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Dash Cams for the F150 and Escape

Whenever I hear about dash cams, I think about people in eastern Europe or Russia recording meteors and crazy crashes (the audio of some of those videos is probably NSFW.) But then I was at a party for one of Elijah’s classmates and a King County detective was talking about how he was installing dash cams in his car and his wife’s car. Huh? It turns out that there are groups of people who travel around the country basically putting you in a situation where you have no choice but to rear end them. With no evidence, the person in the rear is generally at fault because hey, you should have stopped. He said that Seattle is swamped with this stuff right now.

It’s highly unlikely that will ever happen to me, but you know how much I already enjoy doing timelapse video, especially on road trips so having a camera mounted nicely in the car was appealing. The fact that it might┬ácome in handy some day for insurance purposes was enough to push me over the edge.

I started with my truck and was lucky enough to find a video showing the camera I wanted being installed in a truck very similar to mine. It was super handy to see where the fuse box was, how to get the various pieces of molding off, etc. Here’s what I ordered:

While Dad was visiting, we got it all installed in my 2016 F150 without too much hassle and it has been working well. You can check the Amazon page to see samples of the video quality, but it’s plenty good for what I want. The camera itself works nicely and is low profile, especially compared to some of the other big suction cup versions. The wire exits the camera and is hidden all the way down to the fuse box so there isn’t anything dangling down or plugged into my cigarette lighter.

It went well so I decided to install the same setup in our 2013 Escape. The only difference was that the Escape used mini fuses instead of the micro fuses that the truck uses. Installation there was a little more tricky because of the goofy shape of the plastic around the rear view mirror, but I found a good spot for it and was able to run the wire down to the fuse box under the glove box. I can get free access to the Chilton’s website via our library and that came in handy for figuring out how to remove a couple pieces of trim. I also stumbled across a YouTube channel devoted to the 2013 Escape which will come in handy in the future.

I’m excited to go on a road trip and use this instead of the hacky/messy/annoying GoPro setup that I used to use. With the 64GB card, I could record 11 hours of 1080p video or even more than that if I use the timelapse mode in the camera.

In other countries, insurance companies offer discounts for dash cams, but that hasn’t been popularized here yet. Even without the discount, I do wonder if/when car manufacturers are going to build these in. It’s not a big stretch to imagine this as part of your rear view mirror mount or maybe even using some of the parking cameras that are already installed.

F150 Tonneau Cover

Shortly after I bough the truck, we took it on a weekend getaway. It rained on the way back so I tarped up. As I was fighting the tarp and the wind, I thought about how many times I’d be doing that over the course owning the truck. It didn’t take much to convince me to look for a better solution.

I ended up buying a TruXedo cover. They have a variety of models but I think I got the fanciest one: the Lo Pro QT. I paid about to have it $450 shipped from Amazon. If you order one, make sure you get the right size for your truck. Thanks to Jay for originally recommending this to me. Installation was pretty easy for me, but I heard that Don and Logan struggled with the install on Don’s truck recently.

Over the last 10 months I’ve grown to really enjoy this. Sure, it’s not as fancy as other retractable ones that roll down into the bed, but this one also cost a small fraction of the cost of those nicer models. I’ve used it to cover camping gear, trash for the dump, groceries and even loads of mulch and dirt. I can unroll it or roll it up in less than a minute and there’s very little vibration or flapping as I drive down the road.

There are no signs of wear or fading on it yet, but even if I have to buy another one in 5 or 10 years, I’ll still say it’s a good investment.

Sync 3 With Windows Phone

sync3As I researched the possibility of ordering a new truck last year, I thought I’d save some money by skipping the Sync system. We have it on the Escape and, while it’s functional, it’s not WOW and for the extra cost, it should be at least 72% more wow. Then I heard that the 2016 F150s would be receiving the brand new Sync 3 system. It’s a complete overhaul and a break from the Microsoft system. The early reviews were very good so I went for it. So far, I’m glad I did. My main beef with Sync 2 is that it’s sluggish. Sync 3 is very responsive. I can pinch to zoom and get much faster reactions to touch selections.

Using either Sync system with Windows Phone is a bit underwhelming. You get Bluetooth connectivity and it will do things like show the name of the song you’re playing, but it won’t display your text messages on the screen, run connected apps or anything fancy like that.

In the new truck, I was having trouble getting Cortana to speak to me or hear me when connected to Sync 3 via Bluetooth. I finally found a checkbox in the advanced Bluetooth settings on my Nokia 929 that says “Use an alternate Bluetooth audio connection for Speech”. I don’t know what that means but after I checked it, Cortana would break in and read my text message and let me reply. Perfect!

New Truck

The truck is here! I got a call Saturday morning saying it had just arrived on the train at the depot in Kent. They put a rush on it and I got to pick it up on Sunday afternon. Kudos to Evergreen Ford in Issaquah for helping me do a bunch of the paperwork by phone and email on Saturday so that Sunday went faster. That was really appreciated since we had Elijah in tow.

The final deal went very well. When you order, you get the rebates and factory incentives at the time of the delivery. That equated to $4200 in extra savings that I hadn’t planned on! They gave me a fair deal for the Subaru and incorporated a change to our previous agreement because Uncle Mark was able to let me use his A-plan family pricing deal. Ford temporarily extended it to nieces and nephews. Yay!

I got out without paying any extra money except I did add mud flaps and the spray in bedliner. Both were planned purchases at some point in the next month so I just tacked them on there. It’s in the shop today getting those things done.

I’ve only had it for a couple days so I can’t give a full review, but I have no buyers remorse. The Sync 3 system is a great improvement over Sync 2 and it will get even better once we switch to Android phones this winter. The truck drives nicely and the big backup camera view is a help trying to maneuver this beast into parking spots. But enough jibber jabber, how about some photos?

f150_1f150_2 f150_3

 

Truck VIN

Now that Ford has assigned a VIN to my truck, I can use some interesting tools. For example, did you know that the letters and numbers in the VIN tell all kinds of things like what range the gross vehicle weight is in, the type of engine, the plant it was built in (mine is Kansas City) and how many vehicles were built before yours?

Another nifty tool for Ford buyers is COTUS. It’s a website that lets you check the status of your order. You can get to it either at http://www.cotus.ford.com or http://wwwqa.cotus.ford.com. The sites are notoriously flaky but I finally got the second one to work for my order. As expected, it shows that my truck is “In Order Processing”. That’s the longest phase, but you know I’ll be checking this site pretty regularly!

cotusIt’s amazing what you can find on the Internet if you look around! If you’re in the market for an F150, I highly recommend F150Forum.com. It’s a goldmine of information.

UPDATE: This afternoon when I logged in, COTUS told me the estimated delivery date was July 9! Let’s see if that holds true…