Yes, folks, it’s almost Halloween, the one day every year when it’s socially correct to frighten children. While we don’t encourage you to be the source of anyone’s childhood PTSD, we recommend a remote engine starter as the core of a good car-based prank: a Christine-like, deranged car ready to run down its poor, pedestrian victims.
Now, there’s nothing scary about a car starting. We hear that sound every time we walk through a parking lot. Even when an engine fires up right next to us, we merely look to make sure we’re not about to be backed over by a text addict.
So, for your own remote starter-based freakout, you need to take a few extra steps:
Set the Scene
Wait until it’s nearly dark. You might want to rent a smoke machine. The most important thing will be getting the car to “stare down” its victims. This works best if you live on a dead-end street and can just park it in the middle of the road. But the driveway will work just fine. You’ll also want to funnel people into its path via some keep-off-the-grass obstacles or decorations.
Prep the Star
First, you need to install a remote car starter. We offer several, like this one from Directed Electronics. Add a driver, per your preference of ghoul: bloody skeleton, zombie, Freddy Kruger, Miley Cyrus, etc. Set the dome light to “on” and cover it with several sheets of red transparency. Roll down the windows. Record an audio track of yourself laughing hysterically like Mark Hamill’s Joker on bath salts, then set it to play. Turn on the headlights and cover them with more red-orange gels. Then turn off the car.
Fire it Up
Wait until all the little urchins come trundling up your driveway, hauling thirty pounds of sugary conquest each, and hit the remote starter. Your chariot and its murderous driver will be red-lit with the fires of hell, laughing all the way. You won’t even have to buy any candy. They’ll never make it to the door.
For best results, use a 1958 Plymouth Fury with an upgraded exhaust. Anything with a V8 or bigger will work, though don’t give up if you only have an NA Miata. You can do alot with those pop-up eyeballs headlights and that slack-jawed stare.
But seriously, folks, Halloween isn’t the only reason to get a remote starter kit. The winter winds are blowing across your doorway, and sooner or later, you’re going to have to traverse them to get to your car.
Yes, we just told you not to let your car idle in the driveway for minutes on end, and that a seat warmer is better. But some of you live in extremely cold climates where warming your car is a good idea, and some of you weren’t going to listen to us, anyway. Plus, though seat warmers heat up quickly, it will be nice to have them all toasty by the time you settle your rump in the bucket.
Remote starters for cars have gotten pretty awesome. They’re even available for us civilized human beings who drive the elusive manual-equipped car (as long as we don’t park them in gear).
But that’s old news when it comes to remote start tech. Directed Electronics has done some incredible stuff of late. Every remote start system begins with a transmitter and a computer interface. Directed’s NEXGEN Series interface works with about 95% of cars on the road. Some compatible transmitters like the SuperCode have cool features like outside temperature readouts and lock status, right on the fob.
Then we get to the really cool stuff. Directed has come up with a series of all-inclusive smartphone apps and receivers designed to pair with existing transmitters. They call it SmartStart, but to say it’s a starter is like saying Jennifer Lawrence has a pretty smile. It’s true, but there’s much more to the total package, and it’s all awesome.
Available on Android, iOS, and Blackberry-equipped devices, SmartStart works over The Cloud, which actually isn’t a mystical pink cumulonimbus cluster floating over the Sahara and pooping out unicorns, but is a communications network. This means if you have cell service, and your car is in range of a cell tower, you can use any of SmartStart’s features, no matter how far away you are.
Those features include standard fob controls like lock/unlock, start, panic, and trunk release, but other, less conventional functions like GPS tracking (who’s Lojack?), vehicle status, OBDII codes, a parking tracker, and lockdown alerts.
I have a hunch, too, that the SmartStart was designed by parents of teenagers. You can set alerts to let you know when your car is in certain areas or when it exceeds the speed limit. Yes, Tanner/Logan/Kinley/Taylee, mom and dad don’t just pay for your unlimited family plan, they can use it against you.
This is the kind of thing that’s great to have year round, not just when the cold is making your skull contract.
But it’s also great for frightening children.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.