Wondering how to install a remote car starter on your own? We're about to make it much easier!
In this ProperMechanic.com guide, you'll learn:
- When to DIY vs. when to hire a professional
- Price ranges for a remote starter installation
- Supplies you'll need to install a remote starter
And much more!
Imagine being able to hop into your car during the dead of winter, and instantly feel your car's heat wrapped around you like a warm blanket.
Outside of braving the icy-cold winter morning to turn on your car several minutes before starting your commute, this scenario may just be wishful thinking.
But, by installing a remote starter on your car or truck, you can indeed experience this luxury yourself.
So, before you dive into your DIY remote starter install, make sure you keep reading below to learn everything you need to know!
What is a Remote Starter?
The use of a remote starter allows you to quickly and effortlessly start your vehicle with the click of a button on a specialty key fob.
Just 5-10 minutes before you leave home, simply point the remote starter key fob towards your car, press the button, and allow your vehicle to warm up to operating temperature while you finish your yummy fried eggs.
This feature can be used to even greater benefit in the winter if you have already had your ventilation controls set to defrost.
This eliminates the need for time-consuming deicing measures that often force you to unnecessarily scramble around in the cold.
Similarly, during the summer, your car’s air conditioning will be given adequate time to cool your vehicle’s cabin throughout.
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Should You Seek Professional Installation Or DIY Install Remote Starter?
When considering whether or not to DIY install a remote starter, you must first gauge your ability and confidence in regards to reading wiring diagrams and working on and around automotive electrical systems.
The installation process itself requires the testing of wires for voltage, studying of wiring diagrams to identify key components, and cutting/splicing into factory wiring harnesses.
If you do not have any prior experience with matters of this sort or do not feel confident in your understanding of automotive electrical circuits, then this is a job often better left to a professional installation.
This stems from the fact that the misidentification of wires or the unintentional splicing of an incorrect circuit can pop fuses, fry electrical components, and render your vehicle’s ignition system inoperable.
However, if you have ever conducted previous wiring tasks, such as installing aftermarket car audio radios or speakers, then this is likely a job well within your capabilities.
In any event, take your time to thoroughly study all relevant wiring diagrams, double-check all wires for the expected voltage outputs, and make all solder or crimp connections count.
Check out this article for more information on installing a remote car starter.
What Are The Price Ranges For DIY Remote Starter Install?
The cost involved with the DIY installation of a remote starter kit can vary significantly based upon the quality of the kit that is purchased, as well as the features and functions that this remote starter kit includes.
However, the cost associated with completing this task is generally no more expensive than the unit itself, as little more is required for the completion of this installation.
The following are average figures for the cost of a DIY remote starter installation.
Low-End Cost - $55-$60
Average Cost - $130-$140
High-End Cost - $230-$250
Supplies Needed For DIY Remote Starter Installation
- Vehicle Specific Remote Starter Kit
- An Assortment Of Fuses
- Electrical Tape
- Heat Shrink Tubing
- Zip Ties
- Vehicle Specific Wiring Diagram (if not included in your kit)
Necessary Tools For DIY Remote Starter Installation
- Test Light
- Soldering Iron
- Heat Gun or Hand Held Butane Torch
- Screw Drivers (Phillips and flathead)
- Full Set Of Metric Wrenches
- Full Set Of Metric Sockets
- ⅜” Ratchet
- 3”-⅜” Extension
What Are The Prices For Professional Remote Starter Installation?
By DIY installing your remote starter kit, you can save a substantial amount of money over taking your vehicle to a shop for professional installation of the same nature.
This is because you will be avoiding expensive shop labor costs that typically fall somewhere around the $100/per hour mark.
Professional installers charge these fees due to the substantial overhead that they must compensate for, which includes utility costs, expenditure for shop supplies, and payroll obligations.
The following are average costs associated with professional remote starter installation.
Low-End Cost - $175-$200
Average Cost - $225-$250
High-End Cost - $350-$400
Steps For DIY Remote Starter Installation
The following are general instructions for DIY remote starter installation.
Before beginning the installation of any electrical component, it is absolutely necessary to thoroughly read any instructions that are provided with the remote starter kit which you have purchased.
It is also important to understand that all automotive manufacturer guidelines relating to the topic of aftermarket device installation take precedence over those provided with any remote starter kit.
When in doubt, consult your OEM manual or contact the appropriate dealership for your make and model to discuss specific points of concern.
Step 1 - Double Check Remote Starter Kit Compatibility
Before DIY installation begins, ensure that the product that you have received is indeed the kit that you had ordered, and verify its compatibility with your particular vehicle.
This can be accomplished by comparing the product model number with charts found on most aftermarket accessory company's web-pages.
Step 2 - Carefully Read All Instructions
Take the time to read the instruction manual provided with your remote starter kit in its entirety. The importance of this step cannot be stressed enough, as a failure to do so can lead to vehicle component damage and costly repairs.
Step 3 - Carefully Study Vehicle Wiring Diagram
You will now look for all wires mentioned within your kit's instructions with the help of a vehicle/model specific wiring diagram.
Ensure that you know the color codes of all wires that are to be tapped into before ever turning a single wrench or making any cuts.
Step 4 - Ensure That All Is Functioning Properly
Before proceeding any further, you should now check the functionality of all ignition based circuits that your remote starter kit will be tapping into.
If any of these functions are inoperable, it is not likely that your remote start system will function when installed.
Step 5 - Remove Lower Dash Paneling
You must now decide where to place your remote starter module. The most common location for this is underneath your vehicle’s lower dash below the steering wheel.
Carefully study how your lower dash paneling is affixed to the remaining dash portions. Use the necessary tools to remove this paneling and lay it to the side.
Step 6 - Disconnect Car Battery
Before making any initial cuts, disconnect your car battery cables at their terminals. This prevents accidental arcing of current that can easily damage car electronics.
Step 7 - Locate Wiring
With a firm understanding of the wiring that is to be used during installation, peer into the lower dash segment.
Locate these wires, marking them if you feel that it will be of assistance. The exact number of wires that this will pertain to varies from one kit to the next.
Step 8 - Remove Any Additional Paneling For Access
Now that you know the location of the wires that are to be used, remove any additional paneling necessary, to gain unrestricted access to their location. You must keep in mind that ample space must be obtained to make all wiring junctions and solder for connectivity.
Step 9 - Connect Any Module Connections
Ensure that all wires are connected as specified to your remote starter module. Poorly made connections can lead to several issues and be troublesome to hunt down.
Step 10 - Attach Ground Wire
You will now begin connecting the unit’s wires to your vehicle. Start by hooking the unit ground wire to a suitable chassis ground in the under dash or kick panel region.
Step 11 - Locate Constant 12v Power Source
You will now locate the wire specified by your wiring diagram and kit instructions as a constant 12v source.
This can be verified with the use of a test light or multimeter. This wire when probed should illuminate a test light or show battery voltage when the ignition is in the off position.
You can now strip this wire as needed to connect the corresponding wire from your remote starter kit. Make this connection by securely soldering the wire junction in place.
Step 12 - Locate 12v Switched Power Source
Next, locate the 12v switched accessory power wire in your vehicle’s lower dash region. You can verify the identity of this wire with a test light or multimeter.
With the key in the “On” position, your test light should illuminate, or you should observe battery voltage on your multimeter.
When you have verified the identity of this wire, it can be stripped and soldered to the corresponding unit lead in the same manner as described in step #11.
Step 13 - Locate Ignition Wire
You will now locate your vehicle’s ignition wire coming from the ignition switch. This wire powers critical electrical components such as injectors and ignition coils. Once again, verify that you have the correct wire by checking for power with a test light or multimeter, with the key in the on position. This wire will then be soldered to the corresponding unit wire as described above
Step 14 - Locate Starter Wire
Next you will locate the wire that runs from the ignition switch, to its eventual connection with the starter solenoid. This wire can be verified only when the key is in the cranking position.
A test of this wire should show power when the key is cranked with the assistance of a second individual. Once you have verified the start of this wire, solder it to the corresponding wire of the remote starter module.
Step 15 - Make Additional Connections
Since every remote starter kit is different, some units dictate that other wiring connections must be made. Consult your remote starter kit’s instruction manual for further details.
Step 16 - Test For Proper Function
With all connections made, you will now reconnect your car battery cables, and attempt to start your vehicle using the newly installed remote starter function.
If your vehicle starts as anticipated, proceed to step #17. If your vehicle fails to start, verify the integrity of all connections.
Step 17 - Reassemble All Paneling
With your remote starter kit functional, you will now Zip-tie your unit’s module, as well as wiring, into place. Ensure that these components are mounted solidly, and are not coming into contact with any moving parts. Next, reassemble all trim to complete your install.
Luxury At The Touch Of A Button
Although the installation of a remote starter kit can be fairly involved, the reward that is gained through your efforts is well worth the afternoon of labor that it takes to complete this task.
Remember, consult a vehicle specific wiring diagram, read all instructions thoroughly, and take your time. With a little determination and an ample dose of patience, you too can experience the vast benefits that a remote starter ignition system has to offer.
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