Some Car Apps are Allowing Previous Owners to Continue to Control Cars

Technology is constantly making life a little bit easier for consumers. This is certainly no exception in the automotive industry. However, in some cases, modern technology can actually hinder car ownership. One such issue comes in the form of apps linked to cars.

Phone to car connectivity apps may allow previous owners to control your vehicle

Onstar GM MyCadillac control app for phone home screen that allows users to control locks, alarm and start vehicles remotely
GM’s Connected Phone App | General Motors

According to Autoevolution, the convenience of having an app controlling aspects of your car may come with a bit of a downside.

If you aren’t familiar with these types of apps, let’s get you up to speed. Many vehicle manufacturers offer a phone application that links directly to your car. So, you’re capable of doing things like adjusting or turning on heat or AC, locking or unlocking doors, and even remotely start your vehicle. These features are fantastic for extreme weather conditions since they allow you to warm up or cool down your car’s cabin from the comfort of your home. Furthermore, the peace of mind of knowing your car is locked without going out to it is also great.

Some vehicles, like Tesla, even use the owner’s phone as a key through an integrated app. Additionally, some integrated applications can also keep track of where your car is at. This is where the problems can come into play, though.

Gilles Veilleux purchased a 2017 Cadillac Escalade brand new. It has a connected app known as the MyCadillac app that allows the aforementioned features to be used remotely. Autoevolution reports that Veilleux sold the vehicle over a year ago. However, his McCadillac profile still had access to the vehicle. So, even though he hasn’t owned the vehicle for over a year, he can still monitor its location and even remotely control features like locks and climate control.

Obviously, this is an issue that needs addressing from manufacturers. Instituting a policy or software update that resets accounts from vehicles when they chance hands could be an easy solution. However, it may be challenging to keep track of every time a connected vehicle owner sells their car.

Can a previous owner hack your car and control it?

2022 Ram 1500 12-inch touchscreen
2022 Ram 1500 12-inch touchscreen | Ram

It is indeed possible for hackers to take control of your car’s features if they have internet and cellular connectivity. However, a previous owner having access to the application is not truly a form of hacking. That being said, it’s still definitely concerning. Owners of connected vehicles that use apps like this should realistically equate anyone having access to the app to someone effectively having a key for the car.

So, if you own a used vehicle that has app connectivity or are looking to buy a used car that does, try to prevent this from occurring to you. It’s essential to be certain that any previous owners remove their accounts from connectivity to the vehicle. Ask the dealership or individual selling you the car if you aren’t sure.

Ultimately, this is much more of a security issue than it may seem at the surface level. After all, there’s undoubtedly nothing comforting about knowing someone could track your vehicle’s every move. Furthermore, someone having the ability to control your door locks and start your engine from anywhere is equally uncomfortable.

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