Close this search box.

Ford seeks patent to repossess a car remotely — by locking owners out of their cars & cutting off AC & forcing car’s audio system to ’emit an incessant & unpleasant sound’

By Claudia Assis

Ford Motor Co. has applied for a patent to make remote car repossessions nearly seamless for lenders, and deeply unpleasant for car owners in default

Ford Motor Co. has applied for a patent to make remote car repossessions nearly seamless for lenders — and deeply unpleasant for car owners in default, who may endure an “incessant” sound, sweat out disabled air conditioning, and eventually get locked out of their car.

The patent application, published in late February, envisions a repo Big Brother that would unleash a series of inconveniences, some surprisingly crafty, to prompt owners to pay overdue bills — or, in an autonomous-vehicle future, a driverless trip to the repo yard or junkyard.

Ford F, -0.76%, which last year derived about 6% of its $158 billion revenue from lending unit Ford Credit, said through a spokesperson it has no intention of rolling out the system anytime soon.

There’s no denying, however, that rising interest rates, higher car prices, lengthier and higher car payments, and rising repossession rates are part of what make patents like these imaginable.

‘Additional level of discomfort’

The patent described steps to trigger if an owner ignores overdue notices, starting with those meant to cause “an additional level of discomfort to a driver and occupants of the vehicle” by disabling nice-to-have features like air conditioner, remote key fobs, and the automated door lock-and-unlock system.

Another step described in the remote-repo patent application included prompting the car’s audio system to “emit an incessant and unpleasant sound every time the owner is present in the vehicle.”

The repo system would control various ways “to make the sound unpleasant,” and ensure that the owner could not “turn it off without first making contact with the lending institution.”

Final steps could include a complete lockout, and if that still doesn’t work, a 1916 invention — the tow truck — would be called remotely. The vehicle could be prompted to move and park itself in a better spot for the tow truck.

A future fully autonomous vehicle could dispense with all that and drive itself to the repo yard, or to the junkyard if the system calculates that repo costs exceed the value of the car.

As dystopian as it may seem, the Ford patent application does offer the thought that perhaps some of its last-resort measures, such as the lockout, could happen on weekends only, or allow for limited use of the vehicle within of a geofenced area not far from the owner’s home.


Ford files patent to allow self-driving cars to drive away from owners who don’t keep up with payments – Repossessions are about to get a whole lot more impersonal.

Ford patent would remotely repossess cars, shut off A/C if owner misses payments

In one example given in the patent filing, vehicles would be remotely directed to “emit an incessant and unpleasant sound every time the owner is present in the vehicle.” “The repossession system computer may also ensure that the owner is unable to turn off the sound without first making contact with the lending institution to address the payment delinquency,” the patent filing says. Eventually, car owners who fall behind on payments could be blocked from using the vehicle entirely.

Ford patent

The system would even allow Ford vehicles with semi-autonomous or full self-driving capability to drive themselves to a tow truck driver or a repossession lot if the owner doesn’t respond to multiple notices. Vehicles with less resale value would be sent straight to the junkyard.

When reached for comment, Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said the company doesn’t have “any plans to deploy this.”

“We submit patents on new inventions as a normal course of business but they aren’t necessarily an indication of new business or product plans,” Sherwood said.

“We were granted 1,342 patents last year (more than three a day), spanning a wide range of ideas,” he added.




SMART LOCKS COULD MAKE IT EVEN EASIER FOR LANDLORDS TO EVICT THEIR TENANTS – If the tech industry has its way, a computer program will be locking you out of your apartment because you were five minutes late on your rent payment