Bluetooth communications between an Apple iPhone 3G and a Ford Audio system

This content is 16 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

My company car is due for replacement and the lease company has arranged a demonstration car of my choice for a week – so last Wednesday a shiny Ford Mondeo 2.2TDCi Titanium X Sport Estate was delivered to my house. (For readers outside Europe who don’t know what a Mondeo is, here’s an American review of the range-topping Titanium X Sport model – it might also be useful to note that “car” and “estate” are English words for what’s known as “automobile” and “wagon” in some parts of the world.)

Whilst I’m not a great fan of the fake aluminium that car manufacturers seem to plaster all over the interior of cars these days, this car represents a reasonable balance between performance, economy and the need to transport a family complete with all their associated paraphernalia (or garden rubbish for the tip…) – and it’s pretty well-specced too. One of the features that I was particularly interested in was the Bluetooth and Voice Control system.

(The Ford website features a longer version of this video but I couldn’t easily embed it here – and, for the benefit of those with no sense of irony, this is not serious – it is a parody of a fantastic programme that the BBC used to run called Tomorrow’s World.)

My current car has a fully-fitted carphone kit for use with my work phone (a Nokia 6021) but if anyone calls me on my iPhone 3G I have to use another solution. Not so with the Mondeo. In fact, I couldn’t get the Nokia to recognise the Ford Audio system (even though it’s one of the handsets that Ford has tested) but the iPhone was quite happy to pair following the instructions in the owner’s handbook:

  1. The Bluetooth feature must be activated on the phone and on the audio unit. For additional information, refer to your phone user guide.
  2. The private mode must not be activated on the Bluetooth phone.
  3. Search for audio device.
  4. Select Ford Audio.
  5. The Bluetooth PIN number 0000 must be entered on the phone keypad.

[Ford Mondeo Owners Handbook (2008)]

Sony/Ford Audio System paired with iPhoneOnce paired, I could use the car’s controls to make calls and incoming calls on the iPhone were picked up by the car too.

Ford are not the only manufacturer to have such as system, but it is the first time I’ve had it fitted as standard on a car (on my Saab 9-3 I would have needed to specify an expensive stereo with built in satellite navigation to get the Bluetooth functionality) – and Ford do claim to be the only manufacturer to offer the system on small cars too:

Ford is the only manufacturer to offer a Bluetooth with Voice Control System on our smaller cars as well as our larger ones. It’s available on the Fiesta, Fusion, new Focus, new Focus CC, C-MAX, Mondeo, S-MAX, Galaxy, Fiesta Van, Transit Van, Transit Minibus, Transit Connect and Transit Chassis Cab.

(There are some light commercials on that list too.)

The downsides are that my phone has to have Bluetooth activated (and to be discoverable – leaving me subject to potential bluejacking). There’s also a bit of an echo (on both ends of the call) – something I haven’t experienced with the fitted car kit I use with the Nokia in my normal car – but it’s not bad enough to be a problem and, most importantly, the road noise at 70mph didn’t seem to cause too big a problem whilst making a call.

Sony/Ford Audio System picking up contacts from somewhere - not sure where though!So, what doesn’t work with the iPhone? Despite the audio system somehow managing to detect a couple of my contacts (which I can then select by pressing a button to dial), the Bluetooth Voice Control doesn’t seem to be able to read the phone directory – but it does work if dial by number, as shown in the pictures below:

Ford Converse+ System and Bluetooth Voice Control

Call on iPhone placed using Ford Bluetooth Voice ControlCall on iPhone placed using Ford Bluetooth Voice Control

Also, it would be nice to make the car’s audio system play the music on my iPhone over Bluetooth – except that Apple hasn’t given us A2DP (stereo Bluetooth Audio), so to connect the iPhone to the stereo requires use of a standard 3.5mm headset cable to the Aux socket on the car’s audio system (unavailable on the car I tested because that has a DVD system installed in the front seat headrests instead).

As for whether I will lease this car… well, the jury’s still out on that one. It drives well and I get a lot of toys for my money but the VW Passat Estate, Audi A4 Avant (or possibly A6) and BMW 3 series touring are all on my shortlist. Does anyone know if the iPhone works with the built-in systems in these cars?

28 thoughts on “Bluetooth communications between an Apple iPhone 3G and a Ford Audio system

  1. I’m still a bit confused by the directory integration – the Bluetooth voice control system reports “directory empty” when requested to “dial name” (it dials numbers on the iPhone with no apparent problems) but the Ford Convers+ system on the dashboard (with which the voice dialling system is integrated), can read the iPhone’s phonebook – as shown here:

    Ford Convers+ System reading iPhone Directory

    The multiple numbers for a given name are different phone numbers (e.g. home, work, mobile) and have associated icons to indicate this.

  2. Hi Mark. Very interesting information about Ford Mondeo and 3G iPhone connection. I have some troubles with this. My Mondeo is an august 2007 model and yours is 2008 model. The bluetooth connection some times works correctly and others don´t. You recieve the call, but when you take the call you can not here it thorough the car speakers. Any suggestions ??

  3. @Agoski – I only had the car for a week (it was a demonstrator) but I didn’t have any problems making/receiving calls. Directory integration seemed a little bit flaky though (as described). Sorry I can’t help more.

  4. @Agoski – I have a 2007 ford fiesta that shows the same behavior. It probably shares the same bluetooth solution as the mondeo. It seems to be a problem with the audio source. While the call is ongoing, switch the audio source from bluetooth to iphone speakers and back to recover sound. This is inconvienient while driving, though. I have experienced this problem more frequently while hearing to iphone ipod at the same time.

    Problems dont seem to be only those, sometimes the phone thinks it is on bluetooth while its not, and you cant hear regular call either. Sometimes you have to repair.

    My father has a becker cascade audio&gps&bluetooth equipment, which works flawlessly with the iphone.

  5. Can you tell me how much your aux cable was? I am awaiting a new Ford Fiesta and thought I needed a special iPhone cable.

  6. Sharon, I’d be happy to tell you but the truth was it was just a standard 3.5mm (headphone) to 3.5mm cable that I had in my “box of cables” at home (occupational hazard I guess). You should be able to pick one up somewhere like Maplin though for not too much money.

    Just to be clear, all that did was let me play the iPhone’s music back through the Ford Audio system… for full integration (access to playlists, etc. from the car stereo) you’ll probably need a special cable (ironically, I’ve just bought one of them for my Audi A4 this afternoon and it set me back £29).

  7. One more question, do you have usb in your Audi or is it an aux socket? Don’t know if I needed the usb to be able to see the playlists on my stereo – do you know?

  8. @Sharon, ah… sorry, yes, for access to your playlists, etc., you will need a cable that connects to the iPhone’s dock interface (typically USB at the end that plugs into the car, although on my Audi I needed a special “music interface” to hook up to and my wife’s VW Golf has an iPod dock built in to the armrest).

    The normal 3.5mm aux connection (which is what I used on the Mondeo) is just for sound and so you need to use the iPhone to select tracks, etc. I don’t know what Ford’s solution is for playlist integration.

    Basically, the iPhone’s iPod features connect over a cable; whereas the iPhone’s phone connectivity to the car is wireless (over Bluetooth). Hopefully, once the iPhone 3.0 software is launched, we’ll be able to do the sound over Bluetooth as well.

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  10. Hi, Mark. I have a Mondeo Tit-X, received Sept. 2008. If I pick up the incoming call on the radio’s button, or with the handler on the left of the wheel, I can not hear the caller. If I pick up the phone on the iPhone, with a slide, than everything is OK. I paired several times the phone, no change. Should I ask the service to change the bluetooth part? Or get a sowtware update on it? Can you pick up the incoming calls with the button on the left handler?
    (Maybe I am not using the proper wording (hander) for this stuff on the left of the steering wheel, with what you are signaling the turning intention too, I am Hungarian…)

  11. Hi Peter – that sounds strange – your car is the same age as the demonstrator that I was using when I wrote this. Unfortunately, it was just a demonstrator, and I can’t remember the specifics now (I didn’t choose the Mondeo in the end so don’t have one to test at the moment) but I don’t remember having to answer calls with the iPhone so it does sound as if something is not quite right.

  12. Hi.. I have a problem that i cant find out. When my phonebook comes up on the creen in my ford, the list/names are bacwords. Eks…. -Tom Jones- will apear like -Jones Tom-

    Any whay to fix this? I know i can change it in the iphone, but thats doesent work.

    Had the same problem when i went from sonyericson to Iphone. Than i had to copy everything over in word then lay it back on the phone to get it right.

  13. I have just about giving up on getting my iPhone to work with my F150. Maybe there is just something wrong with my Bluetooth kit. Maybe I got a bad one, but nothing seems to be working.

  14. I have a ford s max diesel and the iphone 3G S won’t pair even though it is seen by both the Ford Audio and the Iphone. It doesn’t let me even insert the pin

  15. Regarding the “Directory Empty” command. If you have read the handbook that comes with the car you will have noticed that you need to verbally enter your contacts in to the cars in built number directory. Time consuming I know but if you want to just say “Dial Name” then you need to spend time working through your phone book.

  16. Read the manual! Are you mad? I’m a bloke!

    Seriously though @Rich – thanks for filling in the gap in my research there.

    In my defence, I did only have the car for a week…


  18. All very interesting. I’m frustrated with bluetooth/iphone compatability. I’ve got a 57 S-max and love the blue tooth voice control functionality. At least I did when my iphone (3GS) was new. However since I upgraded the software to 4.0, it’s become temperamental and only picks up the handset occasionally. I can receive calls and dial using my phone keypad, but the phone book will grey out – very frustrating. Guess I need to get the stereo upgraded to match the current software as the car is “old” so to speak. Anyone else experienced this issue?

  19. I have an iphone 4, and a ford fiesta ghia 2006 model, and they won’t pair over bluetooth! :(
    Please help!

  20. Sorry Duncan – I don’t have access to an iPhone 4 or any Ford cars to check this for you. Hopefully someone else will be able to give you a hint or two. Good luck.

  21. Have a ford s max hire car
    It tells me the bluetooth is full so cannot pair to iPhone
    No manual with car.
    How do I acces the menu to delete old users.

    Thank you

  22. I am having troubles even getting my Iphone 3G to connect to bluetooth on my 2011 Ford Fiesta and wondering if I am doing something wrong or if my phone just is not compatible. Please any advice?

  23. @Steve I don’t have access to any Ford cars any more, so I’m sorry I can’t help – maybe drop into a dealer and I’m sure they will be able to offer some advice without charging?

    @Chantelle Both the car and the phone have to have Bluetooth enabled – could it be that your Fiesta doesn’t have that functionality (even hough some do?). Probably worth checking with a dealer – I’m guessing that your 2011 Fiesta will still be under warranty?

  24. @HÃ¥kon. I have the same problem. Did you found a solution to it ?
    If anybody else knows how to fix this problem, i would be happy to hear it.
    This is the problem: When my phonebook 4 comes up on the creen in my ford mondeo, the list/names are written backwords. Eks…. -Tom Jones- will apear like -Jones Tom-

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