Remote Start Tutorial
Never Get Into a Too Hot Or Too Cold Car Again

This is long so you might want to grab a beverage and bowl of munchies then settle in.

For those who live in places that get very cold or very hot a remote start is something to consider for your car. There are many options for the Avalon ranging from Toyota's own product to aftermarket alarm systems that include remote start along with intruder alerts. I spent weeks researching options before pulling the trigger on my system. My objective, start the Avalon from a checkout line in a store when temperatures climb to 115 and higher (yeh, it's a dry heat...but....) here in the desert.

Here's what I ended up with and it's perfect for my needs, but maybe not yours. That's why the yay or nay tutorial follows the description of my system.

Directech's 4x10 module. Relax, a couple of those harnesses aren't even used and of the others you only use a few of the wires. This is an expandable autostart system that lets you start your car with everything from your OEM remote to SmartStart, a subscription service offering very long range control of your vehicle. Read about the options here. Note the similar 5x10 module includes an aftermarket alarm. It uses the same connections to the vehicle as the 4x10 but adds a siren and some other bits. Since the Avalon is generally at low risk for theft and has its own basic alarm system I just went with the 4x10 for the autostart function. Installation instructions are posted here. Just to save you time, the Avalon is installation type 4. Scroll down to page 15 of the pdf file.

Python 9856P remote fob.  This is a 2-fob set, one is two-way and the other 1-way like your OEM remote. It includes an antenna that attaches to the windshield (looks like a gps antenna) and plugs into the module.

My reasoning: The 4x10 module offers all the current function I was looking for with expansion capabilities for the future. It's reasonably priced and I only needed to attach about 10 wires to the car's system. That last part I've since re-thought. Pay someone else to do it, your back will thank you.

The Python remote is made by the same company (Directed) that makes the majority of popular remotes and alarms such as Viper, Avital etc. and all reviews I read indicated excellent range. After I installed my system I drove to a massive Super Walmart, parked well out in the lot then walked to the back of the store. From the automotive department I pressed the start button on the 2-way remote and was rewarded with a light and sound indicating the command had been accepted by the 4x10 module and the car had been started. I then stopped the engine (same button) and received confirmation. Later, I started the car at the check stand and rolled my purchases out to find the Avalon purring away, daytime lights and tail lights on, doors locked. The engine kept running while I placed my purchases in the trunk but stopped as soon as I opened the driver's door. This is a Toyota quirk (they call it a safety feature) that we just have to accept, there's no way around it. The engine starts again, of course, as soon as you sit down and press the start button so there's little AC or heater time lost. One heads up, your rear window and mirror defrosters won't come on with a remote start but in the Avalon your heater/ac and seat heat/cooling will rise or fall to the temps they were set for when you exited the car.

Interested? Ok, before you choose any system, you should make a list of everything you expect from this purchase because everyone's needs will be different.

Yay or Nay?

1. The distance the OEM remote reaches (test by walking away from your car and hitting door lock/unlock but typically 50 feet) is fine.

Downside, you probably won't be able to start your car from inside a building unless you're close or standing next to a glass door and can see the car someplace in the lot. Can you currently lock/unlock your car from inside your home or office? Upside, you won't have to carry two keyfobs. In this case the Toyota autostart may be just what you're looking for. All the wiring is included in a harness on the passenger side of the Avalon. You remove a few dash panels, bolt in the module with an included bracket, plug it in (no wire splicing) then program it using Toyota's Techstream software and you're done. Probably under an hour.

2. You require a longer distance so the vehicle can be started from inside a building.

, You'll be carrying two keyfobs. The OEM fob is still needed to start the car (when you're ready to drive away) and to allow door lock/unlock by touching the door handle. Upside, wild range possibilities. A fairly simple two-way fob allows starting the car (my experience) from the far reaches of a big-box retail store. Some fobs work with a monthly Smartstart subscription allowing you to start/lock/unlock the car from virtually anyplace on the planet. With the longer range (and alarm system) you can get your horn honking after you've lost the car in a parking lot.

3. Need a 2-way remote for feedback.

Downside, 2-way remotes are a little more expensive and are sometimes larger than your OEM fob. Upside, you'll receive instant feedback on the remote (either with an LED or on screen indicator) that your car has started and doors are locked.

4. Two-way remote should have an lcd screen to monitor all functions and receive alerts. Fob

Downside, fobs with screens use a lot more battery power than non-screen types. Some can be recharged just by plugging into a charger but will you remember to do it? My observations are those screens get badly scratched just from being in a pocket rubbing against everything else on a keychain. They tend to be (but aren't always) larger than your OEM fob. Upside, You can see a visual representation of everything that's happening with your car including alarm sounding, doors locked or unlocked, engine started or stopped remotely etc. These fobs are frequently used with monthly subscription services which offer almost unlimited range plus visual feedback from the vehicle.

5. One-way remote (what you have now with your OEM fob) would be fine. 1way

Downside, While you can remotely start your car from a long distance (along with lock/unlock) you won't know whether anything actually happened after you pressed the button on the remote. Upside, 1-way remotes are less expensive and generally smaller while offering a lot more range than the OEM remote. Many only have a single button. By the way, with the 4x10 module (and perhaps others) you can still use your OEM remote to start the car. Just press the lock button 3 times if you're within 50 feet and the engine fires up.

6. Looking For Easy install (possibly do it yourself)

This depends on your skill set. Downside, you'll be investing several hours to remove dash panels, locate and splice (in most instances just use clips) wiring. This is really hard on your back (trust me on that one). Upside, If you don't have an issue with removing dash panels, locating color coded wiring both for the vehicle and module then this probably won't be a problem for you. All you really need is time and a back that won't complain after several hours of working under the dash from both outside (on your knees) and inside the vehicle. Remember, there's always the Toyota OEM module. It's a very easy install, the wiring is already in the car but the range is very short.

7. Probably hire someone for the install

The way most people go and certainly the way I'd recommend. Downside, it requires an investment beyond purchase of the remote starter/alarm system. Upside, in most areas there will be an installer that deals with custom radios and alarms. Many offer a long warranty on their work so while it might bring a little pain to your wallet your back will probably thank you.

What To Choose?

Now that you've checked yay or nay to the items above and probably added some items of your own it's time to consider your next move.

Try searching for remote starters or alarm systems including all or most of the items you've said 'yes' to above. Narrow those keywords until you get a decent sampling. Read all you can about individual products and ask questions of the vendors. If you just want to get this done without investing a lot of time, find a one-stop store like Best Buy to make the purchase and have the install done. An alternative, you can purchase online after making sure the installer (assuming someone else is doing it) will actually work on a particular brand. Some installers may charge more if you don't buy the system from them while others make their money on the install, not the hardware. Just don't get stuck with an off brand system that nobody will install for you unless you plan to do the work yourself.

There, wasn't that simple? When you're finished you won't believe how often you'll want to get the car started to get heat or ac going and sitting down in a pre-warmed driver's seat on a cold winter morning? Ahhhh, there's no going back.