How to Safely Use a Remote Car Starter
Remote car starters can be convenient, especially on really cold or hot days. You can use them to heat up or cool off your car before you get into it, so you can have a more pleasant ride. But, factors like theft, accidental starting and fumes may all be worries if you aren’t familiar with these devices. Most remote car starters have built-in safety features to help prevent some of these incidents, but being extra careful is always a good idea. To get more out of your remote ignition system with less risk, consider these remote car starter safety tips and features:
Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Remote car starters trigger your car to idle, which releases exhaust. The Environmental Defense Fund notes that vehicle exhaust is bad for your health and increases air pollution. Among the toxins in exhaust is carbon monoxide, which, if inhaled, can be dangerous, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To help keep your family safe from vehicle fumes while your car is idling, the CDC says you should make sure the car is outside before starting it remotely. This can help prevent toxic gases from accumulating in the building. When away from home and on busy streets, you may not want to use the remote starter, since some municipalities have ordinances prohibiting unattended cars from idling on public roads, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Remote Car Starter Safety Features
Automatic Door Locks: Depending on the vehicle or after-market remote starter you choose, different safety features may be included in the system. For example, Lifewire.com notes that many starters have automatic door locks that engage when the car is remotely started, so no one can enter without the key, which may reduce the likelihood of theft.
Automatic Shut-off: Other remote starters will shut the car off after 10 minutes if there is no key in the ignition, according to the Star Tribune. Also note that in some places, it may be illegal to idle your car unattended (which is one of the main functions of a remote car starter), according to the U.S. Department of Energy, so consult your local laws before using one.
Lifewire says other features you may want to look for when purchasing a remote starter can include:
- Two-way remote controls: This allows the remote control to receive and display information, like the interior temperature of your vehicle.
- Starter disconnect: This feature may be able to prevent your vehicle from being “hot-wired,” or even shut the car down and activate the alarm if stolen.
- Control via smartphone app: This feature allows the system to be operated via smartphone (in addition to a key fob), where additional information can be displayed.
Having a remote car starter can make traveling in extreme temperatures a little easier. If you use one, remember these tips to help keep you and your car safe.
Originally published February, 2015.