Lenders are turning cars off at bad times

By: Darrell Castle

Missing your car payment can have some serious consequences, depending on how strict your lender is.


Take Mary Bolender’s story as an example.

Mary’s 10-year-old daughter’s asthma was flaring up and with a 103.5 degree fever, it was time to go to the ER. Mary got her daughter seated in the car and went to start it up, but it wouldn’t crank.

Mary was three days late on her monthly car payment, so her lender remotely activated the car’s “starter interrupt device.” To get her daughter to the ER, Mary had to pay more than $389, which was money she didn’t have at the time.

“I felt absolutely helpless,” Mary said.

The problem stems back to an issue I’ve posted about recently – subprime car loans.

Lenders are allowing subprime loaners (loaners with a credit score of 640 or below) to acquire car loans their credit score and income wouldn’t normally allow them to.

Loaners, knowing the borrowers will potentially be unable to afford the loan and miss a payment, aren’t letting the borrowers drive off the car lot without installing this “starter interrupt device,” ensuring the borrowers stay current with their payments or lose vehicle accessibility.

According to the article, some borrowers say their cars were disabled when they were only a few days late on the payment and they:

  1. Were left stranded in a dangerous neighborhood
  2. Shut down at a stoplight
  3. Taking their children to school or a doctor’s appointment
  4. Driving on the freeway

On top of that, the devices have GPS tracking, which is a major concern of privacy for many people, AND the device emits a warning “beep” that becomes more persistent as the due date for the car payment approaches.

Is this moral and/or necessary?

Instead of putting the borrowers in danger, evading their privacy and degrading them with the warning “beeps,” maybe these lenders should just stop giving loans to subprime borrowers.

But, since that’s not good for the lender’s business, borrowers should do what’s good for THEIRS.

If you don’t have a good credit score and you don’t have a sufficient income, be careful when shopping for a car. If the deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If you don’t feel you should be approved for that car loan, then you probably shouldn’t.

To avoid having your car shut off at inopportune times, putting you in danger or in an embarrassing situation, get a car you can afford – a car you can make your monthly payments on while being able to pay all of your other bills.

If you ever fall behind on your payments, consider filing for bankruptcy before something bad happens – before your car is disabled or repossessed.

An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you by looking at your debt – what you owe and who you owe it too – and your income, and then helping you make the decision that’s best for you.

Darrell Castle & Associates has received multiple Client Distinction Awards from Martinedale-Hubbel for client satisfaction, so I can assure you that you’re in good hands here.

Call (901) 327-2100 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney, or fill out one of the contact forms on this page.