Payment Late? Lenders Can Remotely Disable Your Car

Repossessing cars is so old-fashioned. All that driving, locating people’s houses, towing the cars away… with the mess credit markets are currently in, who has time for that? Car lenders don’t.

That’s why engine shut-off devices, or car disablers, are a hot new trend in car accessories. Less useful than a GPS and way less fun than a DVD player, the devices allow lenders to disable a car’s engine remotely when payments are overdue. Yes, it’s legal.

According to an article about the devices in the Kansas City Star, drivers have a few days’ warning before the ignition is disabled.

With brand names On Time, PassTime and PayTeck, car disablers are wired to the ignition and typically provide motorists three or four days’ warning, with flashing lights (green to amber to red) and quickening chirps as drop-dead payment dates near.

They will not shut down a moving car, manufacturers note, but will render starters silent the morning after the warning light turns red.

For now, disablers are limited to the subprime auto market—mainly dealerships that handle their own financing and court customers with bad or no credit. One small dealer notes in the Star article that since most of his customers are credit risks, “[f]or 90 percent of the cars [he] sell[s], [he] wouldn’t without these.”

AOL Autos reports that bigger lenders are looking into car disablers as the U.S. credit situation worsens, so the devices could become more common very soon. Provided that consumer protection laws don’t catch up first.

No remittance, no ignition: Auto ‘electronic repo’ in action
[Kansas City Star]
Car Payment Or Else: Engine Shut Off Systems [AOL Autos] Thanks, Roy!

(Photo: BunnyStudios)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.