If you’ve ever had a friend brag about how great their FORScan is in their Ford F-150 and had to pretend you know what they’re talking about, then this quick guide is for you. It contains all the basics that I have researched about FORScan, what it does, and my own experiences of using it in a Ford F-150 truck.
What is FORScan (F-150 specific)?
FORScan is 3rd party software that acts as an onboard diagnostics II (OBD2) scanner, allowing the user to diagnose error codes in their Ford F-150. It can also allow the user to make various modifications to their F-150 factory settings by modifying the computer module.
While OBD2 scanners are common, FORScan is designed specifically for Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Mazda vehicles. With that specific focus, it can detect modules not identified by other scanners.
Since it can access those modules, FORScan allows the user to make changes to how the vehicle works. Want to run your fog lights with your brights? FORScan can do that. If there is a module that runs it, there is a good chance there is a way to change it.
FORScan is installed onto your laptop or mobile device. With the use of a connector placed in the OBD under the dash of the F-150, you can download the computer modules into the software. You can then select the module that goes with the problem or modification you want to make.
How to use FORScan in a Ford F-150
Using your FORScan to diagnose errors is as easy as plugging your phone or laptop into your OBD2 receptacle and allowing the software to run. Your F-150 FORScan will run a diagnostic on all modules in your vehicle and give you a diagnosis code for any issues found.
That sounds straightforward. Plug it in and turn it on. However, as with anything technical, there is a little more to it than that. This guide will help you make the most of your FORScan.
Using FORScan for F-150 diagnostics
Your FORScan can run diagnostic codes on almost any module in your vehicle. FORScan.org lists 180 different covered modules, including:
- Powertrain control module.
- 4×4 control module.
- Battery charger module.
- Security module.
- Climate control module.
- Fuel injection control module .
Attach your laptop or mobile device to the OBD2 port using a connector. This port is usually found under the dash, on the driver’s side of the car. If you’re using your laptop, you’ll need a USB adapter. OBDLink EX is recommended.
If you’re using your mobile device, you’ll want to go with a Bluetooth linked adapter like OBDLink MX+ for iOS or Android.
You’ll also want a connector that offers an MS/HS CAN switch to make sure you can access all your modules.
Once you open up the software, it will automatically run a diagnostic on your F-150 using FORScan.
If a problem with a module is detected by the software, it will generate a diagnosis code. Not just a code, however. FORScan will also give you a short explanation of the problem which is where it gets very powerful.
For example, Code B1262 identifies a Servo motor defrost circuit failure. FORScan then continues, letting you know that the malfunction is the indicator lamp is OFF. Use FORScan to access the module and change the setting to ON, and the problem is fixed.
If the issue is more complicated, you can access the Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) details. Here, a list of possible issues is given. The list goes through every system and the components that could be causing the error code.
You can then begin your troubleshooting on your Forf F-150 using FORScan.
If the DTC doesn’t provide enough information, check the owner’s manual. There are also many online forums regarding the use of FORScan diagnostics and troubleshooting the problem.
You can also clear the code(s) from the system. You probably don’t want to do that until the problem is fixed.
Your F-150 FORScan profile
Assuming there are no issues when you initially set up your FORScan software, it’s a good idea to save the profile as a “factory setting” or “original” profile. That way, if you have any problem in the future with changes you’ve made, you have the original to go back to.
On the same topic, keep a copy of your most current profile saved, as well. Then, if you make a modification that doesn’t work, you have your most recent version, minus that specific change, to work with until you can figure out what went wrong in your modification. Backup profiles are smart and easy enough to set-up
Using FORScan to make modifications to F-150 factory settings
This is where things get very cool. Honestly, almost any OBD2 scanner can provide you with diagnostic codes. But not all can give you direct access to your modules and allow you to customize the settings in a way that makes you, well, you.
Want the “Bambi” effect? You know, running your fog lights at the same time as your high beams to really light up the road? You can do that with FORScan and an F-150.
First, turn on your F-150 and then open FORScan on your computer or phone. Connect your device to the OBD2 port, using your connector.
Once you’re connected, select configure/programming on the left of the screen.
Hit “play” at the bottom of the screen to pull in all your HS modules. Then, flip the switch to MS-CAN to pull in your MS modules, as well.
Handy Hint: You should always save your current settings before you make any changes to your Ford F-150 FORScan.
Look at your spreadsheet and identify which module you will use to get the “Bambi” effect.
The spreadsheet identifies that module as 726-27-01. Find that module in your FORScan and click on it. The settings look something like 0100 0001 0057.
Go to your spreadsheet, which says the settings for the Bambi effect should be xxxx xxx0 01xx. Don’t change anything with an “x”. Just change the numbers in your module to match those on your spreadsheet.
After the changes are done, hit “write” at the bottom of the screen or “write all” if you have changed multiple modules.
Follow the directions to turn off and restart your F-150. Check if the fog lights and high beams come on together. Success!
This is how your modification options work. You can see this video and others here. Seriously, this is a 10-minute operation, at most. ALWAYS back up your system before making a change. That way, if there is a problem, you still have a working copy to go back to.
Other modifications can include things like showing engine and transmission temperatures, adding controls for heated/cooled seats to your home screen, disabling the double horn honk, auto-fold mirrors and others.
YouTube has some great videos on the “how-to” of these and many other modifications available to you. Just Google “FORScan modifications” and prepare to be inspired.
Where do you find the spreadsheets? Check in the local forums for your vehicle make, model and year. The other users are informative and very open to help.
Now for the big question…. how do these modifications affect your warranty?
How does using FORScan impact your Ford F-150 warranty?
According to the FTC, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act states that manufacturers or dealers can’t deny your claim simply because someone other than themselves did the work.
However, if the manufacturer or dealer can show that the change made caused the covered failure, the warranty could, in fact, be void on that item. Also, this is specific to routine repairs and maintenance.
- Obviously, this issue is pretty gray. Many F150 FORScan users recommend changing everything back to your original settings (which you saved, remember?) before taking your vehicle in for warranty work.
If that’s your choice, simply save your current profile, with all those cool modifications you’ve made and reinstall your factory profile. After the work is complete, go back and reinstall your cool, current profile and, like magic, problem solved.
FORScan offers the straight-forward utility of the OBD2 scanner, improved with the addition of the code explanation, dysfunctional module identification, and troubleshooting information.
It then ramps it up by giving the user the opportunity to directly access those modules and customize his/her ride to make it uniquely theirs.
It truly, an impressive tool when you can use it to its full potential in a Ford F-150.