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Your Free Toyota Remote Start Could Disappear Soon: Here is What You Need to Know

I break it down by Toyota model and year, including RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid. How long your free remote engine start will last.

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There has been a lot of talk in Toyota fan circles these past few days about remote engine start.

Specifically, people are learning their remote engine start that is operated by key fobs does not stay free forever.

Toyota Remote Start

Beginning with 2018 model years, Toyota began introducing their Connected Services, which includes Remote Connect. Remote engine start, which works through the key fob as well as digitally, is tied to Remote Connect.

A free trial of Remote Connect, usually a 1-year free trial, is included in the purchase of many popular Toyota models. Toyota RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid are in the mix here.

VIDEO YOU MAY ENJOY: Demo of Toyota Remote Connect. I explain the remote start issue, including all details you may want to know.

When the free trial expires, customers will have the choice to pay for continuing Remote Connect, which includes remote engine start from the key. Or they can simply let the service lapse.

Remote Connect is normally present when a vehicle comes with either Audio Plus or Premium Audio multimedia systems.

Toyota models pre-2018 should still have their included remote engine start if they had it to begin with. There will be no subscription service.

Speaking of subscriptions, how about costs?

Cost for Toyota Remote Connect Subscription

Owners can continue their Remote Connect service for $8 per month. Most Toyota models (but not all), including RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid, allow for a cheaper monthly purchase by pre-paying $80 per year ($6.67 per month).

The question now becomes is it worth it for a person or family to add yet another fee to their budgets. This is a tough one. Is the value worth the cost?

Personally, I do not like the idea of charging for remote engine start through use of the key. Especially when that feature had been previously free up until 2018.

My wife owns a 2021 Highlander Limited and I own a 2021 Venza Limited. We both just paid $80 each for Remote Connect subscriptions.

You might think Toyota would consider a family discount or something for multiple vehicles within the same household.

But I do not make those calls. For us personally, we like the benefits of Remote Connect too much to let our services expire.

Benefits of Toyota Remote Connect

Toyota remote engine start remote connect start stop lock unlock

Many of the features offered in Remote Connect can be used from your smartphone, your smartwatch, and Alexa and Google Assistant devices.

You can start and stop your engine remotely, as well as lock and unlock your doors. These are the big ones for us, as we can get into a cooled-down car when it is hot and humid, and a warmed-up car when it is chilly.

You will get alerts if you leave any windows, doors, or moonroof open/unlocked. I also like knowing exactly how much gasoline I have left before running out.

Toyota remote engine start remote connect moonroof open

Toyota Remote Connect also shows you the last parked location for your vehicle. This helps if you are out shopping at the mall and forget where you parked your Toyota RAV4 and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

With Guest Driver feature, you can have alerts sent to you if your teenager (or a valet driver) exceeds your preset speeds, miles driven, or curfew.

What Models Have Remote Connect?

Click this link to the Toyota site showing exactly what models (like RAV4, RAV4 Hybrid and many others) qualify for Remote Connect. It will tell you how long the free trial lasts and how much it will cost you to subscribe.

I am also including pictures from the Toyota site for 2022 model year vehicles as a reference for your research.

Toyota remote engine start remote connectToyota remote engine start remote connectToyota remote engine start remote connectToyota remote engine start remote connectToyota remote engine start remote connect

I hope you find this helpful.

Toyota response to remote start issue posted a response from Toyota about Remote Connected Services and the remote engine start issue. Check out their article here for more information.

“Toyota’s Connected Services offers an extensive list of convenience and safety features to our customers. We frequently incorporate feedback from customers to ensure we’re offering features that are useful and enhance their ownership experiences.

Select Connected Services features are available on applicable vehicles across our product line-up for a trial period from the date of new purchase and after with a paid subscription plan. With the Remote Connect trial and subscription plans customers can use convenience features within the Toyota app from their smart phone or smart watch for a variety of features, including remote vehicle start/stop, lock/unlock from the app.

Separately, remote start from the vehicle key fob is available during any active trial period*, including Service Connect, Remote Connect or Safety Connect. Key fob remote start is a convenience feature and will remain active for the duration of any open trial period. Trial period durations vary and may last up to 10 years. As we move to more digital experiences within the Toyota app, key fob remote start is not a feature we actively market. More information specific to model trial periods can be found here:

Owners can review their vehicle's Connected Services within the Toyota app or by clicking here. They may also refer to the Owner's Manual.

10-year trial on certain 2020 model year and newer Toyota vehicles

3-year trial on certain 2018 through 2020 Toyota vehicles

*trial period is at no extra cost and begins on the original date of purchase or lease of eligible new vehicles. After the trial period expires, enrollment in a paid subscription is required to access the service. Terms of Use for the subscription service agreement apply.”

Time for your remote start comments

Thanks for reading everyone.

Do you currently have remote engine start on your vehicle and how do you like it?

What do you think about the features offered in Remote Connect? Which ones are most beneficial to you?

Do you currently pay for Remote Connect, and if not, would you consider subscribing to this service for your vehicles?

Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story when I discuss the hot looking 2022 Camry TRD in Cavalry Blue.

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Ian (not verified)    December 19, 2021 - 3:23PM

I plan to get a Venza this spring or summer (in part because of your reviews), and will be using it in New England. I have too many winter memories of my family cursing the need to run out to the car and start it up to have a commute even approaching 60 degrees in the cabin every morning. Remote Starting has always been a brilliant feature, and it’s upsetting to me that it’s been turned into an $80/year luxury. The other Remote Connect features are great but comparatively new innovations I could be blissfully ignorant of. Remote Start from the fob really should just remain a built-in feature. I don’t like this trend at all, who knows what they might peel away and put behind a paywall and what this will cost in future?

Darrel (not verified)    December 22, 2021 - 2:30AM

My remote connect expired today on my 2021 Corolla Hatchback. I have my puppy dog with me at all times. I need to remote start my car while in businesses, so I can keep my dog comfortable. Too bad the remote start did not work for me 90 percent of the time. Every time I tried to use it it said I needed to sign into my account, but then wouldn’t let me sign in. During the last week the service decided to start working most of the time. I’m not going to renew because I need something that will be more dependable. Maybe some day they will get the bugs out.

DD (not verified)    March 25, 2022 - 12:41PM

Thanks for the great article. Beneficial and helpful.

I switched from a Ford Fusion hybrid to a Camry Hybrid recently, and I'm not yet a fan of how Toyota will be charging for the connected services after the trial period. Ford allowed all the connectivity, remote unlocks, vehicle status, remote start, etc. It was built into the car, and they didn't require subscriptions. The business model by toyota is really souring my decision on this car. I had an older Prius years back and loved Toyota, but this feels a bit like bait-and-switch, and its making me second guess my decision to go back to Toyota.

I do like the remote connect features. However I doubt I'll subscribe in the future. In fact, I'm already thinking of how soon I can get rid of this car and go back to Ford. Too bad, I loved Toyota in the past, but this experience has changed my perspective on the brand. I'm right there with Ian above - what else might Toyota start changing? You get caught in a rainstorm, you turn on the wipers, only to have a pop-up come up asking you to authorize a 2 cent fee for each wipe? I'm kidding of course, but its a slippery slope of features that they add to the subscription services.

Thanks again though, this article was solid and well written.

Disgusted Rav4… (not verified)    April 16, 2022 - 8:47AM

I can't wait until Toyota decides to paywall me opening the doors, windows, checking the tire pressure, battery life, etc. Really makes me regret having bought a Toyota now, when for the same price I could've gotten any other brand hybrid SUV that isn't nickle and diming people, locking physical features behind paywalls. I already have to pay for other subscriptions, from tv shows for the kids, to internet, phone, garbage, taxes, etc. SO why am I forced to go aftermarket, or pay Toyota a subscription for my already paid off car for simple features?!

I'd rather pay some shady mechanic to put in an illegal system into my car, with remote start, full android OS, etc, etc. then be forced to pay Toyota a subscription to use basic features that don't work 90% of the time via app. All Toyota has done with this subscription mess is made me seriously reconsider pirating everything again.

Thanks Toyota!

Kevin Kelly (not verified)    May 21, 2022 - 5:37PM

Toyota remote start is useless. Why the engine shuts of when when the door is open with vehicle fob is dumb! Love my new Rav 4 but remote start no so much! I will never pay for a remote subscription, ever. For the cost of RAV4 Hybrid Limited they can do better.

susan (not verified)    December 21, 2022 - 10:13AM

I have a 2021 RAV4 Limited (bought 2-2021). I did not subscribe to Toyota Connect after the 1 year subscription expired. The auto start using the FOB is still working, almost a year after Toyota Connect expired.

Joseph Moscato (not verified)    May 2, 2023 - 9:20AM

2023 RAV4 Premium when my free trial expires will i be able to install aftermarket remote start ???