Reader Question: About EDRs?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Francis writes: Is there a was to disable the Event Data Recorder or erase data that is in it?

My reply: Unfortunately, the EDR is connected to the ECU – the computer that governs most of the drivetrain’s operations. Physically disconnecting it might result in problems with the ECU and so with the drivetrain (i.e., the engine and transmission) and possibly other vehicle operating systems as well, since practically everything that isn’t a purely mechanical system is embedded with the car’s electronic (computer controlled) systems.

But, you can prevent the EDR from transmitting data. One way todo this is to disconnect from all “connected” services, such as OnStar (and similar). You can also disconnect the antenna, which may be transmitting/receiving data.

Finally, you can assert your ownership over the EDR and the data it contains. There have been cases of insurance companies and so on attempting to claim a right to the data, but it is fundamentally your vehicle and that implies everything within it. Also, so long as you retain physical possession of the car it is hard for them to obtain possession of the data. The cases of insurance companies (and government) seizing the data have largely been post-wreck, with the vehicle in an impound lot.

. . .

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