Why it's important to wipe personal information from your car - here's how to do so

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Image: Motorpress
Image: Motorpress

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With the Protection of Personal Information Act coming into effect soon, South Africans have become a lot more cautious about where and how they disseminate their personal information. However, as cars become more integrated with technology such as smart phones, we need to start getting into the habit of wiping our information from the vehicle before selling it.  

Pairing a smartphone with a car allows you to play music, download contacts and receive calls and navigate, but it also stores that information in ways you may not anticipate. A survey by Which? in the UK showed that 79% of drivers do not remove personal information before selling their cars.  

Audi Connect
Audi Connect

"Infotainment apps are the biggest culprits," says Nunben Dixon, Head of Gumtree Auto. "These apps store banking information, names, passwords, frequently travelled routes, contacts' names and numbers. We are good at wiping our cell phones when we sell them, but forget that our cars are often an extension of our cell phones. 

"Every time you pair your device with Bluetooth or plug in your phone, you are providing some access to your personal information. Simply deleting an app doesn't remove the link with the car."  

There are a few things you need to do to ensure your car doesn't contain any information you wouldn't want someone else to get their hands on. 

"First, cancel subscriptions or transfer them, such as music streaming services, hot spots, infotainment apps. Make sure you log out of all mobile apps included in your car or that pair to an app on your phone." Automated password fills, maps, addresses, and phone numbers in your car should also be wiped. 

"It is good practice to change your passwords after a sale too."  

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Bluetooth pairings should all be removed. 

"Your car, like a phone, might have a factory reset feature which is a quick solution to take advantage off."  

It's also important to check removable media storage devices, like USBs and SD card readers. It may seem like overkill, but we have to remember that as cars get smarter, so do criminals, says Dixon. 

"Think about how you treat your car – especially rental cars. You wouldn't give someone access to your laptop or phone easily, why do you hand over your keys to a new owner without wiping your information?"  

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