Best Remote Car Starters of 2018

Jeph Preece ·
Senior Domain Editor
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

Remote car starters can be simple devices with a few features or complex devices that provide significant controls over your vehicle. We researched the best remote start kits, and the Clifford 4706X emerged as the best overall, with its long-range remote, two-way LCD display with climate monitoring, and SmartStart compatibility, which gives you control via a smartphone app.  

Best Overall
Clifford 4706X
The Clifford 4706X is our pick for the best remote car starter because the two-way remote has an impressive 1-mile range, plus there’s an LCD display, smartphone compatibility and cabin temperature monitoring.
View on Amazon
Best Value
Automate 4304A
The Automate 4304A features a two-way remote with an LED display, smartphone integration and cabin temperature monitoring – all high-end features – for below $100.
View on East Car Audio
Best Remote
Compustar Prime 901
The Compustar Prime 901 is our pick for the best remote because it features a big and easy-to-read display that provides more information about your vehicle than other remote car starters.
View on Lockdown Security
Best Overall
The Clifford 4706X is our pick for the best remote car starter because it comes with a powerful remote that features an LCD display that allows you to gauge your vehicle's internal temperature.
The 4706X remote has an impressive 1-mile range. However, since you'll likely never start your car from a mile down the road, you should view this specification in terms of excellent power and reliability. Since the signal is so strong, it's more reliable in penetrating walls and other obstacles than a remote with a shorter range. The remote is also two-way, which means the remote starter kit installed in your car also emits a wireless signal. Basically, the installed device and the remote are talking to each other, letting you know if the doors are open, if the engine is running and more. One of the best features is the cabin temperature monitoring, notifying you via the remote of the temperature inside your car. This way, you know when it's comfortable to enter your car during extreme heat and cold. It's also great for drivers who don't want to let their cars idle unnecessarily. Another benefit is the compatibility with SmartStart on the Apple, Android and Blackberry operating systems. This provides smartphone integration via an app that provides control of the device, plus additional features like a car finder for those times you can't remember where you parked.
  • One-mile range
  • Two-way remote
  • Cabin temperature monitoring
  • Expensive
  • Complicated installation
  • No security features
Read the full review
Best Value
The Automate 4304A is our pick for the best value because it has high-end features, like an LCD display and cabin temperature monitoring, but it costs much less than high-end remote starters. It even comes with SmartStart compatibility.
However, the manufacturer doesn't list the range of the remote, so it's unlikely to have the mile range of high-end models. As with more expensive remote starters, the remote is two-way, which means that both the remote and the installed kit emit and receive wireless signals. This lets you know the car is started and the doors unlocked. It also relays the internal cabin temperature, which is one of the best features for a remote starter system because it allows you to avoid unnecessary idling. In other words, you'll know when the internal temperature is comfortable without guessing. This Automate starter also has several convenience features. It comes with keyless entry, trunk unlock and a valet mode, which manually turns off the remote start system so that mechanics and valets can drive the car without the remote. The remote can also be programmed for two vehicles, which is a useful addition for multiple-car homes. However, you must purchase a second car starter.
  • Affordable
  • Cabin temperature monitoring
  • SmartStart compatibility
  • Remote range not listed by manufacturer
  • Panic mode is too easy to activate
  • Remote is bulky
$144.99East Car Audio
Read the full review
Best Remote
The Compustar Prime 901 is one of the most popular high-end remote starter kits on the market, but it's also one of the most expensive. Much of this is due to the excellent two-way remote, which features a long range, an easy-to-read display and comprehensive control, although it doesn't have SmartStart compatibility.
The remote has a range of a mile, the longest range on the market. However, rather than viewing it as a long range, you should view it as a powerful remote, since it's unlikely that you'll ever need to start your car from a mile away. Instead, the specification means that it provides a more reliable and consistent signal in the short range, going through and around obstacles like walls, refrigerators and washing machines, etc. Another reason this is our pick for the best remote is the easy-to-read LCD display, which provides more information and control over your car than other remote starter kits. It provides vibrating and audible alerts for various customized settings. You can control the windows, door locks, seat heaters, window defrost settings and more. It also tells you the rpm of the engine so that you can monitor performance. That said, this much control requires a complicated installation that should be performed by a certified installer.
  • One-mile range
  • Easy-to read LCD display
  • Rpm monitoring
  • Very expensive
  • Very complicated installation
  • Awkward fit on a keychain
$399.99Lockdown Security
Read the full review
Longest Range Remote
The Python 4806p is the only remote start system with a remote range of one mile. By comparison, most remote start systems have a range topping out at around 1,500 feet. The remote is two-way, and the system includes an alarm. So, in addition to starting your vehicle from a mile away, you receive alerts on the remote if someone tries breaking in. Of course, while a mile range is impressive, it's not a significant value. Very rarely do you need to start your car from a mile away. Still, with the car alarm you can still get alarm alerts when you're at the mall or a sporting event where you would be far from the parked vehicle. The 4806p comes with two remotes. Unfortunately, unlike the best remote start systems, the remotes don't have an LCD screen. Instead, an LED light flashes to confirm commands and alerts. Without a display, you can't monitor the temperature of your car's interior or confirm the engine is started.
  • One-mile remote range
  • No display on the remote
Read the full review
Most Affordable
The Avital 4103L provides the same convenience as high-end remote starters, but costs less than $50, making it the most affordable remote start system we reviewed. It warms up your car on winter mornings just as well as a $200 remote starter. The 4103L comes with two one-way remotes. They only have four buttons, making them very easy to program and master, but very limited in function. It has keyless entry and trunk release, but no additional auxiliary outputs or buttons for adding security systems or other conveniences. And with no display on the remotes, you can't monitor the temperature of your car's interior. You can only guess when the car's been running long enough to warm up or cool down the interior. This can result in burning fuel unnecessarily and adding to your city’s air pollution.
  • Very affordable
  • Remotes are one-way
Read the full review

Why Trust Us? 

Top Ten Reviews has covered remote car starters since 2015. In addition, we review more than 16 auto tech categories each year, ranging from car alarms and car stereos to baby car seats and car battery chargers. We spend hundreds of hours each year researching, testing and evaluating the best in car technology.

I've been reviewing and testing automobile technology since 2013. I'm an expert on car audio, radar detectors, backup cameras, Bluetooth car kits and more. I have logged thousands of miles on road trips, developing a keen interest in cultivating the best-quality drive.

How Much Do Remote Car Starters Cost?

Often paired with car alarms, remote starters cost between $50 and $800. The most popular remote starters fall between $100 and $200. The difference in cost is in the quality of the remote and the expansion capabilities. The more expensive the remote starter, the better the remote and the more features you can add to it, such as car alarms and additional sensors. These remotes have LCD displays, allowing you to gauge the temperature and other aspects of your car. Some can even let you adjust the temperature from the remote. However, if you only need to warm up your car in the winter or cool it down in the summer, the cheapest remote car starters work just as well as the expensive ones.

What We Tested 

We didn't physically test the remote starter systems because of the complicated installation process that most kits require. We made our picks based on the following criteria:

Remote Design & Performance
When it comes to performance of a remote car starter system, you should start with the remote. Does it fit on a keychain without being awkwardly bulky? If it has a display, is it easy to read? Those are the basic questions pertaining to design.

We focused a great deal on the range specifications. Many people see a long range and ignore it because they think they'll never need to start their car from a mile away. And that's true. You're not going to care about the remote's range unless you're about to leave Disneyland and you're parked at the very edge of the massive parking lot. Instead, we looked at range in terms of wireless power. A long range means the signal is more reliable and consistent in shorter ranges. A powerful signal from a long-range remote is more capable of going through the walls of your home, around the trees and onto the street where your car is parked.

System Features & Potential

Some remote car starters are simple. They do little more than start your car, though even the most basic kits also provide keyless entry. However, the best car starters have multiple auxiliary channels, which can be used for additional controls, like a setting to activate the window defrost.

Cabin Temperature Monitoring

The main purpose of a car starter kit is to start your car so that the internal temperatures can adjust before you enter it. That is why they are popular in areas of extreme cold or extreme heat. Since temperature is the driving force for this technology, we looked at systems that relayed cabin temperatures on the remote. These are typically available only on high-end systems, but it's an important feature to consider. With cabin temperature monitoring, you don't have to guess when it's comfortable to enter the car. That saves time and also keeps your car from idling unnecessarily.

Remote Car Starters: What Else You Should Consider 

When considering the purchase of a remote start system, the choices are confusing and overwhelming, potentially leading you to opt for an unsuitable model. Using the factors below, you can make an informed decision and choose the remote start that best suits your needs.

Engine-Speed Sensing

Engine-speed sensing is a vital consideration. A remote car starter without engine-speed sensing cannot tell whether it has successfully started the engine. This can result in the remote car starter essentially not working, leaving your car freezing cold. Nor can it tell if the revs per minute are too high. This puts the engine at risk of flooding or burning out. With some sensors, the engine can be set to shut off in that scenario, saving your engine from potential damage.

Extra Features

There's an extensive range of additional features for remote car starters. You can opt for a keyless entry model that locks or unlocks your vehicle remotely. As an added safety feature, consider a hood safety switch that prevents the remote starter from activating the engine while the hood is up. Some two-way models come with a small LCD panel that provides status alerts; others can activate your rear windshield heaters. As an extra security feature, many models have alarm functions or alarm alerts.

Professional Installation
Remote car starters aren't simple installations. They involve adding components to your car's computer system, which means that mistakes can have huge implications. Most manufacturers recommend getting a professional installation.