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My DCM disconnection odyssey.

Discussion in '5th Gen 4Runners (2010-2024)' started by Captain Spalding, Mar 15, 2022.

  1. Mar 15, 2022 at 11:50 AM
    #1
    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    *Update* For those wanting to go further than merely calling Toyota and opting out, have a look at post 164 for the state of things as I understand them to this point..

    Greetings all. A few weeks ago I took delivery of a new 4Runner. I started looking for one in November. In the intervening months I began to read up on them, found this forum, and this thread entitled “How to disconnect the tracking telemetry on the 5th gen 4Runner.” It’s a long and fascinating thread, and I could have posted this message to that thread but decided to make a separate post about my own experiences with the process of disconnecting the DCM. Let us not get into a debate about the the motivations for and merits of disconnecting the DCM. If you are not bothered by your personal data being mined then reading on from here will be a waste of your time. For those who are interested, please know that what follows refers to my 2022 TRD Off Road Premium with the Premium Audio system, and I cannot vouch that what I present will apply to other years or trim levels of 4Runner.

    My truck came with this sticker, affixed to the upper center console, near the off-road controls and the SOS button. Rather spiffing of Toyota to include it, I thought.
    Sticker.jpg
    Having never taken any action to opt in to any of the connected services, I was not sure what would happen when I pressed the SOS button, but when I did so I was connected to a very nice lady who, when asked how the DCM could be disconnected, told me it was not connected as I had not yet opted in. I pointed out to her that there must be some level of connection, as we were speaking. She seemed then to gain a sharper understanding of what I wanted. She told me I would have to download the Toyota App to my phone and create an account so that I could opt out. This idea of creating an account to opt out didn’t seem right, and I said so. She politely gave me a phone number to try. It was 800-331-4331. This is not a number for Toyota Connected Services. It’s the number for Toyota Safety Connect. (Evidently they are different.)

    The gentleman I spoke to there was not so cordial. Once he understood what I was after he became very gruff. He explained that he had worked for Toyota for decades, and if he thought Toyota would mis-use my data he wouldn’t be working for them. And he warned about all the features that would be lost if the DCM were deactivated, that the vehicle would lose “all radio communication” and that in order for those functions to be restored I would have to take my truck into the dealer and pay to have the DCM “re-flashed”. All radio communication? What about the traffic and weather data? What about the key fob? He would not be specific. I’m not sure he knew the details. I also expressed my thoughts that while Toyota’s motives might be pure, they could be just a piece of legislation or a court order away from being compelled to share my data, and that the possibility of my data falling into the hands of hackers also exists. Ultimately, as our spirited debate wound down I decided not proceed at that time. I decided to wait and conduct a few tests to see just how much functionality I would lose. .

    Before we go further let’s look at the feedback we have with regard to the DCM by way of indicators on the upper right corner of the infotainment screen.
    DCM Indicatos320.jpg
    Going from upper right to left: The BlueTooth symbol shows that there is a Bluetooth connection between the infotainment system and my smartphone. Next: the battery level on the phone. Then: vertical bars indicating the current cellular signal strength on my phone. Next: horizontal bars indicating the DCM’s cellular signal strength. And finally the DCM transmit/receive indicator. The rectangle with the letters “DCM” is always present. When the system is sending or receiving, the up/down arrows will both blink on and off. I was lucky to get this photo - it is rare that the arrows blink, and I just happened to catch them one day. Later I learned that you can force them to blink. On the infotainment system press Menu —>Setup—> General—>Software Update and press the “Check for Software Update” button.

    So I wanted to test what would happen if I pulled the DCM fuse:
    Fuse Pulled320.jpg
    The first thing I noticed is that the DCM cellular signal indicator now read no bars. I had read in the other thread that some folks who had pulled the fuse lost one of the speakers, and the hands-free microphone in the upper console. In the case of my ‘22 ORP, all the speakers worked fine, but the microphone did not work. I know for lots of people this is not an essential feature, and for them perhaps pulling the fuse is the best way to go. But for me the microphone is a must-have. So I replaced the fuse and determined to investigate further. By the way, with the fuse pulled, all the key-fob functions worked perfectly, and the weather data was available, and the traffic showed up on the navigation screen. So I guess those bits of data come in over the HD radio rather than through the DCM.

    For a couple of weeks I drove the truck normally, just observing the behavior of the DCM, trying to get an idea of how often it connects. One day I was driving in a deep canyon. There was no cell service there - neither the 5G that the phone uses, nor the 4G that the DCM uses.
    No Signal.jpg
    When there is no signal the bars are crossed out.

    Then I got an email from Toyota reminding me that I had not yet opted in to all the great connected services. It included a number to call if I wanted to disable them.
    Disable Features.jpg
    So I called this number and had the DCM disconnected. Later the same day I got the following email:
    Disconnect Notice .jpg
    The email says my truck won’t be transmitting any data. It’s in writing, so perhaps there’s some legal weight to the claim that they are not transmitting my data without my consent. The number at the end of the email to re-enroll for connected services is the same number at which I spoke to the grumpy gentleman who said if I wanted to get connected services back I’d have to take my truck to the dealer, and that restoring those services couldn’t be done remotely. I find this encouraging. I performed a couple of other tests. I tried the software update check, and the up/down arrows didn’t flash. I also went to the “Software Update Settings” menu item, which presents a button that says “Auto Update Check”, and that button is disabled, stuck in the off position. Finally, I pressed the SOS button, and a recorded voice said “The communications module is not active. To sign up for service please call …” The message, I’m sure, is in the DCM’s firmware, and wasn’t transmitted to the truck from elsewhere.

    It was interesting to note that with the services discontinued, the signal bars for the DCM still register a signal, while when the fuse is pulled there are no bars.

    I am encouraged by the results of these tests, but two big questions remain. Has my truck truly stopped transmitting data? And if it has, does Toyota really have to have physical possession of my truck to turn data transfer back on? I don’t know. In the coming weeks I will keep an eye out for the flashing up/down arrows.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2024
  2. Mar 15, 2022 at 9:57 PM
    #2
    ElectroBoy

    ElectroBoy Ad astra

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  3. Mar 15, 2022 at 10:01 PM
    #3
    McSpazatron

    McSpazatron New Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to post this. The reaction you got after calling the number on the overhead sticker was a bit different than mine. The guy I talked to was polite and agreeable, he informed me as to the resulting losses of “services”, and when I agreed he disconnected me / opted me out. I dont recall an email, but from what I recall, he essentially read me the content of the email you posted.

    Honestly, calling to disconnect /opt out is something I consider to be only a “token” action. Because, like you suggested, If they have the power to disconnect you remotely, it’s safest to assume they can turn it right back on.

    I’m sure, as long as everyone is following the rules, and as long as Toyota controls it, they would not do that. But the common concern between us is that they still retain a physical power over our property and data that can be used against our interests by those willing to not follow the rules.

    Also, that power is still theirs when if/when the rules themselves change. I havent read through the supposed “agreement” I supposedly made with Toyota, because it’s pointless….most of these types of “agreements” are disingenuous and completely one-sided. Usually, somewhere in the user agreement is a buried clause stating; “by using the product, you agree to allow Toyota to change this agreement without prior notice” or other similar bullshit.

    Hence my appreciation for a thread devoted to physically blocking our vehicles from outside control.
     
  4. Mar 16, 2022 at 10:35 AM
    #4
    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    Yes, thanks. I did see that. I think I also read that someone who disconnected the antenna noticed that within close proximity to a cell tower there were still bars on the DCM signal strength meter. Nonetheless, soon I’ll be installing a GMRS radio, and when I do I will disconnect the antennas while I have the dash opened up.
    I think you are probably right. Although it might be interesting to call the number in the second email and ask to have Connected Services reinstated, to see whether or not they can do it remotely or if it really does require a trip to the dealer. And while you and I are mostly like-minded on the issue I think I have more trust in Toyota than you do. Consider the sticker on the overhead console for example. Where they had an opportunity to place an advertisement for connected services, instead they gave a very up-front declaration: Hey. We’re tracking you by default, and if you don’t want us to then you can tell us not to. I don’t think Toyota is just being cagey with that sticker. I think they are sincere about taking their customers’ privacy concerns seriously. Then there’s the fact that they chose to include a transmit/receive indicator on the head unit. They didn’t have to do that. I don’t think they are trying to be secretive about it. And if the time comes when Toyota is legally compelled to collect and share our data, I think they wont keep it a secret. And then we can all resort to pulling the DCM fuse and give up the convenience of the hands free microphone.

    And like you I will wait for someone much smarter than me to post a brilliant how-to on how and where to add a jumper wire to reactivate the microphone after the DCM fuse has been pulled. :)

    Cheers, and thanks for the replies.
     
  5. Mar 18, 2022 at 10:55 AM
    #5
    Scoobyvroom

    Scoobyvroom New Member

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    Thanks for the well researched and well documented post above. Posts like these are why I prefer forums to FB/Reddit/Instagram and the like.
     
  6. Mar 18, 2022 at 3:33 PM
    #6
    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    Thanks for the kind words.
     
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  7. Mar 18, 2022 at 3:39 PM
    #7
    lrizzo

    lrizzo New Member

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    I'd wrap the vehicle in tin foil just to be sure.
     
  8. Jul 8, 2022 at 8:00 PM
    #8
    tt100

    tt100 New Member

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    Thanks to pointing me here from the other thread. I appreciate the thoughtful and thorough post.
     
  9. Jul 9, 2022 at 2:46 AM
    #9
    SVMTRCSR

    SVMTRCSR New Member

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    Don't blame me, I voted for Trump.
    August 2022 Motor Trend (page 12)has a good article on ths subject titled "Big Brother isn't the only one watching". Picture is a paragraph from it. My fuse has been out for months now along with antennas, no bars anymore on my DCM.

    Data.jpg
     
  10. Jul 9, 2022 at 7:32 AM
    #10
    Tmiesowicz

    Tmiesowicz New Member

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    So if you are transmitting data you would see the download / upload arrows while doing so? On the app I opted out of everything and held down the SOS button to deactivate as soon as I got the 4 runner (per sticker up there). Thankfully mine doesn’t work 90% of the time...dealer better never update or fix it!
     
  11. Jul 9, 2022 at 12:20 PM
    #11
    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    Yes. See the second image in the first post of this thread. Interesting that with the fuse out and the antennas disconnected yours still works 10% of the time. What is it that lets you know it’s working?
     
  12. Jul 9, 2022 at 12:56 PM
    #12
    Tmiesowicz

    Tmiesowicz New Member

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    I didn’t disconnect the antenna or fuse or anything, me being lucky it doesn’t work as is most of the time
     
  13. Jul 9, 2022 at 12:58 PM
    #13
    Tmiesowicz

    Tmiesowicz New Member

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    01622B72-DB5F-4BB6-B6CA-7BB3567D780E.jpg
     
  14. Jul 9, 2022 at 1:14 PM
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    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    Okay. I see the DCM signal strength icon grayed out and with a line through it. What does it look like when it’s not working?
     
  15. Jul 9, 2022 at 1:17 PM
    #15
    Tmiesowicz

    Tmiesowicz New Member

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    Picture above is what it looks like when ‘not working’, when working I get one black bar or so to show the ‘signal’. When ‘working’ I never ever see the data arrows.
     
  16. Jul 9, 2022 at 3:42 PM
    #16
    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    Thanks for replying. I think it’s helpful to have an idea what feedback the system gives in various circumstances. Please try this (quoted from above): “it is rare that the arrows blink, and I just happened to catch them one day. Later I learned that you can force them to blink. On the infotainment system press Menu —>Setup—> General—>Software Update and press the “Check for Software Update” button.” See if the arrows blink. Perhaps this must be done when you’re getting a DCM signal, rather than when all the bars are dim and crossed out. Also, when getting a signal, you might try pressing the SOS button and see what happens.

    I suspect that opting out via the app merely opts you out of the connected services, and to be truly disconnected you might have to call the number.
     
  17. Jul 9, 2022 at 3:51 PM
    #17
    Tmiesowicz

    Tmiesowicz New Member

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    If I hit the sos button I think it says services disconnected, I’m going to have to check later. But it 100% gets you nowhere!
     
  18. Jul 9, 2022 at 3:54 PM
    #18
    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    That’s a good sign. I’ll be interested to know how the update test turns out.
     
  19. Jul 10, 2022 at 4:20 AM
    #19
    Tmiesowicz

    Tmiesowicz New Member

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  20. Jul 10, 2022 at 10:07 AM
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    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    That’s the message I get. I think you’re good too. Thanks for posting those videos!
     
  21. Jul 10, 2022 at 10:21 AM
    #21
    Tmiesowicz

    Tmiesowicz New Member

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    No problem! I never see the download and upload arrows so I don’t think I transmit shit. Wonder why my signal sucks though but I would rather have it that way. My wife has a rav4 and hers is always strong. I never see it with No service.
     
  22. Jul 11, 2022 at 11:19 AM
    #22
    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    Perhaps interesting: I hadn’t paid much attention to the DCM display for a few months. The renewed interest in this topic has me looking at it again and it always looks like this - DCM signal meter grayed and crossed out.

    2FB42B3F-6FC7-44DD-AA8B-0556CB5D3D9D.jpg

    I wonder if the process of disabling the DCM takes place over a span of time. I used to get a couple of bars of DCM signal in my driveway and now the meter reads like this all the time.
     
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  23. Jul 11, 2022 at 4:57 PM
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    grizzlypath

    grizzlypath New Member

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    I don't want to derail the thread, but I would love to see if people can repurpose the SOS buttons and/or replace them with a different switch once we fully figure out how to disable the DCM feature. Nothing lamer than having a service expire (or be deactivated) and have an artifact hard wired there useless for all eternity.
     
  24. Jul 11, 2022 at 5:06 PM
    #24
    McSpazatron

    McSpazatron New Member

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    Garage door opener button. Keep sos on it regardless lol.
     
  25. Jul 11, 2022 at 5:49 PM
    #25
    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    I have 3 opener buttons up there already … :)
     
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  26. Jul 11, 2022 at 6:02 PM
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    4runningMan

    4runningMan New Member

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    If one gets a new T4R and never connects their smartphone, is Toyota still “mining data”.

    I’ve never ever connected my phone in any of my trucks because I don’t know the answer to that question. I have no reason to connect it, really.
     
  27. Jul 11, 2022 at 6:43 PM
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    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    Yes.
     
  28. Jul 11, 2022 at 6:52 PM
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    ecoterragaia

    ecoterragaia New Member

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    The truck has it's own 4G cellular module, so Toyota can communicate with it anywhere there's a cell signal without the owner having to do anything.
     
  29. Jul 11, 2022 at 7:09 PM
    #29
    McSpazatron

    McSpazatron New Member

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    Even though the 4runner is tied to toyota’s skynet, I believe the contents of your phone are not downloaded to the headunit as long as you use a cable and make calls through carplay.

    But if you use entune for calls and music through bluetooth, then your contacts, call history, and who knows what else is uploaded to the headunit. Whether stays only on the headunit, or is integrated into skynet…that’s anybodies guess.

    This is also something to consider before you sell your car.
     
  30. Jul 11, 2022 at 9:07 PM
    #30
    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding [OP] . . .

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    You can limit what gets uploaded to the head unit via Bluetooth. I was able to limit the contacts to just a few that I wanted by tailoring a Favorites list on the phone, and to then specify to the phone that I only wanted to share Favorites. I uploaded them to the head unit on a 1-time basis, and then revoked permission on the phone and the head unit. I refused outright to give permission for the car to see my texts or voicemail. But I can make and receive calls via Bluetooth without any other personal data transfer.
     
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