More than likely, the average owner spends precisely zero time thinking about the OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics II) port on their car – the mysterious, 16-pin plug receptacle located somewhere under the dash in the drivers side footwell. But here’s one reason for non-mechanics to be thankful for its existence; Ford Motor Company is releasing a new device for Blue Oval vehicles from model years 2010 through 2017 that plugs into the OBD-II port and adds 4G LTE connectivity, which unlocks plenty of new features.
Dubbed the “FordPass SmartLink”, the new device is the result of more than two years of research and development. Using the Verizon network, the gizmo will allow owners of 2010-2017 Ford vehicles access to the same advanced features that newer cars with embedded 4G LTE modems enjoy – things like mobile WiFi hotspot, remote locking/unlocking using a smartphone, and the ability to check vehicle health and status using a mobile app.
Additionally, customers with teen drivers at home might get some use out of a geo-fencing feature, which allows them to set geographical boundaries for the vehicle, and receive a text and/or email alert any time the vehicle leaves that defined space. Just about everyone will find useful the FordPass SmartLink’s built-in accelerometer, which can detect, say, a shopping cart hitting the car, or a burglar attempting to force open the door.
“Vehicle connectivity has improved at a rapid rate in recent years,” says Ford Global Customer Service President Frederiek Toney. “We believe offering an affordable way for our customers to upgrade their older-model vehicles to include more modern technology will improve their ownership experience for years to come.”
The new FordPass SmartLink will go on sale this summer at dealerships across the country, with a price tag of $16.99 per month (plus installation) with a 24-month contract. A Verizon data plan must be purchased separately, although subscribers will receive 30 days/1 gigabyte of free data – whichever comes first.
Although it’s a simple device, professional installation is required, as the FordPass SmartLink must be keyed to each individual car to enable features like remote locking/unlocking.