Your Car Is A Privacy Nightmare On Wheels

There was a time when a car was a machine, one which only came to life when its key was turned, and functioned simply as a way to get its occupants from point A to B. For most consumers that remains the case, but unfortunately in the last decade its function has changed from the point of view of a car manufacturer. Motor vehicles have become a software product as much as a hardware one, and your car now comes with all the privacy hazards you’d expect from a mobile phone or a computer. The Mozilla Foundation have taken a look at this problem, and their disturbing finding was that every one of the 25 major automotive brands they tested had significant failings.

Their quote that the cars can collect “deeply personal data such as sexual activity, immigration status, race, facial expressions, weight, health and genetic information, and where you drive.” had us wondering just exactly what kind of sensors they incorporate in today’s vehicles. But beyond mild amusement at some of the possibilities, it’s clear that a car manufacturer can glean a significant amount of information and has begun doing so largely without the awareness of the consumer.

We’ve railed about unnecessary over-computerisation of cars in the past, but from an obsolescence and reliability perspective rather than a privacy one, so it’s clear that the two issues are interconnected. There needs to be some level of public awareness that cars can do this to their owners, and while such things as this Mozilla investigation are great, the message needs to appear in more consumer-focused media.

As well as the summary, Mozilla also provide a detailed report broken down by carmaker.

Header: Michael Sheehan, CC BY 2.0.

116 thoughts on “Your Car Is A Privacy Nightmare On Wheels

    1. Unfortunately, there appears to be a trend and focus by various Govs to make it really, really, tough and/or impossible to have and maintain older vehicles. In fact some Municipalities in Europe out right ban vehicles past a certain age from entering or driving within their area. That said, I am with you… older cars simply work. The caveat is that these days one has to be their own mechanic, as many dealerships and shops are simply untrained on the older cars.

        1. Many MANY of them. Most major cities have emissions limits which effectively ban older vehicles (usually older than Euro 6 for diesels (2015) and Euro 4 for petrols (2008 I think). I can think of:
          London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, many large cities in Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway. My own cars are no longer allowable into the city centre of my city, they offer a small rebate on a new car if you scrap an old one but it’s not applicable unless you’re low income. in some cities, it’s a charge for older cars, in others it’s a fine.

          1. The marginal environmental cost of allowing an existing vehicle to continue to drive has to be orders of magnitude less than the scrapping and manufacturing from raw materials a new, slightly more efficient vehicle.

            However, I suppose the environmental hit from melting down a scrap vehicle and manufacturing a new vehicle aren’t something these cities ever have to experience.

          2. Total environmental cost is not the only factor at play here. The goal is to ban cars out of city centers because:
            – They lower air quality for people.
            – City centers are for walking, not driving. We don’t want cities for cars.
            – Public transportation just works in Europe.

      1. They don´t ban “old cars” they ban polluting cars. If you can retrofit it with a particle filter or a catalyzer, you´re good. If your car is unmodified and over 20yo you can pass it a collectible (and have insurance restrictions on what distance you can drive per year)
        if neither of those solutions work for you, you can retrofit it with an electric motor.

        And for the mechanic, pick an old one. Many are not trained to newer cars or even don´t have the tools and computer knowledge.

      2. Yeah, I know the clock is ticking, but my car is just new enough (a 2013 model) that she should have several years still left in her, but old enough not to have all these fancy infotainments and whatnot.

        1. Depends on the jurisdiction and the type of registration, at least in the US, and only applies if you choose to register the car as an antique. In exchange for a much lower registration rate, lower insurance costs, and often looser emission standards, you agree to restrictions, such as weekend only driving, driving only to shows and events, etc. If you don’t want these restrictions, then just pay a normal registration fee and be subject to the same rules as any other car.

          Here in New Mexico I’ve seen ’60s era Chevys as daily drivers and routinely see Model T and Model A era cars on the interstate.

          1. At least in CA you can daily drive your classic. But they stopped the yearly advance on what defines classic.
            No smog exemption unless pre-75. I’m good 3 times over.
            The only thing you have to worry about when smog exempt is a cop sending you to the state referee. Who can make you remove all your good parts, he can’t stop you from putting them back on though. Best bet is be reasonably stock on the date of your first appointment. You don’t want him remembering you.

            Classic car insurance (where the cars value is agreed apon, because insurance companies are scum.) restricts you from driving to/from work and a few other places.
            With the value of classics and the proximity of Mexico, it’s best to keep your nice cars behind gates, garaged w claymores on the parameter. ‘They’ will just pull up in a flatbed tow truck and take it. Tracking devices are almost necessary. Not fed approved tracking devices though.

      3. They’re not very well trained on brand new ones either, I promise. I could go off on a long story but when the field service engineer has to be called in and says things like ” How the fkuk did they manage do that?” shortly after plugging their laptop into my car, it gives me pause. Cars are too complicated, plus the DRM and consumer lock-in that they’re all striving for makes matters worse. What’s more that some dullard who’s usual job is to change brake pads can brick the entire ADAS system lease me to believe that we really need to rethink the dealership model and how people are trained and certified.

      4. If the government makes it impossible to keep an older car on the road and I am forced to get a data gathering one, I will make it my number one priority to learn how to disconnect every camera, microphone and other device that gives information that is not relevant to the smooth running of the car.

        1. No, you should set it up to give *false* information. The only thing better than not being on a database, is polluting that database with false information so the database becomes useless.

          1. The older cars aren’t generally the ones that are getting driven a lot.  I drive a 1988 Ford E-350 van with a 460ci engine, about five hundred miles a year.  (I spelled it out so someone won’t think I accidentally left a zero off it.)  I got it smog-tested again in November, and it could have put out a hundred times as much CO and still passed.  I don’t remember the numbers for HC and NO, but they were impressive too.  IOW, no, burning so clean and being driven so little, it’s not contributing significantly to pollution.

    2. This makes me wonder if there is some special Musk setting he can use to disable all the monitoring and tracking in his own car, and then as a tie-in to HaD if someone could hack that to have third parties access it.
      Maybe there’s a hidden menu if you type some codeword or do some multi-finger touch or something.
      I mean we know billionaires in general and Musk specifically don’t like to be tracked, and surely if you actually own a car company.. you’d arrange something.

        1. Hate to breakup your billionaire minute of hate.

          He can afford a charter jet whenever he’s doing something he doesn’t want tracked.

          If he needed the money, he could cut a deal with any charter company and loan them his jet in exchange for use of a smaller one (and some cash), but he doesn’t. What kind of ritual would be required to clean out mere millionaire stank after?

  1. To be honest, some of these sound like CYA boilerplate. I mean, how is a car – even with an associated mobile app – going to collect stuff like immigration status and genetic information?

    Facial expressions don’t surprise me, though, given Tesla’s driver observation camera (that they’re fairly open about, which doesn’t make it any less creepy).

    1. The phone app is the important part. It gives them access to all kinds of phone crap entirely unrelated to cars. From there they can guess all kinds of things based on what apps are installed, what languages you have set up on your keyboard, and what national systems the phone connects from.

  2. Everything is emitted trough only one antenna, just put for example a 60dB attenuator in the antenna cable. The car thinks its still connected but without coverage. Sometimes its difficult get to the antenna, like volkswagen who buries a box behind the instrument panel. If I ever become unemployed (unlikely) I start a workshop for putting cars in airplane mode.

    1. I think you need to make a YouTube video and elaborate. While some of these other folks might have missed your jewel of a comment, it isn’t lost on me. I have a 2022 Honda Civic Touring that I would like to try this on, and lack the know how.

  3. So they’re recording my sexual activity?

    Joke 1: No data there then!

    Joke 2: Are they in collaboration with those adverts for ‘Hot Bored Housewives in Your Area…’?

    Joke 3: Will they be introducing automatic pre-heating of the rear seats when I get near the local Dogging hot spot?


        1. Really? Weird! I’m imagining an international audience for some kind of Yorkshire p**n, perhaps ‘In-my-dale’.
          “Get yonself in’t’car. Ohh, that’s reet lovely that is. Let’s have a brew”

          1. Someone should make a Yorkshireman porn.

            No matter what she does, he just goes on and on about how rough things were when he was a young…’When I was kid we used to dream of _getting_ a BJ.’ etc etc etc etc.

            I might have seen such dogging porn once. I assume the hot stacked 20 year old girl is not typical of reality. Porn…What do you expect? Women bitching?

    1. My guess on what happened:
      An engineer said “Oh, I did a reverse engineering on the infotainment system and I saw that they added some lines of code to detect and record any penetration tests”.
      The writer said “Wow, that’s amazing”, the he wrote : “the cars can collect sexual activity”.
      Would make a good XKCD :)

  4. genetic data? get serious. I don’t recall a finger prick sensor installed on my car.
    Bottom line, the article does not explain anything of what they found. They just cite them, without detail.

        1. Apparently some manufacturers have a deal with telcos to pay for all the tracking data themselves, because they can then use that data to make more money. Whether you pay for a plan or not isn’t necessarily a panacea there.

  5. i like my devices to be as dumb as possible. i dont need a computer in everything, especially things that worked fine in a pre computer world.

    my washing machine is a good example. its got all these sensors and code to keep it from wasting water. but then it will dump the whole tank at seemingly random times. with an old skool mechanical sequencer, i can just turn the dial to where i need it and manually set water levels. im convinced the thing has wasted more water than i would have operating it correctly. create an idiot proof system and they will issue a better idiot.

    1. But honestly unless you have measured it, your points are moot. In most cases, it’s much better. Like dishwashers – an order of magnitude less water and energy used than old methods. Cars *are* actually awesome engineering feats these days with tons of great features. If you’re paranoid, stick with your old crap. I drive a 27 year old diesel, but it has no comforts, and drinks fuel, and isn’t allowed in most major cities anymore. That’s more of an inconvenience than a camera watching my expression.

      1. Which ‘old methods’ as handwashing your dishes uses way way less energy than the machine, even the modern one, and probably uses similar water quantities (assuming you are not really wasteful in your hand washing processes). And the older dishwasher are really not good on water use or energy consumption, new ones can be impressive. But then at the same time what lifespan do they get – breaking in 4 years negates alot of saving energy for every cycle run.

        The same is often true of Cars too – lots of stuff from the 60’s and even before that do more MPG than any modern ICE car, best most hybrids too – make them smaller and lighter and you need much less energy to move them… The impressive feat of engineering for modern cars is making them so turn key reliable for those first few years.

        1. To be fair to high mpg 60s cars.
          They were deathtraps and so underpowered as to be a hazard.

          Long long ago I daily drove a Honda 600N.
          600 cc motorcycle engine, shifter through dashboard.
          Improved my driving like nothing else could have. I was driving like race driver, every second, just to keep up with Volvo DLs. Heal and toe, RPM was friend, synchros sketchy.
          Also broken reverse, Flintstones reverse gear. Midwest rust.

          I’d buy another, but not worth price.

          1. Going to depend on the 60’s car – some can be quite sporty in performance for the time and still keep up alright in modern traffic now despite the impressive MPG.

            Deathtrap is also probably unfair to most – sure they don’t have the million airbags and safety cell so tough you have to try rather hard to bust it open of the modern car. But at the same time safe enough that it would be a rare and severe accident that causes real harm to the occupants (assuming you have a seatbelt fitted), and they don’t have the faulty airbags that will actively seek to kill you when they go off or brakes that can be disabled over WIFi either…

        2. OK, so If I fill a bowl with hot water and soap that’s about 15 litres of water heated to 50C so I can still touch it (about 2.4MJ of energy). I then wash in the manky bowl of soapy warm food-water and rinse each item in a cold tap stream, turned off and on every time (using about 200ml of water for every item, some more, some less). Average eating session uses 4 plates, 2 cups, 6 cutlery, a couple of pans, 14 items – so about 7 litres of cold water. My dishwasher from 15 years ago uses 12 litres of water, only some of it heated to 70C (more hygienic than you can do by hand) as it’s a cold rinse within that 12 litres too, worst case using 2.9MJ of energy per cycle. And it can wash 4 meals worth of plates and cutlery in that 12 litres, and maybe only 2 meals worth of the pans to be fair. I think it’s plain to see that it’s not possible to hand-wash more frugally than a 150 GBP dishwasher from 15 years ago.

          1. I don’t use any big bowl or sink of water, only put the concentrated detergent directly on the rough, wet sponge, wash each piece with it, and rinse them all at the same time and put them in the dish rack to dry.  You don’t need hot water.  People think it’s necessary for killing germs; but if you can get your hands in it, it lacks at least 30° to start killing anything; and besides, germs cannot survive on a really clean, dry piece.  Detergent also destroys a virus’s outer lipid membrane, leaving the rest of it to disintegrate and wash away.  I’ve seen photos of this happening from an electron microscope.  The fact is that our modern Whirlpool dishwasher never got things really clean like our older one did, even though the newer one took at least three times as long.  I’m kind of glad it went south.  I won’t buy another one unless they can prove that they can once again make one that works (which will probably require more water and energy).

          2. I put about one litre hot water and a drop of soap in the sink, and start with the less dirty dishes. The hot rinse water rises the water level in the sink, keeps it reasonably warm during the whole process, and catches the rinsed detergent. When the water gets too dirty, I use it to preclean the remaining dishes (without rinsing) and start the process over with the now less dirty rest. This way I managed to clean up the dishes of a 30 people barbecue (including pots and pans) with less detergent than the one person who left early and insisted on washing the dish he brought separately.
            If you have foam left in the end, you started with too much soap, if you lose unused soap by rinsing there is optimizing potential. The water should be hot enough to keep the fats liquid, but if you have no fats on the dishes, you probably don’t even need soap.
            The dishwasher has no chance to sort the dishes by dirtiness, and has to replace all scrubbing by pretty bad chemistry. There may be cases where the best dishwasher is better than the best personal washer, but I expect them to be rare. This said, I think the average dishwasher is more efficient than the average person, but then it is pretty easy to be much more efficient than average just by knowing how things work and paying a little attention to efficiency.

          3. The plates and tableware are easier/more efficient to wash than the other dishes as there’s probably nothing baked and dried on that needs to be soaked to remove. Or if you know one of the pieces of cutlery was only used to slice bread, it probably doesn’t need a heavy soap and scrub.

            For rinsing, it mightn’t take a lot of water if you have an aerator or use a sprayer. And if you’re trying to save water, you’ll not let your rinse water go down the drain immediately. If you’re very intent on trying to conserve water, you’ll not fill anything immediately and instead you’ll plug the sink basin and let the warm soapy food water accumulate and be used to wet your sponge/scrubber/etc while you use fresh hot water to rinse things off as you set them to dry. If it’s power instead of water you need to conserve, you can rinse with cold water separately, but either way even though water that you can safely touch doesn’t sterilize anything directly, it does make your detergent work better so you should use at least some hot water with your soap. And don’t be so sparing with the soap you’re not sure you had enough; it’s not so hard to come by after all.

          4. Two sinks, not the stupid European single sink system.
            1. Wash in one sink.
            2. Rinse in second sink – not in running water, but prefilled with warm water.
            3. Wash glasses and silverware.
            4. Wash plates.
            5. Wash pots/pans/casserole dishes.

            Both sinks together have less water in them than the dishwasher uses.

            Hand washing uses less water, far less electricity, and gets things cleaner. It just isn’t as convenient.

          5. > 2. Rinse in second sink
            No, you will get the dishes only as clean as the last rinsing water. So it is more effective to not pour all the rinsing water first (which then accumulates the things you want to rinse off), but to place the dishes to rinse in the fresh water stream from the tab into the sink (which has nothing accumulated yet). You can then reuse the rinsing water to keep the washing water in the sink warm.

        3. There’s a fairly obvious reason we don’t use the 60s death traps anymore, but if you look at fairly modern selection of cars, it’s actually fairly easy to identify the point at which a modern car (including its manufature) is still better overall in terms of energy use. It’s not that long, even with fairly modest increases in fuel economy. There’s an Engineering Explained video where he does a smiple analysis – save me running the numbers here. If you maintain your modern vehicle they last just fine too, I currently have 3 cars of varying age (from 1997-through to 2012) and all work just fine with no major costs other than routine maintenance. If you buy garbage cars, sure you’ll get garbage lifespan, that’s regardless of the age. Living in the past with rose tinted glasses really doesn’t help anyone.

          1. We used to think of cars being good for 100,000 miles and that’s it.  That was because oils were nowhere near as good as they are today, and the engine was generally the pacing item.  Today the same engines would last several times as long, just because the oil has gotten so much better.  On today’s cars, what usually makes the subjective end-of-life mark is all the other junk.  I read recently that cars made in 2023 are only expected to last five years.  And is gas mileage any better?  My ’75 diesel Peugeot 504 with manual transmission got 30mpg in town, 37 highway (and yes, the odometer proved to be accurate, so I really was getting that mileage).  That was at 220,000 miles just before I got rid of it.  My ’81 diesel Peugeot with manual transmission, a station wagon, a foot longer than the sedan above with an entirely different rear end and with a gross rolling weight that was one or two tons more (I can’t remember which), got 28 and 35, even with 180,000 miles on it.  My ’79 wagon, with automatic transmission, got 23 and 30 IIRC.  These were deceptively large cars.  When we moved, our queen-size sofa sleeper went all the way in, without hanging out over the bumper.  Three cars that got poor mileage were the Dodge Dynasty (I don’t remember the year), ’77 Olds Starfire GT with 3.8L V6, both around 18 on the highway, and the ’75 Pinto with 2.8L V6 and auto trans, which got even worse.  Wow that was a horrid car.  (But know that only a tiny percentage of them that got rear-ended actually blew up.  My sister-in-law was rear-ended in it, and as usual, there was no blow-up.)  By 45,000 miles, it was on its third transmission.  Come to think of it, _all_ of our American cars got poor mileage.

          2. Except many vehicles of the 60’s are not death traps, and the main reason folks don’t tend to daily drive 60’s cars now is that was a stupidly long time ago… Many will get written off in accidents over that period and people would like AC, a digital radio, maybe MP3CD player, more leg/headroom (big one for me) etc.

            And the big elephant in the room issue is stuff always will need maintenance, even if it was made to the highest possible quality at the time it will eventually needs some TLC. That takes spare parts and once a car is into its 3rd (maybe even only second) decade it has to have sold in huge numbers with a massive cult following for parts to be made at sane prices or the salvage parts to be easily available – things like VW camper vans stand out for being so popular lots of bits are just available despite the age.

            But the lack of parts, or cost of those parts is what retires many an otherwise perfectly useable vehicle – and as the parts are simpler to reproduce on the older models it is vastly more likely you can keep that model running happily for yet another few decades while the more modern ones electronics have let out the magic smoke with no compatible parts produced anymore…

          3. The old cars that got decent mileage weren’t nearly as useful/capable and well-driving as the modern ones, to say nothing of the differences in economy testing, fuel blends, and emissions requirements that complicate the comparison. Depending on the era, we’re talking about cars where you’d carry extra water to put in the radiator when it overheated on a long grade or in a hot environment or what have you. Even 20 years ago, if it was a hot day and you were in bumper to bumper traffic for an extended period of time, you might need to turn the heater on in order to help cool the engine down in *some* vehicles. With older cars, climbing up to higher altitudes was a lot more problematic, because in addition to just having less air, your carb would be too rich and you’d be even worse off on power. Especially if you have a turbo or an electric car now, you can climb pikes peak without any effort, and if you are dumb enough to use your brakes the whole way down, you might overheat them but you probably won’t lose them and go plunging down the mountain.

            Plus, for day to day driving, modern traffic is violent and won’t make allowances for you if you can’t accelerate, brake, and turn sharply to keep up. And no-one makes allowances for stick shift drivers anymore; you’d better be able to slam through the gears like a racecar driver and you’d better be able to start on a hill without rolling back even one millimeter, because if you can’t you’re going to get rear ended by someone in an automatic who doesn’t even know they exist.

            I’m currently averaging (estimated) 26mpg on regular modern ethanol-containing gasoline with a type of pickup you’ve been able to get for about 10 years now. The v6 is better than the old v8’s used to be, the transmission is great, and I could probably drive through death valley with the air conditioner on maximum while listening to music. That said, the older vehicles will be easier to keep working than this one, once it’s out of date. This one will need all kinds of electronic changes if I want to swap things out in the further future.

      2. Sure it saves water and energy on the first wash, but then you have to put everything through again because it ain’t clean.

        Also it is absurd to say people shouldn’t be concerned about being surveilled, and being concerned with what happens to that data.

      3. The old method is to wash by hand – and I was always told that you had to do a good job rinsing your dishes before loading the dishwasher, especially if it was a high efficiency one, or it wouldn’t clean properly. Always sounded like it would take less water than any kind of dishwasher to just finish the job while you’re there.

        As for the other, cars nowadays will try to kill you because they think you’re stupid. I’m lucky my 2018 was too cheap a model to have most of the “safety” features that improve statistics but screw over specifics. It does have a very simple, uncontroversial “autopark” system that was made to keep a vehicle from rolling away when someone isn’t in control – and that alone could be pretty scary. Say someone hopped into the car and tried to take off to get out of the way of some kind of danger, but it wouldn’t let them move unless everyone’s door was fully closed and everyone’s seatbelt was on? Or if it was meant to remind you to shut the fuel door, but instead it let people keep you from leaving just by opening your fuel door at a stoplight? To say nothing of if a sensor just stopped working while you were somewhere you couldn’t call for help? I’d hate to get trapped in the middle of nowhere when nothing is even wrong with the car.

          1. Everything modern is designed to a price point. They have gotten really good at building the whole thing to fail at the same time.
            You see it a the pickandpull type junkyards. Nobody want’s parts from a car that isn’t wrecked. Except Honda B-engines of course. But those were the best cars with the best engines ever made.

            You have options. My office chair is a seat out of a 3rd gen M3 welded to a chair base from the 1950s, when everything was built to last forever. The other seat is in my VR driving rig. They were free, friends in low places.

          2. @Haha Very accurate in the first lines. They’re told to cost-engineer, so they bring most things down to the common denominator. At least since the goal is minimizing costs, not making it as shitty as possible, some things end up being left how they are since it isn’t worth the effort of making them worse.

            Can’t say I’d ever aspire to be in one of that era (or possibly any era) of fwd econoboxes, but different strokes and all that. At least those engines seem like they’re trying, they were just small enough that originally they still struggled. My taste is more for response time than high rpm power or whooshing sounds, so I’d probably rather a smallish NA I6 with ITB’s and a broad torque curve.

            I sure wish everything wasn’t disposable after the first use. For chairs, I agree that the selection is terrible until you get into higher prices. Tons of “gaming” chairs that nobody over 25 could sit in for more than a couple hours, and they seem to be built assuming you weigh 100lbs and are 5ft tall. I am hoping my current $200 chair holds up for a long time. It was a simple design, but one of the few that are any good for longer legs or that don’t funnel you into sitting only one way in them. Got it in a warehouse, but it looks like a boss 9471 maybe.

        1. I never rinse anything (at most, scrape solid items into the bin), never have a problem with washing machine leaving marks or food behind, I think you just need to buy a decent quality washing machine. I ran the numbers above – my 15 year old dishwasher takes *at most * 1/3 of the water and energy that hand washing frugally does, there’s no contest, and it’s well known.

          1. Ours required you to rinse them first so well they looked washed already, partly just because its filters otherwise got clogged up very quickly and were a big time-consuming pain to clean.  With the old one, I joked that you could throw everything in, bones, corn cobs, and all, and it would take care of everything.  It never needed filters cleaned out, because it chopped up the bits like a garbage disposer and sent them down the drain.

      4. We had a 45-year-old dishwasher that still worked fine; but my wife said “Styles have changed and this is ugly and I want a new dishwasher!”  So we get a new one, and in spite of taking three times as long for the cycle, it didn’t use enough water or energy to do the job.  After it was done, I still had to wash the silverware by hand, and the plates had a film of soap and/or rinse agent on them.  Then, after only ten years, it wouldn’t pump the water out.  I called the manufacturer’s repair service, and apparently got someone in India, who wanted my credit-card number to bill the scheduled repair to!  Heck, no, I’m not giving my CC info to someone in India!  I said, “Forget it.  I’m going back to washing them by hand!” and I hung up on him.  So for the last year now, we’ve been enjoying truly clean dishes again.  I will not reward them with the sale of another dishwasher.  I’m 63.  There’s no reason a dishwasher shouldn’t last the rest of my life, and get the dishes clean.

        My vehicle is an ’88 Ford E-350 stretched Econoline van.  If I’m really careful, I can get 11½ mpg in town, 15 on the road.  In the last smog test, it could have put out three times as much and still passed.  I drive about five hundred miles per year.  (I spelled it out so someone wouldn’t think I left out one or two zeros.)  I go many months at a time without buying gas; and when I do buy, I never fill it up all the way.  Instead of telling me I can’t drive it, they could ration my gas or miles and it wouldn’t affect me.  I ride bicycle many thousands of miles per year though, and I will not buy a car with spyware and all this other intelligence to control us.  If they want me as a customer for a new or newish car, they’ll have to go back to making them without all of that.

        1. If my 1960 Chrysler land yacht got 11 MPG I’d know to immediately check the engine. It’s running super lean or something else bad. 6 is normal.

          We are not the car makers target audience. New car buyers are apparently the most ego driven morons on earth. All that matters is ‘sparkly, shiny, status symbol’. You see them every day in apartment parking lots or at their McJobs.

        2. Oops, you bought a bad dishwasher lol. Did you do any research first? My dishwasher literally never has a problem washing anything, even when I stuff it with too many things (and I’ve used it to clean car parts before and had to strip it to clean the grit out LOL) but the only thing that failed was a button on the control board. The control board button cost me 50p to replace, but even if I’d bought the board it was only 20 quid and was still available 12 years after original purchase. If you get someone else to fit it, of course it’s probably cheaper to buy a new washer, but that’s not really the point, they’re all very simple pieces of hardware.

          Re the car thing – actually I agree on this, my older cars are banned but I do very few miles in them. Instead of charging me an emissions tax and banning me from places, they could just realise that I’m already taxed an inordinate amount of extra cash to run it (in fuel tax, VAT, emissions tax etc) – but I think the reason they don’t think like that then it becomes a pay-to-play situation – you can’t say it’s fine for the poor to not be allowed in cities but if you’re rich you can drive here no problem, all you like.

      5. “That’s more of an inconvenience than a camera watching my expression.”

        Sure, *today*. Just wait for the social credit system to start. “Sorry, citizen, too many of your memes on Facebook were ruled misinformation, so you don’t get to drive today.”

    2. IMO, this seemingly incessant throw-in-an-mcu-to-make-it-even better mindset has become as much a cultural mindworm as anything else. Much of it is utterly stupid.

      I was about to make a crack about a USB framing hammer or a box of IOT Kleenex, but I won’t. I fear another reader may google the idea and actually provide a link to purchase.

      On the washing machine…Agreed. My last machine had a simple mechanical timer to sequence it. It was a tool I operated to wash my clothes. The new one has an mcu. It’s so “smart” that most of the time I have no idea what it’s doing, it denies me access to the drum to see what it’s doing, and there is no easy way to execute partial cycles or other simple behaviors. It is certainly a “tool” as well, but this one essentially operates me instead of the other way around

      I’m just grateful it’s not “internet-enabled” or requires a cell-phone app, user account and login, and dual-factor authentication to get my socks white. I expect that and a EULA in its replacement, though.

  6. I bought the newest car I wanted. A 2007 Toyota. I installed my own dash cam that’s 100% offline. I removed the car radio for another one that I liked. Toyota can’t control anything in my car and I like to keep it that way. I drove my sisters Tesla a while back and it had a camera pointing at me. It really creeps me out. I drove it once, never again. Tesla can look inside YOUR car? Really? No no no no.

    1. > I drove my sisters Tesla a while back and it had a camera pointing at me.

      I always have a bit of tape in my wallet, camera lenses are just one of its uses. One day I’ll get around to printing stickers with a QR code linking to the EFF (or similar) and use those.

  7. I bought my car second hand, can I sue the manufacturer for illegal data gathering as I was never given an EULA to sign giving them any form of permission? This is a very different situation to say a second hand laptop or phone where generally everything is wiped and new EULA notices have to be “agreed” for them to be used.

    1. The last car I got into which had an EULA for privacy and data collection prompted you to agree to the terms and register with the manufacturer, and until you did, it nagged every drive cycle.

      1. That sounds painfully annoying. Mine hasn’t asked, so technically any data gathering is being performed illegaly as far as I’m concerned. That said it’s a 2019 so it might not be as bad as some newer vehicles.

        1. ya super annoying (Ford Focus ST-line). Every time I turned it on – bing…..privacy/registration nag. My personal cars are all from before the realms of smart….anything. So I’m not too worried yet.

  8. Yep, I don’t like it either. Problem I see is for those of us that can drive, I’d like a basic automobile period … with my options included. I ordered a new vehicle a week or so ago (should be here in 9 to 11 weeks), and there was one option… Include ‘more’ electronic safety garbage. No other options. Grrr. Included in the base was a whole bunch of default electronic ‘features’ I’d rather not have (eye-sight for one) — but no choice. Some of them I can disable once I get the vehicle, but still. We turn off the ‘screen’ (who needs that in a car?) on both our current vehicles. So have this ‘blank’ spot on the dash that could be used for cup-holders or something…. Sad what this world is coming too just to get from point A to point B.

    1. You’re the problem.

      You recognize new cars basically suck, but continue to vote with your money.

      Buy your favorite car of all time.
      Pay someone to fix _everything_, like new, remanufactured trans etc. Paint it nice, interior etc.
      It will end up being much less than a new car (spit).
      It will be a lot (better way, go through it once yourself, then you know…Not everybody).
      Don’t even think of daily driving it until _done_ with fixing. That’s just a ‘city car’.
      Drive that car, maintain it. Get off the stealership treadmill forever.
      Eventually get spare car, another favorite.
      ‘Nothing better than towing a new car home’.
      Get truck and trailer.
      Go racing.
      All cheaper than a new car habit.

      Seriously, everybody else wonders WTF is _wrong_ with new car buyers.
      Who’s still buying Jatco CVT cars?
      Water cooled German cars?
      English 4x4s?

      1. I understand what you are saying. That is why I am keeping my ’97 4×4 Dodge pickup. The hood and cab top is actually getting repainted professionally in a couple weeks to keep it from rusting on me.

        However our Altima no longer meets our needs (it is for sell). We found an excellent replacement except for the ‘electronic’ do-dads. Ground clearance, headroom, mileage, all wheel drive, luggage area, even the ‘looks’ is ok. So while I know I am part of the problem :) (I do agree with you) , I’ll have a vehicle that I should be able to run the wheels off over the next 20 years. Just the electronic stuff and a couple features are a ‘bother’. The main irritation is the stop engine/start engine feature when at a stop light. That feature fortunately can be easily by-passed with an after-market part.

          1. I would agree. Except I am probably the ‘exception’ and not the rule! So how much market? Problem is these new vehicles have interlocks. My son just ran into that with the seat belt. You can’t put the vehicle in cruise while you don’t have your seat belt on as a simple example. Note, he normally wears the belt, but he just was in town testing the adaptive speed control and noticed this.

      2. I agree with this so much. I purchased a 1999 Subaru a year ago because I wanted something that could handle broken city streets and go over curbs. I already had that in an old Tundra but wanted something smaller with better gas mileage.

        Paid a local independent shop to do some needed maintanance. Still needs a bit more and will get in it within six months.

        I get something to tinker with. Upgraded front speakers. Take trips to junk yard for plastic bits.

        Smile while doing all of this because I know there is no car loan.

      3. As for who’s the problem, and who’s still buying CVT cars, that’s my wife!  She thought she wanted something that finally _she_ liked, for a change (instead of my choice), and she got a newish Nissan Rogue with a CVT, without asking me.  Those last about 60,000 miles, and they’re so complex nobody rebuilds them, so you have to buy a new one, and parts & labor come to about $6,000 which is more than twice the maximum I’ve ever spent buying a car, not to mention fixing one.  Well, this one had just under 60,000 miles, and I suspect the reason the dealer had it was that the CVT had gone out so the owner traded the car in, then the dealer installed an new transmission and cleaned up the car and put it up for sale.  Guess what happened when she had 60,000 miles of her own on it!  Yep, transmission went out, and she had to have it towed.  Someone recommended a mechanic who got it going for something like $500; but it won’t go uphill.

        1. Jatco is Nissan’s transmission company. They put those steaming piles into all the Japanese cars with CVTs except Toyota and Honda. Likely also in some frog cars (Nissan is Peugeot) but nobody techy enough to be on HackaDay would ever buy one of those.

          At this point your wife has to cut her losses. That car is a sunk cost, just admit the money is gone and move on. I know a Japanese car is supposed to go more than 120,000 miles, but frankly you were _lucky_ to get 60,000 miles/CVT.

          The car is near worthless, the whole world (excepting your wife) knows about modern Nissans. With another remanufactured trans, it’s worth $1000 less than the price of the trans.

          1. I think you’re right about the value of the Nissans with CVTs.  There were car companies that made excellent, dependable products, but in many cases like this one, that seems to be gone now.  I’ve had three diesel Peugeots though, and they were all excellent cars.  One of them was the best car we’ve ever had in this family, and had its first repair at 120,000 miles, a brake master cylinder.  When my wife totaled that car in a head-on collision at 180,000 miles, it had had a total of $350 worth of repairs.  And, BTW, she opened the door and got out, unhurt, while the Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra she hit had to be cut open to get the occupants out and take them to the ER.  I have not kept up with what Peugeot is doing today, but I know all the new ones look like the same overrefined jelly beans that everyone else is making, which I won’t buy.

  9. I have 2016 Toyota RAV4 and it has a factory message on the driver’s door glass: “The gorenment authority can track this car”. But the car has no Cell Data subscribtion, no SOS Button and no Wi-Fi…
    I wonder, how it is trackable?

    1. That is what I don’t know about either as the vehicles come with those things by default, easy activation if you pay… Which means to me even if you don’t pay, it could be activated without you knowing about it… ‘waiting…listening…tracking’. Tin Foil Hat paranoia maybe, but I think it is more than possible now.

      1. Correct. The auto manufacturer pays the cell subscription (or perhaps some other arrangement between auto manufacturer and cell provider and/or other third party/government agency that subsidizes it). I recently bought a 2019 Toyota. It has a DCM (Data Communication Module) that includes a cellular modem that connects to Verizon’s network to send telemetric data (and who know what else) to Toyota (and presumably anyone else that pays them). This DCM phone-home functionality works even if you cancel all services and opt-out of all options.

        I’m currently looking into how to disable this functionality, and there’s different methods, each with different unexpected drawbacks because of how it’s integrated into the vehicle’s various subsystems.

      1. I see it, but I replied to several people’s comments, so it took a bit to figure out that you’re referring to where I said my wife bought a car with a CVT that can’t do hills now.  I don’t know much about Texas, but according to what I found with minor searching, Texas is larger than France and does have hilly and mountainous areas.

    1. Keeping the capstan and pinch roller clean is #1, followed by replacing any additional rubber wheels and belts it might have.  I was a repair tech at TEAC in 1982-83 and fixed over a thousand machines while I was there, cassette and open-reel.  Regardless of what the machine came in for, we always replaced these rubber parts so it should be good for at least ten more years after it went out.

      It looks like many of the taper-recorder links I’ve bookmarked need updating; but one I have that may be helpful is . Strangely, obsolescence itself sometimes seems to be made obsolete by the internet and a world-wide market making it worth fabricating these parts.

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