Product Reviews

5 Best Remote Car Starters (2023 Guide)

Unlock or start your vehicle from inside your home with one of the best remote car starters.

A remote car starter can allow you to turn on your car up to several thousand feet away. This means you can regulate your car’s temperature during the hot summer months and cold winter months before getting inside. A remote car starter is especially helpful if you live somewhere with frequent snow and want to start defrosting your windshield before you step foot outside.

In researching the industry’s best remote starters, we looked at various options in different price ranges. Our experts highlight a multitude of options for varying needs, but it’s worth doing research tailored to your preferences. This guide should help you get started.

5 Best Remote Car Starters

Our Review Standards

To select the five best remote car starters featured in this buyers guide, we first have our network of experts share their thoughts on the selected remote car starters. These experts have over 100 years of combined experience in aftermarket auto fields ranging from detailing to accessories to tires, and everything in between. These experts helped us identify the qualities that would be most important to someone looking for a remote car starter and the standout brands in each category.

Then our team combed through dozens of resources such as DIY mechanic and auto enthusiast forums, manufacturer and remote car starter-specific websites, instruction manuals from manufacturers, and reviews from online retailers. We pay particularly close attention to quality reviews and recommendations that highlight the quality of warranties, customer service support, build quality, materials, and overall reliability.

We also factored in the quantity and quality of online retailer reviews from websites such as Amazon, RealTruck, Advance Auto Parts, and more. We looked at factors such as standout customer reviews, prices, meaningful superlatives, and discount shipping eligibility.

Why You Can Trust Us

Since 2020, we have published over 200 auto product reviews in an effort to make shopping for auto products easier. Our team of writers, editors, researchers, and product experts collaborates to thoroughly vet top products. We try to perform in-house testing on real vehicles whenever possible before making our recommendations.

When testing is not feasible, however, our aim is to make your life easier by doing all the online research for you and presenting that research in the form of easy-to-read product comparisons and buyers guides, rather than outright recommendations. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

Remote Car Starters: Buyers Guide

Buying a remote starter isn’t as simple as picking the first one you find. When looking for the best car starter, you’ll want to consider:

  • Range
  • Remote type
  • Cutoff switch
  • Car type


The range of your remote car starter is the distance of how far away you can start or unlock your car. You’ll want to think about how far your car is from your house or apartment along with the other places you frequent, like the grocery store and office, to determine how much range you’ll need.

Remote Type

There are three types of key fobs or remotes:

  • One-way: With a one-way remote, your remote is only capable of sending signals to your car, meaning it can’t also receive signals from the car. This type is usually the cheapest option.
  • Two-way: All of the products in this review are two-way, meaning the remote can send a signal to the car and receive a signal from the car. For example, you can push to start your car, and it will tell you it has received your request by displaying a notification on the remote screen. This type of starter is usually pricier.
  • Smartphone control: The newest remote car starters may allow you to start or unlock your car through a smartphone app instead of a key fob. However, you may have to pay a monthly or annual fee for cell signal to utilize the control module from your phone.

Cutoff Switch

A cutoff switch allows you to manually shut off the starter. This function is useful when you or a mechanic is performing maintenance on your car. You don’t want someone to get injured if the engine starts while they’re under the hood, so look for a cutoff switch in the starter you buy.

Car Type

Most remote car starters are designed for automatic transmission cars that use unleaded gas. If you drive a diesel or manual car, you’ll either want to buy an aftermarket starter specifically designed for your vehicle or contact the company to see if its remote starter will work for your car engine. During our research, we found reviews for the Viper products that mentioned them working for manual transmissions, and the Compustar CS4900 advertises use with diesel engines.

Using A Remote Car Starter Safely

To learn how to use a remote car starter safely, we spoke to Zac Salerno, a Technician at Import Performance in Raleigh, NC. When asked about OEM remote car starters, he said “From the factory, they know it works. There’s no recall against it and it’s safe [to use].” However, he warns against using aftermarket remote car starters if you’re working on your car.

“I get it if you’re trying to warm up your car in 20-degree weather, it’s the perfect reason for a remote start.” However, according to Salerno, “Outside of that, it [can be] dangerous.”

Remote Car Starter Installation

It is possible for drivers to install a remote car starter themselves, but this requires some basic electrical wiring knowledge and not all automotive experts recommend this route. If you intend to self-install your remote car starter, keep the following details in mind:

  1. Not all starters come with detailed installation instructions. You’ll want to research videos and possibly instruction guides for other similar starters.
  2. You will need to familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s wiring by reading the owner’s manual and repair guides for your vehicle.
  3. You will need an automotive multimeter and soldering iron, along with other more common tools (like a screwdriver and utility knife) to install a remote car starter.
  4. Make sure to disconnect your battery before tampering with any of your vehicle’s wiring or electrical systems.

Installing a remote car starter is quite involved, so expect this process to take upwards of three hours to complete.

Installation Advice From An Expert

Kyle Marker, Parts Manager at Leith Lincoln, has over 10 years of experience in the aftermarket auto parts industry, and he knows a thing or two about remote car starters. “It’s very rare to see a plug-and-play alarm or remote start solution,” he says. “There’s a lot of engineering that goes into the main harnesses of cars. And we see a lot of damage, from people cutting and adding accessories, to rats … chew[ing] through them.”

Ultimately, he warns against purchasing many of the remote car starters on the market. “You want it to either be an OEM solution or equivalent, so plug-and-play. Plug into the car, plug into an existing pigtail. Something where you’re not breaking out the wire grippers and the [wire] strippers.”

Professional Installation Cost

For most drivers, we recommend that you get your remote car starter installed by a professional. Customers report the cost of having a professional come and install their remote car starter ranging between $100 to $600. But generally, you should expect to pay at least $300 to $400 for good service.

Remote Car Starter Cost

Most of the remote car starters we recommend cost between $100 and $180, but some can cost over $500.

Remote car starters in the $100 to $180 range typically offer basic remote starting features such as warming your car from a distance. Higher-end remote car starters (in the $500+ range) tend to include more anti-theft features and have a greater range. For instance, the Compustar CS7900-AS costs about $175 and has a 3,000.0-foot range. The Viper 5906V costs around $600 and has an effective range of 1.0 mile or 5,280.0 feet.

#1 Editor’s Choice: Compustar CS7900-AS 2-Way Remote Start Bundle

The Compustar CS7900-AS All-In-One has remote starting and car alarm systems. You get two remotes that allow you to unlock, turn on, and warm up your car from up to a 3,000.0-ft. range. It also includes sensors for your doors, hood, and trunk that will emit a sound if someone attempts a burglary.

This remote starter works for cars of all makes and models. It is self-installable if you have general electrical knowledge, but otherwise, it’s best to send it to a professional.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $160
  • Range: 3,000.0 ft.
  • Two-way, LCD remote
  • Backup, one-way remote
  • Includes door, hood, and trunk security features

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 1,000 ratings

Customers with all types of vehicles report being able to install this device in their cars. Some installed it on their own, and others went to an automotive shop for help. All seem to agree it works close to the advertised range. A few customers remark that they wish there were instructions for easier self-installation.

“I work in a prison, and this thing actually remote started my vehicle from behind thousands of feet of concrete walls, metal doors, and razor wire fence. I couldn’t believe it.” – John D. via Amazon

#2 Longest Range: Viper 5906V Color Remote Start & Security

While the Viper 5906V costs more than the other remote starters in this review, you get what you pay for. This long-range remote is colored and offers unique features such as the ability to see the interior temperature of your car.

While other remote starters have a range of 1,500.0 or 3,000.0 ft., this remote starter has a 1.0-mile range, allowing you to regulate temperature long before you get into the car.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $450
  • Range: 1.0 mile
  • Two-way, color remote control
  • One-way, five-button remote control
  • Displays interior temperature

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 270 ratings

Reviewers have complimented the system’s large range, responsive buttons, and color display. Users can install this starter or take it to a shop for professional installation. Some reviewers complain the buttons are too sensitive, making it difficult to put in a bag or pocket. Others say the two-way remote is bulky to carry and that they prefer the size of the one-way remote.

“I found out that you can arm, disarm, or remote start the vehicle up to one mile away… It has the greatest motion detector, and if anyone gets close to it, it gives them a warning, AND you don’t need batteries to charge it.” – J. Guerrero via Amazon

#3 Best Value: Avital 5305L Security System With 2-Way LCD Display

This Avital 5305L Security System performs functions similar to other remote start kits, but at a lower cost. You can unlock or start your car from up to 1,500.0 ft. away, and this remote starting device comes with a lifetime warranty you can use for any malfunctions.

The LCD screen and remote also offer some unique features. When you send a signal, your remote will beep or vibrate and flash a notification across the screen.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $120
  • Range: 1,500.0 ft.
  • Two-way, LCD remote
  • One-way, four-button remote
  • Limited lifetime warranty

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 370 ratings

Overall, customers like this product and say it’s an improvement from Avital’s past products due to the increased number of features. Most customers have this starter professionally installed because the instructions for self-installation are confusing. Some reviewers with negative feedback claim the range is a few hundred feet instead of over 1,000.0 feet as advertised.

“I am a professional installer, so the installation is simple for me, but I do have to say you might be hard-pressed to install this yourself if you have never installed a remote start before.” – Hilton V. via Amazon

#4 Most Versatile: Viper 5305V 2-Way LCD Remote Start System

The Viper 5305V is another remote car starter from the reputable car electronics company Viper. The system includes two remotes: the main two-way remote and the one-way remote meant for emergencies when your main remote stops working.

Like the Avital starter, this comes with a lifetime warranty. You also receive a user manual with self-install information and explaining how to use the system.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $150
  • Range: 0.25 miles
  • Two-way, LCD remote
  • One-way, four-button remote
  • Limited lifetime warranty

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 750 ratings

Users appreciate this remote car starter’s variety of functions, especially the loudness of the burglar alarm. Most customers have had the starter installed by a professional because the DIY instructions are complicated. Some customers say it starts losing effectiveness after a few months as if the wiring were failing. A few users haven’t gotten this starter to work properly.

“Very loud. And the remote goes off and shows you what’s happening in case you are in the store and can’t hear the car. You will hear your key going off.” – Chachis via Amazon

#5 Best Design: Compustar CS4900-S 2-Way Remote Start System

The Compustar CS4900-S is another affordable remote starter system. It comes with two four-button remotes, making it the only starter we reviewed without a remote that has an LED or LCD display. However, this car remote starter offers a wide variety of functions from trunk release to vehicle security features such as lock/arm and panic/siren.

While this remote starter kit only works on automatic cars, the car can have an unleaded or diesel engine.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $120
  • Range: 3,000.0 ft.
  • Two four-button remotes
  • Safe for diesel engines

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.2 out of 5 based on over 800 ratings

Most customers believe the starter’s four functions work well. Although this remote starter doesn’t have a screen, some of the customers actually preferred this because it makes the remote less bulky to carry. Like with the Compustar remote starter, customers complain about the lack of help for starter installation due to poor instructions. Some customers have even tried to contact the company for help but didn’t receive a response.

“Excellent product, however this is not a DIY project. The manual is written for experienced installers. You will need the blade bypass module as well. I have some installs under my belt, but this one was a 12-hour deal.” – Ronald R. via Amazon

Remote Car Starters: Bottom Line

Remote car starters can be a helpful device to invest in if you drive an older vehicle that doesn’t have one factory installed. By our research, the best options out there come from Compustar, Avital, and Viper, but there are plenty more options out there to explore.

Remote Car Starters At A Glance

CostRangeAmazon Review Score
Compustar CS7900-ASAround $1753,000.0 feet4.5
Viper 5906VAround $6001.0 mile4.5
Avital 5305LAround $1201,500.0 feet4.5
Viper 5305VAround $1951,300.0 feet4.5
Compustar CS4900-SAround $1303,000.0 feet4.2

*Data accurate at time of publication.

Our Review Standards


Read More Car Electronics & Accessories Product Reviews

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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