Mercedes Remote Start: The Full Rundown
Whether your driving involves frigid winter temperatures or blazing summer heat, a remote car starter makes life easier and more comfortable. And, for luxury car buyers, it’s an essential part of the ownership experience. What’s involved with a Mercedes remote start? We’ll dive into the details. But first, let’s look at the origins of remote starting systems and car keys in general.
The Early Years: Car Keys and Remote Starting
The first car with a modern ignition key was a 1949 Chrysler. Although a button was still used to engage the starter, it wasn’t long after that turning the key became the sole function required to start a car. Fast forward a few decades as General Motors introduced the first anti-theft key (with a security chip) on the 1986 Chevrolet Corvette.
Around the same time, models with wireless keyfobs began to appear. A push of a button would lock or unlock car doors. Some systems even incorporated alarm activation/deactivation into the device. The now-familiar “chirp” became a typical sound in parking lots and driveways.
Although not a technological leap, the key for 1990 Mercedes-Benz SL was the first to feature a switchblade design. It’s a format that gave Mercedes’ flagship car a coolness factor. But, the automaker took advantage of the latest tech by introducing a proximity system for the 2003 model year. Thanks to a credit-card-sized device (later changed to a keyfob), drivers no longer need to push a button to unlock doors. A simple touch of the door handle was all that was required. It was an innovation now common on more and more cars 20 years later.
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So, what about remote starters? The first remote vehicle starter appeared in the 1970s. It was a cumbersome (and expensive) system that used radio transmissions to pump the gas (when most cars had carburetors) and engage the starter. Along the way, less cumbersome, keyfob-based aftermarket systems appeared. But, the inaugural factory remote starter appeared in the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu. It’s hard to imagine that a Mercedes remote starter wasn’t yet a thing, but you could get one on a mainstream Chevy.
Mercedes Remote Start and German Law
There’s a reason why Mercedes and other German automakers were behind the times when it came to remote start technology. German law prohibits the unnecessary idling of a vehicle. So, these brands were reluctant to build in a feature that might subject their customers to fines.
But competition is a wonderful thing. Mercedes (and its home-country rivals) soon realized that American and Japanese automakers were gaining ground with remote starters.
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Mercedes Remote Start Systems
Mercedes factory-installed remote start systems come in two versions:
Mercedes-Benz mbrace (2010-2015, 2016-2018)
Mercedes’ first foray into factory-installed remote start systems for the American market began with 2010 model-year vehicles. The “mbrace” system, which was later updated for 2016 models, includes many features accessible via a smartphone app or computer. Individual functionality may vary by model, model year, and subscription service.
- Remote Start: Start your car from virtually anywhere with the climate control system using the most recent setting.
- Remote Door Lock & Unlock: Lock or unlock the car via the app or a phone call to the mbrace operator.
- Remote Lights & Horn: Activate the lights and horn to find the car or attract attention in an emergency.
- Address forwarding: Called Send2Benz, the Mercedes app enables owners to forward an address directly to the car’s navigation system.
- Car Locator: Use this feature to locate a parked Mercedes or monitor its location.
- Access to Roadside Assistance: Help with a flat tire, jump start, or other needs is a few clicks away via the Mercedes smartphone app or mbrace operator.
- Valet Limiter: Set up a virtual fence to monitor the car’s location and activities when it’s in the hands of someone else.
- Message Center: Receive car-related messages about service reminders and other matters.
- Dealer Locator: Either through the app or the car-based system, contact a dealer for help.
- Additional Monitoring: Mercedes cars with the mbrace system have extra monitoring capability, including a curfew minder, speed alert, expanded virtual fences (called travel zones), and a driving journal that digitally captures travel activity.
Mercedes me connect (2019 and newer)
Carrying over much of the functionality of the mbrace system, the automaker released the Mercedes Me connect system for the 2019 model year. In addition to the Mercedes’ remote start, the new setup includes in-car Wi-Fi access, automated software updates, and an improved speech recognition system.
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Mercedes Remote Start: Pros and Cons
There are tradeoffs with most vehicle systems, and it’s no different with Mercedes remote start. Let’s dig into the details.
- Convenience: Warming up a snow-covered car without leaving the house is just one benefit to a Mercedes remote start. The windows may clear up on their own, or at least it’s easier to scrape off the ice and snow.
- Comfort: Sitting on a chilly seat in the winter or on scorching upholstery in the summer is no fun. A remote start system can help the cabin reach a comfortable climate before anyone ever gets inside.
- Security: Starting a car ahead of time can bring peace of mind. This is especially helpful in potentially vulnerable situations like a garage or desolate parking lot.
- Engine Care: While most modern engines don’t need warm-up time, such measures can be helpful in frigid climates when engine lubrication may not be at its best.
- Environmental Issues: Simply said, the longer a car runs, the more pollution it puts into the atmosphere.
- Fuel Economy: The American Automobile Association says that fifteen minutes of idling time uses about a quarter of a gallon of gasoline. This will eat into a car’s fuel economy and cost more at fill-up time.
- Reliability: Remote start systems, for the most part, are reliable. However, any troubles are likely to result in pricey repair bills because these features use complex technology. At the same time, most newer remote starters rely on smartphone apps, so the system is only as good as the phone. In other words, a remote start is useless with a dead or malfunctioning phone.
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