Why you should delete your personal data from your car before selling


Many functions in modern cars work with apps and in doing so will collect information about us – information the car's next buyer may be able to access. — dpa

BERLIN: Data privacy concerns are not exclusive to electronic devices and Internet services.

Modern cars also hold a lot of information about their users. For that reason, you should always delete your private data before you sell a car or return one that you hired.

User data can be stored, for example, by the car’s infotainment system or when you use the onboard WiFi.

Your contact list complete with phone numbers can be transferred if you sync your phone with the car. Other data can include log-in information from subscription services such as music streaming providers.

Although not all stored data is immediately visible to the next owner, it remains theoretically readable.

Since hardly any manufacturer offers a way to delete this data, the only way to do it is in a piece by piece fashion. You should log out of any the car’s apps and delete any subscriptions.

It’s also advisable to clear out the list of calls made in the car as well as destinations navigated to, and to disconnect the Bluetooth connection between the car and your phone.

Sometimes the garage door can be set to be opened automatically by the vehicle – you should disable this feature.

Alternatively, you can reset the car’s system to the factory settings. But even then, the smartphone must still be disconnected from the infotainment system and the user must log out of their accounts in pre-installed apps.

If you don’t delete everything, you risk your personal data being passed on with the car.

That can also have a negative impact on anyone who buys the car, for example, if the location of the car can be determined or, in the worst case, certain vehicle settings can be accessed.

Anyone who wants to use a rental car or car sharing should avoid transferring such data to the car’s system in the first place. As an alternative you can use connection solutions such as Android Auto or Apple Carplay.

This allows, for example, the hands-free system or other features to be used via the car's technology, but the data remains on your phone. – dpa

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