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If you’ve been using the remote start in your Toyota Tacoma for the last three years without giving it another thought, you just might be in for a rude awakening. Toyota’s about to start charging a subscription fee to remote start users on SUVs, trucks, and cars made in 2018 and after. What does this mean for you, and is there anything you can do to avoid having to pay the subscription fee?

2022 Toyota Tacoma in the dirt
2022 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

How much does Toyota’s remote start subscription cost?

Toyota’s remote start subscription price starts at $8 a month, or $80 a year. Remote start allows owners to turn on their cars remotely (as the name suggests). It’s hugely convenient in cold weather spots, when you want to allow your truck or SUV to heat up before getting into it. You can also use it in hot climates to cool down your car. Remote start works via your key fob or an app. However, Kelley Blue Book points out that there was a change a few years ago that means that the Toyota remote start won’t work indefinitely. What does this mean for your Highlander or 4Runner? You might be in for some technical problems.

Toyota has been planning this subscription service for awhile

The idea of a subscription fee for Toyota’s remote start isn’t new. It’s been in the works for some time. Remote start is part of the Toyota Remote Connect “suite of services.” Kelley Blue Book refers to several websites, including Reddit, that noticed this change a couple of years ago. It may have just not been widely publicized until now.

In addition to remote start, Remote Connect includes Wi-Fi, help to find your parked car, and the ability to check your fuel level from an app on your phone. You can also monitor your teen’s driving, which might make it well worth the service fee.

Toyota is offering a free trial of Remote Connect

All is not lost if you’re either currently driving a Toyota Tundra or RAV4 and don’t want to shell out for Remote Connect. Toyota is offering a free trial. The length of the free trial depends on the audio package in the Toyota. Not every Toyota is able to access the free trial, though. Your Toyota vehicle has to be compatible with Audio Plus or Premium Auto. Not all SUVs, trucks, and cars are, and that might make it confusing for people trying to figure out if they can try Remote Connect before committing to it.

If your Toyota SUV, truck, or car does come with audio plus, you’ll be able to get a 3-year free trial of Remote Connect before you have to pay. If your vehicle comes with Premium Audio, you’ll get ten years of free service before having to cough up the cash. Either way, even if you’re eligible for the Remote Connect free trial, once it’s over you’ll have to pay for remote start.

While this may be the beginning of Toyota’s remote start subscription, it likely won’t e the last subscription-based service that we see in cars in the coming years. More and more companies and car manufacturers are jumping on the trend for charging a never-ending fee for something that may or my not have limited people. And since people are willing to pay it, they keep doing it. What we’ve come to think of as nice add-ons to our SUVs – remote start, for example – may soon be thought of as an unnecessary luxury.