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Expert Reveals 7 Tips on How to Erase Your Personal Data When Selling Your Car

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The cars on our roads today are becoming more and more technologically advanced, and it is now standard practice for cars to offer features that make our drive smoother and more entertaining, such as built-in sat navigation, hands-free and Bluetooth audio.

But behind the luxury, these features are powered by a complex background of artificial intelligence and reams of computer code-driven by a massive amount of data, which means that our connected cars can collect copious amounts of personal information on us drivers, from our phone numbers and address to our location history and music taste. 

In a survey from Which? of more than 14,000 drivers, 79% of drivers revealed that they don’t take measures to remove data and return the car to its factory settings before selling it, which means that their data could be accessed and breached by future owners of their vehicle.

But luckily, erasing your data from your connected car is a super easy process. Following on from a recent report on connected cars, Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, has shared his seven tips on erasing your data and protecting yourself:

  1. Remove all Bluetooth pairings – Disconnect all your previous Bluetooth pairings from your car to ensure the safety of your devices. Although most paired devices will need to be in range to connect, it’s still important to remove them; particularly mobile phones that may have been connected for hands-free calls and texts, which will have access to all your contacts, call and text history.
  2. Log out of all apps – Log out of all navigation, music and other apps you have an account for and make sure your user details and passwords do not automatically populate to log you back in. With tech companies like Apple offering CarPlay, for example, which gives drivers the ability to unlock and start their car from their iPhone, if drivers don’t log out of features like this, then future drivers of that vehicle may be able to gain access to your music accounts, as well as personal calendars and other iPhone features.
  3. Delete contacts and call history – Manually go through your phone book and erase all your saved and synced contacts, calls and text history. In cases like this, it’s essential to protect other people’s personal information too, like their phone numbers, to avoid future drivers contacting them unwantedly.
  4. Delete saved addresses – Similarly, it’s important to erase all addresses and saved locations from the car’s navigation system. If not wiped, then future drivers will have a pretty clear idea of the places you regularly travel to, such as your place of work or family and friends’ homes. In that case, it’s also essential to erase this information to protect yourself and protect other people – particularly if the saved location has been given a name such as “Mum’s house”, for example. 
  5. Remove all external storage – If your car has removable media storage, like a USB drive or SD card reader, make sure these are all removed from the vehicle and the information hasn’t been stored anywhere – especially if the devices contain personal data stored on them.
  6. Refer to the car’s manual – While it’s wise to do the above steps manually to ensure all desired data is removed, you can also follow instructions in your car’s in-depth manual on restoring your vehicle to factory settings, which should wipe all stored settings and data.
  7. Reset your car at the dealership – You can also take your vehicle to the dealership and ask them to restore it to its factory settings if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself. They should be able to wipe all of your data in the process and ensure that all the information about driver habits, location, paired devices is removed from the vehicle because it’s been electronically updated.

It’s also important that you wipe the previous owners’ data when buying a new car if they haven’t already done so. Because it may mean they still have control over some vehicle elements, some vehicles nowadays have external control from apps where you can stop and start the engine, turn on the air-con, and track the vehicle’s location. 


RELATED:   Ever Wondered How Much Your Car Knows About You?


Here are the car brands that collect the most data about their drivers:

The cars that collect the most data

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