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How to enhance your IDS skills

Friday, March 1, 2019 - 08:00
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In 2015, I wrote an article (“Inside the IDS,” June) and I detailed some of the other tests IDS can do besides pulling codes and looking at data PIDs to enhance your analysis of that Ford that is in your bay. Ford is constantly making changes in the software in their vehicles and adding tests of that software into IDS. They release how-to information on their Motorcraft/PTS website in General Service Bulletins (GSB). In this article I’m going to tell you how to access these bulletins along with some examples of using IDS as these bulletins explain.

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Ford publishes three types of service information that isn’t in their Service Manuals. The first is the typical Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) detailing issues that are found in the field and often apply to multiple vehicles. The next Special Service Messages (SSM), are messages that apply for temporary concerns on Ford’s part, may at some point become a TSB, or may just disappear. They also publish GSB that typically apply to procedures across multiple car lines.

Figure 1 - Motorcraft – PTS login webpage

My disclaimer right up front so that we are all on the same starting point. I am going to make a few assumptions about your skills and access to information. First, I am going to describe things as if you’re familiar with the IDS and somewhat familiar with Ford’s Motorcraft — PTS (Professional Technician Society) webpage (Figure 1). On that page if you access service information by VIN you get an OASIS report along with service publications, if you access by year and model you don’t get an OASIS and you will get a message offering all TSBs and SSMs. This will also give you GSBs.

These GSBs may be downloaded PDF files and stored on your shops computer system, or even printed and kept in binders at your shop for future reference.

Let's get started!

As we start, I have input the VIN to my 2015 Expedition and I put in a concern about the audio system so the OASIS report comes up first and has listings for any TSBs and SSMs that may apply to my listed concern. After viewing those I can move to the TSB SSM GSB tab and view all of them that are pertinent to my vehicle (Figures 2, 3). Let’s take a look at few.

Figure 2 - PTS vehicle Identification page, use a previous VIN, by Year and Model, or use IDS to read VIN and DTCs Figure 3 - OASIS Report that shows when using VIN or Read VIN selections

GSB 0000156 details Passive Anti-Theft Key Fob reprogramming. As you may know, programming Ford key fobs can be very easy, if you already have two programmed fobs. It is a challenge and you’ll want to have an IDS to program a Fob when you only have one. This GSB shows the fobs and the unique methods of programming each style.

Figure 4 - SSM which describes that the climate seat function has been removed from the SYNCH touch screen.

Another — GSB 0000106 — discusses accessing and using Historical Powertrain Diagnostic Codes. These are codes that are not currently confirmed or pending but have set since the last clearing of DTCs. OBD II regulations prohibit scan tools, or disconnecting the battery, from being able to erase emission DTCs from the PCM. They can be cleared and depending on the scan tool, not show up when scanning for codes, but regulations require the PCM to actually clear the codes. This typically takes 80 or more key cycles without a fault (Figure 4).

Figure 5 - As Built navigation drop down

This is a feature that can be used for concerns that are intermittent and may or may not have progressed to MIL but are not currently present. It is also not available on every Ford. There is a special icon that appears on the left side margin of the IDS screen at the conclusion of the test for PCM CMDTCs, Continuous Memory Diagnostic Codes (Figure 5).

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