Modern cars are essentially giant computers, just attached to wheels. Our vehicles are more connected than ever before. They now contain a score of our own personal information. It wasn’t too long ago that the only thing personal in a car was the ashtray. But today, our cars hold everything from our cell phone numbers, location history, email and text messages, contact information, and maybe even our fingerprints.

If you’ve ever synced your smartphone up to a car’s infotainment system, you need to read this article. At some point in your life, you will discard that vehicle. Whether you sell it, give it away, or scrap it, you might not even be aware of the sensitive data you are leaving behind. Then there’s rental cars, which we only use for a short period before returning them. Your personal data might be returning with it. Connecting any phones, tablets, or computers to a car will always leave pieces of sensitive data behind.

Privacy Concerns

Ensuring that your information remains confidential is important. So it’s necessary to make sure your data does not get passed along with your vehicle when it is sold. Or when you return that rental car. Or when you borrowed your cousin’s truck for the weekend. The good news is that the automotive industry recognizes the growing use of people’s personal data. Some companies are taking steps to address the issue.

One of the newest and more interesting solutions to wiping your car clean is an app called Privacy4Cars. It’s simple and convenient to use. This app helps you to first identify all the personal information on your vehicle, and then to delete it permanently.

Privacy4Cars has gotten good reviews from reputable automotive publications such as CarAndDriver. It’s also now being used to clean personal data from used cars sold at America’s Auto Auction. That’s a ringing endorsement it its effectiveness.

What It Costs

Privacy4Cars shows users how to delete what’s known as Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from all types of vehicles. The app includes step-by-step, VIN-specific instructions for wiping PII from hundreds of different models, with new models added each week.

To use the app and successfully clean your vehicle of personal information, you must follow eight steps in order of sequence. Once the eight steps are completed, all personal information is wiped. The vehicle is essentially put back to the way it was when it rolled off the assembly line. It’s akin to putting your car back to the “factory settings.”

Without paying any money at all, the app you to choose two different vehicles and get the instructions to wipe their data. For more than two vehicles, you can buy individual instructions for $1.99. Or buy in bulk, all the way up to details on how to clean data off 50 different types of vehicles for $69.99. The value is clearly there the average consumer, who may only need to wipe their data off a car every five years or so. For frequent car ranters, the per-model price is still reasonable. For used car dealers or auto auctions, the bulk pricing is a small fee for a valuable service.

How It Works

To start, just scan your vehicle’s bar code or identify it through the app’s menu. Then, through the infotainment system in your car, the app guides you through all of the steps needed to wipe personal data from the vehicle’s memory. Some of the important data includes phone contacts, saved navigation locations, and even universal garage-door opener codes that are linked to your house.

Privacy4Cars says most models require only the eight steps to clear all the data. It can typically be done in a matter of minutes. Privacy4Cars and America’s Auto Auction are offering a subscription-based upgrade for rental car companies and companies that buy and resell used cars, since they have a lot of data to expunge.

Privacy4Cars says tens of millions of vehicles are sold in the U.S. every year with someone else’s personal data on them. Then add in the fact that there are multiple users per household for plenty of personal vehicles. Then consider rental cars or car sharing services and it’s possible that more than 100 million phones sync with a vehicle every year. As those cars get eventually sold or passed on, they leave your personal information behind.

When you think about it like that, it may be worth the time and money to clear your vehicle of your personal information. It’s another way to protect your privacy in the digital age in which we live.


Devon is a writer, editor, and veteran of the online publishing world. He has a particular love for classic muscle cars.