Selling Your Truck? Wipe the Computer First

Consumer Reports says that before you sell your car or truck you should wipe the contents as you would with a phone. Otherwise, the new owner might be getting more than just the vehicle; they might get important personal information. After all, vehicles are becoming just one giant computer on wheels.

Your truck’s computer is “kinda like a phone”

Computer technology
Computer technology in your car | Getty

“Kind of like a phone,” said Consumer Reports’ Alex Knizek. “It’s logging data about what features you access, addresses you’ve been to, and now there are even things like WiFi hotspots where you like to log in. All these connected features you need to remember to log out of before you sell the car.”

You should also delete the pairing of your phone in your phone. But there are other things people forget to remove before selling. Your garage door opener needs to be removed or reset. Especially when selling privately, the new buyers will have your home address. If you forget the garage door opener, they have an easy way to enter your home. 

“There are also telematics services,” Knizek says. “You can find an SOS or call button on the mirror or on the ceiling, and those connect you to a live operator. For some of them, you can press the button and they will help you remove the vehicle and yourself from the account.” Apps that sync with your car is another issue to address. They store driver data, navigation destinations, and a history of your driving. 

How to reset your truck’s computer

Computer technology
Computer technology in your car | Getty

So, how do you reset the computer to factory settings? There are a couple of different ways that are not as difficult or time-consuming as you might think. One is done with the battery connected, and one requires that the battery be disconnected. We’ll cover both.

For the connected battery, go to the fuse box and open the cover. There should be fuses labeled “Back Up” and one labeled “ECU.” Pull both of those fuses out. Leave them out for at least 10 minutes before reinstalling them. Start the vehicle and drive it for a few minutes to make sure everything works properly. 

If you choose to remove the battery to reset your car’s ECU, first remove both cables from the battery. Use insulation tape or a zip-tie to tie the two cables together. You’ll need to wait a minimum of 45 minutes. Any residual current or power should be depleted in that time. 

Clean those battery terminals too

Typical car battery
Typical car battery | MB

While the cables are off clean the terminals with baking soda to make for a strong connection with the battery cables. Then reconnect the battery and start the car. Take it out for a test drive but keep in mind that sometimes the ECU has to re-learn some functions after being disconnected. 

If you’re renting a car, keep these suggestions in mind. Most newer vehicles have instructions in the owner’s manual for how to reset the car’s ECU to the factory setting. This also erases any data that you might have mistakenly left in the car’s computer.

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