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What is a Disabler?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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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.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WikiMotors researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon982552 — On Dec 21, 2014

I think it is absolutely a reticulum tactic being used by lenders and highly question its legality since the car is only the collateral to the loan, not the loan itself.

I can also see legal issues for charging days for a car that is disabled.

This kind of thing can work for something like a cell phone contract because the carrier is not disabling the phone, but the service.

Car lenders are disabling a vehicle that has had a loan taken out to pay. The borrower does not owe the car to the lender, but the loan, and therefore it is up to the lender to repossess the vehicle as they are allowed by the legal system, but I do not see a precedent for the allowance of disabling a vehicle for late payment as the borrower is responsible to pay back the loan, not surrender use of the vehicle.

The first time one of these devices costs someone a life, I can see some huge lawsuits. I can think of a myriad of things that can and I am sure go wrong with this breach of technology. The unit can malfunction and leave men, women, children, and the disabled stranded in all kinds of environments from extreme cold to extreme heat.

Car owners can be illegally tracked and or stalked unsuspectingly by those with access to the system. This could lead to rape, theft, murder, or harassment.

It is no one's business where you go, and when you go to any location, and for how long. Agencies can track you, your habits, which opens up a plethora of other areas this could cause not only risk, but a violation of your constitutional rights.

These are only a few concerns and if I were to think about it, I am sure I could come up with many more that makes me very uneasy with the technology.

My cars are paid for but I would never purchase a vehicle and agree to surrender my rights to privacy or have a device in my vehicle that could potentially fail or even be shut off because someone screwed up inputting my loan payment.

By PinkLady4 — On Aug 20, 2011

Apparently, a new type of disabler is being developed and perfected. This remote system that would be used by police and state patrol to make cars stop running if they are involved in a chase.

This could save time and money as many chases can go on and on. It could also save lives.

I don't know just how this remote system might work. But I guess many things are possible these days.

By Misscoco — On Aug 19, 2011

The car disabler seems like a great idea in some situations. It must surely pay off for those companies that loan money for a car to high-risk buyers. I don't know how much these devices costs, but they must pay off.

That's considerate of them to give warnings (bells and whistles) to clients that payment time is near. They're made so that the driver can't try to take apart the mechanism. The car can also be found by the car loaner if it needs to be taken back - all that is pretty neat!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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