Unlocking the Difference: 1-Way vs. 2-Way Remote Car Starters

Waking up early on a frosty winter morning to scrape ice off your windshield and sit in a freezing vehicle while it warms up is no one’s idea of fun. But what if you could start your engine and get the heater running nice and toasty from the comfort of your bed? Enter remote car starters – one of the best conveniences for cold weather climates, and a specialty of TAS Electronics. Remote car starters allow you to start your vehicle’s engine from a distance with the push of a button on a key fob remote. But you have likely seen or heard the terms 1-way and 2-way used to describe these systems which can cause some confusion. The purpose of this guide is to provide clarity on how standard remote starters function, what the core differences are between 1-way and 2-way system configurations, and why most experts recommend upgrading to a 2-way remote starter for the full benefits of remote engine start.

How Remote Car Starters Work

Before diving into the key distinctions between 1-way and 2-way remote car starters, it is helpful to understand exactly what these devices do and how they work their magic.

Overview of Remote Start Functionality

  • At the most basic level, remote starters allow you to start your vehicle’s engine from hundreds of feet away with the simple push of a button on a keychain remote control
  • This brings the interior temperature to a comfortable level by the time you get in your vehicle
  • No more scraping frost in frigid temperatures or getting into an oven-hot car in summer
  • Remote starters typically also allow you to use your remote to lock and unlock the doors as well

Operating Principles of 1-Way Systems

  • 1-Way remote starter systems use what is known as uni-directional communication technology
  • This means the key fob remote sends a command signal to the vehicle only
  • There is no capability for the vehicle to communicate confirmation back to the remote that the command was received and executed
  • This is similar to how a standard original equipment (OEM) keyless entry key fob operates
  • Without positive confirmation, 1-way systems provide no guarantee that your car has actually responded to the start command
  • 1-Way system remotes also have more limited range capabilities due to simpler technology
  • The advantage of these units is that they are generally more affordable than 2-way remote start configurations

Operating Principles of 2-Way Systems

  • 2-Way remote car starters utilize bi-directional communication between the remote fob and the vehicle
  • This means the vehicle will send back confirmation that your start command has been received and executed
  • The confirmation is provided by combination of audible tones, LED light flashes, graphics and text messages on an LCD display screen
  • This gives you peace of mind that your car has successfully started when it is out of sight
  • 2-Way systems provide extended operating range between the vehicle and remote control
  • They also integrate seamlessly with smartphone control apps
  • The advanced capabilities come with a higher price tag over 1-way units

Key Differences Between 1-Way and 2-Way Systems

Now that you understand the basic functionality of remote start systems, let’s explore some of the major differences between entry-level 1-way and premium 2-way configurations:

Range Capabilities

  • 1-Way remotes typically top out at around 1,500 feet of operating range
  • This allows remote start from average-size homes in most instances
  • 2-Way systems provide over 3 times farther range at approximately 5,000 feet
  • The extended range gives more flexibility to remote start from work, restaurants or other locations

Feedback and Status Notifications

  • 1-Way systems send the start command to the car and provide zero status feedback
  • You will not know if the car actually started unless it is visible
  • 2-Way remotes actively receive confirmation from the vehicle that the command executed properly
  • Provides assurance through combination of audible tones, bright LED flashes, screen messages
  • Gives you visibility to engine runtimes, vehicle interior temps, etc.

Convenience and Control

  • Most 1-Way remotes have no capability to integrate with smartphone control apps
  • 2-Way systems work seamlessly with smartphone apps to deliver unlimited range
  • Gives control from anywhere with cellular service for both parties
  • Apps provide features like real-time tracking, roadside assistance requests, etc.

Security System Integration

  • 2-Way remote car starters integrate with security and alarm systems
  • If someone tampers with or breaks into your car, alerts can be pushed to the 2-way remote
  • 1-Way configurations do not support these crucial notifications

Benefits of 2-Way Remote Car Starters

Given the advanced capabilities 2-way systems provide over 1-way units, it should come as no surprise that they deliver some compelling benefits:

Reliability and Assurance

  • The confirmation provided by 2-way system gives confidence that your car has successfully responded to all commands
  • This prevents frustration from failed remote start attempts
  • Provides peace of mind that desired actions executed properly

Increased Range

  • With over 5,000 feet of operating range, 2-way remotes allow remote start from farther locations like:
    • Inside workplace buildings
    • Restaurants and stores
    • Far reaches of parking lots
  • Gives more effective remote start flexibility

Complete Status Information

  • 2-Way remotes equipped with LCD displays deliver enhanced insights like:
    • Runtime countdowns so you know exactly when your vehicle is safe and ready
    • Vehicle interior temperatures
    • Door lock confirmation
    • Alerts to any alarm triggers
  • Allows you to make informed decisions from anywhere

Enhanced Convenience

  • Seamlessly connects with smartphone apps to remote start, lock/unlock from anywhere with cell service
  • Gives effective unlimited range
  • Provides other useful features like GPS tracking of your vehicle’s location If you desire maximum confidence, control convenience and connectivity from your remote start system, 2-way models unlock the full potential – especially when paired with smartphone integration.

Now that you have clarity regarding key differences between standard 1-way and advanced 2-way remote car starters, TAS Electronics is ready to help upgrade your vehicle in the Toledo, Ohio region! As a top authorized Compustar dealer, TAS Electronics provides:

  • Wide variety of Compustar 1-way and 2-way remote start/keyless entry systems
  • Professional installation by experienced technicians
  • Excellent customer service
  • Lifetime support for products Contact TAS Electronics today to revolutionize the way you start your vehicle and take advantage of warmer, ice-free driving in winter!


What is the range difference between 1-way and 2-way systems?

1-way remotes provide around 1,500 feet while 2-way systems over 3 times higher at approximately 5,000 feet of operating range. This allows 2-way models to start your engine from farther locations. 

Do I need a smartphone to use a 2-way system? 

No, 2-way remotes work great as self-contained standalone key fob controllers. However, they have seamless integration with smartphone control apps to give you unlimited range.

Can 1-way systems confirm commands like 2-way?

No, 1-way systems only send the start signal one direction so they cannot confirm back that the command was executed properly. Only 2-way remotes have this bi-directional capability.

Is a 2-way system compatible with my older car?

Yes, Compustar 2-way remote start and security systems are designed for compatibility across a wide range of vehicle makes, models and years. Our techs can advise on any fitment questions. 

What happens if my 2-way remote’s battery dies?

No worries – your remote start will continue to function. However, you would need to replace the battery in order to get status confirmation alerts. Lithium batteries provide longest battery life.

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