This item about the Starbo Remote car starter was written in November of 2001
If you’ve read any of the other information on this site then you’ll know that I have an imported Japanese car.
If you don’t then have at my Toyota Crown pages.
The Toyota Crown is the same as the Lexus LS400 here, apart from a few minor cosmetic and functional differences.
This car has loads and loads of shiny little toys included as standard. For a start, everything is electric. Even the rear view mirror on the windscreen is electric! There are however a few toys that you won’t get on a car here.
The first is a TV, well it’s a LCD screen not a CRT. Yep I know you can now get them fitted but this comes as standard, AS STANDARD (so amazing I said it twice) on a 1989 model, plus its a touch screen LCD Screen!. You’re not supposed to use it whilst the vehicle is in motion and unless the car is in Park (its Automatic) otherwise the TV display won’t come on but the sound is still there. Thanks to a little meddling by my brother in law, it now works whatever 🙂
The second toy is a fridge, admittedly it’s not as big as your average kitchen unit but it’s big enough to hold six cans of coke and a few choccy bars. This sits in the rear parcel shelf, in between the two rear sub woofer speakers.
There are lots of other little bits that make the car unique, but that’s not what I want to talk about.
During my recent visit to Japan, my brother in law had bought a new car and on this he has had fitted a remote engine starter. This starts the engine before you get in it. Its primarily used for cars with Turbo’s so that if you’ve been thrashing it, the engine will stay running for about 10 minutes after you get out and walk away. This is to cool the turbo down, it keeps the oil circulating. The device also allows you to start the car remotely as well so you can heat the engine/turbo up as well.
The remote starter is a little black box which goes in between the wiring loom for the key start and the engine management system. It’s really easy to fit, as there are only four wires to attach. The first goes to the Hand brake; this detects to see if the hand brake is on. The second goes to the gear selector, this detects to see if the car is in Park or neutral, most cars don’t need this though, and the third links to the alarm system, stops the immobiliser from kicking in and the alarm going off. This however will only usually work with the manufacturers fitted alarm as the remote starter is designed to work with these. The last wire is for the aerial. There is an additional wire, which connects to the starter motor, as on some cars the starter will continue to run on after the car has started and this wire stops that. The salesman informed me that this was only needed in about 5% of all cars.
Once installed the box will beep twice to acknowledge that’s its live then its ready for use.
You get an alarm type key fob with the starter, which has an aerial, which extends for use further away from the car. The range of this is supposed to be 100m but I’ve started the car from further away than this.
Pressing the button produces a little “beep” noise and you will hear your car start if your close enough.
Now I can hear a few people saying, “Yeah, but what about car theft”…. Well, all the box does is start the car and a few of the accessories within it. If you get in the car and touch the brake pedal, the gear lever or disengage the hand brake the car will automatically stop. The version I have also connects to the standard Toyota Alarm and unless this is switched off then entry to the car will set it off and stop the engine and immobilize the car. So, its pretty safe as far as theft is concerned. Even if you start the car and forget about it, it will automatically switch itself off after 10 minutes and immobilize the car once more.
Before you can drive the car you must put your key in as well, firstly to release the steering wheel lock but also to turn on the accessories that don’t work with the remote starter. Only then can you drive it away.
“Well what’s the advantage to all this then”, I hear you cry. Well this country is famous for its lovely weather especially in the winter months and if you’ve every got into your car on a cold winters morning and scraped ice off the outside then sat inside freezing your arse off waiting for the heater to warm up and defrost the wind screen. Well, imagine me getting up, having breakfast, taking a shower and then starting the car from the warmth of my house. Up to ten minutes later I leave the house, sit in the car and the heater is pumping warm air out, the windows are clear and I’m off to work. I didn’t even have to stand outside long enough to get cold. Yep, I do feel quite smug every time I do that. Especially when I see my neighbours stood scraping ice of their cars.
The reverse is true in summer, how many times have you come back to your car and have been unable to get inside because your seats are as hot as the surface of the sun. Not, me. Just blip the switch on the remote and by the time I’ve walked the 100m to the car its nice and cool inside thanks to the air conditioning.
Now, if you’re thinking, “WOW! Where can I get one of these” then here’s the disappointing bit. They don’t sell them in the UK. I bought mine from Japan. Also they will only work on Japanese cars (Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, etc..), as the company who make them, Starbo, only develop them for the country they where intended, and as the Japanese market leans very heavily towards Japanese cars… Well you get the point.
But if your thinking, “Smug git!” Yep, I am, but then again it’s a very handy little toy and smug or not, I think this is the best thing I have ever bought for any of the cars I’ve owned and I wouldn’t give it up for anything in winter.
Note: I have recently sold my Crown and now own a Subaru Forester.