Does Your Car Contain a GPS Tracker Without Your Knowledge?

That headline sounds like some conspiracy theory/Big Brother stuff, right? Well, it happened to our friend Jake Thiewes over at Out Motorsports.

What the what? Let us explain–or, rather, let’s let Jake explain.

First, you might ask, who is Jake? Jake runs the Out Motorsport community. He’s also a longtime NASA official and participant. He campaigns an E36-chassis M3. 

This past August, Jake reports, he purchased a 2016 Ram 1500 Sport from a Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealer. The truck was configured exactly as he wished. It was even the right color. 

The fine print revealed that all of the cars sold by that dealership contained something called Kahu Connected Car Technology, a $399 add-on. Some quick digging revealed that to be some kind of GPS tracking system. 

In our email exchange, I indicated that Kahu was a total showstopper and would need to be removed from the truck, if already installed, for us to proceed,” Jake reports. “I have no need or desire for a third-party GPS tracker to be installed in my truck.”

Jake was told that the dealer wasn’t “going to let $399 stand between us and a deal.”

Sold!

Soon after taking delivery of the truck, Jake heard from Kahu: Welcome to our service. A company representative then confirmed the location of Jake’s new truck. 

Jake eventually located–and removed–the GPS tracking unit. “The wiring job was sloppy, with no solder or heat shrink used,” he posts. “Simply twisting the wires together and leaving them bare is the laziest way to install electronics. Even at 16, I knew to wrap my connections with electrical tape at a bare minimum.”

So, some questions for the rest of the class: Have you ever found such a device in one of your cars? How do you ensure one isn’t present? And what would you do if you found one?

Join Free Join our community to easily find more GPS Tracking news.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/11/19 8:11 a.m.

Full details of this encounter, with photos, can be found at Out Motorsports.

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UltraDork
12/11/19 8:13 a.m.
David S. Wallens said: How do you ensure one isn’t present? And what would you do if you found one?

Read the rest of the story

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/11/19 8:14 a.m.

In reply to bigdaddylee82 :

Totally.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/11/19 8:28 a.m.

Hi all and thanks David for sharing this!

The dealership follow-up was hilarious, they tried telling me they had "uninstalled the device via software." They threw all sorts of free oil changes and details at me, I told 'em to remove my name and contact info from every CRM tool they had and to not pull this E36 M3 on someone else. I don't need handouts, I just value honesty and getting what I pay for (or don't).

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE HalfDork
12/11/19 8:37 a.m.

In reply to Brake_L8 :

What the hell were they hoping to get out of you? Why the spying?

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia Dork
12/11/19 8:56 a.m.

These must cost the dealer nothing if they just left it in you car , or a dealer screwup and whoever was going to remove it was not told to......

I  doubt it was to remind you about service on a paid for used car....

I have a box of those trackers around here somewhere , from a dealership that put them on bad credit cars.....

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
12/11/19 9:16 a.m.

Imagine the havoc if I installed it on the Cessna I used to fly.  

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/11/19 9:17 a.m.
GIRTHQUAKE said:

In reply to Brake_L8 :

What the hell were they hoping to get out of you? Why the spying?

They install the devices for fleet management. Great way to see where all your vehicles are on the lot and track if one gets stolen, I suppose. In truth, the dealer doesn't care a lick about my location but they also don't care to remove the device because it costs them labor to do so. The easier way is to charge me $399 and provide "free tracking in case your wife drives the car!" or something. I don't know who needs to spy on their spouse but the whole thing is BS, and if I did need to spy on my spouse, UConnect offers a similar function built in to the Ram that doesn't involve poorly hacking up some wiring.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/11/19 9:19 a.m.
californiamilleghia said:

These must cost the dealer nothing if they just left it in you car , or a dealer screwup and whoever was going to remove it was not told to......

I  doubt it was to remind you about service on a paid for used car....

I have a box of those trackers around here somewhere , from a dealership that put them on bad credit cars.....

Kahu claims the devices will also remind you of service via the app/email. Dealerships want you to keep coming back to them for your service work. It is absolutely a selling point of the Kahu service when they try and convince you to keep the device. The issue is that the device doesn't tie in to the vehicle for mileage, which means it's logging the miles I drive based on GPS (and thus, the routes). How else will it know that I've added 5k miles to the truck and should get the oil changed?

It's the solution to a problem that didn't need additional solutioning, but it's important to remember that the consumer is not Kahu's customer. The dealership is Kahu's customer. The consumer who buys the vehicle with the tracker installed is a secondary source of bonus revenue for Kahu.

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
12/11/19 9:21 a.m.
Appleseed said:

Imagine the havoc if I installed it on the Cessna I used to fly.  

You have to have it in 20 days... ADS-B

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UltraDork
12/11/19 9:24 a.m.

Besides fleet tracking, I wonder if they're getting kickbacks from lenders or insurance?  I know the "buy here pay here" lots put GPS trackers on their cars to quickly find it in case they need to repo the car.  I can imagine insurance companies wanting to use the data to track you real driving habits.  Definitely shady, but if they stick the reasoning in the fine print, 90% of car buyers will never notice it.

-Rob

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
12/11/19 9:26 a.m.

Many add it because it makes repossession MUCH easier if they have a lein on the vehicle...

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/11/19 9:28 a.m.
rob_lewis said:

Besides fleet tracking, I wonder if they're getting kickbacks from lenders or insurance?  I know the "buy here pay here" lots put GPS trackers on their cars to quickly find it in case they need to repo the car.  I can imagine insurance companies wanting to use the data to track you real driving habits.  Definitely shady, but if they stick the reasoning in the fine print, 90% of car buyers will never notice it.

-Rob

My particular dealership (Fair Oaks Ram) offers in-house financing. I suspect if I had used it, they would not have given me the second key (read the linked article, I had to fight to get Key #2) and kept an eye on my location in case I didn't make a payment. Surprising that a big-name, not-BHPH dealership offers financing like that, but if they do, they also need to have training on how to handle an educated consumer rolling in with their own financing and no need for any 1984 tactics.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
12/11/19 9:28 a.m.

In reply to Apexcarver :

Incentives from some lenders wouldn't surprise me, after all it makes the truck easier to find if the truck broadcasts its location.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy UltimaDork
12/11/19 9:38 a.m.

The dealership probably installs these on their lot cars so they know exactly where they are on test drives, etc.- possibly in exchange for a break on their insurance or something.

They then pass the charges down to the buyers as an add-on feature, and possibly to get kickbacks from Kahu.


From their web page (which I'm not going to link)- "This is Kahu, connected car and stolen vehicle recovery technology built for dealer groups and independent dealers."
 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/11/19 9:49 a.m.

So, a related item: Who owns that tracking data?

Let's say that Kahu or whoever tracks your driving habits. Where is that data stored, and who has access? What's keeping them from selling that data to anyone with a few bucks? "Hmm, Mr. Jake, we see that you spend a lot of time at tobacco stores, so your health insurance rates are going up."

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
12/11/19 9:50 a.m.

So finding them isn't usually too hard, if you suspect that one is present, for someone with some automotive knowledge and a wiring diagram.

Generally these systems need a constant 12v source, so that they can phone home, and need to be placed somewhere with a decent line of sight so a giant antenna isn't necessary.

If they're being used by BHPH, they're also generally wired in to act as an immobilizer.

Combine that with the fact that installation is done in a lazy manner, really just the cigarette lighters, somewhere adjacent to the OBD II port, or just inside the firewall (tapping the battery directly) are the likely locations. Maybe behind the glove box if someone is feeling fancy.

Most places aren't going to under take the headliner out, pull the seats, or run a line back to the trunk. They're also usually not going to do a bang up job installing it, despite the fact that a pigtail wouldn't be that hard to create for an OBDII tapped situation. If something looks berkeleyey, that's usually the dead giveway.

 

For the police, their equipment generally doesn't transmit. So the GPS tracker will be in a location where it can be easily retrieved and usually magnetic. Under bumper covers, behind gas tanks on frame rails etc.

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
12/11/19 9:51 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:

So, a related item: Who owns that tracking data?

Let's say that Kahu or whoever tracks your driving habits. Where is that data stored, and who has access? What's keeping them from selling that data to anyone with a few bucks? "Hmm, Mr. Jake, we see that you spend a lot of time at tobacco stores, so your health insurance rates are going up."

It's like cellphone companies selling your location data (and the legal nonsense that goes into third party doctrine.) The company who collected the data is the owner. They can usually disseminate it however, and to whomever they choose.

Edit: If you want an interesting read about this situation from earlier this year: here you go. Mind you when the big 4 stopped in March it was all voluntary, there's no binding legal obligation.

RevRico
RevRico PowerDork
12/11/19 9:52 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I'm actually very surprised we haven't seen something similar to that happen yet. "Police chief Wiggum, this is Uconnect/Kahu, our customer Mr. Simpson had been parked outside Moes Tavern for 3 hours now, and has just left for home".

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/11/19 9:55 a.m.
The0retical said:
David S. Wallens said:

So, a related item: Who owns that tracking data?

Let's say that Kahu or whoever tracks your driving habits. Where is that data stored, and who has access? What's keeping them from selling that data to anyone with a few bucks? "Hmm, Mr. Jake, we see that you spend a lot of time at tobacco stores, so your health insurance rates are going up."

It's like cellphone companies selling your location data (and the legal nonsense that goes into third party doctrine.) The company who collected the data is the owner. They can usually disseminate it however, and to whomever they choose.

Totally agree. I guess, and this is me being totally naive, I trust my cell phone carrier a tiny, tiny bit more than a company that specializes in GPS systems designed to facilitate vehicle repossessions. Still, gotta wonder who has that data and what is being done with it? 

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
12/11/19 9:56 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Just edited my reply with an article detailing that for you. Bail bondsmen, private prisons, and credit monitoring companies love that kind of stuff.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/11/19 9:58 a.m.

In reply to The0retical :

See also: While grabbing lunch from Publix yesterday, we watched a car outfitted with license plate readers cruise up and down through the entire parking lot. Where's that data going, and who has access to it? (And, yes, I filmed them because I'm that guy--I'll tweet it out here in a few.)

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
12/11/19 10:13 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Private company, they can (and do) sell that data to anybody who's willing to pay for it. Including governmental institutions who IIRC aren't allowed to collect the data themselves.

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
12/11/19 10:16 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

So that's a whole other issue.

LPR use isn't limited by federal statute, unlike attaching a GPS tracker to a vehicle which requires a warrant.

So what you end up with are companies like Palantir Technologies who sell specialized software to aggregate the time/date/location of a vehicle then index and map it. That data can then be used to build profiles on motorists and potentially track nearly any vehicle. The NSA allegedly uses the same software for the PRISM program.

Supposedly the data doesn't leave law enforcement databases, but in the case of LAPD (and SFPD) there's no oversight to confirm this is the case. There's also no data retention policy which has had the EFF and ACLU up in arms for quite a while.

Wired on Palantir, LAPD and LPR's

The Intercept on Palantir and the NSA.

 

Repo companies do something similar with LPR's. There's a couple of databases which track the plates of cars marked for repo. These companies sell access to the database, equipment, and software to tow companies which allows them to drag parking lots looking for a hit in the database. The operator then flags the location for tow and they swoop in to repossess it. You probably saw the forward vehicle doing the trolling if it wasn't an unmarked law enforcement car.

In those, cases the data is generally owned by the company selling access to the databases. There's also no oversight for these types of operations.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/11/19 10:21 a.m.
The0retical said:

So finding them isn't usually too hard, if you suspect that one is present, for someone with some automotive knowledge and a wiring diagram.

Generally these systems need a constant 12v source, so that they can phone home, and need to be placed somewhere with a decent line of sight so a giant antenna isn't necessary.

Thankfully, I poked my head under the steering column and saw an errant, thin, red wire. Was easy to trace to the outside of the dashboard on the driver's side. One trim panel popped off (just clips in) and I found a harness they had tapped into. Ground was a door hinge bolt. The GPS box itself was stuffed up on top of the steering column. I cut my hands up something awful (it was Velcroed in place) but got it out.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/11/19 10:24 a.m.

Worth noting, my article on Out Motorsports reached the folks at Kahu. Ended up having a phone call with the lead of Product Marketing and a lead Customer Service rep to discuss my uh, concerns. I grilled them pretty hard on where the data goes and they insisted they don't sell it or share it - only using it to provide stolen vehicle recovery or mileage-based service notifications... but I'm still very leery of a company of this specialty having that data.

I'm with David... I trust my cell phone carrier and/or FCA to handle my data responsibly (ish). A company (Kahu) owned by a bigger company (Spireon) that exists for the sake of fleet management and vehicle repossession? Nah, I'm good.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau SuperDork
12/11/19 10:33 a.m.

Re: plate scanners. Really informative article last year on that. All that data is sold, often to other repo companies, insurance companies, and even law enforcement. With enough scans, they can accurately deduce your personal schedule and actual home/work address (if different from what the dealer knows) and plan repos accordingly. This tracker is probably in that same vein of business plan.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-surprising-return-of-the-repo-man/2018/05/15/26fcd30e-4d5a-11e8-af46-b1d6dc0d9bfe_story.html

 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/11/19 10:33 a.m.
The0retical said:

In reply to David S. Wallens :

There's also no oversight for these types of operations.

A little while back I was at a PCA cars and coffee at the local Panera while one of those repo cars cruised through the parking lot. At the time, I was chatting with a buddy who's a retired detective. He now teaches criminal justice.

If a police officer came here and manually jotted down every license plate number, he said, we'd all be in the chief's office screaming bloody murder. But no one seems to care about the plate readers. 

And then he added: Who was that, where is that data going, and who has access to it? 

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
12/11/19 10:34 a.m.
Brake_L8 said:
The0retical said:

So finding them isn't usually too hard, if you suspect that one is present, for someone with some automotive knowledge and a wiring diagram.

Generally these systems need a constant 12v source, so that they can phone home, and need to be placed somewhere with a decent line of sight so a giant antenna isn't necessary.

Thankfully, I poked my head under the steering column and saw an errant, thin, red wire. Was easy to trace to the outside of the dashboard on the driver's side. One trim panel popped off (just clips in) and I found a harness they had tapped into. Ground was a door hinge bolt. The GPS box itself was stuffed up on top of the steering column. I cut my hands up something awful (it was Velcroed in place) but got it out.

That's a pretty common way to locate them. It's hard to make the wiring look factory without some pretty serious time and effort, which isn't tricking down to the installer.

It's obnoxious that these devices can be installed in this way without any legal consequence, provided of course it isn't a government entity. It just shows how valuable data really can be in this day and age.

Rons
Rons Reader
12/11/19 10:47 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Putting aside other data uses this could be the parking lot owner attempting some parking enforcement. A car parked overtime generates a flag and regular overtime generates a letter.  Disregard the letter and you get towed.

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
12/11/19 11:02 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:
The0retical said:

In reply to David S. Wallens :

There's also no oversight for these types of operations.

A little while back I was at a PCA cars and coffee at the local Panera while one of those repo cars cruised through the parking lot. At the time, I was chatting with a buddy who's a retired detective. He now teaches criminal justice.

If a police officer came here and manually jotted down every license plate number, he said, we'd all be in the chief's office screaming bloody murder. But no one seems to care about the plate readers. 

And then he added: Who was that, where is that data going, and who has access to it? 

The thing is that if the your friend had been doing that, it was still perfectly legal because license plates have been held to be in plain sight. The problem is, if the local law enforcement was ovbiously doing that in the past, it really had a negative effect on the community. The last 18 years have changed things a fair bit *. Unfortunately state and federal regulators simply haven't been able to keep pace.

You can see where this regulation would be required from some of the insights into the PRISM program. It's come out, time and time again, that many NSA contractors were using the aggregated data spy on co-works, love interests, ex-wives, etc. Data that theoretically shouldn't have been collected in the first place as the NSA (due to limitations by FISA) isn't supposed to be collecting data on US citizens and in the past wouldn't have been possible.

A lot of work has gone into structuring big data over the last 10 years, which makes it ripe for exploitation on a whim. A big part of the work organizations like the EFF involved in as of late is attempting to put some controls on these types of collection and access activities.

 

*I know the FBI has been in some hot water before, both during and following the civil rights era, because they were manually performing this very type of tracking of dissidents. LPR's, along with their supporting software tools, just make it easy to do it low key and enmass these days.

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UltraDork
12/11/19 11:12 a.m.

I would be demanding the dealer replace the wiring harness they hacked up to install the Orwellian device.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
12/11/19 11:35 a.m.
Javelin said:

You have to have it in 20 days... ADS-B

Unless I'm mistaken, and I might be as I'm not a pilot, if the ADS-B Out mandate applies to your aircraft then you have to file flight plans already.  You can also just pull the breaker if you really want that system off.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/11/19 11:36 a.m.
bigdaddylee82 said:

I would be demanding the dealer replace the wiring harness they hacked up to install the Orwellian device.

I thought about it. Ultimately it's not worth the effort, nor do I want that dealership going anywhere near this truck again. They only tapped into one wire, and though the splice job itself was a disaster, it made removal easy as I just untwisted the connection and covered it up. Would rather just do that instead of having them remove the dashboard and whatever else on a 3.5-year-old truck to put a whole harness in it.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
12/11/19 11:37 a.m.
Rons said:

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Putting aside other data uses this could be the parking lot owner attempting some parking enforcement. A car parked overtime generates a flag and regular overtime generates a letter.  Disregard the letter and you get towed.

A better time to check for that is when the parking lot is empty thanks to all of the stores being closed.  

Whch is to say, that reasoning is pretty darned thin to justify it.  You should not have to regularly scan hundreds of vehicles only to find the occastional over parker.  That would be one of the least effective and most expensive ways of achiving that specific goal.

jharry3
jharry3 HalfDork
12/11/19 12:01 p.m.

We have all been tracked for years.  Its just more automated now.

Years ago I read an article about how a lot of police on patrol would ride along, just below the speed limit, and type into their computer  the plate number of every car that passed them looking for "hits".   Warrants, stolen vehicle hits, etc.

  Before that it was even less automated with the police just calling in the license plate numbers of "suspicious" vehicles.

And if you have a cell phone with you then your habits are tracked whether you know it or not.    

Cameras are all over the place, more tracking ability.     

I abhor people who tell me "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" but that is how we are treated, like it or not.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
12/11/19 12:09 p.m.
bigdaddylee82 said:

I would be demanding the dealer replace the wiring harness they hacked up to install the Orwellian device.

I would have just returned the truck.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy UltimaDork
12/11/19 12:32 p.m.
Brake_L8 said:

Worth noting, my article on Out Motorsports reached the folks at Kahu. Ended up having a phone call with the lead of Product Marketing and a lead Customer Service rep to discuss my uh, concerns. I grilled them pretty hard on where the data goes and they insisted they don't sell it or share it - only using it to provide stolen vehicle recovery or mileage-based service notifications... but I'm still very leery of a company of this specialty having that data.

 


I'm noping you get more exposure on this issue. Have you considered going to the local news for one of those Consumer Alert things they sometimes run?

noddaz
noddaz SuperDork
12/11/19 12:40 p.m.

Hook that thing up in a taxi cab some where.  Or maybe a long haul trailer.  Let them track.

rslifkin
rslifkin UltraDork
12/11/19 12:42 p.m.
z31maniac said:
bigdaddylee82 said:

I would be demanding the dealer replace the wiring harness they hacked up to install the Orwellian device.

I would have just returned the truck.

Same here.  When they failed to remove it, that means they failed to meet the terms of the deal and I'd be expecting them to take the truck back.  But actually, because of the potential wiring harness hacking, I probably wouldn't have bought the truck in the first place once I knew that thing had been installed.  

Tyler H
Tyler H UberDork
12/11/19 12:43 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

So, a related item: Who owns that tracking data?

Let's say that Kahu or whoever tracks your driving habits. Where is that data stored, and who has access? What's keeping them from selling that data to anyone with a few bucks? "Hmm, Mr. Jake, we see that you spend a lot of time at tobacco stores, so your health insurance rates are going up."

Ooh....I like where this thread is going.  Let me put on my tinfoil hat.....

Now, what do you guys think about bars/restaurants and liquor stores requiring scanning the back of your DL to buy alcohol?  They get all of the data on the front of your license, not just your DOB.  Who gets access to that data?  What if your on-board GPS database is linked to your ID-scanner and you want to have a drink at dinner?  (Not advocating drinking and driving, but commenting on data correlation.)

I've walked out from my usual liquor store when they started that -- I refused and they said it was policy.  Asked to see the policy, and of course it wasn't written.  (Much less a posted privacy policy.)  I also flat declined a Hooter's waitress that wanted to take my ID to scan it.  Told her no and she looked like she was amazed someone stood up to it.  I'll do without a beer before I just give them my ID to scan.

/Rant off...Now where is my Google phone?

_
_ Dork
12/11/19 12:45 p.m.
Brake_L8 said:

Hi all and thanks David for sharing this!

The dealership follow-up was hilarious, they tried telling me they had "uninstalled the device via software." They threw all sorts of free oil changes and details at me, I told 'em to remove my name and contact info from every CRM tool they had and to not pull this E36 M3 on someone else. I don't need handouts, I just value honesty and getting what I pay for (or don't).

I have always loved that look on someone's face when I tell them "I don't want free crap, I want you to be honest and not slimy." 
the look on their face is "the manager didn't prepare me for this, what do I do now? Honesty? Integrity? What are these words he's speaking?"

_
_ Dork
12/11/19 12:46 p.m.
Tyler H said:
David S. Wallens said:

So, a related item: Who owns that tracking data?

Let's say that Kahu or whoever tracks your driving habits. Where is that data stored, and who has access? What's keeping them from selling that data to anyone with a few bucks? "Hmm, Mr. Jake, we see that you spend a lot of time at tobacco stores, so your health insurance rates are going up."

Ooh....I like where this thread is going.  Let me put on my tinfoil hat.....

Now, what do you guys think about bars/restaurants and liquor stores requiring scanning the back of your DL to buy alcohol?  They get all of the data on the front of your license, not just your DOB.  Who gets access to that data?  What if your on-board GPS database is linked to your ID-scanner and you want to have a drink at dinner?  (Not advocating drinking and driving, but commenting on data correlation.)

I've walked out from my usual liquor store when they started that -- I refused and they said it was policy.  Asked to see the policy, and of course it wasn't written.  (Much less a posted privacy policy.)  I also flat declined a Hooter's waitress that wanted to take my ID to scan it.  Told her no and she looked like she was amazed someone stood up to it.  I'll do without a beer before I just give them my ID to scan.

/Rant off...Now where is my Google phone?

A-****ing-men. 

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
12/11/19 12:49 p.m.

lets not start on stores requiring a phone number/email/etc to make a purchase...

_
_ Dork
12/11/19 12:51 p.m.

In reply to Apexcarver :

If that crap starts around here, I'll be making fake ID stuff. I already do it online for anything social media. 

rslifkin
rslifkin UltraDork
12/11/19 12:52 p.m.
Apexcarver said:

lets not start on stores requiring a phone number/email/etc to make a purchase...

I've told a few (looking at you Harbor Freight) "no, you don't need that".  Sometimes they push, other times they get the point, push a few buttons and continue without it.  

Furious_E
Furious_E UltraDork
12/11/19 12:54 p.m.

You know what, I've commented here before about the dealership I bought my FRS from texting/emailing me that my car is soon due for service with alarming accuracy. This post really makes me wonder now how exactly they've been so good at guessing...

Interesting comment about the key as well. I only got one when I bought the car, which BTW I did not find out about until I had 90% of the paperwork signed and regret to this day not throwing a E36 M3 fit about. This dealer has never given me any reason to believe they're anything other than the shady pieces of E36 M3 you'd expect them to be from day one, so I wouldn't put anything past them. Guess I'll be going through the car with a fine toothed comb this weekend.

RevRico
RevRico PowerDork
12/11/19 12:55 p.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

Harbor freight is the place I have the least problem with that. On the one hands because i use a friends inside track account for better pricing, but on the other, it does make returns and swap outs considerably easier when something breaks or they upgrade a model of tool. 

NOT A TA
NOT A TA SuperDork
12/11/19 12:56 p.m.

Meanwhile the Googles street view vehicles drive past our homes easily being able to scan license plates in driveways of many homes but few people care. Do they put that info into a database?

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
12/11/19 1:09 p.m.
rslifkin said:
z31maniac said:
bigdaddylee82 said:

I would be demanding the dealer replace the wiring harness they hacked up to install the Orwellian device.

I would have just returned the truck.

Same here.  When they failed to remove it, that means they failed to meet the terms of the deal and I'd be expecting them to take the truck back.  But actually, because of the potential wiring harness hacking, I probably wouldn't have bought the truck in the first place once I knew that thing had been installed.  

The wiring harness is my big thing too. Even though it *shouldn't* cause a problem I can see something happening and the dealer blaming some modification on you vs what they had installed. 

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/11/19 1:53 p.m.
z31maniac said:
bigdaddylee82 said:

I would be demanding the dealer replace the wiring harness they hacked up to install the Orwellian device.

I would have just returned the truck.

Well, Ford had repurchased my 2018 F-150 (full story on that here) and I was looking to buy something fairly quickly. I would have skipped this dealership in general, but I figured a 41k-mile CPO truck with the exact color combo, trim and options I wanted, at a competitive price, located nearby was hard to find. It's not worth returning the truck when I like it, it's CPO'd until 2023 and I was able to remove the device with no issues.

I did, more or less, return my F-150 because it had an engine rattle goin' on that Ford identified, couldn't fix, then tried to tell me was just normal. That was worth raising a fit over. The Ram... eh. I'd truthfully rather have my article come up when someone Googles "Kahu" or "Spireon" or "Fair Oaks Dodge" more than anything else. I already got mine but others deserve to be educated.

slowbird
slowbird Dork
12/11/19 2:04 p.m.

We live in the worst version of cyberpunk. We got all the corporations tracking and controlling us, but without the sweet aesthetics and biohacking.

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia Dork
12/11/19 2:16 p.m.

Do you know anyone else who bought a car there ?

or a mechanic who worked there ?

Might be an interesting followup

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/11/19 2:29 p.m.
californiamilleghia said:

Do you know anyone else who bought a car there ?

or a mechanic who worked there ?

Might be an interesting followup

I don't but I'd love to get in touch with a mechanic who works or worked there. I suspect most who still work there won't want to talk though.

java230
java230 UberDork
12/11/19 2:43 p.m.

Wow, thats nuts. I bet they kept the second key for exactly as you suspected, repo later as needed. Glad yours is all cleared up.

iansane
iansane New Reader
12/11/19 2:58 p.m.
java230 said:

Wow, thats nuts. I bet they kept the second key for exactly as you suspected, repo later as needed. Glad yours is all cleared up.

Eh. If it were a small time corner car lot I could see that. But working at an actual marque dealership, the sales departments are E36 M3shows that lose or misplace keys all the time. Keeping track of a key like that for later repo would be a nightmare. Not saying it's not possible but at my stealership they'd either just pay repo guy or just cut a new key and pass the fees onto the owner/defaulter.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
12/11/19 3:03 p.m.
slowbird said:

We live in the worst version of cyberpunk. We got all the corporations tracking and controlling us, but without the sweet aesthetics and biohacking.

I wonder if people are still doing things with subcutaneous magnets in their fingertips.  Supposedly you learn to interpret vibrations in the magnets as a sense of electricity.

 

Well, until the coating on the magnet fails, and your flesh goes necrotic and they have to amputate your finger.  

purplepeopleeater
purplepeopleeater Reader
12/11/19 3:17 p.m.

In reply to Brake_L8 :

Worked there for a short time as a tech in the late 80s. No idea if it's still owned by the same people but I would be unlikely to buy anything from them.

 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
12/11/19 3:22 p.m.
rob_lewis said:

Besides fleet tracking, I wonder if they're getting kickbacks from lenders   I know the "buy here pay here" lots put GPS trackers on their cars to quickly find it in case they need to repo the car. 

-Rob

This is my thought.

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
12/11/19 4:00 p.m.
NOT A TA said:

Meanwhile the Googles street view vehicles drive past our homes easily being able to scan license plates in driveways of many homes but few people care. Do they put that info into a database?

Not that's known at this time. They did however get themselves in a bunch of trouble for wardriving (cataloging all the WiFi access points and the type of security, or lack there of, for each location it found.)

_
_ Dork
12/11/19 9:12 p.m.

The less info you can give the better. But what I don't understand is what the "selling" of my info gains anyone? I still never answer unknown numbers. And I never get a spam email that is aimed at me. Im not a college student, I don't have a pacemaker, and I'm already hung well. I don't need anything spam throws at me!

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
12/11/19 9:42 p.m.
Apexcarver said:

lets not start on stores requiring a phone number/email/etc to make a purchase...

This is literally the only thing that Radio Shack was ever ahead of the curve on.

NOT A TA
NOT A TA SuperDork
12/11/19 9:55 p.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

TRS-80 ?

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
12/11/19 10:01 p.m.

I had a 2018 Honda Fit Sport for a short while (end of 2017 through 2018). The car doesn't come with navigation nor is it even an option; yet, on the infotainment screen I would constantly see a "GPS" icon in the top corner. It's always made me wonder what was being relayed back to Honda since it def didn't use it to sync the car's clock to whatever time zone i was in. 

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
12/11/19 10:24 p.m.

All of our cars have GPS trackers, no matter how old they are: 

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
12/11/19 10:26 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
Apexcarver said:

lets not start on stores requiring a phone number/email/etc to make a purchase...

This is literally the only thing that Radio Shack was ever ahead of the curve on.

the ski shop I work at has done that since at least the mid-90s when I started there. They use it for exactly two things:

1) sending one email per year, about our big season-opening sale

2) looking up purchases for people who lost their receipts

we don't "require" it, but we always ask and only a few people decline. 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
12/12/19 5:21 a.m.
_ said:

The less info you can give the better. But what I don't understand is what the "selling" of my info gains anyone? I still never answer unknown numbers. And I never get a spam email that is aimed at me. Im not a college student, I don't have a pacemaker, and I'm already hung well. I don't need anything spam throws at me!

I don't think it's that specifically marketed a lot of the time, Could just be aggregation and data analysis, for things like advertising on billboards.   Drive through different parts of town, or even different directions on the same road, and you'll see radically different types of advertisements.

 

Me, I'm annoyed at directed marketed anything, because I think it's denying me experience.  If I do a Google search for something on one computer, I get tech hits.  If I try to search for the same thing on my tablet, I get nothing but marketing ads.  Makes it a pain in the tail when I'm at work and trying to look up tech info when on my tablet. 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
12/12/19 6:23 a.m.
DirtyBird222 said:

I had a 2018 Honda Fit Sport for a short while (end of 2017 through 2018). The car doesn't come with navigation nor is it even an option; yet, on the infotainment screen I would constantly see a "GPS" icon in the top corner. It's always made me wonder what was being relayed back to Honda since it def didn't use it to sync the car's clock to whatever time zone i was in. 

I figured nearly every recent car with a giant screen has the GPS module in it, it's just whether you pay the fee for them to unlock the software. 

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
12/12/19 8:19 a.m.
z31maniac said:
DirtyBird222 said:

I had a 2018 Honda Fit Sport for a short while (end of 2017 through 2018). The car doesn't come with navigation nor is it even an option; yet, on the infotainment screen I would constantly see a "GPS" icon in the top corner. It's always made me wonder what was being relayed back to Honda since it def didn't use it to sync the car's clock to whatever time zone i was in. 

I figured nearly every recent car with a giant screen has the GPS module in it, it's just whether you pay the fee for them to unlock the software. 

That particular variant of Honda's infotainment has the GPS module in it but no navigation option is offered for that head unit with that part number. Some of the dweebs over at fitfreak have their conspiracy theories. It's likely Honda just paid to have all of their infotainment decks to have that to cut costs. I can tell you the GPS module in that deck did not help me at all when I was in the middle of west texas at night with no cell service on a dirt road where I made a wrong turn. 

Sarah Young
Sarah Young Editorial/Art Assistant
12/12/19 9:02 a.m.

Does anyone know any dealership insiders who can speak to their end of this?

nimblemotorsports
nimblemotorsports Reader
12/12/19 9:52 a.m.

The UK was/is?  requiring gps on all the cars, as they make you pay to drive in the congested areas, and just like cell phones, you know the police will be able to see the records to find out when/where you drove to.   And of course they will see your speeds, think intersection cameras were bad enough, just wait.

You can see a day coming soon where you need permission to get on the highway at certain times, like how electricity is now metered by daytime, and water useage, and soon highway useage is metered, particularly now that electric cars don't pay gas taxes.

Tyler H
Tyler H UberDork
12/12/19 10:14 a.m.
Streetwiseguy said:
rob_lewis said:

Besides fleet tracking, I wonder if they're getting kickbacks from lenders   I know the "buy here pay here" lots put GPS trackers on their cars to quickly find it in case they need to repo the car. 

-Rob

This is my thought.

"We own the Bank!"

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/12/19 10:23 a.m.
Sarah Young said:

Does anyone know any dealership insiders who can speak to their end of this?

I have a friend who was the sales manager at a Ford dealership for a long while. He basically confirmed what I wrote in my article - it all boils down to fleet management when the cars are for sale on the lot, and laziness when they are sold.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
12/12/19 10:54 a.m.
irish44j said:

All of our cars have GPS trackers, no matter how old they are: 

The big difference being that you can turn that one off. That's harder with a dealership installed device that you don't know exists or if you do, where it is.

8valve
8valve Reader
12/12/19 1:37 p.m.
Totally agree. I guess, and this is me being totally naive, I trust my cell phone carrier a tiny, tiny bit more than a company that specializes in GPS systems designed to facilitate vehicle repossessions. Still, gotta wonder who has that data and what is being done with it? 

Ha. The carrier is 100% giving up your info.  With the tiny shady company you may actually have a shot at your data not being shared and used. 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
12/12/19 2:29 p.m.
BoxheadTim said:
irish44j said:

All of our cars have GPS trackers, no matter how old they are: 

The big difference being that you can turn that one off. That's harder with a dealership installed device that you don't know exists or if you do, where it is.

I could have sworn there was a news story (and accompanyning video, the guy with the thick mustache? Can't remember who) that ran some different tests showing that turning off the GPS on your phone doesn't actually do anything. 

Their travel route was still perfectly logged. 

eastsideTim
eastsideTim UberDork
12/12/19 3:07 p.m.
z31maniac said:
rslifkin said:
z31maniac said:
bigdaddylee82 said:

I would be demanding the dealer replace the wiring harness they hacked up to install the Orwellian device.

I would have just returned the truck.

Same here.  When they failed to remove it, that means they failed to meet the terms of the deal and I'd be expecting them to take the truck back.  But actually, because of the potential wiring harness hacking, I probably wouldn't have bought the truck in the first place once I knew that thing had been installed.  

The wiring harness is my big thing too. Even though it *shouldn't* cause a problem I can see something happening and the dealer blaming some modification on you vs what they had installed. 

That’d also be a concern of mine.  Would be infuriated if the manufacturer denied warranty work because the dealership hacked up the wiring harness

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
12/12/19 4:09 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

 "Hmm, Mr. Wallens, we see that you spend a lot of time at headbanger shows, so your health insurance rates are going up."

 

FTFY

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/12/19 9:34 p.m.
Jerry From LA said:
David S. Wallens said:

 "Hmm, Mr. Wallens, we see that you spend a lot of time at headbanger shows, so your health insurance rates are going up."

 

FTFY

Worthy trade. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/17/19 8:32 p.m.

Some related reporting from The Washington Post.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
12/17/19 8:37 p.m.

I'm curious, are there any vauable or hackable components inside these devices?

 

I mean, they gave it to you for free, so why not play with the pieces?

 

Kind of like when people go all "Awesome!  I got a free boot!  Let me tow my car somewhere I can work on it and disassemble it"

Will
Will UltraDork
12/18/19 7:09 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
Apexcarver said:

lets not start on stores requiring a phone number/email/etc to make a purchase...

This is literally the only thing that Radio Shack was ever ahead of the curve on.

I assume Radio Shack is still sending mail to me at the address I gave them--1060 West Addison, Chicago 60613.

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia Dork
12/18/19 7:50 p.m.

could you mount it to a cross country big rig truck ?

Or a Train ?

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle SuperDork
12/18/19 7:55 p.m.

Sure seems easier than one trick pulled by a small town cop (who was also the weekend plant supervisor in my buddy's machine shop) on the east side of Akron, OH in the 1980's.  
 

They would place tape on headlights of vehicles parked outside of the local tavern. Two miles away, the tape had a very obvious visible signature as the car approached... that town had some pretty spectacular DUI revenue. 

b13990
b13990 Reader
12/19/19 7:14 p.m.

Reminds me of that LoJack crap. Can't stand those fricks.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
12/20/19 2:27 p.m.
Knurled. said:

I'm curious, are there any vauable or hackable components inside these devices?

 

I mean, they gave it to you for free, so why not play with the pieces?

 

Kind of like when people go all "Awesome!  I got a free boot!  Let me tow my car somewhere I can work on it and disassemble it"

I'm not sure! I did keep the little device, and the only wires that come off of it are for +12V and ground so it's easy enough to get powered. I'll have to pop the box open and see what's inside.

Our Preferred Partners
4iir0JQU2LaswdEQeIRBbrVGbai4BsjsGCc4c2qMk8SQKwS3JpkcHsaaLJKalrmS