By on January 27, 2017

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Ford plans to offer an aftermarket device that will give older models access to new technology like remote start, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, and smartphone alerts.

According to the automaker, Ford SmartLink will plug in to the OBD-II port of 2010-2016 model year Ford and Lincoln cars, allowing access to remote start, lock, and unlock, Wi-Fi access for up to eight devices, and smartphone alerts for vehicle health, security, and location.

The device will have a companion app and web portal so owners will be able to receive smartphone alerts, use the remote functions, or schedule service appointments.

Ford has not yet released any pricing information on the SmartLink device, but it has announced that it will be available this summer at Ford and Lincoln dealerships.

According to Carscoops, the new plug-in is less likely to cause interference than third-party systems.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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23 Comments on “Ford’s SmartLink Plug-in Modernizes Old Cars with Wi-fi, Smartphone Alerts, Remote Start...”

  • avatar

    Remote start and unlock I get. That would be nice. But this wifi access that automakers brag about – especially Chevy – I do not get. Don’t we all have this on our phones already?

    • 0 avatar

      ” But this wifi access that automakers brag about – especially Chevy – I do not get. Don’t we all have this on our phones already?”

      Yes. The ability to use your car as an access point is more of an edge case type of deal. Basically if you have a tablet that doesn’t have cellular data capabilities, or if you have a laptop that you want to connect then you can do it through your car. Of course, you could also do it through the hotspot feature in your smartphone as well, and it would save you having to pay your carrier to connect an extra device to your data plan.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess the idea is the kids in the back can log in via iPads that normally do not have 4G cell service. Technically you can share your cell connection and create your own WiFi hot spot with almost any modern smart phone, but how maybe people understand that. My question is are people really ready to pay Ford (or GM, or whoever) an additional internet connection fee? I’m kind of surprised AT&T, Verizon, etc haven’t launched something similar. Maybe they will partner with the automakers?

      What I find interesting is Ford’s has this level of control thru OBD-II. Most of the time that is a one-way data transfer. Starting a car remotely means this could be “hacked” today. Maybe Ford programmed this in back in 2010 but only some cars got the software required to make it happen as part of some other technology package.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “I’m kind of surprised AT&T, Verizon, etc haven’t launched something similar.”

        They did. I have a Verizon hot spot Mifi puck thingy. It cost me $50 2 years ago, and it costs $10/mo as an added device on my plan sharing data I already have. And it’s portable so it isn’t tied to my car (but can be plugged into the car to charge).

        I have no idea what the draw is to get one of these things built in or that is car-dependent.

        • 0 avatar

          “They did. I have a Verizon hot spot Mifi puck thingy.”

          Given the advertising they do for some reason I have not heard of this. However as noted its not a car specific thingy, just a portable internet thingy. I know some people who carry similar pucks around just so they can have WiFi for their laptops regardless of location. Heck the fishfinder/GPS/sonar on my boat has a WiFi feature so this “connect anywhere” is become an expected feature.

    • 0 avatar

      Few laptops or tablets come equipped with anything more capable than WiFi connectivity. While you can spend as little as $20 for a hotspot device and a data plan to tote around with, more if you want one to support LTE, and there would be an advantage in having that hotspot built into the vehicle and always “on” so that you or anyone could access is as needed (while practicing strong password security) on a job site or if your kids want to download Peppa Pig videos while you are on the road. There could even be more profit for Ford if they chose to market WiFi service under their private brand and rake in some of that data plan money especially when you exceed the plan capacity and they need to charge your account another $20 -$30 for another 5Gb.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        I can see how it’s profitable for Ford, etc, but for us as individuals I can see it being more expensive in two ways:

        A) I don’t want to have to pay for it in multiple vehicles, MUCH easier to move the puck from vehicle to vehicle

        B) I can’t imagine that Ford, etc, will do it more cheaply than my just adding a device to my existing plan ($10-20/mo per device). Unless Ford, etc, can offer me data for cheaper than $10/mo, it’s cheaper to go with the mifi on my existing plan. Think of it the same way as why I’d rather have a cell phone than a built-in car phone.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a presumptuous assumption. I don’t know just who this “we all” you refer to is, but I don’t have a smart phone and I know many others that don’t. (Some have no cell phone at all.)

      Old cars, at least the ones I consider to be old, have no OBD-II ports and could not make use of this gadget anyway.

  • avatar

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I have a very small data plan on my phone.

  • avatar

    Cue hackers finding critical security vulnerabilities in 3, 2, 1…

  • avatar

    How is this not a hacker’s dream? Adding a 4G WiFi port directly to vehicle networks — plus cars with lane-keeping/autobrakes/cruise control? If I were a script-kiddie, I would already be shopping for vacation homes and other forms of conspicuous consumption for my future “earnings”

  • avatar

    Great, maybe next Ford could get working on the Android/Apple updates for Sync3 owners who bought the 1.0 versions. According to Ford’s marketing, the great thing about Sync3 is that you could update it from home over Wifi. Yeah, turns out not so much. Contact your dealer for details.

    • 0 avatar

      Its here already


      Although for Apple compatibility you might have to upgrade a port in the vehicle. I believe that thread talks about the part.

  • avatar

    Well, I’ll have to get mom and dad to upgrade to a smartphone first, but they would really appreciate the remote start.

    Then again, that alone should be able to be added to their 2012 without this device, through Ford’s official accessories. Am I right?

    They don’t need WiFi, the only one who would use it is me, and its very rare that I’m in their car and not driving it myself.

    They sure as hell don’t need to schedule service appointments. I’m still steamed over the $900 100k service quote. I have done all of the oil changes to that car with the exception of the first, which was free, and one at the 60k mark, because I wanted a multi-point inspection done since the car hadn’t had one since new, and it was offered as a promotion with a rebate at the time.

    I see no reason to start over paying a dealer to do what I can do. If anything, I will get an independent shop to do the plugs (aluminum heads, I’d never hear the end of it if I f’ed em up lol) and maybe the coolant flush since I don’t have a place to safely do it where I wouldn’t be spilling it on the ground.

  • avatar

    With quality tanking, Ford comes up with this gimmick?

    Must be the Way Forward…

  • avatar
    Michael S.

    A constantly connected device with 4G access plugged into an OBD-II port? Adding remote start capability as well? What could possibly go wrong?!

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