Want Ford's Sync System To Call 911? Get The Dealer Upgrade

May 22, 2009

In light of yesterday's news from the Centers for Disease Control that Onstar raises accident survival rates, owners of Fords with the Sync system may wonder about their own chances using the similar system.

Ford has recently added a "911 Assist" function to the latest version of Sync, which is built into various 2010 models including the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid we're test driving this weekend.

That function automatically dials 911 if the airbags deploy, the linked mobile phone is on and synced to the car, and the driver doesn't respond to a Sync request to confirm that he or she is OK.

Luckily, some older Sync systems can be upgraded to include this new feature as well, though it requires a visit to the dealer.

A couple of weeks ago, we spoke with Jim Buczkowski, the Ford engineer who oversees their digital initiatives for cars interacting with the outside world.

We told him our parents own a 2009 Escape Hybrid ordered with Sync (at our urging), in part because of the 911 Assist feature.

It turns out that the version of Sync in their 2009 Escape doesn't include that function. But, there's a dealer upgrade available that Buczkowski described as a simple software patch.

So if you own a Ford with a recent version of Sync, you may want to visit your dealer to see if it's eligible for the upgrade "to include the 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Report functions".

Ford specifies a recommended price for the upgrade, but dealers have the option of ignoring the recommendation. We strongly suggest you bargain.

We're mildly irked that it's not a patch you can download onto a USB drive and install yourself via the car's USB jack. But, like any other dealer, Ford outlets love an incentive for you to visit them.

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