Author: Andy Parks

Bluetooth Troubleshooting for Calls

Bluetooth Troubleshooting for Calls

Just about every new vehicle sold these days comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity which allows for hands-free calling from your cell phone. This is not simply automotive manufacturers trying to keep up with each other in terms of standard technology, they’re looking at it as a safety feature. Thousands of automobile accidents every year are a result of distracted driving, and if people can make the calls they need to make by only using voice commands it reduces the need for people to look at their phone and take their eyes off the road. Couple this with the fact that holding a cell phone and driving is illegal in New York state and you’ve got a very good reason to use Bluetooth in your vehicle if you ever choose to use your phone while driving.

But just like any technology, Bluetooth is not without its quirks, limitations, and issues. You can pair up a phone and everything is fine, and everything will be fine for a while, but sometimes things go awry. That’s with the technology specialist come in. Here are a few Bluetooth issues and the ways we’ve found to resolve them.

“My phone used to connect automatically when I got in my vehicle, but now it doesn’t anymore.”

This is one we hear all the time and it’s actually a very common Bluetooth problem. Overtime your Bluetooth connection can stop working and need to be unpaired from your vehicle and paired up again. Sometimes the best remedy to Bluetooth connection issue is starting over with a fresh pairing. This sounds simple at first but there’s a couple steps you’ll need to take to make sure you fully unpaired and paired your phone again in a way that will give you maximum connectivity.

Pair Phone to Car 1stWhen un-pairing your phone make sure you go into your car’s settings and remove your phone as a Bluetooth connection, but also go into your phone’s setting and remove your car as a Bluetooth connection. Both sides of the connection should forget the other one ever existed. This will prevent the previous connection from interfering with the brand-new one you’re trying to establish. When you’re ready to pair your phone up to the vehicle again, make sure you take your time. Once the pairing is complete a lot of phones will have a pop up message that asks if you would like to share your contact list, call history, and text messages with your vehicle and it’s usually a good idea to allow all of those things to happen. If you navigate away from the Bluetooth settings on your phone too quickly sometimes these messages won’t pop up. So the best thing to do is make sure that you go through the process slowly and carefully. The extra minute or two you spend establishing the connection properly will save you a lot of frustration down the road.

“Sometimes the people I’m talking to on the phone are either way too loud or way too quiet.”

A feature that not many people talk about is the fact that the volume control buttons on your steering wheel not only control the radio when the radio is playing but they also control the volume of the other person on the phone with you while you’re in a call. The easiest thing to do if the volume isn’t right from the person you’re on the phone with is to turn them up or down using the steering wheel volume controls.

“Where on my car’s infotainment system can I add a new contact to my contact list?”

This one is pretty easy. If you want to add someone to your contact list on your vehicle all you do is add them to your contact list on your phone like you normally would. The next time you get in your vehicle it should automatically look for a new entries in your contact list and add them to your cars infotainment system.

New time we’ll go over troubleshooting ideas for streaming Bluetooth audio in your vehicle. I’m looking forward to it.

Stay Connected,
Andy

Adaptive Cruise Control Explained

Adaptive Cruise Control Explained

Vehicles have changed a lot in the last few years and are still changing rapidly. According to General Motors CEO Mary Berra, we’re going to see more changes in vehicles in the next five years than we’ve seen in the last 50. The changes we’ve seen to vehicles and vehicle technology are not going away, and are not going to slow down in their development and implementation any time soon.

One of innovations that has become more common on vehicles in recent years is an adaptive cruise control system. This feature is a standard part of Toyota Safety Sense system, and brands like Ford and General Motors as well as others have adopted it as well. Unlike the previous version of the cruise control system an adaptive cruise control system allows the driver to set the speed they would like to drive while taking into account the speed of vehicles in front of them. This prevents drivers from having to make as many adjustments to vehicles around them, and protects against situations where cruise control drivers might be distracted and not paying attention to what’s happening in front of them.

For example, if you’re cruising at 60 miles an hour and someone in front of you is driving 50 miles an hour, your adaptive cruise control system would see that car in front of you, slow down to match their speed, and resume your 60 miles an hour cruising speed once that vehicle has gotten out of your lane. Vehicles equipped with the system have the option of choosing your following distance from the vehicle in front of you. You can select close, medium, or far distances from the vehicle that you’re driving behind.

Something to keep in mind with these systems is they are not adaptive systems that are in addition to a regular cruise control system. It’s all one system that works together. I spell this out because if a vehicle’s camera cannot see what’s going on in front of you the cruise control will not work at all. This means that in inclement weather like snowstorms, rain storms, or intense fog your cruise control system will be inoperative. (Also if the section of your windshield that includes the camera is dirty the system will not function.) I’ve been asked by customers when manufacturers are going to allow cruise control to work as it used to even if the camera can’t see what’s going on in front of the vehicle. They believe if the weather conditions are bad enough for the adaptive cruise control system to not function then it’s not safe to have cruise control working at all. I would have to say I agree with them.

Using the system the way it was designed frees the driver to enjoy the ride and spend less time making minor adjustments. As I’ve said before in my previous post asking what a specific button does, advances in technology like this are baby steps toward autonomous self driving vehicles, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime I encourage you to use the system safely and with the full attention and alertness the driving should always require.

Stay Connected,
Andy

Technology Specialist FAQ

Technology Specialist FAQ

Even though the other Technology Specialists and I offer our assistance on all 21 brands West Herr offers, including all pre-owned vehicle brands, we get a lot of the same kinds of questions repeatedly. So I thought I’d post a few of our more frequently asked questions and talk you through our responses.

Question: I’ve heard some many amazing things about Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. My car doesn’t have those features built in. Can I add them?

Answer: It depends on what kind of vehicle you have. If it’s a little bit older and is made to easily take the factory radio out freeing up a double din sized space, you can always add an aftermarket Android Auto/ Apple CarPlay head unit through our Vehicle Accessories location. On newer vehicles it gets a little more tricky. Within the last 5 or so years, a lot of manufacturers have begun placing vehicle settings and controls in the in-dash infotainment systems. Removing these radios to put another in would either be impossible or very unsafe. For answers on your specific vehicle, contact our Vehicle Accessories location.

Question: My phone used to connect with my car no problem. Lately it hasn’t been. Help!

Answer: Usually the quickest and most effective fix is the simplest: Power your phone all the way down, leave it off for 30 seconds, and power it back up again. Our phones are basically little computers, and just like a computer if we leave them on for too long without a restart they start to misbehave. I recommend to smart phone users that they should restart their phones 2-3 times a week for best performance. Flip phone users can get away with once a week.

If that doesn’t work, I suggest to people to un-pair the phone from the vehicle and start over. This involves deleting the car as a connected device in the phone’s settings menu, and deleting the phone as a connected device from your car’s settings menu. Once both sides have completely forgotten about each other, pair the phone to the vehicle from scratch, and that will 99% of the time solve that issue.

Question: My voice command system in my vehicle seems to always have trouble figuring out what I’m trying to say. How can I make it understand me?

Answer: more often than not, the biggest problem people have with their voice command system is beginning to talk before the “beep” the voice command system plays. After the vehicle asks you what you’d like to do, wait for the beep, pause a second, and then give your command. I promise your car will understand you so much more accurately and you’ll have a much happier time speaking commands rather than trying to use the touch screen while driving.

Question: Can’t I just get a vehicle without these screens and technology? Give me back my bench seat, AM and FM radio only, and crank windows!

Answer: Technology is not only not going away, it’s quickly becoming government mandated. For example, as of 2018, all new vehicles will be required to come with a backup camera standard. So that means in-dash infotainemnt systems are not a fad that’s going away. Now if an automaker wanted to make a “retro styled” vehicle that was as easy on the technology as possible and brought back some classic stylings, that would be great, but sadly I don’t think that’s going to happen. That’s why the Technology Specialists are always here to help make things easier for you!

Stay Connected,
Andy

App Focus: Nissan and Infinity Apps

App Focus: Nissan and Infinity Apps

In this week’s edition of App Focus, we take a look at all three (yes, three!) apps available to Nissan and Infinity Customers. Each of these apps has their own specific functionality, and they do their jobs well. Nissan Connect for entertainment, Nissan Connected Services for safety and connectivity, and Nissan Quick Guide for a great selection of How-To videos and information about your specific model of vehicle.

nissan connect appApp Name: Nissan Connect, Infinity InTouch

Features:

  • Allows for better app integration with vehicles
    • Pandora
    • Facebook*
    • Twitter*
    • IHeartRadio*
    • Google Search*
    • Trip Advisor*

*Only available on vehicles with built in navigation

  • iPhones must be plugged in, Android phones must be over bluetooth
  • Only one phone can be authorized for the vehicle

Cost: Free for 3 years from the vehicle’s original purchase date

Process:

  • Upon taking delivery, your sales person will create login information on a system called Ncar that will be emailed to you.  If your salesperson didn’t complete their delivery with Ncar you can sign up for access just by downloading the app and following the “Create Account” process.

nissan connect servicesApp Name: NissanConnect Services, Infiniti InTouch Services

Features:

  • NissanConnect Services ($11.99 /month after trial)
    • Automatic collision notification
    • Emergency roadside assistance and emergency call
    • Stolen vehicle locator
    • Vehicle health reports and scheduled maintenance reminders
  • NissanConnect Services Premium ($19.99 /month after trial)
    • NissanConnect Services AND
    • Key fob services
    • Advanced Alert Services
      • Boundry alerts
      • Curfew alerts
      • Speed alerts
      • Valet alerts
  • NissanConnect Services Premium Plus ($24.99 /month after trial)
    • NissanConnect Services Premium AND
    • Connected search
    • Assisted search
    • Journey planner
    • Google send-to- car

Process:

  • Same login information as NissanConnect app

nissan quick guideApp Name: Nissan Quick Guide

Features:

  • How-to- videos for current and past Nissan vehicles

Cost: Free

I’m of the opinion that all Nissan owners should have the Nissan Quick Guide app on their smartphone or tablet. It’s a treasure trove of resources that will help you understand your vehicle better, and get the most out of your ownership experience. As always, the Technology Specialists are always here to help!

Stay Connected,
Andy

Self Parking Vehicles: The Future is Here

Self Parking Vehicles: The Future is Here

Many newer vehicles such as Ford, Lincoln, Cadillac, and even the new Chevy Malibu have to option to be equipped with a self parking feature. This function allows your vehicle to take advantage of the cameras and sensors that the vehicle is equipped with and use them to find you a parking spot, whether you’re parallel parking on the side of the road or perpendicular parking in a parking lot.

The settings and procedures are a little different for each brand, but the basics of how to use this system are as follows:

  1. Press the Parking Assist button to activate the system. Some vehicles have a button with a letter P and a picture of a steering wheel, other systems have a button with a letter P and two rectangles, representing a space between two other vehicles.
  2. Follow the directions on screen. Once a space is found, you’ll hear a beeping sound and you’ll see instructions on the screen between your gauges on your dashboard. Typically the system will ask you to shift your vehicle into reverse, since your vehicle will almost always back into the space it has found.
  3. Once you’ve shifted into reverse, take your hands off the wheel. You control the speed of the parking process, but the wheel will turn on it’s own to angle you in the space the car has found for you.
  4. Continue following the on screen directions, shifting to drive and reverse as the system asks. Once the vehicle is where the parking system thinks it should be, you’ll hear another beep, letting you know the process is complete.

This process is honestly a little nerve wracking the first time you try it, but there are a few things to keep in mind when using this system to give you some piece of mind.

  • You are in control, not the car. Yes the wheel will turn on it’s own, but if you grab the wheel at all, they system disengages and you’re driving as normal.
  • You control the speed. Even though it’s steering for you, you are in control of how fast the car will move, if at all. If you believe you’re going too fast, or believe the system is wrong somehow, you have the ability to come to a stop and disengage the system at any point.
  • You control the transmission. The parking assist system doesn’t have any control over whether the vehicle is in reverse, drive, or park. You maintain control over this vital functionality.
  • If you’re interested in testing this feature out, find a parking lot that isn’t too busy and take your time practicing with it. Trying your vehicle’s self driving feature on a busy street when it absolutely, positively has to work can be stressful and unsafe. Give your self the best chance to be successful when the time comes.

The bottom line is this feature is incredibly handy when it comes to finding a place to park in almost any situation. As revolutionary as it is for the vehicle to steer itself, you have to choose to give that control to the vehicle, while still being actively involved in everything else. This of course is some of the first steps to self driving vehicles. The future is here, and it might be on your new vehicle right now.

Stay Connected,
Andy

App Focus: ‘FordPass’ and ‘The Lincoln Way’

App Focus: ‘FordPass’ and ‘The Lincoln Way’

For this installment of App Focus we’ll be looking at the “FordPass” and “The Lincoln Way” apps. It provides a lot of great functionality, and for 2017 Escapes, Fusions, and F-150s with Sync Connect equipped, you’ll also have access to key fob services that allow you to lock, unlock, and remote start your vehicle from your vehicle.

The instructions below are very detailed, but that’s intentional. I wanted to give more specific directions to make sure everyone had an opportunity to access this incredibly useful app.

App Name: Ford Pass, The Lincoln Way

Features:

  • Key fob functionality (available for 2017 Escape, Fusion, and F-150 equipped with Sync Connect)
  • Reserve and Pay for Parking in 160+ Cities (not Buffalo or Rochester yet, sadly)
  • Connect with dealership service department
  • Call for emergency roadside assistance

Cost: Free for 5 years from the vehicle’s original purchase date

Process:

  1. Download FordPass from the App Store or Google Play. If you already have a Ford Owner account, you can log in using your username and password. If not, you can create an account via the FordPass app with some basic information.
  2. Create a four-digit PIN for security. Or iPhone users can use Touch ID.
  3. Add your SYNC Connect-equipped vehicle to FordPass using the vehicle identification number (VIN) by:
    a. Tapping the My Vehicles card.
    b. Tap Add Vehicle.
    c. Enter the VIN bar code—found on the inside of the driver’s door of your vehicle—by scanning with your phone’s camera, or by typing it in. You can also create a nickname for your vehicle.
    d. A confirmation message will confirm your VIN.
    e. Tap finish.
    f. After you add your vehicle, a screen will display. Tap Activate SYNC Connect.
  4. Start your vehicle.
  5. A pop-up message will appear on the SYNC 3 touchscreen. Touch Allow on your SYNC 3 touchscreen. Another pop-up message will appear within 24 hours. Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be able to access most* remote features through FordPass.
  6. For security, another pop-up message displays on the SYNC 3 touchscreen—you must touch Allow a second time in your vehicle to complete the process.
  7. Touch Allow.
  8. Touch Continue at the GPS notification on the touchscreen when it appears. You’ll now be able to enjoy all the available remote features through FordPass

I’m the first to acknowledge that there’s a lot of little steps here. If you have any trouble with it, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to help get this app up and running for you.

Stay Connected,
Andy

What Does That Button Do? Vol 3

Welcome back to another installment of “What Does That Button Do?” Today we’re going to go over a few buttons that look complicated and maybe a little intimidating but are actually quite simple. These won’t be found on all vehicles, only when equipped by the manufacturer.
Memory-seat-buttonsMemory Seat Buttons – Some higher end vehicles with power seats are also equipped with memory seat functionality. This allows different drivers to have different seating positions, mirror positions, and even steering wheel positions if your vehicle is equipped with a power steering wheel adjuster. Each brand has different procedures for how to program their memory seat buttons, so you’ll need to consult your owners manual for instructions specific to your vehicle.

electronicparkingbrakeElectronic Parking Break – For a lot of newer vehicles, gone are the days of having a lever you pull to engage your parking break. They’ve been replaced by the button you see pictured, and it’s as easy you use as you’d imagine. Just press the button when you’re in park and the parking break engages. Press the button while your foot is on the brake to release. There’s really nothing to it. The hardest part is knowing what the button does.

toyota snow buttonSNOW Mode Button (Toyota) – According to the owner’s manual, you can “use snow mode for accelerating and driving on slippery road surfaces, such as on snow.” Often times when you start up from a stopped position in snowy conditions, like a red light or stop sign, your wheels might spin in place for a few seconds before you can get moving again. Pressing the SNOW button reduces the likelihood of your wheels slipping when you take off. This will often be found on larger Toyota vehicles like a Highlander or a 4Runner.

I hope that gives you some much needed insight!

Stay Connected,
Andy