Choosing automotive wants over needs not always wise

“When we service cars in the shop we are always making lists …” writes Nutini

It is the season of giving. Many times our significant others ask us for some sort of list of things we want for Christmas. When it comes time to purchase something sometimes what we want is not at all what we need. Our significant others may choose to purchase more of what we need than what we want. I want a new watch but all my socks have holes in them. The watch will put a smile on my face but the socks will keep my feet warm and healthy.

When we service cars in the shop we are always making lists of what certain vehicles need as far as repairs and maintenance are concerned. Sometimes our customers choose their wants over our suggested needs.

A somewhat common winter request is “command start” or remote start. Push a button while you are still having your morning breakfast and your vehicle starts and begins warming up all by itself. Getting in a cold car is no fun. Getting in a warmed up vehicle with fully defrosted windows (no scraping) can be quite pleasurable.

Command start is a fairly common option on newer vehicles. We are fairly close to having vehicles that will drive themselves so making a vehicle that starts itself is not that challenging.

On the other hand if your vehicle was not built with self starting in mind the process of making it start without you in it can be a challenge. Yes, there are companies offering remote start products and the price shown can be enticing but make sure you know the bigger component of making the system work is the installation. The quality of the product and the installation are extremely important. In many cases the quality of the product is only as good as the installation.

If you have a fairly late model vehicle that could be purchased with a remote start option than all you might need to purchase would be some software and possibly a different key fob remote. This is the best scenario. No new electrical work needs doing and all the safety features and anti theft systems will remain intact.

If your vehicle was not designed for remote starting then installing a system that maintains all your vehicle’s alarm, anti theft, and convenience features will take some time and significant knowledge. The backbone of the system will be a small computer-like device and it will have to be connected into your vehicle’s electrical system.

Starting a car without anyone being in control of it requires a lot of inputs to be determined.

Is the vehicle in park or neutral? Is the parking brake on? Is the vehicle locked and windows rolled up. Is the person starting the vehicle actually a person who is allowed to start it and drive it?

The remote start installer is putting in a black box that is supposed to check that all safety precautions are taken into account. In many cases though some trickery is performed to make the vehicle start.

Most vehicles in this day and age have anti theft (immobilizer) systems. Your key that starts the vehicle is both a mechanical device that must match the ignition lock and as well an electronic match to the immobilizer system. If a key is not present the vehicle must be electronically fooled into starting.

So you may want a remote start system but I suggest checking the needs list first. If your vehicle needs a new thermostat, a new cabin air filter, and a new battery I would suggest starting there.

A battery will make sure your vehicle starts when you turn the key. A thermostat will make sure your vehicle heats up quickly and the cabin air filter will help your windows defrost more quickly.

Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. E-mail: nutechauto@telus.net

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Headlamps 101

Few drivers get their vehicle headlamps aimed, yet this is important

(Pixabay)
B.C. seniors advocay groups responds to election platforms

BC Seniors Living Assn is dedicated to being a valuable source for development, education and growth

On Remembrance Day this year, many Canadians will be reflecting on the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Among those will be war amputee veteran Bob Gondek (pictured), who served alongside the Allied Forces with the 2nd Polish Corps during the Italian Campaign. In 1944, Bob was based outside Loretto, Italy when heavy gun fire broke out, resulting in the loss of part of his left arm below the elbow. Bob immigrated to Canada where he became a member of The War Amps, an association originally started by amputee veterans returning from the First World War to help each other adapt to their new reality as amputees. For the last 50 years on Remembrance Day, Bob has laid a wreath to honour his comrades and pay tribute to all those who lost their lives. Photo: War Amps
Second World War veteran shares story of service, loss of limb

For 50 years, Bob has laid a wreath to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives.

Cam Hope has been hired as the new CEO of BC Hockey and will begin his tenure on Monday, Oct. 26.  Photo: Jim Bailey.
BC Hockey names new CEO

Former Victoria Royals president, Cam Hope, to lead BC Hockey into next decade

Katrine Conroy has won for the fifth time in the Kootenay West riding. Photo: Submitted
Katrine Conroy ready to tackle challenges after election

Conroy won the Kootenay West riding for the fifth time

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health sees 31 new cases of COVID-19 over record-breaking weekend

Eighty-six cases remain active and one person is hospitalized with the virus

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Most Read