Finance companies can immobilize your car remotely if you miss payments on it

Shelley Behniwal with her three children (left to right) Ashar Behniwal, 8, Arjan Behniwal, 2, Jazmeen Behniwal, 5.  She says she had to walk home from school with the children one day when her car was immobilized.

Christel Yardley / Stuff

Shelley Behniwal with her three children (left to right) Ashar Behniwal, 8, Arjan Behniwal, 2, Jazmeen Behniwal, 5. She says she had to walk home from school with the children one day when her car was immobilized.

The experience of a mother of three in Hamilton who was repeatedly locked remotely by her finance company highlighted technology that can be used by lenders.

This means that if you miss your car payments, you could find your vehicle immobilized remotely if your lender uses technology.

The existence of the technology in Aotearoa has been confirmed by the Auckland Federation of Financial Services and Go Car Finance, following concerns raised by Hamilton’s mother, Shelley Behniwal, 39, who came to New Zealand at the age of two from Fiji.

She bought the car in Auckland in August last year and says her vehicle has been immobilized seven times.

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She said her car is currently awaiting repairs at the Auckland car dealership she bought it from after a series of issues including brakes and tyres, and most recently stalling, air conditioning, stereo and a faulty cigarette lighter. But the final repairs couldn’t be made because his finance company had tied up the vehicle until $900 in missed reimbursements had been paid, Behniwal said.

Behniwal, who admitted that she sometimes missed various payments due to various difficulties – including paying Uber when the car had problems – said that once the vehicle was immobilized outside the school and that she had to walk home with her children. “It’s hard to walk or carry kids that age.”

Shelley Behniwal says finance companies need to make it clearer where their contracts say remote immobilizer technology can be used on vehicles in the event of non-payment.

Christel Yardley / Stuff

Shelley Behniwal says finance companies need to make it clearer where their contracts say remote immobilizer technology can be used on vehicles in the event of non-payment.

Financial Services Federation executive director Lyn McMorran has confirmed the existence of the immobilizer technology in Aotearoa, although she is unsure how widely used it was or the technical details of how exactly it works.

“It’s used as a last resort,” she said.

On the question of how safe it was to immobilize vehicles remotely, McMorran said that it was not done while a vehicle was moving, that she would expect conversations with the defaulters before that it was used and that it was likely that financial companies would consider customers. security and vulnerability.

However, McMorran said immobilization could be used when there is concern that a vehicle is ‘disappearing’ in New Zealand or overseas.

Ironically, she put Things in contact with Go Car Finance to explain the technology, the very firm Behniwal was doing business with.

The firm’s head of loans and key relationships, Yazid Sheik, confirmed last week that they were using immobilization technology and said it was described in their contracts with borrowers. There was also information about an emergency feature allowing people to text six times over the life of their loan to get their car running again. This has prevented people from getting into dangerous situations.

Go Car Finance's terms and conditions specify immobilizer technology and texting to restart vehicles, but Shelley Behniwal says she missed it.

Christel Yardley / Stuff

Go Car Finance’s terms and conditions specify immobilizer technology and texting to restart vehicles, but Shelley Behniwal says she missed it.

Behniwal claimed she was unaware of the remote immobilizer feature until it first happened to her, or the ability to override the immobilizer by texting a number. on duty. However, Things On Monday, she saw a terms and conditions booklet that described the technology and the texting service.

“It needs to be highlighted more.” Behniwal said in response

She also claimed that text message warnings about the immobilization came after the event.

Behniwal said that after purchasing his 2007 Honda Elysion from Esteem Car Traders, it almost immediately ran into trouble and there were constant difficulties in getting it fixed. More recently she was towed to Esteem’s Avondale yard for repairs. But a deadlock developed for Go Car Finance to lift the immobilization so it could be repaired.

She said she can’t afford a $900 payment to get it lifted and she also feels like “I’d pay for a $15,000 car that didn’t work.”

stuff lLast week, Go Car asked for an explanation by Monday about how the technology works and its response to safety issues and concerns raised by Behniwal.

However, chief executive Paul Verhoeven said in an email on Monday that he was suffering from Covid-19 and was unable to respond at this stage. “I have requested a full review of this client’s account and expect to have it within the next few days,” Verhoeven said.

Behniwal, meanwhile, said she finds it frustrating not having her own car “because at the end of the day I have three children that I need to go here and there and I can’t.” Instead, she relied on her family members to help her get around.

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