Starting Auto Mechanic School? Learn About How Cars Gather Data in 2020

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Cars are getting smarter. In fact, some cars have had onboard computers for over twenty years. For example, GM introduced its OnStar service in 1996. Decades later, consumers and privacy advocates are starting to pay more attention to how cars collect data and what is done with it. Similar to our smart phones and apps, our cars now know a lot about us.
According to Geoffrey A. Fowler of The Washington Post, some Chevy models are collecting data about drivers, car components, and location at a rate of up to 25 gigabytes per hour. To put that in perspective, 25 gigs is about 35 hours of streaming standard video quality on Netflix. To learn how data is collected and what’s done with it, keep reading.

What Does Your Car Know About You?

Professionals with car mechanics training can probably make accurate guesses about driver habits from the condition of a car. Now, suspicions about things like bad acceleration and braking habits could be confirmed by data recorded by many on-board car systems along with an auto mechanic’s expert capabilities.

In most cars sold now, there are many computer systems on board recording information
In most cars sold now, there are many computer systems on board recording information

In the report mentioned above, Fowler took apart the infotainment system in the Chevy Volt. This model has since been discontinued, but still serves as a useful example. He found the vehicle had stored call logs, texts, photos, and contact information from the drivers’ phones. Additionally, the car’s navigation may record vehicle location history, even if the driver is not using the system. The car may also store music preferences, body weight, and the list goes on.

Who Owns the Data?

In the United States, drivers own the data that is collected when there is a collision. However, as of 2018, there were not yet any laws addressing the other data that is collected. Many people may be interested in the data including graduates of an auto mechanic college because a lot of it pertains to information about the car’s components. This might be useful information for repairs.
However, some privacy advocates suspect that car makers could turn data into profit by selling it to advertisers. Others say that the data could be useful to city planners, or for map apps that want to use car cameras to provide real-time traffic information.

What Does This Mean for Auto Mechanic School and Drivers?

With many data-collecting computer systems in cars now, this can also increase the average cost of minor repairs. This means a familiarity with these systems may be helpful as you begin your auto mechanic career. In any case, the official story from car makers is that data will be used to increase safety and efficiency of future designs.

As technology changes so does the job of auto mechanics
As technology changes so does the job of auto mechanics

If you or your clients are worried about data collection there are a few pieces of advice you can take and share. If car owners plan to sell their cars, it is advisable to clear all synced contacts from the car. Some experts also say you should disconnect the car from electronic garage door openers, and make stored locations, like home, less precise. Finally, you can turn wi-fi and Bluetooth off when you’re not in the car to avoid any rogue car data hackers from gaining access.
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