Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

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Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

Postby svtforme - July 15th, 2014, 1:30 am

The following is a guide to installing SYNC on a 2008 Escape which never offered SYNC from the factory. This can also be used to upgrade a 2009 Escape, although fewer components are needed. The description below is how I got it to work on my own vehicle.

Before starting this project, I recommend buying the following items ahead of time before you start:

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For basic phone operation using radio controls:
- Ford SYNC Upgrade System (9R3Z-14D212-A). They are available on Ebay for $63 or $600+ at dealer.
- 2009 Radio - Part number vehicle dependant - instructions below. Cost is ~$75 on Ebay.

For operation using steering wheel controls:
- Used 2009-2012 steering wheel with cruise (left) and radio/SYNC (right) buttons. Part number based on interior color, etc. Cost is ~$80 on Ebay.
- Molex Mini Fit Jr. connector (1x 39012040) with pins (2x 39000039). Cost ~$5 on Ebay.

To make either the controls provided in Sync kit or the ones on the steering wheel work:
- Used pre-programmed SYNC module (9L8T-14D428-C) - Other models other than Escape may work too (Focus, etc). Cost is ~$55 on Ebay.

Bonus Features:
USB/Aux bulkhead connection. Cost is ~$20 on Ebay.
SYNC badge (DT4Z-16720-AA). Cost is ~ $10 on Ebay.

A good source for used parts is Ebay, car-part.com or your local wrecking yard.

First step is to determine the replacement radio you need. First check your existing radio. If there is a phone button on your radio already, then you are all set (there will likely not be one).

If not, you need to get a 2009+ radio. To do this, you need to figure out what radio you will need to replace it with.

Radios come with the following options which you will match up to 2009 parts:
- Single or 6 disc changer
- Integrated Sirius receiver, or receiver under seat. Integrated receivers will have an antenna connection on the back of the radio (mine does not)
- With or without subwoofer - radios with subwoofers will have 3 connectors at the bottom of the radio (the rest have 2)

Here is the trick to finding the radio part number before you take things apart. Turn the key to the run position, and then push the numbers 3 and 6 at the same time, which will put the radio into a self test mode. Immediately push the number 3 button (there will be noise coming from your speakers otherwise). This will put you into information mode. Scroll through the options until you find the part number of the radio that looks like this.

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In my case, I had part number 8L8T-19C109-AP. To get a 2009 equivalent part, search on Ebay for a similar part number, but look for 9L8T- part number instead and do not enter the last two letters as they are release codes which the 2009 part will likely not match. Buy this part and ensure you get both pieces to the radio - the front and the rear portions. Get a matched set from a vehicle if you can. I bought part number 98LT-19C109-AB shown on the left. Note the phone button on the controls - this needs to be there. Also note the three connections on the rear where one if for the subwoofer. Not all radios will have this.

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To install, remove the radio assembly which requires the upper portion of the console to be removed to get at it. Install the Sync harness and connect accordingly. I installed the SYNC module to the left of the SJB (fuse panel) in front of the shifter similar to where they are installed from the factory in 2009+. The parts included in the kit are shown below.

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You will need to wire the power lead to the pass side kick panel as the instructions state or the microphone will not work. Save yourself the trouble and do not hook up the CAN wires to the OBDII connection as you won't be able to flash this module at the dealer unless you have a 2009 vehicle.

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Re-install the radio and the dash assembly and SYNC will now work using the buttons.

Note that the control panel that comes with the SYNC kit will not work. This will require a used programmed module as described below. Alternatively, you can opt to add steering wheel controls which required some re-wiring. For this - I used a 2012 steering wheel from another Escape. My old 2008 wheel was worn out, so I used this an excuse to update. My wheel did have the cruise and audio control buttons from the factory. If you don't have the audio control buttons to start - this will require additional wiring.

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If you using a wheel from a 2009+ vehicle - the new cruise control buttons are different and will not work! This is because Ford switched from using a cable throttle to an electronic throttle. You must use your 2008 cruise control buttons. These can be pain to get out of the wheel so be patient.

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Here's where it gets interesting. The wiring harness in the 2009+ wheels are completely different than in 2008. If you use the 2009+ harness - the buttons will no longer work. I opted to use the 2008 harness in the 2012 wheel and add two additional wires (which I removed from the 2012 harness). These are the red and yellow wires as shown. The pictures show where the wires need to be added into the 2008 harness.

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Connector going into buttons
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Connector going into clock spring
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Once you get this far, the steering wheel portion is complete. Now onto the dash harness. You need to add two wires under the dash to go from the bottom of the clock spring into the SYNC harness. To do this - wires need to be added to the clock spring connector as shown on the dash harness. Note the first picture shows the connector as is, and the second shows the wires added. You can re-use terminals from the spare 2009+ wheel harness if needed. I used some spare wires/terminals from other Ford harnesses from other projects.

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Wires added (white/purple, blue/red). Note the change in the brown wire- this is because I added remote start at the same time.
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Molex connector listed above to allow you to plug added 2 wires directly into SYNC harness in place of the provided SYNC controls. These will require W-Crimp pliers to install terminal correctly.
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After this point - the SYNC buttons will still not work. If you are electronically inclined - you can confirm the the resistance values for the steering wheel buttons are the same as with the SYNC fob so the module won't know the difference. The Mustang guys are lucky and the resistance values are different so the module in the kit will often work (luck).

You have two options here - re-wire buttons on steering wheel to change resistance values (don't recommend unless you really know what you are doing) or buy a used Escape SYNC module. I used one from a 2009 Escape. Get the VIN off the module you are looking for, and sign up to this site to see what version of Sync it has. http://support.ford.com/media/syncmyride/intercept.html. Mine has V2.0 which has lots of newer features compared to Sync 1.0, unfortunately 911 assist will not work and you get an annoying message each time you start your car. I would recommend finding one with V1 unless someone out there can figure out how to get it to work.

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Bonus: Since the new 2009 Escapes have a USB port on the dash and an Aux portion the dash.. I wanted to add this as well. Only problem is the 2008's have different buttons including park assist off. To overcome this - I found a solution on Ebay which combines them both. The SYNC modules have 2 USB ports. First one from the kit I use with a hard drive full of music and hide it in the console. Second one I plug into the one shown (requires mini USB adapter). I simply drilled out the dash piece with a step drill until it fit. With the cover closed, it looks completely stock.

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Hope this helps you to avoid the frustrations I went through to get everything to work. Good luck!
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Re: Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

Postby Edgar J - July 16th, 2014, 2:34 am

Great tutorial, I wonder how much difficult is going to be to put SYNC on a 2010 Escape. Do you have picture of the finished product?
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Re: Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

Postby chilledboost - September 26th, 2014, 12:25 pm

i installed the kit in my 2009, and went to the dealership to have it flashed. the module would not take programming. they didn't charge me since the it wasn't fixed. I called ford customer relations over it and they pretty much told me there was nothing I could do and I was out the $600.. which seems normal for ford customer relations... looks like my next vehicle will be a GM product
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Re: Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

Postby Jay2TheRescue - September 26th, 2014, 9:22 pm

unfortunately 911 assist will not work and you get an annoying message each time you start your car. I would recommend finding one with V1 unless someone out there can figure out how to get it to work.


911 assist won't work because you did not hook it to the data stream so it doesn't know when the airbags deploy. That's my guess.
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Re: Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

Postby svtforme - October 2nd, 2014, 11:09 pm

chilledboost wrote:i installed the kit in my 2009, and went to the dealership to have it flashed. the module would not take programming. they didn't charge me since the it wasn't fixed. I called ford customer relations over it and they pretty much told me there was nothing I could do and I was out the $600.. which seems normal for ford customer relations... looks like my next vehicle will be a GM product


If you get a used Escape sync module off Ebay/Craigslist or a junkyard it will work fine aside from the 911 assist. Not sure what the issue is at the dealer. What part of the system is not working? Will the system work using the phone button on the radio? If your radio does not have a phone button, the system won't work until you get the correct radio.
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Re: Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

Postby svtforme - October 2nd, 2014, 11:13 pm

Jay2TheRescue wrote:
unfortunately 911 assist will not work and you get an annoying message each time you start your car. I would recommend finding one with V1 unless someone out there can figure out how to get it to work.


911 assist won't work because you did not hook it to the data stream so it doesn't know when the airbags deploy. That's my guess.


This system hooks into the vehicle CAN network just like a stock system that comes with a factory installation so it would have the same access. This hooks in through the OBD port.

The issue is programming needs to be done by the dealer. When Ford tools are hooked up to your vehicle, the VIN is checked against their database. If the VIN is recognized as a SYNC compatible vehicle (which the 2008's are not) this will allow or refuse software updates. If the update is successful, this is recorded in the Ford database for future reference. The dealers do not have the ability to override this VIN check, so no matter what they do it won't work.

Ford did post some of the updates online for download, but as soon as a dealer required update came out - they deleted the earlier updates off the site. If anyone happened to download these when they were available and still have them - please post them here!!
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Re: Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

Postby chilledboost - October 3rd, 2014, 11:28 am

my radio has the phone button, I have tried 2 sync units from a salvage yard, and am having no luck
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Re: Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

Postby coffeehoues - January 11th, 2016, 9:20 am

Would this work with a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid with the double dim radio?
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Re: Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

Postby Linna - January 11th, 2016, 5:45 pm

coffeehoues wrote:Would this work with a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid with the double dim radio?


According to the post above, it won't work unless your vehicle's VIN checks out with Ford as SYNC compatible (i.e. 2009+) . SYNC and other head unit firmware needs to be updated periodically from Ford for newer phones, Bluetooth, etc...unless you plan to use the same cell phone from 5 years ago forever.
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Re: Guide to Adding SYNC to 2008 Escape

Postby bluto - March 30th, 2017, 5:36 pm

I finally got around to buying the kit and a 2009 radio.

I have a couple questions about the sync module software versions and programming​.

1. Has anyone done this and is using Sync v2.1 or higher?

The thread linked below said in v2.1 they made it possible to turn off the 911 assist via a menu and thus theoretically not get the voice warning that comes from not connecting sync to the CAN bus.

2. If the answer to #1 is yes, is there any benefits to be had from using v2.1 or higher?

3. If v2.1+ is preferred, what is the best way to get it on APIM that is usable with a 2008?

I read below that upgrading from v1.x to v2.0 required dealer flashing (which can't be done on a 2008), but going from v2.0 to v2.1 can be done via a USB flash drive.

3a. Has anyone upgraded from v2.0 on a junkyard/ebay APIM originally from an Escape to v2.1 or higher via USB upgrade?

http://www.fordedgeforum.com/topic/4192 ... -released/
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