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Getting Apple CarPlay: Sync3 and Ford’s Hell

HeaderDoing factory updates, upgrades, and other general dealership work can become expensive very quickly. People suffer through the high costs and corporate-feel of dealerships for a few reasons. While some people just don’t give it a second though, other people do it for the security and ease of any performed work. The people who built the car are theoretically the best to maintain it. My recent experience with Ford brings this into question.

Owners of 2017 Sync3 systems in Fords and Lincolns have been able to enjoy Android Auto and Apple CarPlay since they purchased their cars, however, 2016 model year owners have not had that luxury. Last week Ford announced that an update would bring the features to 2016MY Fords and Lincolns equipped with Sync3. As an owner of just such a car, I was intrigued: I have wanted CarPlay for a while.

Owners of Android products have it simple: they either download the update themselves via USB, connect their car to Wi-Fi, or take it to a dealer. All the requisite hardware is already installed, and a simple update will allow Android owners to plug their phones in.

Sync3 with Android Auto.

Apple owners are less lucky. While the update is received in the same three ways, there is a hardware component to the update. Since I am not a Ford Guru, and there isn’t really another way to get the hardware, I made a service appointment at my local Ford dealership to do so. I knew that I needed to replace the USB hub, but that was the extent of my knowledge. As it turned out, when I arrived at my service center, that little bit of information was more than the dealer knew.

The USB hub in question. Fords have blue surrounds while Lincolns have white.

Upon trying to explain what I wanted to have done, my service advisor–who happened to be the manager–did not know what I was talking about. Not only did he not know the part I needed, he did not even know what Apple CarPlay was. The skepticism with which he approached my request leaves little doubt into his up-to-date service knowledge–or lack thereof.

After looking through his menus, he decided that he did not know what I was talking about, and because of that, he held no further responsibility in the situation. While willing to put a new USB hub in, he was not able to tell me the part number I needed. After recommending that I use “the Googles” to try and find the part number, he also informed me that any part put in would lose its returnability as it is an electric component. As the part cost near $70, this was hardly a soft blow.

All I want is that simple screen…

So, to sum up, my Ford dealer did not know what CarPlay was, couldn’t tell me the part I needed, and was not willing to support me while I acted as their dealerships Guinea Pig. I decided to purchase the part after I researched part numbers, and visit a different dealer service center. Once I got the part and showed up to my new service center, I was again faced with befuddled Ford employees who could not tell me if this was the proper part number.

After confirming that the ‘no returns’ policy was in effect here as well, I decided to put the part in. While I waited, I asked Ford Service on Twitter for the part number for some peace of mind, and they could not advise me as to the part. At this point, the dealership parts counter told me that they thought I had ordered the part number, and I should be fine.

Whether or not I ‘should’ be fine, I was already waiting to pick my car up from the having the part installed. Once I did, there was little indication that an upgrade had been performed. As this was a few weeks before the official update, there was no way to test the effectiveness of the ports. While they did charge electronics, I occasionally get error messages that “This USB hub is not supported. Please Remove”. After asking the service center about this message, I was told that it would be best for me to just live with it.


An error message similar to mine. Lovely.


To sum up, I have been trying to unlock a feature my car should have been sold with. To do so, I have installed new parts with very little dealer support, made my car slightly worse with error messages, and still do not have Apple CarPlay. While my car is connected to Wi-Fi, as I do not have the update, I can only assume it is coming soon at a later date. Until then, I have spent $70 in parts and over a $100 in labor, for zero-results.

The moral of the story is two-fold. First and foremost is that the myth of guaranteed competence from a dealer service center is just that: a myth. Secondly, trying to be early to anything in the car world–like I am doing with CarPlay–carries significant risk that it won’t be easy. Stay tuned for updates on whether or not I actually end up with CarPlay or not.

Think my random article is more of a rant? Let me know down below (Hint: you are right). Thanks for reading and remember to like the article and share it with your everybody.

Stephen Hyden View All

I recently recieved a degree in History from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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