the best remote starter system for your car is a serious challenge. We did the hard work for you and narrowed the options down to only the best.

It should be noted that almost every installation will require additional components to function, but are vehicle-specific. Some remote start systems will require reprogramming of factory systems. Every remote start company out there recommends a professional installation. These systems involve complex wiring to function correctly. Improperly installed systems can malfunction in bizarre ways.

The following remote start systems are intended to provide remote start and other related features, but are not intended as a car alarm system. DIYers looking to add an alarm with remote start can check out CarAudioNow's Best Car Alarm Systems with integrated car alarm, keyless entry and remote start features – all in one!

  1. Best Overall Remote Car Start System: iDatastart HC4.5
  2. Runner Up, Best Remote Car Start: Viper LC3 4706V
  3. Simplistic Two Way Remote Start Choice: Python 4806P
  4. Best Low Cost Remote Starter: Prestige APS997Z
  5. Runner Up, Best Budget Remote Car Start: Crimestopper RS7-G5
  6. Best Remote Car Start for Easy Installation: Compustar CS4900-S

Best Overall Remote Car Start System

iDatastart HC4.5 Video Review & Install

Join us for an exclusive unbox and first look at the iDatastart HC4.5 remote starter in our latest video. We'll walk through the key features that make this kit a great choice and walk you through the installation process in a 2019 Toyota Tundra.

iDatastart HC4.5 Quick Review

The HC4.5 is the latest, flagship all-in-one remote start system from iDatastart. Announced in mid-2023, it's packed with all of the latest features – from smartphone compatibility, GPS/LTE compatibility (Drone X1 or X1MAX required), and much more. We unboxed and installed the HC4.5 in a Toyota Tundra, and based on our experience with it this is the most advanced and expandable unit we've tested thus far.

Key FOB Details

The HC4.5 comes with two separate 2-way controllers. The primary FOB is definitely the most advanced and stylish we've tested in the aftermarket world. The color TFT LCD screen is elegant and easy to read all of the details about your car, no matter what time of the day it is. This includes things like vehicle status (on/off), lock status, inside temperature, battery voltage and more. It features vibration too, so if your vehicle starts or the alarm goes off you'll feel or hear the vibration. What's great about the primary remote on the HC4.5 is that it's rechargeable and programmable. If you accidentally break or lose one, you can purchase a new remote separately and re-program it to your system with ease.

The secondary remote is also 2-way but is much more simple, with the traditional button layout to lock, unlock, start, and etc. No screen. Both remotes have a 6,000 foot range though which makes them among the highest range remotes on our list.

Key FOB Details

Apart from the HC4.5, we think is probably the second nicest looking key fobs on the market. The liquid crystal display is easy to read even in bright light. The fob has five buttons which can control up to 24 functions. The fob can be set to work on two cars with the system installed. It is now rechargeable, too, so you won’t need to change batteries.

The LCD screen is larger than the previous generation, so the icons are even easier to see. The fob displays priority information while keeping other icons in the background until necessary. The time display on the fob can be set to display the interior temperature of your car.

System Technology

iDatastart's HC4.5 employs RF (Radio Frequency) communication, which ensures reliable and extended range for starting and communicating with your vehicle from a distance. The two-way communication capability provides peace of mind too by confirming that your vehicle has successfully started and that the security system is active. Advanced encryption and security protocols safeguard your vehicle from unauthorized access and potential breaches as well.

Smartphone Compatibility

Out of the box, the HC4.5 does not integrate directly with your smartphone. However, with the addition of the Drone X1 or X1 Max, you can enable LTE/GPS connectivity with your remote start system via the Drone app on your phone. This unlocks features such as lock, unlock, start, stop and much, much more. It doubles as a low jack, with GPS positioning and provides you with real-time GPS data about your car. With the addition of the Drone module, the HC4.5 is an incredibly powerful system.

How the System Works

Once installed, remote start and all of the 30 functions/commands can be used from up to 6000 ft away (a little over a mile). The two-way functionality will communicate vital information about your car directly to your remote too.

With the addition of the Drone X1 though, remote range becomes irrelevant since the car uses LTE to communicate directly to your phone from anywhere in the world (as long as both your phone and vehicle have service).

The Verdict

Our experience with the iDatastart HC4.5 has been positive so far. Installation is very well-documented and iDatastart sells vehicle-specific T-Harnesses to make installation a straight forward process. The LCD remote was very clear and detailed, providing a variety of information about the vehicle in real time while enabling easy control of lock, unlock, start, stop and much more. But what's awesome about this setup is that when coupled with the Drone X1, the remote range is irrelevant as long as your vehicle and phone have service. You can lock, unlock, start, stop and see a variety of vehicle and GPS data directly from the mobile app. It's this Drone X1 unit that I think really brings this system into the modern age.

Key Features

  • 2-way rechargeable primary key fob
  • Color LCD screen with icons on primary fob
  • Five control buttons for up to 30 commands
  • 6,000ft range
  • Compatible with Drone GPS/LTE module
Reasons to Buy
  • Programmable TFT LCD primary fob with tons of functions, controls and vehicle details
  • 2-way primary and secondary remotes
  • Comprehensive, all-in-one system when coupled with the Drone X1
  • Drone app is incredibly powerful and easy to use
  • One of the highest remote ranges on our list
  • Probably one of the only units on our list that a DIYer can install
Reasons Not to Buy
  • Expensive option
  • Requires Drone module addition if you want smartphone control

Runner Up, Best Remote Car Start

Viper LC3 4706V Quick Review

The Viper 4706V has been one of the most popular and frequently installed systems over the last several years. High build quality and reliability have kept this system near the top since 2013. Viper recently incorporated their New Technology Platform into the 4706v Responder LC3. This is the most feature rich remote start system on the market.

Key FOB Details

This is one of the nicest looking key fobs on the market. The liquid crystal display is easy to read even in bright light. The fob has five buttons which can control up to 24 functions. The fob can be set to work on two cars with the system installed. It is now rechargeable, too, so you won’t need to change batteries.

The LCD screen is larger than the previous generation, so the icons are even easier to see. The fob displays priority information while keeping other icons in the background until necessary. The time display on the fob can be set to display the interior temperature of your car.

System Technology

The most important thing about a remote start system is that it must be safe. You need to know that your car can’t be stolen while it is running. The Viper Responder LC3 uses SuperCode technology to prevent thieves from stealing the codes to your system. SuperCode uses a software-based encryption protocol that prevents cloning of the signals.

Smartphone Compatibility

The Responder LC3 connects to your smartphone using the Viper app. There are tons of features that you can use through the app to monitor your vehicle while it is running using SmartStart technology.

How the System Works

When properly installed, this remote start system works flawlessly. The system works up to a mile in range under ideal conditions. The key fob gives you information about what systems are running and provides easy to see icons that are simple to understand.

The Verdict

There is a reason this is one of the most popular remote start systems on the road – it works. The newest Responder LC3 system is an improvement over the 2nd Generation models and we think this is the best buy if you want to add remote start functionality and have the most control over your vehicle.

Key Features

  • Rechargeable key fob
  • LCD screen with icons on primary fob
  • Five control buttons for up to 24 features
  • SuperCode encryption
  • SmartStart compatibility
Reasons to Buy
  • The key fob is well-made and provides you with the easiest access to your vehicle remotely
  • New encryption technology makes it nearly impossible for thieves to steal your car
  • App-control is excellent
Reasons Not to Buy
  • This is an expensive option and when coupled with professional installation and various add-on devices, the total expense may not be worth it

Simplistic Two Way Remote Start Choice

Python 4806P Quick Review

Python is a downstream brand under the same company that makes Viper, AutoStart, Clifford, and Avital. As such, you’ll see some of the most important features of the Viper remote start system, but the 4806P lacks some of the bells and whistles. It’s a very good system, but at the same price as the Viper, it isn’t as good of a buy.

Key FOB Details

The fob is sleek and attractive. It has a simple design featuring five large buttons each with an LED indicator. The buttons control starting the engine, locking, and unlocking doors, a timer to add runtime before auto shut off, and a control for up to four auxiliary functions.

There is no LCD screen on this fob, so you get limited notifications from the vehicle. It is a simple, easy to use design that works well enough without being flashy.

System Technology

The Python 4806P uses the same SecureCode technology as the Viper system. In sharing the proprietary systems, this remote start device is secure and safe, preventing thieves from using code-generators to steal your car.

This system includes functionality for a siren unlike the Viper. The system supports six chirp modes as well to inform you that commands are received or to warn would-be thieves. But this is an optional add-on to the base system, so it also adds to the cost.

Smartphone Compatibility

Out-of-the-box, the Python is not compatible with smartphones, but adding a Python receiver to the system will enable smartphone app controls through SmartStart. Since you’ll need to buy additional parts, the cost of this unit will be higher.

How the System Works

The Python has a similar range of around one mile in ideal conditions. It works very well and is just as reliable as the Viper system. The key fob is a little simplistic though and you need to purchase additional parts to get the most out of this system which makes it less of a good deal in our view.

Verdict

We like this remote start system from Python. The fob is sleek, simple, and works well. We think that this is a great alternative buy for drivers that don’t want the clutter or complexity of an LCD screen on their key fob and aren’t that interested in using a smartphone app.

Key Features

  • Two-way remote start system
  • Five control buttons
  • Four auxiliary functions
  • SecureCode encryption
  • Compatible with SmartStart using add-on controller
Reasons to Buy
  • Sleek remote design
  • Excellent encryption security
Reasons Not to Buy
  • Requires lots of additional parts to use all available functions
  • Cost is too high compared to our top pick

Best Low Cost Remote Starter

Prestige APS997Z Quick Review

Prestige is one of the lesser-known names in the game, but we love the LCD screen on this system. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the same company that acquired Viper, Python, and Avila in July 2020 also owns this brand. You won’t see quite as much technology crossover, but build quality and functionality are top-notch. The Prestige APS997Z is our top budget pick.

Key FOB Details

The fob is a touch bulky, but the LCD screen is spectacular. It uses icons spread about the image of a vehicle to show you in real time what is happening with your car. Five buttons control locking and unlocking of doors, starting the ignition, and controlling other available features. The screen is legible if not a little cluttered. It can show you up to 19 functions.

The FOB has a nice weight to it that makes it feel like a premium product. The buttons have a comfortable feel, and the screen is one of the more interesting designs we’ve seen.

System Technology

VOXX uses Flashlogic FLCART to enable you to program the Prestige system. This is an older technology that has been continuously updated. You will need a flash cable to program the system correctly.

Some of the interesting features this system offers that we like include a 24-hour start timer that you can set so your car starts at the same time of day, a built-in siren, a shock sensor, and it’s CarLink ready. CarLink enables you to receive notifications on your smartphone, like when a car door is opened, or an impact is recorded.

How the System Works

Once this system is properly programmed, it works very well. Getting the system programmed is another story. Like we mentioned, this unit uses FLCART for setting up the various functions and requires special software and programming skills. Most buyers have this system professionally installed, so keep in mind that if you DIY this setup, you’ll need access to the programming software. Try reaching out to places that install these kits to find someone in your area who can program your remote start system for a reasonable sum of money.

Verdict

As a budget option, this is a high-quality remote start kit. As with all remote start systems, there are numerous controllers, capacitors, and other devices you’ll need to buy to make all the functions work. While the key fob feels high-quality, we found the screen to be overly sensitive to heat and pressure – and customer service isn’t good for replacing key fobs. Most of the time you’ll need to replace the key fob every few years at a cost of about $100. If starting small and working up is your goal, this is a great unit. If you are looking for an easy to install, fault-free design, plan on spending a bit more money.

Key Features

  • Two-way remote start kit
  • LCD screen on main key fob
  • Five function buttons
  • Locks, unlocks, starts, opens tailgate or trunk
Reasons to Buy
  • Budget price saves money for additional components, wiring, and professional programming
  • Nice looking key fob with an interesting LCD display
Reasons Not to Buy
  • Lots of reports of main key fob failures
  • Among the more challenging systems to program correctly

Runner Up, Best Budget Remote Car Start

Crimestopper RS7-G5 Quick Review

The RS7-G5 earns top ranking for the sophisticated technology it incorporates. The RS7-G5 has a great, easy to understand LCD remote fob that shows the active functions. This way, you will always know whether your car is running or not. The readout shows a countdown timer that lets you know exactly when your car will turn off.

Versatility is key, and the Crimestopper remote start system is one of the most easily integrated into a variety of vehicles. Reviewers comment on the overall quality of the product. Crimestopper includes wiring schematics, a nice touch that not all products include. This remote start is smartphone-enabled to allow you to control the functions without the key fob in hand.

Versatility, an easy to use key fob, and a high build-quality make the Crimestopper RS7-G5 a top pick. It works on gasoline and diesel engines, and even works with manual transmissions.

Key Features

  • Remote Car Start System
  • 2 Way Paging Remote
  • 3000ft Range
  • LCD Remote
  • Keyless Entry
  • Trunk Release
Reasons to Buy
  • Supports a wide range of vehicles
  • Built with plenty of features for improved performance
  • Can start two cars
  • 31 programming functions to enhance functionality
  • Can be programmed to open a car’s trunk or sliding doors
Reasons Not to Buy
  • In the expensive range
  • Lacks basic security features like a shock sensor or panic mode
  • Relies on FM signals which can occasionally be prone to interference

Best Remote Car Start for Easy Installation

Compustar CS4900-S Quick Review

You may have noticed that all these remote start systems are a bit of a pain to install. We decided to look for some DIY systems that weren’t such a challenge and ran across the Compustar CS4900-S. Yes, it takes loads of wire splices to install, but this one tends to be a straight-forward process that isn’t as challenging as others.

Key FOB Details

No LCD screen means you don’t have the ease of use you’ll get with other designs, but the audible beep is simple enough to understand. The fob itself is lightweight and small so it fits in your pocket easily and isn’t as likely to damage your ignition switch as larger, heavier key fobs can be.

The four-button remotes allow you to lock, unlock, start, or open the trunk. A light-up icon displays when you are out of range.

How it Works

Most people found this product to work flawlessly and only a few struggled with the complexity of wiring the unit into your existing starting circuit. Range proves to be a little less than what the manufacturer claims in some scenarios, but on-par with more expensive units. The only thing we noticed is that sometimes you can start your car, but the key fob doesn’t say it started. Take a look – maybe it did, maybe it didn’t.

The Verdict

We love simple things, and this one really does a great job of telling you what it can do and then doing it. It isn’t fancy and lacks lots of the bells and whistles we prefer with higher-priced products, but when you want an easy to install remote starter, this is the type of product you want to find. A big plus is the helpfulness of customer service. That alone goes a long way when it comes to troubleshooting a complex product like this one.

Key Features

  • Two-way remote start system
  • No LCD display on either remote keeps things simple
  • Works with many existing systems
Reasons to Buy
  • One of the most DIY-oriented installation designs we’ve seen
  • Basic and functional system that works with lots of different types of vehicles
Reasons Not to Buy
  • Not diesel-compatible which means you can’t easily adjust start and run times
  • This is a functional, but not exciting product that lacks the wow-factor

Looking for other car alarms? Check out these lists!

How We Chose

We update our list of best remote starts frequently. Our process to choose includes a number of factors, including first-hand tests in some cases. We combine extensive research with user reviews and opinions to ultimately narrow down and assemble our recommendations. For remote starts, we consider a few specific things:

  • Display Type (LCD, Dotted, LCD Text, etc.)
  • Features (Range, Auxiliary Outputs, Trunk Release, 2-way Paging, etc)
  • Price
  • Quality (Materials used, manufacturer, etc)
  • Online Reviews (From multiple vendors such as Sonic Electronix, Crutchfield, Amazon and more)
  • Installation (How difficult it is to install a remote starter)
  • Security features (Does it have a security system included or is it compatible with other systems?)

The result from our combination of sources and testing is a list of the top rated and reviewed Remote Car Starters. Additionally,  CarAudioNow provides price comparisons from multiple vendors to try to get you the best price for all of your products. But in the end, the best remote start is one that meets your specific needs and is compatible with your car.

What to Look for in a Car Alarm System

Car theft is one of the most common types of crime today. Whether it’s an iPod, cash, or the whole car – most people have had their cars broken into or know someone who has. It’s a terrible feeling to walk out to your car to find that your car has been broken into or stolen, especially when most peoples’ cars are a valued possession and a necessity for every day life. A car alarm could be the difference between a break in and a walk by. They are incredibly effective at deterring auto theft and break ins.

When you’re looking for the best car alarm for your vehicle, there are various features and systems to compare. Even though it’ll help to have any car alarm, knowing the difference between them and choosing the one that best fits your needs will maximize its effectiveness and keep your car secure at all times.

Common Terms & Features

There are many different types of car alarms, some with more standard features than the other. Knowing what type of feature is what will help you make an informed decision.

Keyless Entry – Keyless entry systems allow you to unlock your car doors by pushing a button on a remote. The remote connects with the alarm system to unlock/lock the car’s doors without the use of a key.

Remote Start – Remote start is a feature that enables you to start your car’s engine without actually being inside the car. You can use a remote or other device (depending on the unit) to remotely start your vehicle from hundreds of yards away.

Trunk Release – Trunk release is a form of keyless entry that is specific to remotely opening the trunk of your car. It enables you to open the trunk without unlocking the door from a remote. Sometimes you may want to just open up the trunk without necessarily opening up all of the doors, trunk release allows this.

Car Location – Car location is a form of panic button that gives you the ability to track down your car when you may not know exactly where it is. For example, you go to a concert, or a baseball game and don’t remember the exact row you parked in. The car location feature will turn the alarm noisemaker on so that you can follow the sound to find your car.

Two-Way Pager– Two-way pager alarms are those that not only send information from your remote to your car (like unlocking the door), they also receive information from your car. These types of alarms allow you to see in real time when an attempt to break in is happening, and alarm you from your remote when it happens. Some two-way pagers can work up to a mile away, giving you the confidence that your car is safe no matter where you might be.

Alarm Noisemaker – The alarm’s noisemaker is the most basic feature on a car alarm. It’s what makes noise when your car is being broken into in order to discourage the thief and draw attention to the car. Basically a loud speaker, the noisemaker is measured in decibels and the higher the decibels, the louder the sound.

Immobilizer – An immobilizer is a device that allows a vehicle from being started unless you have a key/remote that matches to the device. The key typically has a chip installed that communicates with the immobilizer in order to allow the car to start. This prevents thieves from being able start your car, even if they break into it.

Automatic Window Roll-Up – Automatic window rollup is a feature that will roll up the windows of the car after you have turned it off. Even though most of the time, you might be conscientious of your windows when you leave your car, the automatic window roll-up will automatically roll them up in the case that you forget.

Compatibility

Most of the aftermarket car alarms are compatible with any car, as long as it has a 12-volt system. However, there are some car alarms that don’t work with specific vehicles and it’s always best to check the alarm manufacturer’s website to check for compatibility.


What are the benefits of having a remote car starter?

A remote car starter will allow you to start your car remotely, which can be convenient in locations with extreme weather as it allows you to warm up or cool down your car before getting in. It can also provide added security as you can remotely lock and unlock your doors.

Are there any safety concerns with using a remote car starter?

Some safety concerns include the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning if the car is left running in an enclosed space (like your garage), and the possibility of a car theft if the remote starter is not properly installed and used.

How do I install a remote car starter?

The installation process can vary depending on the specific remote car starter and the make and model of your car. It is generally recommended to have the installation done by a professional to ensure it is done correctly and safely.

Can a remote car start be installed on any vehicle?

Although many remote starter systems claim to be universal, there are still some edge cases where they may not work with a certain vehicle. Some even claim to be compatible with 80-90 percent of the vehicles on the road. But the reality is that some cars, for example electric or plugin hybrids, a remote start either isn't necessary or might require additional components to make it compatible. We recommend asking a professional installer if you have any questions about your car.

What are the most popular brands of remote car starters?

Some popular brands of remote starters include Viper, Compustar, and Directed Electronics (many of which are on our list!)

Can I use my smartphone as a remote for my remote car starter?

Many remote car starters come with the option to control the starter through a smartphone app directly from your iPhone or Android. This feature will allow you to start your car, lock and unlock the doors, and even locate your car through GPS. Be sure to check the specifics of the product you're interested in purchasing to make sure it has this feature.