Ford SmartLink is teaching old cars new connected tricks

There’s no denying that connected cars have plenty of useful features, from remote locking via your smartphone to location tracking. Unfortunately, not everyone is in a position to be able to buy one of these new cars and make the most of the technology. Thanks to Ford’s new SmartLink device, however, owners of older vehicles no longer have to resent their faithful steed.

Ford’s SmartLink is a small device that can be installed in a car’s OBDII port under the dashboard to make it possible for older cars to keep up with the times and support a host of these useful remote connected features. 

The SmartLink is fitted with a GPS chip and a 4G/LTE modem which means it can connect to a user’s smartphone through a companion app, allowing them to access useful connected features including remote locking and engine start, vehicle location tracking, and fuel status checks. 

Plug-in brains

Though there are many third-party OBDII devices already on the market which offer similar features, this is one created by Ford for Ford owners. For older Ford car owners it would therefore be a natural choice as there would be no feature compatibility issues to have to deal with.

As well as having a companion smartphone app, the SmartLink will also be able to connect to a web portal. Users will be able to access information regarding their vehicle’s health status which should flag up any maintenance issues and then schedule maintenance appointments with their dealer via the app. 

According to CNET, Brett Wheatley (Ford's executive director of its Customer Service Division for North America) said the device will be especially useful for parents who have perhaps purchased an older Ford vehicle for their children or are letting them drive the family car as they’ll be able to use the SmartLink to set location-based boundaries and speed limits. SmartLink sends them a text message when a driver violates those rules. 

The app could also be useful to newer drivers as it will apparently help drivers learn the best way to accelerate and brake in order to maximize fuel economy.

There’s also the added security benefit that users will receive a notification if their car is being tampered with while they’re away with it which could help prevent break-ins or theft.  

Ford SmartLink is expected to be available to buy in the summer of 2017 and will work with Ford and Lincoln models from 2010 or later. There’s no pricing information available just yet, and it hasn’t been decided whether or not the device will be a one-off payment purchase or follow a subscription model. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.