Ultimate Guide to SYNC 3

Ultimate Guide to SYNC 3

Last Updated October 13, 2021 | Meghan Drummond
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Ford SYNC 3 debuted in 2014, 7 years after the first SYNC system. The third-gen SYNC system introduced new features to keep up with technology’s increasing capabilities. SYNC 3 was also the first version of SYNC designed in collaboration with Blackberry, rather than Microsoft.

In comparison to MyFord Touch, aka SYNC 2, SYNC 3 was very well received. SYNC 3 eliminated irrelevant MyFord Touch features, like AV hookups. Useful features, like wireless capabilities, were expanded upon.

Overall, SYNC 3 mimicked the capabilities of most smartphones. This created a system that was intuitive and easy to use, while still being powerful and fast.

Below, we'll guide you through the setup process for SYNC 3 and teach you how to get the most out of this awesome infotainment system.

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SYNC 3 Features

Like all SYNC versions before it, SYNC 3's primary job is to make your phone accessible while you're driving without causing a distraction. It also lets you control the vehicle's radio, volume, and climate controls.

One big advantage of SYNC 3 is its capacitive touchscreen that works just like a smartphone's. You can work it with a tap of your finger, but it won't respond to accidental poking or brushes of the hand. SYNC 3 is available with either a 6.5-inch or 8-inch screen.

Features:

  • Hands-Free Calling
  • Voice-Activated Controls
  • 5-Way Steering Wheel-Mounted Controls
  • SYNC AppLink
  • Enhanced Voice Recognition
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • WiFi System Updates
  • Navigation (optional)
  • Ford+Alexa (Amazon Alexa Support)

Pairing Your Phone with SYNC 3

To use most of SYNC 3’s features, you’ll need to pair SYNC with your phone via Bluetooth.

  1. Turn on your car, the SYNC system, and your phone.
  2. Enable your phone’s Bluetooth and make it discoverable.
  3. From the SYNC 3 touchscreen, select the “Phone” menu and then “Add Device.”
  4. Check the list of available devices on your phone and select “SYNC.”
  5. Your mobile phone will display a six-digit PIN.
  6. Check to see that the PIN on the SYNC display and your phone match. If your phone doesn’t display a PIN, enter the one from the SYNC display.
  7. You’ll see a message on your SYNC screen saying the pairing was successful. SYNC will remember and connect to your phone from now on.

While you’re pairing your phone, SYNC will also help you set up other features, like 911 Assist and Automatic Phonebook Downloads. You can enable or disable these features later, but it’s very easy to just set them up now. If you want step-by-step instructions now or later, check out the sections on setting up Automatic Phonebook Downloads and 911 Assist below.

SYNC 3 Layout and Controls

The SYNC 3 screen is designed to be easy to navigate through menus and on-screen content. You can swipe, slide, and pinch to zoom, all movements smartphone users are familiar with.

At the top of the screen, there’s a status bar that shows messages and notifications. It reflects the “status” of certain features like the outdoor temperature, indoor temperature, and time. It will also show you whether some key features, like your microphone or 911 Assist, have been turned off.

SYNC 3 Status Bar where drivers can see temperature, time, and other connected device information

Status Bar Information:

  • Interior temperature
  • Outdoor temperature
  • Time
  • Microphone off
  • Audio muted
  • WiFi available
  • Cell phone roaming
  • Unread text message
  • 911 Assist off
  • Bluetooth

At the bottom of the touchscreen is a second bar called the feature bar. There you’ll see icons for your audio, climate, phone, nav, applications, and settings. If you select any of these features, you’ll be taken to a new screen that shows you the options for that feature.

SYNC 3 Feature Bar where drivers can access audio, phone, nav, apps, and other system settings

Feature Bar Icons:

  • Audio
  • Climate
  • Phone
  • Navigation
  • Applications
  • Settings

Steering Wheel Controls

Steering wheel controls don’t require you to take your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. There are several buttons located on the steering wheel to access many of SYNC 3’s features.

Example of Ford vehicle steering wheel with built-in controls for SYNC 3

SYNC 3 Steering Wheel Buttons
Button Icon Action
Voice Ford SYNC 3 voice control activation button Activates voice recognition for voice commands.
Media Ford SYNC 3 Media button Lets you select your audio source.
Seek Ford SYNC 3 seek and arrow selection buttons Moves through menu options.
Volume Ford SYNC 3 volume control buttons Adjusts the volume.
Phone Ford SYNC phone answer/end call button Brings up the phone menu. Can also be used to accept or end a call.
Ok Ford SYNC 3 OK control button Confirms menu selections.

Voice Commands

Unlike the basic SYNC system, SYNC 3 has enhanced voice recognition, making commands more natural. There are separate commands for entertainment and your phone, but these standard commands can be used from any menu.

General Voice Commands for SYNC 3
Command Action
Go Back Goes to last menu option.
Cancel Cancels last command.
List of Commands Shows all available voice commands
Next Page/Previous Page Scrolls through lists of commands.
Help Says available actions

If you’re using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, then SYNC’s voice commands will be disabled. Instead, you’ll either use Siri or Google Assistant for your voice commands.

How to Adjust the SYNC 3 System Volume

You may want to turn the volume of the SYNC voice assistant up or down depending on your preference. Adjusting the system volume won’t affect the volume of the navigation system, radio, or other audio playback, but the process is similar.

  1. Wait for the SYNC voice assistant to start talking.
  2. Use the volume knob or steering wheel buttons to turn the volume up or down.

Hands-Free Calling and Texting

SYNC 3 offers many ways to stay in touch while on the road. With hands-free calling and texting, you can manage calls from your steering wheel or use voice commands. The touchscreen will also display incoming calls, giving you the option to accept or reject the call there.

The phone icon on the touchscreen's feature bar will take you to the full phone menu where you can see your recent calls, contacts, and phone options and preferences.

SYNC 3 phone menu example with contacts list

How to Manage Your Phonebook with SYNC 3

You’ll first get an option to download your contact list when you pair your phone. But you can also manually download your contacts at any time. You can only do this while your vehicle is in park and connected to your phone.

  1. Select the “Phone” icon on your feature bar.
  2. Select “Settings” and then “Manage Contacts.”
  3. Scroll until you see the option to download your contacts.
  4. Select “Download Contacts” to sync your phonebook with your SYNC 3 system.

There are several other options in the “Manage Contacts” menu that can help keep you organized. You can display contact photos, choose how you’d like your contacts to appear, and delete your contacts from here in the future.

Setting Up Automatic Phonebook Downloads

With automatic phonebook downloads, your SYNC contacts will update whenever you add, change, or delete someone from your phone.

The option to turn on automatic contact downloads also shows up when you first pair your phone. If you skipped it before, you can access it through the “Phone” icon on the feature bar. It will show up as an option under “Settings.” Simply switch it “On” to enable automatic phonebook downloads going forward.

SYNC 3 Phone Voice Commands

To use the voice commands, simply hit the voice button on the steering wheel. These commands have been greatly simplified in comparison to previous SYNC generations. If you’re ever unsure of what to do, you can always say “Help” or “What can I say?” for a list of valid commands.

SYNC 3 Voice Commands for Phone Functions
Command Action
Redial Dials the last dialed number.
Pair Phone Starts the phone pairing process.
Call [Name] Calls contact.
Dial [Number] Calls number.
Messages Reads voicemail messages.
Listen to Text Message Reads text message.
Reply to Text Message Pulls up a list of 15 standard text messages to send.
Text Messages Shows list of received text messages.

Receiving iPhone Text Messages

For the most part, receiving text messages with SYNC 3 is the same regardless of the type of phone you have. But due to some Apple safety features, you may need to go through some extra steps to make texting work properly.

  1. Find SYNC in the devices list in your iPhone’s Bluetooth settings.
  2. Click on the information icon beside it.
  3. Enable the “Show Notifications” feature.
  4. Keep your iPhone’s messages app running.
  5. Select the “Phone” icon from the feature bar on your SYNC screen.
  6. Select “Text Messages.”
  7. If you get a message from SYNC that it doesn’t have access to your device’s texts, Press “Retry.”
  8. Wait while SYNC tries to reconnect the messaging feature.
  9. If successful, you’ll see a confirmation message appear on the SYNC screen.

Responding to Texts with Siri Eyes Free

Siri Eyes Free is an iPhone feature that allows you to reply to text messages with personalized responses.

Activate Siri and tell her who you want to text and what you want the text to say. Siri will read the message back to you and wait for confirmation before sending.

How to Enable 911 Assist

911 Assist is a feature that allows SYNC to notify emergency services if there’s an accident. 911 Assist can also tell first responders how many seat belts were being used and if the airbags were deployed. You’ll need to enable this feature since it comes disabled by default.

  1. Select the “Settings” icon from your feature bar.
  2. Find the option for 911 Assist on one of the Settings screens.
  3. Move the toggle to “On” to enable 911 Assist.
  4. When prompted, select two emergency contacts. You can also change these options in the Settings menu later.

911 Assist will only work if SYNC can find a working phone to connect to. If SYNC can’t find a phone to connect to, no messages can be sent. If there’s an accident and one phone isn’t working, SYNC will try to connect to any other phones that have been paired with it in the past.

How to Play Music and Other Audio with SYNC 3

Fittingly, the very first option on the feature bar is “Audio,” symbolized by a music note. SYNC 3 offers a lot of ways to entertain yourself, whether that’s with music, podcasts, news, or sports. Here are the audio options available with SYNC 3:

  • AM/FM Radio
  • Bluetooth Streaming
  • USB-Connected Devices
  • SYNC AppLink
  • Android Auto
  • Apple CarPlay
  • CD Player (Option)
  • SiriusXM Radio (Option)

Most people opt to either stream music via Bluetooth or connect their phone using the USB port. AppLink includes several audio apps, and if you have an Android or iPhone you can play audio using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

SYNC 3 audio menu with Sirius radio playing as an example

Stream Audio through Apps

Besides SYNC's built-in options, there are many ways to use smartphone apps to play audio.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both very popular and allow you to access more audio apps. You can play anything on your phone via Bluetooth, but using these setups gives you extra functionality and an interface that looks more like your phone's.

Given their popularity, we have separate sections on setting up Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Skip Ahead To:

Apple CarPlay Setup | Android Auto Setup

AppLink is a SYNC option that allows you to connect to your phone's apps as well. If Ford's option is more appealing to you, check out the section on setting up AppLink.

Between these three options, you should have access to any audio streaming app you can think of. Some of the most popular apps include Audible, Spotify, Pandora, Overcast, and NPR One. New apps are being added all the time.

Save Preset Radio Stations

Setting a preset radio station is a good way to make sure your favorites are available at a glance. Once they’re saved, you can use the preset number or voice commands to tune in.

  1. Tune to your favorite radio station.
  2. Press and hold a memory preset button.
  3. Wait for the audio to mute briefly. This indicates that the station was saved.
  4. Select the preset button to tune to that station in the future.

You have two preset banks for AM and three for FM. Each bank has six slots, which makes for a lot of preset options. You can navigate your preset options with the seek buttons on your steering wheel, select from the touchscreen, or use your voice commands. Hitting the media button on the steering wheel will pull up the next bank of presets to search through.

SYNC 3 Entertainment Voice Commands

You can control most audio playback features of SYNC 3 with your voice. To initiate a voice command, you just have to press the voice button on your steering wheel and speak the command.

SYNC 3 Entertainment Voice Commands
Command Action Input
[Number] FM Tunes to FM station Radio
HD [1-7] Tunes to HD station Radio
[Number] AM Tunes to AM station Radio
Play Plays CD CD
Pause Pauses CD CD
Play Track [Number] Plays the selected track CD
Play [Artist/Album/Song/Genre] Plays selection USB
Browse [All Albums/All Tracks/All Genres/All Audiobooks/All Playlists] Shows available media on selected device USB
Browse [Artist/Album/Genre/Audiobook/Playlist] > [Name] Shows all available media that meets criteria USB
Play All Plays tracks in alphabetical order USB
What’s Playing? Says information about current track USB
[Channel Name] Tunes to selected channel SiriusXM
Sirius Channel [Number] Tunes to selected channel SiriusXM
Play Plays music Bluetooth Audio
Pause Pauses music Bluetooth Audio

AppLink allows you to launch several SYNC-optimized applications from your touchscreen. While running, you’ll be able to control the apps with voice commands as well as the touchscreen.

With the touchscreen, simply touch the “Apps” icon on the feature bar. This will pull up the available applications.

To use voice commands, press the “Voice” button on your steering wheel. Then, say “Mobile Apps.” Once you’re in the mobile app menu, state the name of the application you want to launch. If you can’t remember the available applications, just say “List Mobile Apps” to get a full list.

Even though these apps run on your SYNC screen, they need to be installed on your phone as well. You can download them from the Apple App Store or from Google Play.

If your phone isn’t connected, the apps won’t be able to run on your SYNC system.

iPhone users have to use a USB cable for SYNC AppLink. They also have to have the desired application open and running in the foreground of their phone.

Android phones need to be connected to SYNC via Bluetooth for AppLink to work.

Available SYNC 3 Apps

Available AppLink options include things like Pandora as well as lesser known apps like Cityseeker. For a full and up-to-date list of applications, check out the AppLink catalog.

Why Doesn’t AppLink Work with Your Apps?

The biggest reason apps stop working with AppLink is that something needs an update. Make sure your phone, SYNC, and apps are all running the latest software versions.

Some apps also need you to log in or enter your personal information to use the service. Check to make sure you’re logged into the apps you want to use before you start driving.

Ford+Alexa

There are several AppLink apps that only work with SYNC 3 and not the base system. One of those is Ford+Alexa, which allows you to use Amazon’s Alexa from your Ford vehicle.

If you already use an Echo device in your home, the features are pretty similar. You can use Alexa to control audio, navigate your calendar, or even control the smart devices in your home. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can also use premium features, like purchasing on the go.

SYNC 3 apps screen with the Alexa app

Using Ford+Alexa is just like using other AppLink apps. You need to download the most recent version of the Ford+Alexa app and sign in. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto must be disabled for SYNC 3 AppLink to work.

To launch Ford + Alexa, press the “Apps” icon from the feature bar.

You can then start talking to Alexa the same way you would in your own home. If you have an iPhone, you’ll need to connect via USB. Android devices connect via Bluetooth.

How to Use Apple CarPlay with SYNC 3

Apple CarPlay lets you control your iPhone’s apps with the SYNC 3 touchscreen. This way you can have the Apple interface you know and love while you drive. CarPlay has fewer available features and simpler menus than your phone to make your experience safer.

SYNC 3 display showing the Apple CarPlay interface

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Plug your iPhone into your vehicle’s USB port.
  2. The first time you plug in your phone, you’ll get a pop-up asking if you want to connect. Select “Yes.”
  3. Agree to the terms and conditions to use Apple CarPlay. (You can decline, but you won’t be able to use the feature).
  4. Wait for the Apple CarPlay screen to appear on your touchscreen.
  5. Use your phone, messages, maps, and other apps exactly as you would on your phone.

You’ll also be able to control these apps via voice control, only it will be Siri instead of SYNC’s voice assistant. While Apple CarPlay is active, you won’t be able to use several SYNC features. These include the built-in navigation and AppLink.

You will still have access to some SYNC functionality though. You can see what SYNC features are available by pressing the SYNC icon on the touchscreen. This will take you to a separate screen that shows you your SYNC options. You can get back to the Apple CarPlay screen by pressing its icon in the feature bar.

To disable Apple CarPlay, go to the “Settings” menu from the feature bar. You’ll see an option for Apple CarPlay preferences that will have a disable option.

How to Use Android Auto with SYNC 3

Android Auto lets you use the Android interface on your SYNC touchscreen. Though there are still some SYNC functions you’ll have access to, for the most part, Android Auto is an override. Your voice command button will control Google Assistant rather than SYNC, for example.

SYNC 3 display showing the Android Auto interface

To use Android Auto, you’ll need a phone that’s compatible with SYNC 3. You’ll also need to download Android Auto from the Google Play store.

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Plug your phone into your vehicle’s USB port.
  2. Press the “Settings” option on the feature bar.
  3. Find the “Android Auto Preferences” icon.
  4. Select “Enable Android Auto.”
  5. The first time you plug in your phone, you’ll get a pop-up asking if you want to connect. Select “Yes.”
  6. Agree to the terms and conditions to use Android Auto. (You can decline, but you won’t be able to use the feature).
  7. Wait for the Android Auto screen to appear on your touchscreen.
  8. Use the touchscreen to access your phone’s features and apps like you would on your phone. For a full list of supported apps, go to the Android Auto site.

While using Android Auto, you won’t be able to use SYNC AppLink, the navigation system, or many other features. To access the remaining SYNC features, select the Tachometer icon in the bottom right corner of the Android Auto Screen.

You can then get back to the Android Auto screen by selecting the Android Auto icon from the feature bar.

To disable Android Auto, go to the “Settings” menu from the feature bar. Then select Android Auto Preferences and select the phone you’d like to disable.

SYNC 3's built-in navigation is optional, but it has some unique features and benefits. Besides not needing cell service for directions, here are some of its other key features:

  • 3D City Models
  • Point of Interest (P.O.I.) Icons
  • Incident Icons
  • Options for Fastest, Shortest, or Most Economical (“Eco”) Routes
  • Options to Avoid Toll Roads or Find Roads with HOV Lanes
  • Ability to Add Waypoints for Multiple Stops on the Same Trip
  • P.O.I. Information from Cityseeker in 1000+ U.S. Cities
  • Access to SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link for Supplementary Map Info (Subscription)

There are other navigation apps available if your vehicle doesn’t have built-in nav. Just keep in mind that the voice commands listed below and SiriusXM’s Traffic and Travel Link are exclusive to SYNC’s built-in navigation.

Example map view of the navigation screen from Ford SYNC 3

If you don’t have Ford’s built-in navigation system, you can skip ahead to the section on Other Navigation Options for information on alternatives.

How to Set Home, Work, and Favorite Locations

Saving addresses to your navigation system makes it easy to plan routes to the places you visit most. You can also set up your home and work locations using the same steps.

  1. Make sure your vehicle is in park.
  2. On the features bar, select “Navigation.”
  3. Select the “Destination” option.
  4. On the “Set a Destination” screen, you’ll see options to set up your home and work locations and an icon for Favorites.
  5. When you select which location you want to set up, you’ll get a message that says “Add a Favorite for _____?”
  6. Enter the address. The address can be a street address, a point of interest, a city, or an intersection.
  7. Wait for SYNC to show the location on a map with an address.
  8. If it’s correct, select “Save.”

If at some point you need to change a favorite location, just select it from the list and choose “edit or delete.” From there you can change the address, rename it, give it a new icon, or delete it.

Adjusting the Navigation System Volume

Adjusting the volume of the navigation voice is easy. When it starts speaking, just turn the volume on your dash or steering wheel up or down.

There are also ways to turn the voice off altogether. On the touchscreen, select the “menu” icon and then navigate to “mute guidance.” You can also use the voice commands, “Navigation voice guidance on” or “Navigation voice guidance off.”

Adjusting the volume of your SYNC navigation system won’t affect the volume of other SYNC functions.

How to Get Map Updates

If you have the built-in navigation, then you’ll need to think about when and how to update your maps. New maps can be purchased annually through Ford’s navigation portal. You can either have the update mailed to you on a USB drive, or download and update the nav yourself.

Map updates include new routes, new points of interest, and updated information about travel times and patterns. Speed limit changes will also show up, which can save you money if they help you avoid a ticket.

Using SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link with SYNC 3

If you have built-in navigation, then you also have the option to add SiriusXM Traffic and SiriusXM Travel Link. These two services supplement the navigation maps and offer additional trip information.

With the Sirius travel suite, you can find out which nearby gas station has the best prices, or what times the movie you want to see is playing. You’ll also have access to real-time traffic updates, so you can avoid road closures and accidents.

These two apps are offered through SiriusXM, not Ford, and require a yearly subscription. If you’re a subscriber, you can access Traffic and Travel Link through the “Apps” icon in the feature bar. From there, you’ll see an icon for Sirius Travel Link. You’ll then select from this list of services:

  • Traffic List - Provides real-time traffic information
  • Fuel Prices - Lists nearby fuel prices
  • Weather - Gives local and national weather forecasts
  • Ski Conditions - Keeps track of ski conditions
  • Movie Listings - Shows nearby movie listings and times
  • Sports Info - Gives in-game and final scores as well as upcoming schedules for pro and college sports
  • Subscription Info - Shows information about your subscription

To use voice commands, just touch the voice button on the steering wheel and then use the correct phrase. The > symbol represents a pause. It feels a little unnatural to pause, but it gives the system a moment to catch up so that you don’t have to repeat yourself a lot.

SYNC 3 Nav Voice Commands
Command Action
Destination > Work Plots a route to your workplace
Drive to/Take Me to/ Get Directions to/ Navigate to > Work Plots a route to your workplace
Destination > Home Plots a route to your home
Drive/Take Me/Directions/Navigate > Home Plots a route to your home
Favorite Destinations Lists your favorite destinations
Show Favorites Shows favorite destinations
Destination > Previous Destinations Shows previous destinations
Previous Destinations Lists all previous destinations
I’m Hungry Lists restaurants and cafes
I Need a Coffee Lists cafes
I Need Fuel Lists gas stations
I Need a Hotel Lists hotels
I Need to Park Lists parking lots
Where Is the Train Station? Gives directions to a train station
Where Is the Airport? Gives directions to an airport
I Need to Go Shopping Gives directions to shopping centers and supermarkets
I Need a Hospital Gives directions to a hospital
I Need a Pharmacy Gives directions to a pharmacy
Where Is the Police Station? Gives directions to a police station
Find a P.O.I Allows you to search for a P.O.I by name or category
Find Nearest P.O.I Allows you to search for a nearby P.O.I
Find Nearest [P.O.I. Category] Finds the nearest P.O.I. in the selected category (like a gas station or restaurant)
Find [P.O.I. Category] Search through a P.O.I. Category
Show Traffic Shows traffic events on route
Show All Traffic Shows a list of all traffic events
Show Map Shows map on touchscreen
Show North Up Map is aligned so north is up
Show Heading Up Map is aligned so that the direction you’re headed is up
Show 3D Map is shown in 3D
Repeat Instruction Repeats last given instruction
Reroute Lets you pick an alternate route
Cancel Route Cancels the current route
Cancel Next Waypoint Cancels the next waypoint on route
Show Route Shows the entire route on the overview map
Route Summary Displays a description of the route

Other Navigation Options

Even if you don’t have the built-in nav option, there are plenty of ways to get where you want to go with SYNC 3. Waze is available through SYNC AppLink, and other popular map apps from Google and Apple are available through Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay. Just download your preferred app to your phone to get turn-by-turn directions.

SYNC 3 Alternate Navigation Options
System Waze Google Maps Apple Maps
SYNC AppLink
Android Auto
Apple CarPlay

Waze

Waze is a popular navigation app that gives turn-by-turn directions and user-submitted travel time and route details (like accidents, construction, or speed traps). Waze is also the most accessible third-party navigation option if you don’t have built-in nav for SYNC, since it works with AppLink, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto.

Waze app giving directions through Ford's SYNC 3 system display

To use Waze through SYNC AppLink, you’ll need to connect your phone via a USB cable instead of the Bluetooth connection. If you’re using an iPhone or Android smartphone, you’ll also need to make sure that Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are disabled.

Touch the “Apps” icon on the feature bar of your SYNC system and launch the Waze app for directions.

Google Maps

Google Maps is another popular and easy-to-use navigation app. It works with either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Google Maps also supports voice search, making it easy to enter an address or change destinations safely. You can also adjust the navigation volume settings, map orientation, traffic status overlays, route options, and more.

Simply launch the Google Maps app from your CarPlay or Android Auto interface to use it.

Apple Maps

Apple Maps is the default navigation app on iOS devices. It functions pretty much the same way Google Maps and Waze do. It offers many of the same options as other map apps, like volume adjustments, map orientation, and route options. It also has some cool features like icons that let you know when you’re coming up on a speed camera or red light camera.

Apple Maps is only available through Apple CarPlay. To launch it, simply choose the app from the CarPlay interface.

Installing SYNC 3 Software Updates

SYNC 3 is the first SYNC generation where software can be updated over WiFi. This is obviously a huge convenience, but you can also update your SYNC with a flash drive or take it to the dealership if you prefer.

How to Download SYNC 3 WiFi Updates

  1. Go to “Settings” and select “WiFi.”
  2. Choose your network and enter its password.
  3. Go to the “General” option in the “Settings” menu.
  4. Turn on automatic software updates.
  5. SYNC will download and install system updates automatically when connected to this network in the future.

How to Download SYNC 3 Updates to USB

Before you begin, make sure your USB drive isn’t locked by a password. Ford also recommends having at least 8 GB of available space and nothing else saved on the drive.

  1. Go to Ford’s SYNC Update page on your computer.
  2. Enter your VIN number in the field.
  3. Click the “Prepare SYNC download” button.
  4. Extract or unzip the downloaded file.
  5. Plug a USB drive into your computer and save the update files to it.
  6. Eject the USB drive from your computer.
  7. Turn on your vehicle and plug in the USB drive.
  8. Installation will begin automatically and last about 25-30 minutes. Keep the car running until the update is finished.
  9. Once the “Installation Complete” message appears, unplug the USB drive from the vehicle.
  10. Plug the USB drive back into your computer.
  11. Go to Ford’s SYNC USB update page and scroll down to "Step Three: Confirm Update."
  12. Click the “Browse for log file” button.
  13. Select the XML log from your USB drive to report the successful update to Ford.

Getting SYNC 3 Updates at the Dealer

You can also opt to have a dealer install your SYNC updates for you. Ford dealerships are independently owned, so they get to set their own rates. While some offer it as a complimentary service, others charge for the update. You may be able to bundle a system update with other services you need to have completed.

How to Get the Most Out of Your SYNC 3 System

Ford offers some extra programs that can enhance the functionality of your SYNC system. While some of these features do cost extra, they add some highly-requested convenience.

Set Up a WiFi Hotspot

SYNC Connect and FordPass Connect refer to the same feature: a 4G LTE Wifi Hotspot. This modem was optional on some Ford vehicles until 2021, when it became standard across all models.

Unlike other SYNC features, Connect requires a subscription. It allows you to create your own WiFi network on the go and connect up to 10 devices to it. Network access is provided through AT&T, and you’ll need to set up service with them to use it.

WiFi Hotspot settings screen on the SYNC 3 system

Here’s how to set up a WiFi hotspot with FordPass Connect:

  1. Select the “Settings” icon on your SYNC 3’s feature bar.
  2. Choose the “Wifi and Hotspot” option.
  3. Set the “Vehicle Hotspot” setting to “On.”
  4. Go to “Settings” and hit “View Password” to see the name and password for your network.
  5. Connect a device to your vehicle’s hotspot using the name and password.
  6. Open your phone’s internet browser.
  7. You’ll automatically be directed to AT&T’s Connected vehicle page.
  8. Follow the instructions on AT&T’s page to set up an account and activate the wireless card.

AT&T provides a complimentary service period. After that, you’ll need to subscribe to a data plan to keep using the hotspot.

The price for data plans varies. The two major factors that determine price are whether you’re an existing customer and how much data you think you’ll need. For light users, 2GB plans are available. Unlimited plans are also available, and you get a discount if you prepay for a year at once.

Besides the obvious benefits, unlimited plans also come with a WarnerMedia Ride subscription. This gives you access to a lot of streaming shows and movies to entertain your passengers with. Or to entertain yourself if you spend a lot of time parked in your car.

Monitor and Control Your Vehicle with FordPass

FordPass is an app that has several really useful features. You can find a nearby dealership, schedule service visits, and keep track of your vehicles’ maintenance. But the really amazing FordPass features are for vehicles with FordPass Connect.

Using the FordPass app with a vehicle that has FordPass Connect, you can remote start, locate, and unlock or lock your vehicle. This is true even if you don’t purchase a data plan.

Using Ford SYNC 3

The SYNC 3 system is a great blend of useful features and simple design. As you use your SYNC 3 system, you’ll become more familiar with the features you use the most. Don’t forget to bookmark this guide if you ever need help navigating the menus or learning voice commands in the future.

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Meghan is a Classic Mustang geek with a soft spot for four-eyed Foxes. She has over 300 in-depth articles to her credit that have been cited by some of the top news sites in the US. Read full bio →

Source: 2018 Ford F-150 Owner's Manual, Ford

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.

Ultimate Guide to SYNC 3

The SYNC 3 infotainment system allows you to make calls, stay entertained, check texts, adjust your temp settings, and get directions without taking your hands off the wheel. Here’s how to use the best features of SYNC 3.