Remote car starters are a great convenience, especially during cold winter months. With these devices, you can start your car from the warmth of your home and have it nice and toasty by the time you’re ready to hit the road. But what should you do if your car starter isn’t working properly?
If your car starter isn’t working, replace the fob batteries, then check that the car doors, hood, and trunk are closed, and that the car is in “Park.” Find the remote starter kill switch inside the car and make sure it’s on. Still having trouble? Contact a professional to reset the remote starter.
Remote car starters consist of three main parts: the remote, the receiver, and the starter. If your starter isn’t working, the problem can be with any of these parts. Let’s take a closer look at how you can fix a car starter and when it’s time to get professional assistance.
Replace Your Remote Batteries
Car fobs usually work on lithium coin batteries that can last for a while, but sometimes they die earlier than they’re supposed to. There could be several reasons for this, including extreme temperatures, moisture, or simply a bad batch of batteries.
When this happens, the remote starts to act wonky or may not work from a distance — and eventually, it stops working entirely. So, before moving to more complicated fixes, pop in a new set of batteries and test it. This cheap and easy fix can save you a lot of time and trouble.
Make sure you use good-quality batteries, too. If you live in a cold climate, it might be worth investing in lithium batteries specifically designed for low temperatures.
The CR2032 battery (on Amazon) is a common battery found in car starters, but be sure to check your device or manual before you make a purchase.
Make Sure Your System Is Functioning Properly
Almost all modern remote car starters are attached to the car’s computer system through a data-link connector. This allows the starter to interact with the car’s ignition, security and safety systems.
But it also means that the remote starter has to be highly compatible with the car’s computer system. If there’s any mismatch in the programming or installation, the starter may not work properly.
The best way to avoid this problem is to buy a starter specifically designed for your car’s make and model — and hire a professional to install it. This may cost more, but it’ll save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
However, if you’re already experiencing system problems, the best thing to do is to take your car to a professional for diagnosis and reprogramming. In some cases, they might be able to guide you on how to fix the problem yourself. But it’s best to let them handle it directly to be safe.
Turn On Your Remote Starter Switch
Some remote starters are installed with a physical “kill switch” that needs to be turned on for the car starter to work. This is usually located inside one of the fuse boxes or under the dash, but it could be practically anywhere.
If you’re not sure where it is, consult your car’s manual or the place where you got your starter installed.
Sometimes the switch can accidentally get turned off due to a power surge or simply being bumped. So it’s a good idea to have a look and make sure it’s in the “on” position.
Make Sure That the Doors, Hood, and Trunk Are Closed
All remote starters are equipped with safety sensors that prevent the car from starting if it’s not in a “safe” state. This means the car’s hood, trunk and door should be properly latched and closed for the remote starter to work.
Most cars have just one sensor located under the hood, so as long as that’s closed, the car should start. However, there can be additional sensors located in different places depending on the vehicle. The sensors can be in the form of pressure pins or tilt switches.
If you try to start the car while one of these sensors is triggered, the car will usually give you a warning beep or light to let you know something’s not right. Or, the remote starter may not work at all.
The Vehicle Must Be in Park
Remote starters operate in two modes: Valet and Park. In valet mode, the wireless fob can lock and unlock the car, but the car starter won’t work.
This is useful if you’re going to leave your car with a parking attendant. They won’t be able to start the car unless you turn off the mode or give them a key.
Park mode is the regular mode you use to start your car from a distance. Often, people press multiple buttons on their fob and accidentally switch into valet mode. Or, if your fob is inside a bag with other items, it can get pressed and switched over without you knowing.
The remote starter can also automatically switch to valet mode after a temporary battery disconnection, like when you’re getting your car serviced.
An easy way to tell if your car is in park or valet mode is by looking at the car lights. If your car flashes lights when you lock/unlock it but doesn’t do anything when you hit the car starter button, it’s probably in valet mode.
You can switch between these modes by pressing a combination of buttons on your fob. Usually, it’s the Lock and Trunk buttons, but it can be different for each car. Check your fob’s instructions to be sure.
Make Sure You’re Using Your Remote Properly
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often people fail to follow the basic rules of using a remote starter.
First, you need to be within range of your car. The average range is about 200 feet, but it can be less or more depending on the car and the remote. Some starters, like the Compustar CS7900 (on Amazon), can function from up to 3,000 feet.
If you’re too far away, the signal won’t reach your car. Similarly, the starter may not process the signal if you’re inside the car with the fob.
Second, different car fobs have different requirements for starting the engine. Sometimes, you need to press the “Start” button just once. In others, you may need to hold the button down for a few seconds or press it multiple times. Again, check your fob’s instructions to be sure.
Finally, multiple attempts to start the car in quick succession may trigger the car’s anti-theft system. In this case, you’ll need to manually start the car with an ignition key to reset the system.