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Starter Interrupters. A Real Non-Starter.

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Starter Interrupters.  A Real Non-Starter. 

The earliest patent I could find for a starter interrupter device was filed on June 30, 1995. They have since grown in popularity to become a necessity for some sub-prime lenders granting loans below a certain credit threshold. Yet, in the 20 years since their conception, the view of starter interrupters has changed to more of a hindrance than help. Now, License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology is viewed by many as a safer, hassle-free alternative to starter interrupters.

LPR technology has been around for a while, but in the late 2000’s DRN staked the first claim to the use of LPR for automotive repossession. Since then, we’ve progressed from waiting on license plate scans to trickle in, to a database of billions of scans – the largest on record.

A Real Non-Starter

The largest problem with starter interrupters is that they are a thing – a tangible piece of electrical hardware that can be disabled, removed, or destroyed by the buyer or other incidents. No piece of electrical machinery is infallible and the starter interrupter is no exception. Within a few pages of a Google search I managed to find nine articles/websites teaching me how to quickly and easily disable starter interrupters with no more than the tools in a dollar store hardware set and as little electrical knowledge needed to connect a desktop computer.

Yes, LPR is That Easy and That Effective

LPR, on the other hand, provides data for lenders – data that requires nothing more than a computer and an internet connection. If you can check Facebook, you can check LPR. Once signed up, you can simply enter the VIN or license plate of you debtor and any vehicle sightings will be populated into your account. After that, the vehicle location data is yours and you may disperse it as you need to help recover the vehicle. And when you consider that 90% of the time debtors are within 1,000 feet of their vehicles, you begin to understand how valuable this vehicle location data is to your collections process.

The safety concerns involved with starter interrupters pose a significant risk to businesses. We’ve all heard the stories of vehicles being shut-off remotely at the most inopportune times which lead to harm to the debtor, nasty publicity, and even legal expenses. LPR vehicle location data simply puts you in the best position to recover your asset. While there are always potential legal ramifications in the auto industry, those are somewhat lessened once an actual assignment is issued and completed.

Quick View: Starter Interrupters vs. License Plate Recognition

  • Starter Interrupters
    • It’s more expensive – requires installation in addition to initial cost.
    • Customers don’t like it and are apprehensive to buy as a result.
    • It is surveillance.
  • License Plate Recognition
    • It’s cost effective – we’ll run a free ROI for you to find out.
    • Improves industry reputation and reduces compliance issues.
    • Gives you confidence to write loans on sub-par accounts with greater assurance of collection on the back-end.
    • No surveillance issues. You are capturing publicly available information – images of license plates.
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