Don’t Let a Rental Car Compromise Your Privacy

Smartphone in a car

Whether you’re connecting your phone to a rental car or your own car, you’ll want to make sure you erase your personal phone data before returning or selling your vehicle. Any time you connect your phone to a car infotainment system, your number as well as your contacts and other data may be saved to the car’s memory.

If you’re driving a newer car that comes equipped with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, there’s no need to worry. These interfaces are designed to project what’s on your phone, which means less information is stored in the car itself.

On the other hand, your personal information is at risk in older models that require Bluetooth or a USB port to connect to the infotainment system. So be sure to take the necessary steps to delete it.

Step one, unplug the USB cable (even if you only used it to charge your phone, your personal data could be saved on the infotainment system). Step two, disconnect/unpair your phone from the car’s Bluetooth settings. Step three, delete your phone from your car’s Bluetooth settings. Step four, restore factory settings.

To demonstrate, we used a Mazda Connect system as seen in the following photos. Note that different infotainment systems vary significantly. For car-specific instructions, check your car manual.

Disconnecting and deleting

The best place to start is in your Bluetooth settings. Then, look for the full factory reset to restore default settings.

Factory reset

The bottom line is that when you’re in a hurry to return a rental or close the deal on a sale, you may be tempted to just hand over the keys. But, we highly recommend taking the time to remove your personal information.

Do you disconnect your phone and delete its data before returning rental cars?

-Steve Halloran

Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

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