Motoring News

Trading in? Don’t forget to de-data before handing the keys

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Modern cars come with a number of features intended to make driving easier and to keep you in contact with family and friends, and entertained.

Think infotainment, connectivity for a no-hands phone, satellite navigation, music while you drive – and no CDs cluttering the cubby.

On the other hand, being ”connected” means the possible exposure of sensitive digital information: phone names/numbers, computer user-names, contact names and their phone numbers, account usernames/passwords, private addresses and – think hijacking – weekly or daily driving routes.


All this personal info could be delivered to a vehicle dealer, the vehicle’s next owner – even a total stranger seeking to harvest such information during a test-drive.

Satnav data could expose your home address; frequent routes could help a hijacker.

Tracker SA’s Ron Knott-Craig told The Corner in a media release: ”These are perhaps not things you might have considered but you need to treat your car the way you would treat an old computer, smartphone or tablet before parting with it.

”While you are clearing out your personal items, take time to clear all personal information.


Here are some considerations and the steps to take to erase the personal data stored by your car before you part ways:

Remove all Bluetooth pairings: Unpair your phone and any other devices you might have connected to the car via Bluetooth. When you unpair a phone it will typically remove the contacts, call history, and other personal data with it. However, if not…

Delete contact history: Go through the menu options to remove contact names and numbers, call history, text messages. This could be a little different for each vehicle make and model so consult owner’s manuals for how to do so.

Clear addresses: The navigation system has most likely stored your home and office addresses and other frequent destinations, and routes regularly travelled. These systems often have a menu option to ‘clear personal data’ or recent destinations.

Log out of mobile apps: Log out of all the car’s mobile apps or those that pair with an app on your smartphone.

Disengage the garage door opener: Imagine if the new owner of your car could open your garage door at the touch of a button. Along with the knowledge of your home address, you could be inviting a crook for a home visit.

So, remove the door code programmed into your car: it could be as easy as  pushing two buttons at once for a few seconds. Again, consult your owner’s manual.

Be sure to cancel or transfer any subscription service(s) to which your car might be connected.

A quick way to remove all personalised data from a vehicle is to ”Restore factory settings”.

Tracker’s Knott-Craig again: “Modern vehicle infotainment systems store as much data as a computer or smartphone so you could be putting your security at risk if you forget to erase your personal information when you sell or upgrade your car.

”“Take the time to go through the car’s menu and delete all data to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.”

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