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Can I upgrade Sync 1 to Sync 3?

Written by Brian Lovelace

One of our must asked questions is, "Can I upgrade my base model car to have Sync 3?" The answer can be a little complicated!

Let me do my best to break it down for you.

Sync 1 to Sync 3 upgrades can be completed on any Ford vehicle that is equipped with base Ford Sync, whether it's a car, truck, SUV or van... There are just a few parameters that need to be met for this to work on your vehicle .

First, you need to understand that upgrading from Sync 1 to Sync 3 will be a project and is not exactly a small undertaking. Be prepared to run into a few speedbumps, whether during the information gathering phase, the material purchasing phase, or the installation and programming phase. As long as you're prepared to take on a project, you're more than ready to upgrade from Sync 1 to Sync 3.

What vehicles can be upgraded from Sync 1 to Sync 3?

Almost all Ford vehicles from 2011-2020 can be upgraded to Sync 3. At NaviUpgrade we support all cars, 2011+ that are equipped with any of the following systems.

Upgrading a 4.2" Sync System

sync 1 to sync 3 conversion 4

The base Ford Sync system looks like the center console in the photo above. If your 2011+ North American Ford vehicle has this 4.2" screen with Sync voice activated commands, you're set and ready for an upgrade to Sync 3.

For a simple and successful upgrade, you'll need a wiring harness to adapt all of the connections You can check out our Sync 3 upgrade harnesses on our shop page.

Upgrading a 5" Sony Entertainment Console

Pictured is a European, right hand drive Ford Kuga with the Sony 5" entertainment console setup. This is easily upgraded using our NaviUpgrade Sync to Sync 3 upgrade harnesses.

Be aware that some audio control modules (ACMs) on pre-2013 Fords from this region do not support programming. Unfortunately there isn't a way to tell from VIN -- the best thing to do before purchasing everything to upgrade is to connect your vehicle to FORScan using an OBDII dongle and a Windows laptop and see if the module shows up as "connected." If your vehicle does not support programming the ACM, it will not show up under connected modules. If this is the case for your vehicle, we recommend finding a friend that will let you program your new ACM using their vehicle.

Some ACMs from the early years do not support Sync 3 as they only have a single input connection going into the box. Our NaviUpgrade harness has the second connection built into it, which runs wires from Sync 3 to the ACM, facilitating communication. You will need to install a newer ACM with both connectors for the Sync 3 upgrade to properly work.

Typically these inconsistencies and issues with ACM module connections in EU / South Pacific / African countries fizzle out by 2014.

What about Sync 2 to Sync 3?

If your system isn't one of the first two, chances are you have an 8" touch screen system known as Sync 2. Does your system look the one pictured above? Yes? You have Sync 2! Fortunately for you, your upgrade process is the simplest. We'll have lots of guides coming for Sync 2 to Sync 3 upgrades soon. You can check out our Sync 2 to Sync 3 upgrade guide for the Ford Focus here: https://naviupgrade.com/guides/whats-the-difference-between-sync-2-sync-3/

What vehicles aren't compatible for a Sync 3 Upgrade?

If your vehicle is pre-2011 and/or doesn't have a Sync system, unfortunately there is no solution to run Sync 3 in your vehicle at this point in time. Pictured above is a 2013 Ford Focus SE base model which wasn't equipped with Sync, just a "Ford Audio" clock system. Unfortunately this system doesn't have vital CAN lines that are necessary to run Sync 3. If NaviUpgrade finds a solution to workaround this issue, we'll update this article accordingly.

Pre-Sync Navigation Systems

Unfortunately if your vehicle is equipped with a pre-sync Navigation or entertainment system, you aren't eligible to upgrade to Sync 3. This is due not only due to missing vital CAN signals, but also because trim pieces and controls were never designed to fit Sync 3 in these vehicles.

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