July 25, 2024

Protecting Your Data: Understanding the Privacy Risks of Used Car Infotainment Systems

A recent study conducted by Carwow, an online platform for buying and selling vehicles, has shed light on a significant data privacy issue within the used car market.

The survey revealed that one-third (33%) of Carwow customers who purchased a used car found personal data from the previous owner stored in the car’s infotainment system.

Interestingly, 83% of respondents expected dealers to erase personal data before reselling the car, while only 17% did not hold this expectation. This disparity raises concerns regarding data privacy and the obligations of dealers, manufacturers, and previous owners.

As per existing regulations, personal data encompasses any information that can identify an individual, such as home addresses, email addresses, or phone numbers. The presence of such data in used cars poses potential privacy risks.

Gaurav Jain, Commercial Director at Carwow, highlighted the potential future data privacy issues for dealers. “It can be unclear whether the responsibility to delete user information from a vehicle at the change of ownership lies with the first owner, the manufacturer, or the dealer,” he said. “Allocation of responsibility could be influenced by which of these entities might be considered the ‘controller’ of the data under GDPR laws.”

Carwow is calling on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to provide clearer guidelines on this matter. The company advises car sellers to eliminate all personal data from vehicles, including data from in-car apps, before transfer. Dealers are also encouraged to take necessary measures to erase such data themselves to protect both their interests and those of their customers.


Here are some frequently asked questions about data privacy in the used car market:

1. Who is responsible for deleting personal data from a used car’s infotainment system?

The responsibility for deleting personal data from a used car’s infotainment system could lie with the first owner, the manufacturer, or the dealer.

2. What are the potential privacy risks associated with personal data in used cars?

The presence of personal data in used cars can pose risks such as identity theft, invasion of privacy, and misuse of sensitive information.


Data privacy in the used car market is a critical issue that needs to be addressed by all stakeholders, including dealers, manufacturers, and previous owners. Clear guidelines and regulations are essential to ensure that personal data is properly handled and erased before a vehicle is resold.

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