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Installing a remote start system in a Toyota Sienna

An iDatastart and Code Alarm system makes life easier for this Crutchfield family

In brief: In this article, we'll take a look at how installing a  remote start system from iDatastart and Code Alarm in their minivan made life a little better for this Crutchfield family.


ver had one of those days? You know, when you’re trying to get yourself, the kids, and everyone’s stuff out of the house and into the car…and the car’s still covered in frost from the night before? There’s also the summertime version, which involves all of the first few things, plus a car interior that feels like a blast furnace and is possibly even less fun.

Well, technology to the rescue. Adding the convenience of remote start to your vehicle is easier than ever, and you can even control your system from your smartphone. With the right tech, you and the family can hop into a car that’s comfortable and ready to roll. You’ll still have to get the kids moving yourself, of course, but hey, it’s something.

With three kids and very busy lives, Crutchfield Advisor Brandon and his wife Tori have had a few of those days! That’s why Brandon decided to install a remote start system from iDatastart and Code Alarm in the family’s 2016 Toyota Sienna.

Brandon and Tori

Getting warmer

This installation took place in late fall, so being ready for cold weather was definitely front-of-mind.

“I wanted to add remote start simply for the convenience of having a warm vehicle to get into during the winter,” Brandon explained. “Getting into a warm vehicle, with the windows already defrosted and the heated seats turned on, always creates a great start to the day.”

iDatastart CMHCXA0 HC remote start brain module

Brandon began by connecting the iDatastart and CarLink modules to the T-harness for his Sienna.

A do-able DIY installation

Brandon was especially excited by two things: getting hands-on experience installing the iDatastart remote start system, and incorporating a Code Alarm CarLink™ for smartphone control over the whole system. Adding remote start once meant splicing a lot of wires, and wasn’t recommended for the average DIYer. But iDatastart uses vehicle-specific T-harnesses to plug the main module directly into the factory wiring. For most compatible vehicles, this means only having to splice a few wires — and in Brandon’s case, none at all.

iDatastart CMHCXA0 HC in box

The iDatastart CMHCHXA0 remote start system lets you start and warm up (or cool down) your vehicle before you begin your drive. The module requires a vehicle-specific T-harness (sold separately, prices range from $34.99 – $69.99) to connect to your vehicle's computer, security, and ignition systems.

“There was no hardwiring needed,” Brandon said. “Once we loaded the firmware into the ‘brain’ on a Windows computer, we just needed to hook things up. Even the CarLink plugged directly into the iDatastart module. The most challenging part was finding space behind the dash to mount the modules. To ensure good cell reception for the smart start module, we mounted that piece up in the top of the dash, which required us to remove the gauge cluster. ”

T-harness installed in car.

With the help of the instructions provided with the iDatastart system, Brandon plugged the ends of the T-harness into the appropriate locations in the van.

Ready for your own remote start system?

T-harnesses make the job easier, reducing the number of wires that need to be spliced to just a few (or none, in some vehicles). You’ll get detailed instructions from iDatastart (like the diagram you see below), and our tech support is on hand to help, too. If you have questions or want to order your system today, give us a shout via phone or chat.

The iDatastart wiring diagram

The included wiring diagrams take a lot of the guesswork out of your iDatastart installation

  • G C

    Posted on 10/22/2020

    Wow, I was drawn to this article because it claimed it was now easy to install an auto starter yourself. I would not consider removing the gauge cluster on a 2020 sienna, to find a place to hide modules... that's after loading some firmware into the brain via a windows computer. No good if you have an Apple computer, like millions of others. Finally, look at the pictures. Doesn't look easy, and certainly not something I would be willing to attempt on a new 2020. Remove the gauges...seriously?

  • Andlee p from Salina ks

    Posted on 2/9/2020

    Hi, trying to install a remote start in my wife's Sienna. Do you have yours setup for takeover? Or can it be setup for takeover so it doesn't turn off when you open the doors? Awesome write-up. Thanks

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 2/10/2020

    Thanks, Andlee. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.
  • Steve from West Orange, NJ

    Posted on 7/25/2019

    This sounds very appealing to me for my wife's new van (a 2016 Sienna, in fact!). The article mentions having the heated seats turned on automatically. Our van hasn't got heated seats yet, and the products I find have physical on-off switches for the heating elements. Do you know of a way to be able to remotely turn those on, or is that something where the seat heaters would have to be left in the On position when the driver leaves the car? Thanks, Steve

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 7/26/2019

    Steve, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. Give us a call and talk to one of our advisors. We can help you choose the right gear and give you the right advice on how to install it.

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