The Stories Your Cars Can Tell

We got two cars in the same week in the past month. One was a brand-new Honda CR-V, and the other 2010 Corvette, and both have Bluetooth technology. The Bluetooth was able to tell me more about both cars than anyone might think of. And therein lies a cautionary tale for you, which can apply to any car with Bluetooth that you may drive.

We’ve noted before that Bluetooth settings in car systems can linger for the life of the vehicle, and we’ve cautioned you to make sure you erase all your settings before you turn in a car. Otherwise, somebody can get your phonebook, text messages and anything else that may have come from your phone to the Bluetooth. We saw two examples with our new cars.

The first one was with our new CR-V, which we got because the lease on our Acura was up and because we wanted to try a car with a hybrid system. Apparently, hybrid CR-Vs are not ubiquitous, and our car dealer had to do a swap. We got a “brand spanking new” car with 170 miles on it, which is really not a problem. But whoever drove the car put their own phone into the Bluetooth settings into the car and never erased them. The driver’s cell phone info was still in the car when I got it.

This time, it was not a problem. I have no interest or need for that data, and I simply erased it all by going back to the factory settings. I set my old car back to the factory settings before I turned it in, and as far as I’m concerned, there’s no way that car will compromise my security. I didn’t want to take the chance of being as lucky as the former owners of my new (for me) Corvette.

I bought the car through Carvana, and they delivered it on a flatbed truck – just like in the TV ads. Yes, it’s my midlife crisis car; I’ve always wanted a sports car, and I am enjoying it. But it is a car from another technology and digital technology era, and there was a Bluetooth issue that I didn’t realize until I tried to call home.

When I told the car to call home, it called a number that was not my home. It called a number in Warrenton, VA. When the people there answered the call, I asked them if they once had a 2010 blue Corvette that they sold to Carvana? They said yes, so I identified myself as the new owner.

Before you start thinking otherwise, we had a very nice call. Although I had learned a lot about the car from the Carfax report, they told me how much they had loved the car, how they kept it garaged and how much they hated to sell it because they just couldn’t keep it anymore. We talked about caring for the car and if we ever drive near Warrenton to make sure we stop by for a visit.

They also said they thought they had erased everything in the Bluetooth history, and they were relieved that nothing they left in the car will ever come back to haunt them. But none of us can ever be that lucky. If you’re turning in a car in which you used Bluetooth, you need to wipe the history clean – especially with a rental car.

Why is that important? Here’s just one example. If you called ahead to get a hotel room and need to give your credit card info over the phone, the phone number for the reservation center is there. It’s really easy for whoever gets that phone number to call the same reservation center and make up a story about wanting to confirm a charge on a specific credit card – and entice the call center person to read back the entire number.

If you’re not sure how to get a Bluetooth system back to its factory setting, call us – 973-433-6676 – to walk you through the process. Or, if you have time or are in a different time zone with a huge difference in time, send us an email, and we’ll respond back either with the directions for your car’s system or general steps that are likely to get the job done. You don’t want your car telling stories about you behind your back.