The Sync 911 / VHR update for me has been a total crapshoot on my ’08 Focus SES. Being an IT guy myself trying to get the upgrade at a small local dealership has taught me a lot about the update:

The first dealer I went to – a big-city dealer, had no idea what the update was and updated me to 1.3 which I already had. When I found out they didn’t do the update after waiting all day, they told me it would be $100 to do it, and come back another day. Oh, and your car has to be in before 8 AM in the morning to consider getting looked at that day.

So, I went to another dealer – a small local one. There the mechanics were cautious about doing the update with me because they could “feel” something was bound to go wrong. They had never done a Sync 2.0 update before. After 2.5 hours of waiting, I come to find that they didn’t have a USB male-to-male cable in possession, and the mechanic had run out to the store to buy one. Also, the update was failing, and my Sync was dead. It wouldn’t turn on.

So, now I’m involved because I’m an IT guy and the mechanics aren’t. The issue was that for some reason the updater wasn’t talking to Sync.

It turns out, this update needs to be done at the dealer because your car’s ECU must be updated to be compatible with the new Sync 2.0 features. And it’s no small ECU update. The Sync 2.0 update process first does about 7 or 8 minutes of updates on your cars computer (the ECU) – and a hefty update it does. Afterwards, all my car “dings” are totally different and fun-sounding! (when you put your key’s in and stuff).

After the ECU systems are updated, the Sync update initiates. This is where my update fails. As soon as the update connection with Sync is initiated, Sync suddenly turns off and radio static is heard. And that’s when Sync’s dead, only revivable by disconnecting the battery, and reconnecting it. So, Sync is either supposed to turn off, or it crashes when the update is initiated. The update process then time’s out, being unable to communicate with Sync. Now this means you have to go through all 7 – 8 minutes of the ECU updates again. My ECU got flashed about 7 times today trying to do this update. If you’re curious, All the updates are actually done in Internet Explorer 6 through Ford’s website. Scary.

Through out all this, the dealer’s little laptop also didn’t have ActiveSync installed (The updater said you needed it installed), which is a free Microsoft download, so I downloaded & installed it for them. Then there was a special configuration setting that needed to be on so I set that. Then, their special USB cable didn’t have a driver installed for some reason (what USB cables need a driver?). The driver in the box amazingly came on a floppy (the laptop didn’t have a floppy drive) – so I had to put the floppy in another computer, transfer the driver to my USB thumb drive, and then manually install it from the thumb drive on the laptop we were using. After all that, we tried the Sync update again and still no go. One more battery disconnect / reconnect and I was on my way with an updated ECU, but still Sync 1.3. And 5 hours gone.

So it’s important to know that these same things may be happening at your dealer as well – missing software, computer drivers, wrong software configuration settings, etc that would be preventing the mechanics from their update in the first place.

The mechanics said they would put in a ticket with Ford. Here’s my ticket, Ford.