Can The Dealership Tracking Your Car After Purchase in 2024?

By ROYAL FURY

When you drive a new vehicle off the dealership lot, you likely assume where you go and how you drive are now private. However, many modern cars contain extensive telematics and connectivity capabilities allowing dealerships potential access to your driving data.

This raises important questions around privacy rights and the ability of dealerships to track cars they’ve sold. Just because technology enables remote dealership tracking doesn’t necessarily mean your dealer can or will monitor your every move.

This article examines the realities of dealership access to tracking data and provides tips on limiting unwanted location tracking.

How Dealers Could Technologically Track Vehicles

Today’s computerized vehicles contain telematics platforms recording reams of usage data. These open potential data access pathways including:

  • Integrated modem/SIM card: Many cars have embedded cellular connectivity for features like WiFi hotspots. This creates a remote portal for data transmission.
  • Mobile apps: Brand-specific apps sometimes allow monitoring vehicle status and location when linked to your car. Dealers may retain access.
  • Diagnostic ports: Ports used by repair techs provide direct data downloads if dealers can access the vehicle. But physical access is required.
  • Manufacturer backend: Automaker databases processing connected car data may provide dealer pipeline for monitoring customers. But sharing data faces legal hurdles.
  • GPS tracking devices: It’s possible, though highly unethical, for dealers to conceal aftermarket trackers on cars they sell. This practice seems very rare if existing at all.

Simply having technical capability doesn’t mean dealers actually exploit it for customer surveillance. There are data privacy protections and competitive factors limiting tracking without consumer consent.

Insights on Data Privacy Rights

Laws govern access to private telematics data, though consumer protections remain a mix of shifting regulations. Key legal principles include:

  • Ownership – Users likely maintain data rights for personally identifiable info like location, but automakers own anonymized data.
  • Consent – Companies need clear consumer consent to transmit personal driving data to third parties like dealers. Blanket terms of service often won’t suffice as valid consent.
  • Purpose limitation – Data use must align with originally stated purposes at time of collection. New uses require opt-in approval.
  • Security – Companies must protect data with reasonable security safeguards to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Access/ deletion – Consumers have rights to access their data and have it deleted upon request in many cases.

While regulations are evolving, existing privacy laws already restrict dealership tracking without specific consumer opt-in approval. Broad claims of allowing tracking generally don’t hold legal weight without separate authorization.

Insights On Data Privacy Rights
Insights on Data Privacy Rights

Insights From Dealership Agreements

To glean additional insights on dealership tracking policies, you can scrutinize your purchase paperwork for clues. Key aspects to analyze include:

  • Privacy policies or supplementals addressing telematics data specifically. Look for any language suggesting tracking or data sharing.
  • Remote services terms granting access to vehicle data. See what purposes are outlined and any data sharing mentions.
  • Arbitration clauses that may impact enforcement of privacy breaches if discovered. But these are increasingly banned.
  • Opt-out processes for data sharing or dealership tracking capabilities, if offered. Look for ways to formally withdraw consent.
  • Manufacturer data rights explaining who controls access to telematics data. This indicates if dealers have pipeline for obtaining data.

Carefully reading through ownership documentation provides greater perspective on a dealer’s claimed rights, if any, related to monitoring driving data.

Insights From Dealership Agreements
Insights From Dealership Agreements

Why Continuous Tracking Seems Unlikely

Despite the looming concern that dealership tracking customers, several key factors suggest this rarely, if ever, occurs in practice:

  • No competitive advantage: Tracking customers post-sale offers dealers no tangible value in running their business. Marketing only occurs prior to purchase.
  • No monitoring infrastructure: Dealers are car sales businesses, not data tracking operations. They lack infrastructure to monitor customers at scale.
  • Too much data: The sheer volume of real-time telematics data generated makes collecting it economic overkill for dealers. There’s little upside.
  • Bad publicity: If discovered, unauthorized tracking would create massive PR backlash and alienate customers. It introduces major brand risk.
  • Legality uncertainties: Evolving privacy laws coupled with litigation risks around unauthorized monitoring likely deters most dealers.
  • Manufacturer restrictions: Automakers want to closely guard vehicle data themselves and may forbid dealers tapping it without cause.

While legally and technically feasible in limited contexts, continuous dealership tracking of sold vehicles appears highly unlikely to occur in actual practice.

How Customers Can Prevent Tracking Access

If you wish to eliminate any possibility of dealership tracking, there are actions you can take as a customer:

  • Ask dealership: Directly inquire with the dealer service department about opting out of data sharing programs to third parties like dealers.
  • Review paperwork: Search paperwork and manuals for any opt-outs related to location tracking or data sharing. Submit formal opt-out requests.
  • Turn off apps: Disable brand-specific mobile apps with connectivity to your vehicle. Also, adjust app permissions settings for location/data access on your smartphone.
  • Ask manufacturer: Contact automaker customer assistance to ensure they restrict dealer-level access to your vehicle’s telematics data.

Use digital privacy tools: Enable GPS spoofing on smartphones, purchase RFID wallets to block tracking signals, and install VPNs to encrypt traffic. Remove telematics modules: In some vehicles, you can hire auto electricians to safely remove cellular and data modules.

How Customers Can Prevent Tracking Access
How Customers Can Prevent Tracking Access

The Reality of Dealership Tracking

While new cars come loaded with technical capabilities that could enable dealership tracking, the chances of dealers actually surveilling customer whereabouts remain slim in reality. Still, maintaining vigilant privacy is wise in the data age.

By properly opting-out of data collection programs, analyzing your paperwork, leveraging digital privacy tools, and inquiring directly with dealers, you can guarantee your drives remain private adventures long after leaving the dealership.

Use cash when purchasing the vehicle – financing or leasing creates records of your personal/financial information. Decline optional GPS navigation services that may track your location. Use standalone devices instead.

  • Cover or remove toll transponders when not in use to limit location dealership tracking.
  • Purchase your car under an LLC or corporation to minimize linking personal details to the vehicle.
  • Request service centers redact or avoid collecting unnecessary personal details beyond what is essential.
  • Disable Bluetooth connectivity in your vehicle when not needed to prevent wireless dealership tracking.
  • Opt-out of manufacturer marketing communications and surveys to reduce associated data gathering.
  • Encrypt or password protect any vehicle wifi hotspots to secure access.

Periodically purge navigation and trip history data stored in your vehicle’s systems.
Use RFID blocking wallets and passport sleeves to guard against RFID tracking.
Install privacy screen protectors over screens in your car to obscure view of maps.

FAQs

Q: Can dealerships legally track a car after I’ve purchased it?

A: In most cases, no. Dealers would need explicit consent to access and track your telematics data due to privacy laws. General claims of tracking rights are usually not legally enforceable.

Q: How long could a dealership technically track my car if they wanted to?

A: Depending on connectivity, they could theoretically track it as long as cellular service is active. But ongoing tracking by dealers is unlikely for other reasons.

Q: What should I look for in my paperwork related to tracking?

A: Look for specific opt-outs for location dealership tracking or data sharing with third parties. Also check for privacy policy statements on data use.

Q: Can I request to have tracking capabilities blocked or removed?

A: You can request opting out of dealer data sharing. For physical disconnections, check local laws, as tampering with modules may raise issues.

Q: If I finance through the dealer, does that give them more tracking access?

A: Financing through them does not inherently grant expanded data access. However, financial details could aid unauthorized access attempts.

Conclusion

Modern vehicle connectivity and embedded telematics modules create the potential for dealerships to remotely access location data on cars they’ve sold. However, while technically feasible in some cases, continuous tracking by dealers appears highly unlikely due to competitive factors, infrastructure limitations, murky legality and data privacy rights.

Customers can take sensible precautions like opting out of data sharing, disabling apps, and requesting restrictions to help safeguard their privacy. But overall, concerns about dealerships tracking everywhere you drive long after completing your purchase seem largely unfounded in practice. With prudent steps, you can have confidence your vehicle ownership data and driving habits remain private as you put the miles on your new car.

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