SYNC Black Screen of Death

SILK

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I know it's been covered in a few threads here, but I wanted to make another because I figure it will help the search algorithm and put another blip on the SYNC engineers that peruse this forum on occasion.

Across three different Sync 3.4 versions, my infotainment completely dies while the truck is moving. Sync screen goes black. Radio, climate, Nav, all gone. Front USB ports dead. At first, I thought the issue was specific to the 3.4.20136 that removed climate controls. I updated to 3.4.20282 after that and now I'm on 3.4.21194. All three versions have done this. Turning the truck off and on doesn't guarantee a reboot, and when it DOES boot, it fails shortly after for me every time.

Yesterday, while heading to see family for Thanksgiving, I got about 15 minutes from home and the infotainment went completely black. What was worse, was that the USB ports stopped charging my phone, which I had purposefully not charged the previous evening because I knew I'd have 6 hours of it plugged in the next day. A panic set in that I would not have navigation of any kind after my phone died. For anyone coming across this thread on the side of the road in a panic, the rear USB ports still work even when the front ones don't, so I was able to plug in my USB cord there for a charge. But I still had no radio or other infotainment instruments.

I had the next 5 hours and 45 minutes to troubleshoot. Some observations:
1. If I recall correctly, every time this has happened, I've been using CarPlay. Various iOS versions - its not a specific iOS version. I use CarPlay on occasion and it works without issue. This does not happen every time. EDIT: Not CarPlay related.
2. You can force the system to boot while moving by pressing and holding the PWR and "next track" buttons simultaneously for 5 seconds.
2b. The system will eventually fail again
2c. From my anecdotal testing, the amount of time it stays on seems to be fairly similar to the amount of time you leave it off. For example: If it fails and you wait 5 minutes to force a boot, it will work for about 5 minutes before failing again.
3. I left it off for nearly an hour and turned it back on and it stayed on for 51 minutes before failing again.
4. Turning the truck off and on doesn't fix it. Again, the length of time the truck is off seems to be about the amount of time it takes to fail.
5. I finally thought of trying to force a reboot while the system was on and functioning properly, thinking that it just needed a fresh reboot rather than a boot after failure - and that worked for me. Might be coincidence, but I went the last 90 minutes with a functioning system. EDIT: I retested this hypothesis on the way home and it didn't work. Actually made things worse.

For the SYNC engineers - one thing I wish was that the USB ports provided power even when the system dies. Or at least design the ports in future trucks to function as a charge port if the SYNC OS goes down. I was terrified and had no idea what to do until I remembered the rear USB ports and prayed that they would still function. If there are some sort of log files I can download and provide for review, let me know and I'll do my best to grab them.

If it happens again I'll update this post with more observations.

TLDR: SYNC died with a black screen while I was driving it. It can be rebooted by holding PWR and next track buttons at the same time. After it powers up, it will die again. One thing to try is after SYNC comes back up, hold PWR and next track. That stopped it from constantly shutting off for me. USB ports also go dead when SYNC dies. Rear USB ports will charge your phone even when the front ones don't.

--

EDIT: An update after separate 2hr + 4hr drives.

- The issue definitely is NOT just related to CarPlay. During the 2hr drive, I used CarPlay from the beginning and it died about 5 minutes into the drive. The vehicle then sat for 16+hrs. During the 4hr drive, I only connected to Bluetooth and the unit died about 20 minutes into the drive.

- A weird observation - when I was on the 6hr drive, I noticed that every time I rebooted SYNC while the vehicle was moving, the navigation initially stated my home town. I thought this was maybe because that's where my "home" location is in the GPS and it took a minute to relocate me. But then on the way home, it was showing a different location that was nearer (but not) my previous destination. Almost as if I unit thought I was somewhere else and wasn't updating.

- I once again experienced that the amount of "up-time" of the unit was pretty close to the amount of "down-time" the unit had after failing. Leaving the unit "off" for 15 minutes before force reboot would usually result in a roughly 15 minute "up-time" session before failure again. Could be a coincidence but it happens almost every time.

- I drive 25 minutes to and from work every day and it has never once happened on a work drive. But every single time I drove this past weekend this happened. Could the GPS being in a new location cause this?

I work in a field that assumes tech issues can and WILL happen. But in my field it's not acceptable for a key component to be such a problem. I would understand if Bluetooth would cut out sometimes (it does) or if the NA20 map didn't have my street that's been around since 2017 (it doesn't) but this piece is an integral part of the vehicle at this point and a total failure such as this is unacceptable. Unfortunately, because it can't immediately be replicated, my local Ford dealer isn't going to do shit about it. They'll drive my truck for 10 minutes, find that everything is working properly, and hand it back. Or keep it overnight and force me to rent a car (at my own cost), while a service member puts 100 miles on it only to not be able to replicate the issue.

--

EDIT 2:
- I noticed during my normal work commutes yesterday and today that upon SYNC start, my location is immediately correct (see bullet 2 in EDIT 1). I wonder if the GPS gets confused for some odd reason and trips up the entire system. I did have a bit of trouble getting ALL the NA updates installed. Truck told me it was done so I removed the flash drive and then it told me it still had files to install.
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rausa64

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This is partly why I have not updated my Sync system since 3.3

With no navigation, I'm not sure what the need is if everything is working properly and you don't necessarily need or want a change in color.

Hope you get this sorted...
 

Barefootmoney1969

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Mine has done the same. 3 times in last 2 days. Soft reset did not work. (Power button and next track) Just did a master reset, will update soon.
 
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SILK

SILK

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Mine has done the same. 3 times in last 2 days. Soft reset did not work. (Power button and next track) Just did a master reset, will update soon.
Please do. I haven’t updated my original post yet but I have two more driving days where it happened consistently. I wonder if the reset would do anything.
 

alcohenusa

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Please do. I haven’t updated my original post yet but I have two more driving days where it happened consistently. I wonder if the reset would do anything.
When you update, do you use the Ford downloads or are you using Cyan Labs?
 
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SILK

SILK

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Master reset was not successful. Did not have my iPhone on Bluetooth or CarPlay
Yeah I found that it's definitely NOT just CarPlay. I didn't have mine connected to CarPlay and it still took a shit. I was using Bluetooth though.

So you reset it and tested before reconnecting your phone to BT? And what version of SYNC are you using?

I download updates right from the Ford site - I don't have Wifi access outdoors where I live.
 

Barefootmoney1969

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Took the phone completely out of the equation, still went black. Latest version of sync.

693D71B3-25A7-462E-853D-8C03F1057C2B.jpeg
 
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SILK

SILK

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Took the phone completely out of the equation, still went black. Latest version of sync.

693D71B3-25A7-462E-853D-8C03F1057C2B.jpeg
Never seen this message before. Were you sitting with the vehicle off and the key out of the ignition for 10 minutes?
 

troutspinner

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Took the phone completely out of the equation, still went black. Latest version of sync.

693D71B3-25A7-462E-853D-8C03F1057C2B.jpeg
Did you remove the phone pairing from the system when you say you completely remove the phone from the equation?

Albeit an old problem, my 2011 F150 would have issues indexing music from my phone. It wasn’t until I deleted the phone from Sync and then re-paired the phone that it would resolve the issue. I also had an issue with a USB drive one time and it literally came down to a bad ID3 Tag on an MP3 file botching the sync with sync.
 

Dgc333

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This sounds like a hardware issue not the Sync software. Possibly a bad solder connection or component that fails when it gets warm. Certainly doesn't act like a software issue.

I have had three vehicles with Sync and have never had anything like this happen. My 17 Mustang was delivered with Sync3 version 2. It was updated to ver 3.1 then to 3.4 and was on 3.4.21194 when I traded for the Ranger. My Ranger was delivered with 3.4.21093 and I immediately updated to 3.4.21194. If it was related to a version of the software other folks would have this issue.

If your truck is under warranty I would bring it back. Even if it takes multiple trips. Your only other option is to buy a new/used Sync module and swap it your self.
 
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