Close up detail with the logo of Ford company car on a steering wheel

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Ford may be looking to get tough on drivers who fall behind on car payments. The car company has patented technology to turn off vehicle air conditioning systems and radios or lock drivers out if they haven’t paid up. The patent opens the door to other high-tech upgrades, suggesting that an autonomous vehicle could drive itself to a “more convenient” location to be collected by a tow truck.

Vehicle cruise control and automated entry systems could be turned off, key fobs shut down, door locks activated, and even the accelerator or the engine shut down, according to Ford's patent application. “Disabling such components may cause an additional level of discomfort to a driver and occupants of the vehicle,” the filing says. The car might also make a loud beeping sound until the driver contacts the lender.

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Before you let news of Ford's better idea make you rethink a new car purchase, the 120-year-old automaker says it has no plans to put the patent into action. But if you're wondering what the future might hold, it could be a car with a kind of mind of its own.

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