Microsoft's SYNC is Awesome...When It Works

I posted a few weeks ago about a problem I had with the Microsoft SYNC system in my car not hearing my voice commands. At the time, a simple restart of my car seemed to fix the problem, but since then, the problem got worse and worse until finally not even the Bluetooth pairing to my phone would work. This was extremely frustrating considering I'd owned the car just over a month at the time.

I Googled the problem and found that (surprise) other people were having the same problem, and recently. Some thought it was related to the cold. My first thought was to make sure I had the latest version of the software installed, but when I went to the official SYNC website and attempted to download the software, nothing happened. I turned on FireBug after several unsuccessful attempts to monitoring what was going on when I'd press the button and nothing would happen, and found out that there was a JavaScript error occurring that was then being submitted to a service to be logged...but no message is displayed to the user informing them of the problem.

I used the "Contact Us" tool on the site to report the problem, and received the following reply:

Thank you for your email in regards to SYNC Status Checker.

Our records show that you have SYNC 3.2 on your vehicle. That is the latest version for your vehicle and you do not need to run the SYNC Status Checker.

If you have any other inquiries regarding SYNC, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to address them for you.


Ford Motor Company
SYNC Support Center

Okay, that's good to know (I guess), but there's no mention of anything along the lines of "We'll fix that problem with the website." And speaking of which, the website is terrible -- pop-up windows, lack of/incomplete information, and a bad design visually (IMHO).

During my web search, I found that people were handling the lack of voice recognition mainly with 2 solutions: performing a "Master Reset" of SYNC, and/or pulling the fuse, waiting, and re-inserting it. There were reports of people taking it to the dealer and having it work again, then stop working weeks later.

I decided to initiate a live chat with SYNC support. Here is the chat transcript:

Harry: Thank you for contacting the Ford & Lincoln-Mercury SYNC Support Center. Harry: How may I assist you?
you: Hi. The Sync system in my Mercury Milan is no longer hearing my voice commands. It used to work fine. I have ruled out ambient noise as the cause -- it will not work even if the car is parked with the electric motor running instead of gas.
Harry: A master reset allows you to completely erase all information stored in SYNC (all phone book, call history and text message information as well as all previously paired phones) and return to the factory default settings.
Harry: To perform a master reset:
Harry: Note: To scroll, press SEEK or the Up/Down arrows.
Harry: 1. Press the Phone Button to enter the PHONE MENU.
Harry: 2. Scroll repeatedly until SYSTEM SETTINGS appears in the radio display.
Harry: 3. Press OK to enter the SYSTEM SETTINGS MENU.
Harry: 4. Scroll repeatedly until ADVANCED appears in the radio display. Press OK.
Harry: 5. Scroll repeatedly until MASTER RESET appears in the radio display
Harry: 6. Press OK. SYNC will ask you to confirm the reset.
Harry: 7. Press OK to confirm. The radio display will read ALL RESET.
Harry: SYNC will take you back to the ADVANCED SETTINGS MENU.
Harry: Try this
you: OK, thank you. I will try this first. If this does not work, is there a second step I could try? I've read that some people correct this issue by removing and then replacing the fuse.
Harry: I will be right with you.
you: OK. Thx.
Harry: That is an option also: Please perform a hardware reset on the unit. This is done by removing the SYNC fuse for 3 minutes and placing the fuse back. Please consult your owners guide for the proper fuse to pull. If you are uncomfortable with doing this, please contact your local dealership for assistance.
you: OK. I'll try that if the master reset does not work. Thank you for your help.

I attempted to perform the Master Reset using the directions he gave me...and found that they were incorrect. The menu options were not where he said they'd be. Upon digging around some more, I found the Master Reset option and selected it. It didn't fix the problem.

Next, I tried the fuse solution. The fuses are difficult to get to, but this did the trick -- I had to try it a few times, and left the fuse out for more than 3 minutes each time. Finally, it took and everything worked fine. Until yesterday when the problem started happening again.

This seems like a software or firmware problem. The SYNC website looks like it hasn't been updated in years, and I have to wonder if they're ever going to resolve this issue. I guess my next option is to contact the dealer, though I'm sure if I bring the car in I'm going to have the same results as the others who have had the same problem and did the same thing, only to have the issue come back a few weeks later -- just like mine did. The people at the dealership are probably just doing the Master Reset/fuse pull like me and so many others have done. On a side note, a friend of mine bought a car with SYNC in it a year ago, and has not had these problems. I suspect he has an older version of the software.

I guess I could contact the SYNC support group through the website again, and inquire with the dealer about any possible future updates or additional information. Yay.


Ed said…
Why does this stuff always happen to you?
MyLifeAndCode said…
You've noticed that too? Seems like if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.
Zane said…
I am having the same problem. It won't sync to my phone or even give me voice prompts when I press the key.
MyLifeAndCode said…
@Zane: There was a SYNC system update a few months back that has corrected all of the problems I was having with it. Every once in awhile it acts a little glitchy, but nothing major, and I haven't had to pull the fuse since. Check for the update. Good luck!
Kathy StJohn said…
Yes my 2010 Mercury Milan did the same thing to me however the resets did not work. We spent 2 hours today trying everything listed to fix the issue. There is no menu for the phone nothing works except the radio. I am frustrated and disappointed that this is occurring. I called the Sync customer service a month ago and surprise surprise I got the same answers as you did. So now I'm going to drive across country with no blutooth or sync hope all goes well and I can pull over if I need to make or receive a call.
Anonymous said…
I'm having the same issue with my 2010 Mercury Milan. It just stopped working around the end of December.
Anonymous said…
I have a 2008 Milan and mine in the past couple of days when I push the voice activation button doesn't even do anything any more! I have a figured a way to use the panel but doesn't have all the options I need!
Anonymous said…
I'm tired of having to pull the damn fuse for Sync to work. It seems like it's every 4-6 weeks. I've owned the car since 3-2014 and have pulled the fuse 4 times since January. Firmware is current and didn't make a difference. 2011 Ford Fusion SEL. I'll be driving, listening to Bluetooth audio and it will just disconnect. At least that solution works.. master reset doesn't.

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