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Sync 3 v3.0 Bluetooth, Aux Line In or USB Storage Alternatives


January 11, 2020
Reaction score
City, State
Ann Arbor, MI
Year, Model & Trim Level
2017 Explorer Sport
Hi, my name is Yohan and I have an irrational need for access to a large library of music and from what I've read...I'm not alone.

Problem 1: My 2017 Explorer Sport doesn't have an aux / line in jack.
Problem 2: My Sync 3 v 3.0 build 19025 system does not allow (custom) pairing of Bluetooth transmitters.
Problem 3: My Sync system has unclear database, memory size or track limits for exFAT or FAT32 USB devices.

Side note: I've been using a Trond BT-Duo bluetooth module in several late-model infotainment systems (lots of car renting for work...) and my old 2011 Escape Sync system, without issue. I cannot get it to pair on Sync 3 v3.0 18093 or 19025.

I've been after the "500gb iPod" since 2002 and finally got around to building one this summer using old classics and some hack tools (check out Rockbox if interested, very cool). However, legacy hardware so we're talking a 3.5mm jack or a Bluetooth transmitter. After an exhaustive search without solutions, problems 1 & 2 have squashed my dreams of pairing my iPod with my Explorer. :censored:

After digging further on Sync's capabilities for reading and indexing media stored on external hardware, this appeared to be a better route: ditch the iPod, transfer music library to a 512gb USB media and let Sync do the rest.

If you're under 50,000 tracks (or pieces of metadata - not sure what the limit is), you probably need not subscribe as apart from max readable device size or format, implementations under 50k should work just fine.

But, if you're over 50,000 tracks... are we dealing with Sync's inability to index beyond 50,000 or will we be unable to even explore the folder structures via 'explore device'?

Open to suggestions for all three problems and hopefully consolidating them here will help future users who may also find this misery spread far and wide across the interwebz...

Useful links:

Ford Sync USB devices | David Artiss see comments section regarding ability to explore files to a certain extent, but inability to have all files indexed for voice recognition.

Ford SYNC 3 USB to 3.5mm AUX Adapter perhaps not necessarily useful - no documentation, no reviews, but (in theory) the tech we (I) need.

Can't find audio line in on 2017 platinum older thread from forum user xhauler, back in 2016 where he was able to at least get sync 3 to detect a bluetooth transmitter.

tl:dr - Sync 3 will see, index and play >50,000 tracks from multiple partitions on a single, NTFS-formatted SSD connected via SATA-to-USB3.0 cable.

Been picking away at this for a couple weeks and had little success until I found the sync 3 supplement, which clears up a little bit of murkiness in storage device format compatibility. Turns out, NTFS is supported in Sync 3, as are FAT and exFAT.

For my testing environment, we're talking about 400gb in music, spread across 64,000 tracks. I ended up using mp3tag to clean up the tags, retaining only title, artist, album and track number (though I'm not sure this is necessary).

Taking into consideration I have (2) USB ports on my 2017 Explorer Sport, I grabbed (2) 256gb Samsung USB drives off Amazon, natively formatted to exFAT. I split the music evenly between the two drive in A-M and N-Z folders, with subdirectories by letter, artist then album. While I was able to eventually get both drives indexed and searchable, I was still consuming both USB ports.

I then ordered an MX500 SSD and Startech SATA to USB 3.0 cable, again off Amazon. My thought here was to test a result presented in another thread where Sync would still allow you to explore all tracks, but would limit indexing to 50,000. I formatted the 500gb drive to exFAT and loaded all the music in one folder directory, with subs by letter, artist and album as above. As expected Sync only announced 50,000 tracks (e.g. playing 1/50,0000), but unexpectedly, when exploring the device, directories 'T' through 'Z' were missing - meaning we lost visibility to roughly 14,000 tracks.

At this point, I've gotten good at sitting in the driver seat staring at the steering wheel, so why not try something else? I took the SSD back inside, plugged it back into Windows 10, used diskpart to clean (nuke) the partition and then created two, equal partitions on the drive, again in exFAT. I split the music between the separate partitions and went back to the car. While Sync 'saw' the two partitions, it didn't like it. Slow response, wouldn't play (even though it said it was indexing) and after several 'next track + power' button cycles to restore USB functionality, I gave up. Or at least I was going to...

I then went searching for the supplement, found NTFS is compatible and repeated the above. To my surprise, both partitions were recognized and began indexing, allowing me to play on either as it was doing so. The menus were much more responsive as the indexing continued. I let if be for about 15 minutes, then returned to the vehicle to check it out. So far so good! The SSD is plugged into the USB inside the center console and both partitions are fully indexed, at roughly 32,000 tracks on each. Both can be explored and all directories present. And I still have the main panel USB available for Carplay or other USB access.

I have not yet tested all tracks on a single NTFS partition, but I may do so just to see if it behaves the same as the exFAT trial(s).

Slightly annoying, yet still something one should consider prior to putting 50,000+ tracks on Sync's routine - the system will attempt to index on every engine start. Certainly not ideal...don't see a way around it.