Consumer complaints about the MyFord Touch system have torpedoed Ford's reliability ratings. Now the automaker is trying to do something about it -- offering current owners a free software upgrade that it hopes will fix the problem.
Glitches in MyFord Touch -- the latest version of the SYNC control system, which manages climate, navigation, music and phone calls -- resulted in lowered reliability scores for Ford models in both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power ratings this year.
In an unusual move, Ford says it will send out flash drives early next year to some 250,000 owners of Fords and Lincolns with versions of the system. Owners can upgrade it themselves in about 45 minutes, the company says, or take it into a dealership for a free software change.
While Ford didn't mention the reliability ratings in Monday's announcement, the company did say it is responding to surveys showing owners want faster and simpler graphics that are easier to use on the touch-screen system. The touch screen itself replaced traditional knob and button controls.Among the changes to the touch-screen and voice command system:
- The system responds faster to touch-screen commands
- Some buttons were cut from the screen -- an attempt to reduce clutter -- and heavily used controls are now closer to the driver
- Text size is 40% larger on labels for some controls
- Voice commands are simplified for navigation and playing music
In addition, the upgrade will include the capability to access music from tablets like the Apple iPad and to listen to audio books downloaded from Audible.com.
The electronic control system, which Ford pioneered, has been an important sales advantage, especially among younger buyers. Thus it is important for the company to make sure glitches and user difficulties do not sour buyers on the new technology.
In addition to the upgrades on existing 2011 and 2012 models, the updated system will be installed in upcoming redesigned versions of the Ford Taurus sedan and Ford Escape small SUV.
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