When selling your own vehicle or returning a leased or rented vehicle, you should consider how to protect your privacy and personal data you have uploaded into your vehicle. Your owner’s manual or dealer should be able to instruct you on how to clear data from your vehicle’s onboard computer or infotainment system. The following are some examples of types of personal information that may be stored in your vehicle that should be removed prior to sale or return:
- Phone Contact/Address Book – Your own, colleagues’, and/or other third parties’ personal contact information may be downloaded when you “sync” your mobile phone or other personal device with a vehicle. Delete this information, and, if possible, reset the system to factory settings. Also, when not using the vehicle (including when the vehicle is in a repair shop or with a valet), consider locking out access to this information if your vehicle is programmed for a valet function.
- Mobile Applications – Many mobile applications gather and store personal data, and when your mobile phone is used in your vehicle, it is possible that this data can be transferred to and stored in the vehicle as well. If the mobile application has a clearing function, make sure to use it after each use of the vehicle. Reset/delete the mobile applications if accessible on the vehicle.
- Vehicle Hard Drive Storage – Many vehicles include built-in hard-drive storage, i.e. music. Remember to delete this data when you sell or return a vehicle.
- Home, Work, and Favorite Places on Navigation – Delete this personal information from your navigation system when selling/returning a vehicle; also, be cautious when valeting or lending a vehicle. Again, some vehicles are equipped with a valet function to prevent unwanted access. Any location you leave stored in a vehicle’s navigation system is potentially accessible to an intruder.
- Garage Door Programing – If your navigation data is compromised, you’ve also given the intruder the keys to your home or office. Reset all garage door programing to factory settings when selling/returning a vehicle.
- Optional Hardware Plug-ins – Remove any hardware or plug-in devices you installed, i.e. a dongle, that may share vehicle information with third parties.
- USB Charging Ports – Your personal information may be saved to a vehicle’s onboard system when using USB charging ports, which act as conduits for both data and power. For charging devices only, use the cigarette lighter or built-in power receptacle in combination with a plug-in USB adapter.