Tips, Tricks & Trends

Adding a Remote Starter to Your Car Could Be More Expensive and Dangerous Than You Think

With so many tech features designed to improve car safety and convenience, it’s easy to feel left out if your vehicle doesn’t have them. Luckily, aftermarket options allow you to keep up with the Joneses. One such feature is a remote starter. But are these products actually as good as manufacturers claim? Car expert Scotty Kilmer says to proceed with caution.

Remote starters are not one size fits all

Yes, remote starters are attractive. You don’t have to get fully dressed to run out in the cold, start up your vehicle, and run back inside so you can finish getting ready. If you don’t have one, it’s even more of a pain when you realize you forgot to start your vehicle and now you’re going to be late. So why not install a remote starter?

It’s a win-win situation. Right?

Not exactly. There are downsides to adding a remote starter to your vehicle after it rolls out of the factory. 

The biggest disadvantage is that the kits are very generic. There’s a bit difference between a Toyota and a BMW. They’re both high-quality brands, but many automakers are notorious for designing their vehicles so that only their tools can be used to work on them. With that in mind, adding a generic remote starter to a vehicle isn’t the best idea.

Another problem is that the instructions aren’t in-depth. They’re very basic, making installing it more difficult for someone who doesn’t have much auto care experience. 

Installation can be a problem for experienced mechanics too. Fitting a car with a remote starter requires a good deal of time, so what might initially seem simple can take hours. Even if a mechanic has added a remote starter to a Ford before, the process could be entirely different for a Kia.

Adding a remote starter can be dangerous

RELATED: Can You Install a Remote Starter on Your Car Yourself?

The worst problem with adding a remote starter is that it can be hazardous. According to YouTube personality and car expert Scotty Kilmer, one of his customers had a stereo system installer connect a remote starter, and the dashboard caught on fire. The mechanic had insurance, but it cost $5,000 to repair the vehicle.

Kilmer also reported that he heard of a young man who installed an aftermarket remote starter on his Lexus. He clicked the fob while walking in front of the Lexus, and it started up as expected. But then it lurched forward, pinning the young man against another vehicle and killing him. 

A less dangerous yet serious issue is that the vehicle stops cranking even when the driver tries to start it using the key. This leaves the owner with a vehicle that won’t work, and they’re stranded.

It’s not always bad

Yes, some consumers have added aftermarket products such as alarm systems and remote starters that have failed. But many people have used them successfully. Though Kilmer’s story of the young man is tragic, plenty of people install remote starters without issue. 

There is always an element of risk when you add a product not designed specifically for your vehicle. There are no crystal balls you can check before installing something new, so you won’t know until you try. If you decide to install one, make sure you thoroughly research options. Find other people who’ve installed one on the same model vehicle you drive, and learn from them.