I recently saw a post on the Skyline Owners Forum along the lines of “whats this I found under my dash?” and a picture of an electronic box of tricks. Being the naturally curious type I Googled the part number (why the poster couldn’t I don’t know) and up came the remote engine start.
Is this common in Japan or are those crazy guys just coming up with more and more silly ideas just because they can?
No, apparently they are popular dependant on how lazy you are I guess and many use the starter to warm up the car on a cold day.
The Japanese for Remote Engine Starter isリモートエンジンスターターand (I kid you not) Is pronounced "rimooto enjin sutaataa". (Can hear you all saying it out loud).
I would guess that they are illegal in the UK as we are not allowed by law to leave a vehicle running whilst unattended. Remote starters are pretty much the same in any country, save for the frequency at which the transmiter operates on.
Quick! Robin San, hit the rimooto enjin sutaataa!
Where to Get One:
Getting your hands on a remote starter isn't exactly difficult in Japan and just like in the UK or USA they have auto factors that can fit them for you. Of course, there is always the internet and quick search will reveal 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 signal back to your starter module including information like temperature and engine status.
There is a catch even in Japan. Installing a third party remote starter can and often will void a car's warranty. Finally and most cruicially, starters are pretty much only available on automatic transmission cars. Many shops would not touch a manual starter kit 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 brake.