We recently assisted a local automotive repair company in Naples, Florida with their Ford IDS software.
The Ford Integrated Diagnostic System (IDS) is the only equipment that provides complete diagnostic coverage of current and future Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles in North America. IDS is software runs on a standard Windows based laptop, and utilizes the Vehicle Communication Module (VCM), VCM II and Vehicle Measurement Module (VMM).
But what happens when this device fails, or more commonly, the IDS software fails? Automotive shops and even dealerships around the country know that updating their IDS software is a gamble. Some simply refuse to update until they are forced, by the software, to do so. This is what recently happened to this local automotive shop.
We were hired today to help troubleshoot the failure to program a 2005 Ford Van’s internal computer (PCM) using IDS and a VCM. The day prior, their IDS software forced them to upgrade to the latest version (v114.02). This helped narrow down the issue since they were using the IDS software to program other vehicles without issue, until it updated. Now, the IDS software just hangs and crashes just before initiating the PCM programming sequence.
We contacted the Ford IDS support line and were told that we had to downgrade to version 113. The only issue is that it was removed from the software download website that they provide. The support staff member refused to provide us with an alternative link and informed us that we should have downloaded it previously or use the Windows System Restore to go back to just before the update. Recall that this automotive shop only updated when forced to do so. We had no such restore point or previously downloaded version. We informed the Ford IDS support staff member of this fact, but he left us high and dry.
Luckily, they have poor website authentication. We discovered that by downloading version 114.01 it would reveal the download file path. By replacing the 114.01 with 113.01 in the URL we were able to initiate the download of the needed downgrade. We thought this interesting since the Ford IDS support staff member informed us that version 113.01 had been removed from the server and that there was no other way to obtain a copy. Didn’t know we were dealing with the Postal Service or DMV!
Back to programming the 2005 Ford Van
After downgrading to v113.01 it no longer forced us to upgrade and permitted us to program the vehicles’ on-board computer without issue.
Turning the key on the Van, she revved right up and came back to life. What a sound and what a feeling to have something dead return to the land of the living. We thank this automotive shop for their continued business patronage and interesting challenges.
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