Buying a car? Consider a deep clean.

S.F. Ehrlich Associates |

September 30, 2019

Who doesn’t get excited about buying a new car? You’ve finished haggling with the salesperson, removed all the loose change in the seat cushions of the old car, and you’re all set to savor that new car smell. Before you drive off the lot, Consumer Reports1 suggests you wipe your old car clean. Not the exterior, but a deep clean of the data you left behind.

Un-pair all Bluetooth Devices: “By deleting the connection to your smartphone, you protect info routinely shared for contacting friends, listening to music, and using GPS directions.”

Reset the Garage-Door Opener: “If you use a universal application such as HomeLink, for example, you don’t want it to be sharing codes that grant access to your home. To erase them, press and hold the two outer HomeLink control buttons until the red light flashes.”

Reset Telematics Services: “Blue Link, FordPass, and OnStar can all send data from a car to the cloud, even if you don’t have a current subscription. …Look for an SOS or call button on the rearview mirror or overhead console. Press it, and you will be connected to a live operator, who can help you change the account owner information.”

Log Out of Cloud Accounts: “Exclusive to certain automakers, they store driver data, including preset radio stations, favorite temperature settings, navigation destinations, and driving history.”

Remove Tracking Devices: “Auto dealers, banks, and insurance companies may attach such devices to vehicles when setting up financing and coverage deals. If buyers don’t read the fine print, they might not realize they’re there. Once the car is paid off, check with your lender or dealer about disabling them.”

If you don’t wipe your car clean, the new buyer of your old car merely has to hit the GO HOME feature on your navigation system and then the garage door button when he gets to your house. Break-ins don’t get much easier than that.



1 “The Deep Clean: Wipe Data From Your Car Before Selling It.” Consumer Reports, Oct. 2019, p. 35.
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