Let’s face it, most car manufacturers are quickly bringing smartphone technology to our vehicle dashboards. Some of us are not sure how to use these systems. This is a workshop focusing on some common problems with the Ford Microsoft Sync system.

For some Ford owners, they may think their Sync system is “acting up.” Sometimes you try to make a phone call and it seems that the Sync system just “isn’t listening.” This is a summary of some common problems and how to overcome them. Most times the problem isn’t the Sync system, it’s our understanding (or lack of understanding) of how the system works.

First of all, let’s push the right buttons!

Ford developed their hands-free system with steering wheel controls. There are push buttons on the right side of the steering wheel. Some of these buttons are “two-sided” so you are either pushing the button down on its left side or its right side. One of the buttons is the “voice” button — it’s got an icon (picture) of a mouth with sound waves coming out of it (or it’s simply marked “Voice.”). This is the button to push to begin a vocal command to make a call, to ask for Bluetooth audio or make other vocal requests.

Push the Voice button and the system’s female voice will come on the vehicle’s speaker system with a statement, such as “Sync, state your command.” Reply by saying, “Phone.” The system will respond with “Phone, state your command.” Then say “Call Name (your contact’s name save in your phone book.) ” For example, say “Call John Smith on cell.” Or say, “Call Bill Henderson at home.”

If you are trying to dial a number, push the voice button, say “Phone” and then say “Dial.” The system will ask for the number. In a moderate volume, just say the number at a normal speed. Speak the phone number as individual numbers such as “Eight-One-Eight, Five-Three-Five, Five-Three-One-Nine.” Don’t try to condense numbers, such as saying “Eighty-One, Eight-Five, Fifty-Three, Fifty-Five, Three-Nineteen.”

Some other buttons on the right side of the steering wheel are for raising or lowering the speaker volume and the “scroll arrows.” These arrows will move you from pre-set station to pre-set station when in the radio mode, or from the start of the track or to the next track when listening in CD or Line In mode.

There is another button with an icon of a Phone receiver, this is the “Phone” button. This button is for answering a phone (by giving it a quick definite push) or for hanging up or cancelling a call (by pushing the button and holding it down for about five seconds). There is another button with the word “OK” on it. This button is used for answering questions the system might place on the LED screen or the touch screen on the dash. For example, when listening to the Sirius satellite radio, if you push the “Menu” button on the center console, the LED display will show the words “Satellite Menu,” then press the OK button on the steering wheel. The LED screen will then display “Category Menu” and then press OK again, then use the scroll arrows on the steering wheel (or the tuning knob) to rotate through all of the music categories available with Sirius. If you select “Comedy” and push the OK, then it will take you right to the first station in that category.

Just pushing the “Phone” icon will not access the “voice” for making a command. It will only access the “Phone Menu.” This menu’s title will turn into “Phone Redial” on the LED screen after a few seconds and then you can use the Seek arrow buttons on the steering wheel, or the Tuning knob to scroll through the phone options, such as System Settings, Phone book or Call History. Push OK to access any of these categories and, once again, use the scroll arrows or the tuning knob to drill deeper into the menu. When you see the word “Return,” then push OK and it will return to the previous menu.

If you do not press the “Phone” button long enough at the end of call, then the “Phone Redial” text may linger forever on the LED display. You won’t be able to access your radio or other audio functions until you press and hold the “Phone” icon for about five seconds.

Obviously, this workshop is just about using a few buttons. For more reference, please see your vehicle’s Sync handbook on the correct vocal requests and other functions. Or, visit Ford’s Sync online support at http://www.syncmyride.com