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A disabler is a device which is designed to prevent a car from starting, or to disable a car's electrical systems so that it cannot run. There are a number of applications for disablers, with the most common being management of car loans, although disablers can also be used as anti-theft devices and law enforcement tools. The use of disablers began to be extremely popular in the early 21st century, with several companies manufacturing their own versions targeted at various markets.
In the case of a car loan, a disabler can be fitted into a car to disable it if the borrower misses a payment. In this sense, the disabler is sometimes compared to phone service; if an account isn't current, the phone will be turned off, and the same holds true for a vehicle disabler. These car disablers usually have warning systems to alert drivers when a payment is nearly due, eventually flashing red and beeping to indicate that the car will be disabled in 24 hours. Once a payment has been made, the driver can enter a code to reset the disabler.
Lenders may only extend credit to people with risky histories if those people agree to use disablers on their cars. Once the term of the loan is up, the device will be removed by a technician. Drivers cannot remove or interfere with the device, as it usually contains an anti-tampering measure which will disable the ignition if it is not removed by someone who is authorized to do so. The disabler may also include a locater which the lender can use to find the car in the event that it needs to be repossessed.
Some people utilize disablers as antitheft devices. In this case, the disabler will prevent the car from starting unless someone enters a code to disarm it, and the device will foil people who attempt to steal the car. Having a disabler installed can lower car insurance premiums, and make drivers feel more secure.
Law enforcement agencies have also proposed using disablers. Since many cars have complex electrical systems, a remote disabling device could be designed to overload the car's processor with current, thereby causing the car to stop running. This could be used to prevent car chases, which can be extremely dangerous, expensive, and time consuming. The same technique could also be theoretically used to repossess a vehicle which has not been fitted with a disabler.