Friday, May 5, 2023

When your car spies on you


Motor Trend has a very interesting article showing how much data your car is gathering about you, and to whom it's reporting it - directly and indirectly.

What if there was a way for you to determine whether your car is collecting data and sending it to a third party? It's not an unreasonable or paranoid question to ask in our age of software-defined vehicles and connected cars. That's the aim of Privacy4Cars' new free privacy report service that gives owners a peek into what sort of data is harvested from their cars, how it's used, and who it's sent to ... Privacy4Cars generates a sort of window sticker, like the one you get with your new car outlining its features, fuel economy, pricing, and more, but for data use.

Simply go to and enter your ride's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  You may be surprised at what you learn.

Vehicle manufacturers are cashing in on all the information they collect from you.  They resell it in a number of ways.  In so many words, you've become a permanent cash cow for them, first by buying your vehicle, and then by continuing to use it.  I don't recall the manufacturers ever explaining that to us except in the most veiled, innocuous terms.

If that makes you angry, you aren't alone.



Anonymous said...

Any opinion on whether entering ones vin in this database is playing into assisting "them" in gathering info on you?

Peter said...

@Anonymous at 7:38AM: Since you're already registered as the owner of that vehicle, I don't think so.

SteveP said...

Starting in model year 2005 the federal govt mandated the installation of GPS in all vehicles. You can't turn it off or disable it and it tracks your location in real time. Its purpose is supposedly so emergency responders can locate you if you're injured in an accident. It also archives the data for up to 30 days IIRC.
The data gathering has only gotten worse in the years since.

Landroll said...

You WILL own nothing and be happy with your lot in life.

Anonymous said...

If you’re older, nothing is simple on a computer. I tried several times to “simply enter my VIN” and it didn’t work for me. Guess I’m not a human.

Anonymous said...

It's not just the manufacturers. We bought a new pickup in January 2017. For the first year, it never went more than twenty miles from town. Then in February and March 2018, due to family issues, I took two or three 500+ mile trips, another in May, and another in August or September. When the insurance came up for renewal, they wanted to jack the premium, because I was driving more miles than I told them I would.

How did they know? The dealership where I had the oil changed was reporting the mileage. To whom? I don't know. Maybe the manufacturer, who was passing it on. Maybe some insurance information accumulator. All I knew was that the dealership was reporting it, and my insurance company was learning it.


Larry said...

No, definitely not in 2005. What was the law or rule supposedly mandating this?

Hamsterman said...

I remember a few years ago Telsa stopped including a lumbar support in one of their vehicles. People complained online. Tesla responded that "only 1.5% of their customers use this feature".

So, obviously, Tesla tracks everything, down to seat adjustments.

Skeptic said...

I tried that vin-check out, and at least for my vehicle the information return was rubbish - it applied generally to vehicles of the manufacturer rather than the particular model, and was claimed to be correct or not depending options selected, upon which no further detail to help out was given.

So I don't effectively know anything before giving up the personally identifying information.