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How to properly remove customer data from their connected vehicles

Sunday, July 1, 2018 - 07:00
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Remove any paper trail

Finally, in addition to resetting or deleting all electronic data stored in the vehicle, it’s a good idea to ensure there aren’t any paper receipts or contracts left behind, especially not hiding behind the glove box or stuck between the seats since, much like digital files, papers may also contain valuable data that should be managed carefully. Hand over anything you may find to the customer to be stored or disposed of as they wish. This may indeed be old-school but it’s also true – some things haven’t changed at all, even for modern, connected vehicles.

It’s not just digital and online data that needs to be managed carefully. This rental vehicle has several old contracts stuffed in the glove compartment — with previous renters’ names, birth dates, addresses, license numbers and more. Yikes!


I recently overheard a postal clerk begging a customer at the desk not to mail her used cell phone to Nigeria after selling it online. The clerk actually said, “I’ve never seen this go well and no matter how well you think you’ve wiped all the data out of it -- you haven’t. Please, don’t do it.” And it’s so true, data is almost never completely erased from a device or even from a vehicle.

But it’s still important to thoroughly and carefully disconnect from devices (including vehicles) before they change hands in order to reduce the chances of problems occurring as much as possible by thoroughly erasing all connections and data which makes it as difficult as possible to access anything previously stored.

If you’ve ever sold a used cell phone or laptop and had to remove all the data you’re probably familiar with wiping out all stored data and restoring the factory settings. Disconnecting a vehicle from its owner is very similar, but with a few more a few vehicle-specific steps involved. It’s really not that hard, and it can protect customers from problems and aggravations down the road – and keeping customers happy is well worth the effort involved.

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