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I decided to do a write-up on what happens when an OTA trigger is created for one of our vehicles. Many of us on here already know this, but I am sure this will be of help to many; particularly new members/owners.

First things first: There is nothing you can do to get an OTA sent to your vehicle. There is no magic youtube video trick, no phone number you can call, no (insert whatever superstitious ritual you want here) works. When an update is available for a vehicle, it will show in FDRS and at some point after, it will be sent to the vehicle via the OTA process. In the two years I have been following these updates, I have seen no systematic pattern in terms of how they get pushed out to vehicles. An OTA can be sent to a vehicle for a module even if FDRS does not show a pending update for that module. This is atypical, but it can happen; especially (but not exclusively) with people in the Early Access program.

There are two types of OTA's: Those that require the vehicle to be inhibited and those that do not. First, we will discuss the ones that DO NOT require the vehicle to be inhibited. The process is different for both.

Step 1: Non-inhibit OTA trigger is created:

Congrats! The OTA gods deemed you worthy of an update. An OTA trigger gets sent to a vehicle. The owner is not notified of this. The owner of the vehicle has exactly 7 days (Edit: This seems to have been extended as of early 2023 to 30 days instead of 7) to get to the vehicle and start it or set the ignition to KOEO. This is the only thing that will give "consent" to the update process to commence the download part of the update process. In the case below, OTA trigger was created 12/5 and expiration from server to vehicle is shown as 12/12. Starting the vehicle with remote start or Fordpass will not work; the vehicle MUST be turned on fully in order for the OTA process to go to the next step. If the vehicle is not started within 7 days of the OTA trigger being created, the OTA will time out and you will have to wait for it to be resent. It could be a few days, weeks, or months. No way of telling when this will happen.

Ford F-150 What happens when an OTA is sent to your vehicle? (step-by-step breakdown of the OTA process) OTA Trigger Step 1


Step 2: Non-inhibit OTA trigger file download process:

So you got the OTA trigger and you started your vehicle. You have now given "consent" to the OTA trigger to do its thing. At this point, the update log and manifest gets posted and your gatekeeper (GWM) will verify the files that the server wants to send to your truck are the right ones. If the manifest gets verified, the download process starts. If not, the OTA fails right then and there with a "manifest mismatch" or "checksum" error. This is not a bad thing.....this is the GWM doing its job and preventing a bad update from installing causing a misconfiguration. In this case, files were good to go and they proceeded to download. TCU updates are small, but APIM OTA's require over 5GB's worth of files to download. The download process can take minutes, hours or days depending on the size of the update and the state of Ford's servers.

Once the OTA process starts, you now have 14 days for it to download the needed files and install. The timer is increased from 7 to 14 days for this part of the process. Notice where is says "Trigger Expiration 336 hours" and "Expiration Date" now says 12/19 instead of 12/12 in step one of the process.

Ford F-150 What happens when an OTA is sent to your vehicle? (step-by-step breakdown of the OTA process) OTA trigger step 2


Step 3: Non-inhibited OTA install process:

Now all the files downloaded. There is now a notice that says "Update files are ready to activate". If your vehicle is still running, the OTA will go ahead and try to install and hopefully do so. If you turned off the vehicle while it was downloading the files, one of two things will happen: It will continue to download the rest of the files it needs while it is off or it will wait for you to turn it back on again to download the rest of the files it needs. Battery SoC may have something to do with this, but it is unclear if that is the case since PTS does not tell you, but I have seen both scenarios happen. Assuming all the files were downloaded, the update will try to install the next time you turn on the vehicle or right away if it is still running when the file downloads finished.


Ford F-150 What happens when an OTA is sent to your vehicle? (step-by-step breakdown of the OTA process) OTA trigger step 3


This is how most OTA updates look like. Believe it or not, the non-inhibit updates go through a lot more often than they fail. With the exception of a few problematic ones (3.5.3 getting hung up downloading files comes to mind), these updates have a high success rate.

__________________________________________________________________________

Now, let's discuss the PITA OTA's, which are the ones that require the vehicle to be inhibited. These have a tendency to fail A LOT, and 99% of the times the fail, they failed due to unsatisfactory battery capacity and/or SoC. Below is an example of the recent re-release of 2.7.4 BCM update date. This update is small in comparison to the original 2.7.4 IPC update and has a much higher success rate most inhibited updates.

Inhibited Required OTA trigger is created:

When this type of OTA trigger gets sent, the "consent" needed for it to do its thing is having your auto-updates scheduled. If the OTA trigger is sent at 5pm and your auto-updates is for 1am, then the timer starts at 1am. Or, if it is in your queue and you manually check for updates, you can manually initiate the download/install process to start using the touchscreen. Notice the trigger expiration hours for this update is 720 hours or 30 days. Ford seems to have purposely extended the OTA trigger timer on these since they do have a higher chance of failing. This allows the update more opportunities to install should it have issues going through. Because this particular update (2.7.4) is small, the SoC parameters seems to be relaxed a bit in comparison to larger inhibited updates. OTA 4.3.4 for example, is a different animal and failed many times for many people. Thread below will give you an idea of what I mean:

https://www.f150forum.com/f2/power-up-software-update-4-3-4-a-545584/

Just like the non-inhibited OTA's, the file manifest needs to be verified before the file downloads start. Once downloaded, if the SoC check passes, the update will install. Below is a best-case scenario for this type of update:


Ford F-150 What happens when an OTA is sent to your vehicle? (step-by-step breakdown of the OTA process) Inhibited OTA Trigger


If the SoC is too low, PTS will show a message like this:


"errorCode":"InhibitRequiredHvNotQualifiedLvLow(204)""projectedLvSoc":"Insufficient12VBattery(21)""totalLvBatteryCapacity":"50""currentLvBatteryDataQuality":"OK""currentLvBatteryVoltage":"12""currentLvBatterySoc":"69""currentLvBatteryTemperature":"31""dynamicPostUpdateSocThreshold":"41""estimatedTimeToActivate":"4200""estimatedTimeIncludingRollback":"8400""currentDrainRate":"9""capacityNeededForOta":"21""adjustedAvailableLvBatteryCapacity":"31""projectedPostOtaLvCapacity":"10"

If nothing is done to improve the battery's condition, this error can happen 10, 20 or 30 times throughout the course of an OTA trigger until it times out and fails. My recommendation when this happens is to fully charge the 12V battery, reset the BMS and then schedule the update to start. Resetting the BMS more than once is not necessary and not recommended. It is possible and likely that the OTA will still fail due to low SoC even after this. You can continue to try to update it, but a new battery may be needed. Your SoC can be at a 100%, but if your battery has some years under it and the capacity is low, having the SoC at 100% will still yield unsatisfactory conditions for the OTA to go through.

I hope this helps to provide some light for how these things work. This post is to be considered a WIP for now and I will change info and add more pics of the inhibited OTA procedure as I come across more examples. Feedback from you guys is welcome.

**Due to a few recent reports, it is possible that Ford recently changed the way auto-updates affect the installation of non-inhibit OTA's. It used to be that even with auto-updates off, non-inhibit OTA's would download and install regardless of an update schedule being set or not. Recently, a few people have reported the Sync screen requiring them to give permission for a non-inhibit update to install when auto-updates is set to off. I will provide more info on this as more data becomes available.**

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Beagleman

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Thanks for sending this out. I was wondering how this process works. Here's to hoping the fix for the no start condition (Full Accessory Power On, Stop Safely Now messages) will be an OTA update soon. Clock ticking on 4Q delivery...
 

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Great write up, my truck requires me to accept the download and will not proceed past this point unless I explicitly give it permission, that seems to differ slightly from what's outlined above. Maybe I'm misinterpreting

Ford F-150 What happens when an OTA is sent to your vehicle? (step-by-step breakdown of the OTA process) 20231201_155733
 
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rugedraw

rugedraw

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Great write up, my truck requires me to accept the download and will not proceed past this point unless I explicitly give it permission, that seems to differ slightly from what's outlined above. Maybe I'm misinterpreting
You are not. Coincidentally, I saw this for the first time in a Facebook F150 group yesterday when I posted this. Of course they would change something about the OTA process right after I post this. lol
 

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You are not. Coincidentally, I saw this for the first time in a Facebook F150 group yesterday when I posted this. Of course they would change something about the OTA process right after I post this. lol
Maybe this is how it's actually supposed to work and for some reason it ignores this step for some folks? My truck has done this since I got it in 21
 

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rugedraw

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Maybe this is how it's actually supposed to work and for some reason it ignores this step for some folks? My truck has done this since I got it in 21
It's definitely new. Most people that got 6.3.0 did not have to approve it. I have my eyes peeled to see what people start reporting and will adjust the post accordingly when we have more info. Is this the new process going forward with all non-inhibit OTA's? The sample size right now is still too small to determine. I'm also on the Lightning/Mach E forums, so I'll see what they start saying, too.
 

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Very nicely explained and good information. I have not had an update in the 2 years I've had my truck (I believe). The only other issue that I've had is the on going tired battery... second battery now (warranty replacement). I put a charger on it every week or two. It is usually under 12V+/- before the charge. 2021 XLT/5.0/302A
 
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rugedraw

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Thanks for the info

ps
whats the best way to reset BMS


Very nicely explained and good information. I have not had an update in the 2 years I've had my truck (I believe). The only other issue that I've had is the on going tired battery... second battery now (warranty replacement). I put a charger on it every week or two. It is usually under 12V+/- before the charge. 2021 XLT/5.0/302A
To you or anyone that comes across this thread with these types of concerns, the thread for that is here:

https://www.f150gen14.com/forum/threads/request-vin-lookup-thread.13393/

If you prefer to keep your VIN private, you can just PM me.
 

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I decided to do a write-up on what happens when an OTA trigger is created for one of our vehicles. Many of us on here already know this, but I am sure this will be of help to many; particularly new members/owners.

First things first: There is nothing you can do to get an OTA sent to your vehicle. There is no magic youtube video trick, no phone number you can call, no (insert whatever superstitious ritual you want here) works. When an update is available for a vehicle, it will show in FDRS and at some point after, it will be sent to the vehicle via the OTA process. In the two years I have been following these updates, I have seen no systematic pattern in terms of how they get pushed out to vehicles.
Here's the mystery for me - for the first year of ownership I don't think I got a single OTA update. I then invested in an FDRS license, and did all of the updates myself. Since then, I've gotten two or three OTA updates, but *ONLY* the priority updates that were sent out. "Normal" updates to major modules such as the APIM never go OTA for me. I can't explain why, but it just "is".
 

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I decided to do a write-up on what happens when an OTA trigger is created for one of our vehicles. Many of us on here already know this, but I am sure this will be of help to many; particularly new members/owners.
Great write up! Thank you! It sure helped me understand the process better.
 

rpold150

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Thanks for posting this. I've had my vin checked on the Request Vin Lookup thread several times during the last year. Each time, you've told me that there are no updates showing for my vehicle. The only update I've had is Jan 2023 for I think 3.5.3.

I've always wondered if I'm in the minority where my truck is being skipped for updates, or if there is a silent majority that I'm part of and the ones posting about updates are the minority.

Since it sounds like these don't even show up in FDRS for my VIN, Is there any way to side load or somehow load these without Ford actually sending them in the first place?

On the one hand, I see some people say an update broke something so maybe I'm lucky. On the other hand, and being in the software industry, I know that updates bring fixes, and only occasionally break something, so I'm missing out on whatever fixes are available. And I'm wondering if I'm missing out on the update that supposedly helps the B&O unleashed and looking forward to the BC 1.3 update if that ever happens.
 

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I decided to do a write-up on what happens when an OTA trigger is created for one of our vehicles. Many of us on here already know this, but I am sure this will be of help to many; particularly new members/owners.
Presumably, the communication medium default for OTA updates is AT&T data cellular. Unfortunately, where I live, AT&T service is well known for being quite weak/lacking - "spotty", at best. So I can't help but wonder if weak/poor AT&T cellular service inhibits the OTA. The service may be acceptable out driving around, but at home - no bueno. Is this when your home's Wi-Fi is used instead? Presumably, Ford has some kind of data communication protocol that it follows. Can you elaborate any on this?

Thanks again for all the personal time that you take to educate us technology hethans. ;)
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