Cheap PKE, Remote Start/Start Button

I’ve noticed that many people are interested in engine start buttons and the such. These days you can find cheap remote start/push button start modules on Ebay and Aliexpress. But, are they worth buying and the trouble of installing? I’ve purchased a cheap PKE(Passive Key-less Entry) system for $60(USD) from Ebay to find out.

It took about one month for it to arrive at my doorstep from China. Inside of the box was:

  • Main control module
  • Engine start button
  • Reset button
  • Ignition pigtail
  • Accessory pigtail
  • 2 PKE sensors
  • 2 Remotes

PKE box contents

I’ve soon noticed that this budget-friendly system was lacking some features that I would consider to be a normal standard on all other remote entry/start/security systems. This one will only lock/unlock all door locks at the same time. There is no option to only unlock the driver’s door. There is no door trigger, no interior light control, no exterior light control, no handbrake input, no neutral safety input, and no tachometer or speed sensor input. On top of that, the operating distance of the remotes is not so great. But, what can we expect of a budget system that cost us less than 60 smackaroos?

With all of what it’s lacking out of the way let’s look at the pros… after installing the system. With all the lacking features, the installation was quite simple. Connect the control wires to the ACC, IG1, IG2, and starter. Connect power and ground, Then, there’s the connections to the foot brake, fuel pump, door locks, and the horn. The two PKE sensors, and… that’s about it! I’d say the trickiest part was figuring out where to put the control module. Placing it as high as you can may help increase the working distance of the remotes.

Tucking the PKE sensor wires behind the trim.

Main relay fuel pump connection
This is how I connected the fuel pump sensor wire. I solder the wire directly to the main relay. I really don’t like splicing into other wires, as it compromises the integrity of the wire.


Engine start button installed.

96 civic ignition harness
I recommend using an ignition harness from a donor vehicle. It’s not necessary, but it makes the install cleaner and easier.


BLU/WHT key-in-ignition wires.
With the 96 – 00 Honda Civic you’ll want to jumper these wires. These are the wires that sense the key in the ignition switch. If you don’t connect these together, the intermittent wiper setting will only work when the headlights are on. Go figure…


How well does it work? Well, as I mentioned earlier, the distance of the remotes isn’t that great. As for the PKE function, I think it works ‘fine’. Don’t expect OEM precision here. When walking away from the vehicle it seems to lock when a get about 5 meters away. When walking to the vehicle it unlocks at about 1 meter away.

The remote start works fine as well. Aside from the relatively short working distance, the vehicle starts fine under normal conditions.  Just make sure to remember to always leave your vehicle in park or neutral! I’ve already forgotten once. It makes for an embarrassing ordeal when you have to chase after your vehicle before it collides with something or someone! Under extremely cold conditions it took multiple attempts to start.  The control unit attempts to start the engine 4 times (if I recall correctly) before giving up. The control module uses the fuel pump signal to tell whether the engine is running. With most vehicles the ECU/PCM only activate the fuel pump when the engine is running. If the engine doesn’t start, the ECU shuts off the fuel pump. When using the ESB(Engine Start Button) to start the engine, you can press and hold the button during cold weather to crank longer. However, In my experience, it may not crank long enough still. Now, it will depend on the vehicle, but when I tried to do a cold weather start the engine did not crank long enough and did not start. It was -21ºC(-5.8ºF) at the time. Of course, having an engine heater would eliminate this issue.

As for the ‘security’ function, the alarm will only sound when someone presses the foot brake. It doesn’t have a way to know if the door has been opened. The alarms sounds for about 25 seconds then goes silent. And, obviously the engine start button will not start the engine when the remote is not present.

So, what’s the verdict? If you’re knowledgeable about your vehicle, the install is relatively simple, and the price is certainly attractive. If you don’t mind all that this system lacks, then I’d say go ahead and but it. Otherwise, maybe wait a year or two, and maybe you’ll be able to get more features for you money.


Alloy Author

I have various hobbies, including automotive, electronics, and computer related things. Sometimes I write about these things here.

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