As it turns out, many drivers in Japan opt for a remote engine starter, even in places that aren't very cold. Let's take a look how to pimp out your J-ride.
Remote starters are pretty much the same in any country, save for the frequency at which the transmiter operates on. However, on an annicdotal level, it seems that many more drivers opt for this add-on as when compared to their counterparts in the USA.
Where to Get One
Getting your hands on a remote starter isn't exactly difficult. You can simply mosey on down to you nearest Autobacs, Yellow Hat, or local electronics retailer and they are sure to have at least a few models in stock. Of course, there is always the internet and quick search will relieve everything from basic starter packages to fancier versions that give you all sorts of information about your car on a teeny-tiny screen. Newer cars also come with the option of purchasing a built in starter kit. These original manufacturer models are often much more expensive the after market ones.
Most starters are "one-way," which means they simply send a signal to the engine to start cranking. However, fancier models have a "answer back" feature built in where the car with periodically transmit a single back to your starter module including information like temperature and engine status.
Here is the tricky part. Unless you are really, really, really good with cars, professional installation is almost a necessity. Luckily, if you buy a starter from a big auto chain, they will often offer on-the-spot installation. Of course, this all costs extra. Depending on the store, the cost can vary, but it is usually over 10,000 yen depending on the make and model of your car. Many big auto shops allow you to bring your own starter kit as well provided you make an installation appointment in advance.
However, there is a catch. Installing a third party remote starter can and often will void your car's warranty. Some exceptions to this rule might be select starters installed by an authorized auto dealer. Make sure you consult your manufacturer before installing a starter kit. Also, if you buy a used car with a starter then make sure to check about any warranty issues before purchasing.
Finally, starters are pretty much only available on automatic transmission cars. Many shops won't touch a manual starter kit due unless the car is an automatic due to the potential liability issues. Apparently there have been some high profile cases of manual cars getting remotely activated only to roll off and hit some one since the owner forgot to shift out of gear and apply the parking break. A little web research has only yielded one result for a shop that does manual transmission starters.
Do you have a manual starter or have you had experience getting one installed? If so, let us know in the comments section!