If you live in an area with extreme weather—like Phoenix, AZ in the summer or Buffalo, NY in the winter—you’ll thoroughly enjoy equipping your vehicle with a VPA Remote Engine Starter from Summit Racing. Depending on your model and onboard computer capability, you can even lock and unlock doors, pop your truck, locate your vehicle, kill its ignition, or activate the parking lights awith its remote control.

The VPA Remote Engine Starter (with keyless entry) is a stand-alone system with three channels of operation. The kit includes everything you’ll need for the installation—two three-channel remote controls, wiring loom, relays, antennas and a manual with several different wiring diagrams. A word of caution, however; vehicles with an anti-theft system require a bypass module and T-harness, both of which are sold separately. This is not an easy installation and it is highly recommended that an experienced professional perform the installation to avoid any problems.

As we said above, extreme weather locations can add to the pleasure of having one of these kits, because you can cool the interior down if it’s hot, or warm it up if it’s freezing outside. But if you live in more moderate climates, you can still enjoy the remote starter by surprising your friends or having the engine fully warmed up when you slip behind the wheel. One caveat, though: make sure the battery is disconnected or the remote controls are secured whenever you work on the engine. You also need to warn any mechanic that works on your vehicle.

The other cautionary note I have is your starter. If the vehicle has over 50,000 miles on the odometer or if its mileage has accrued in harsh conditions, we suggest replacing the starter at the same time. You wouldn’t want to trigger the remote and unknowingly cause the starter to clash, burn up, or lock on. You want the starter to work right every time. Replace the starter and then save the old starter just in case you and a friend might need it in the future.

Just about any vehicle can benefit from a remote starter. We even put one in our Jeep Wrangler recently. Follow along in the slideshow below for highlights of the installation.

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Everything is included in the kit you’ll need to install the remote starter kit. It is highly recommended, however, that an experienced expert do the installation.

As per the instructions, particular circuits have to be tracked down.

This is one of the reasons an expert is recommended. The wiring beneath the dash must be accessed.

As you can see, this is a very complicated install and a novice shouldn’t attempt it.

None of the OEM circuits are cut during the install but several are accessed.

Dave Schupp of Precision Automotive is connecting the remote system’s wiring loom to the vehicle’s existing wiring.

This is the antenna. It’s connected beneath the dash and then routed up to the base of the windshield. It is equipped with a glue patch, so we attached it to the A-pillar on the passenger side of the vehicle.

The remote controls attach to your key ring and offer three channels for controlling your vehicle.

Since my vehicle has over 90,000 miles on the clock, 90 percent of which were in New England, I decided a new AC Delco starter was called for.

Having changed many GM starters over the years—in high school my Buick went through a starter every two months for a year (fortunately, they all had 90-day warranties)—the size of the Jeep’s starter surprised me.

I matched it to the OEM starter, making sure the bolts fit properly.

Don’t do what I did initially; the inside bolt is the starter bolt. I removed the bell housing bolt first.

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Author: Jim Brightly

A former editor of Truckin’ and Trailer Life magazines, and tech editor of Four Wheeler, Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road, and Family Motor Coaching magazines, Jim Brightly is now a semi-retired photojournalist living, writing, and wheeling in northern Arizona. He’s been building and wheeling Jeeps for more than fifty years.