How to wipe your data from your car

OK, Unabomber, time to disappear.

Brian Cooley Editor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and the Publicis HealthFront. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
Expertise Automotive technology, smart home, digital health. Credentials
  • 5G Technician, ETA International
Brian Cooley
2 min read
Brian Cooley/Roadshow

Now that you're really paying attention to your privacy on Facebook, let's turn to your car. It's a wealth of information about you and yours, luckily a lot easier to manage than the social network. Here are some tips that will work in almost every late model car.

Watch this: How to make your data disappear from your car

Paired phones: These are easy to delete when you sell, loan or service your car. Pairings don't do much without the phone nearby, but we're being paranoid here in the first place.

Phone contacts: Do you really want to sync those when you pair your phone? Just say no when prompted, but be ready for some messaging inconvenience on the road.

Destination history: Your car's nav system has a nice record of everywhere you've charted with it, without so much as a password on it. There may be a menu to erase those wanderings in your navigation settings.

Just wipe it all: More and more cars have a single menu command that will take care of all the above, as well as blowing out your personal settings, from radio stations to seat adjustments. All that's left will be fingerprints and your name on the title.

Black boxes: Properly called event data recorders, these have been common since the late 90s and record a rolling snapshot of your car's controls and how you were using them. They are not meant to be fiddled with, but an accident forensics company can probably do so for a price. I don't advocate evidence tampering. Know if your state has rules about who can get the data. And since 2006, new cars have had to come with a notice telling you they have a black box.

Hidden GPS trackers: If you have good reason to fear someone has installed one of these on your car, you either need a good divorce lawyer or a sympathetic contact inside the NSA, not a Roadshow article.