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5 ways to clear your personal info from your car before you sell it

5 ways to clear your personal info from your car before you sell it
© Vladimir Stanišić | Dreamstime.com

With so many different devices, apps, and connections in our lives, we tend to forget our cars are connected devices as well. Think about it, your car knows every contact, location, app, and combination.

It's important that you remember this if you're thinking about selling or trading your current vehicle. You would be surprised how many people sell their car and forget to erase all the personal information stored in its memory. By ignoring this step, you're not only handing over the keys to your car, but the keys to your life as well.

That's why we're going to tell you five ways to wipe your car clean of any and all personal data that has been synced, paired, or downloaded over the years. The settings and methods can vary according to make, model, and year, but we can give you some general pointers to lead you in the right direction.

1. Remove phone contacts

Syncing your phone is usually one of the first things you do when you get a new car. By doing so, you're giving the car access to contact names, numbers, and in some cases, text messages.

There's nothing wrong with that. It's a feature that helps make life easier and hands free while you drive. However, when it comes time to sell or trade, be sure to disconnect your phone from the car's pairing system and delete any information that may be left behind.

Once again, every car is different and how you go about deleting your phone's contacts/data from it can vary, but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. Everything is labeled in cars today, so you can start by pressing the phone or settings button and choosing the phone that is currently synced.

By selecting your phone, you should be able to manage settings that connect it to the car. From there, simply follow the prompts until your phone, and all of its data, has been removed from the system completely.

2. Delete maps and addresses

This is a step that most people forget when they're ready to part ways with a car. Your navigation  system holds all of your regularly used addresses and previous destinations.

This can include places like your office, your kid's school, and even your home address. Removing personal information from your car is about protecting yourself and creating an easy transition for the next owner. Don't make it easy for anybody to track your locations or daily routine.

If you go to your car's destination, maps, or info settings, you can find your way to a menu that will give you the option to delete previous locations and addresses from the map. Keep in mind, in some cars, even after you've deleted an address, it may still be saved in the system's memory bank. So, you may have to go a little deeper, or refer to your car's user manual to permanently delete an address.

3. Clear mobile apps

Any private login information, or personal data that’s gathered and stored on mobile apps, may also be connected to the car. For example, car manufacturers may provide you with an internal mobile app that lets you control the car’s data functions or help you to locate it in the event that it is missing or stolen.

Since these apps can require and contain personal info, like logins and passwords, you should remove the app from the car when you are ready to sell it.

4. Scrub garage door codes

As mentioned earlier, clearing your personal info from a car before you sell it is a matter of safety and common courtesy. You may be a trusting person by nature, but I don't think you want someone else driving a car that can open your garage door.

Especially, if they can locate your home address with the previous destinations menu, which we've already covered. So, before you hand over the title, remember to erase the garage door code programmed into your car.

The car's built-in garage door opener can usually be found on the rear-view mirror or the sun visor. Each component will have three buttons displayed on them.

To erase the garage door code, you'll want to place your fingers on the first button and on the third button. Press and hold down both buttons at the same time until you see the indicator light start to blink. Once the light begins to blink, you have successfully deleted the garage door code from the car's memory.

5. Remove digital content subscriptions

If you have a subscription to a some form of digital content, i.e., SiriusXM, you can transfer your existing account to the radio in your new car. Often times, people forget to terminate/transfer their subscriptions after selling a car. The new owner of your previous vehicle shouldn't be accessing digital content on your dime.

Be sure to notify your service about any radios/vehicles you no longer have so they can remove them from your account. Also, a reminder for those of you who may be thinking about selling your car during a trial period. Since the trial is attached to the specific vehicle, if you sell or trade your car during that time you'll have to do without both. Just a heads up.

Bonus: Privacy4Cars App

The Privacy4Cars app is a one of a kind platform built to assist car owners with the removal of personal information such as, phone numbers, call logs, location history and garage door codes, from modern vehicles. It's a great tool to use if you're toying with the idea of selling your car.

First created by a cyber-security and vehicle privacy expert, Privacy4Cars allows users to select their cars according make, model and year, and provides visual step-by-step tutorials on how to quickly/effectively clear their vehicles of personal information.

The app is available for both Apple and Android. Tap or click here to download the app for Apple. Tap or click here to download the app for Android.

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