Owners of 2011 and 2012 model-year Ford vehicles equipped with MyFordTouch will start receiving an upgrade to the infotainment and control system this week in the mail.
Flashdrives will be mailed out that consumers can plug into a USB port to download the software upgrade.
The improved program attempts to address consumer concerns about the system, which has caused Ford vehicles to drop precipitously in quality scores by third parties such as Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates.
Ford officials say they have made the touch screen and voice recognition system simpler to read and use, faster and more intuitive. The screen layout has been simplified. Common commands are easier to locate. Responses are designed to be faster and less frustrating when trying to change a radio station, turn up the heat or get directions.
Consumers can perform the upgrades themselves or go to their dealer to have it done.
Ford conducted two beta tests over the past three months with employees and a few dealers to test the upgrades as well as the instructions to download them, said Graydon Reitz, director of electronics and electrical systems engineering. Feedback from the first group of 1,000 testers was incorporated and a second group of 700 further verified the system.
Dealers will receive their flashdrives immediately to update the vehicles on their lots and be ready to help customers. There are about 300,000 vehicles eligible for the update. New 2013 models already have the newest system.
The update was designed to be completed easily by customers who need only insert the drive and respond to a few menu prompts.
The download takes about 60 minutes and the car must be running the whole time, said Michelle Moody, cross vehicle marketing manager.
Some commands can still be performed during the first half of the download, but the screen becomes frozen for the second half, which means previously set climate controls cannot be changed and the audio stops so the car goes quiet.