You Can Hack an F-150 Lightning. But Should You?

Could this be the future of EV customizing? For more than a century, customizing and personalizing a ride has been a major part of car culture and most of us like to tweak little things here and there. Of course there is software that can tweak an Ford F-150 Lightning to do some fun parlor tricks, or add a touch of functionality. If you do it wrong, you’re F-150 Lightning could turn into a hunk of useless metal, but if you do it right, you could have a unique F-150.

What is FORScan?

FORScan is a software scanner that works on Ford, Mazda, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles with some specific adapters. It’s kind of like one of the OBDII scanners that you can buy at an auto parts store, except it can re-write the code inside your truck. And, if you don’t what OBDII, you definitely don’t want to try to hack your truck. But, for about $22 you can buy an adapter that plugs into your PC at Amazon, and the software is available for a yearly subscription.

Basically, FORScan (like other code reader apps) is powerful in that it can read and re-set codes, so your check engine light can go off. It can also re-write the code in your truck to make it do lot of funky things. It works more like a dealer’s computer for diagnosing complicated issues.  FORScan does have a how to link and a forum. But, again, if you’re not an expert it’s likely just to confuse you.

What can FORScan do for your truck?

A 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning can be hacked. But, there's not much  you can really change.
2023 Ford Lightning Platinum | Ford

In the video above, you can see some of the functionality that she adds to an F-150 Lightning. In reality, this stuff isn’t going to make your Lightning faster, handle better or bounce like it’s on hydraulics. But, you can reset those pesky reminder codes and you can turn off (or on) several gizmos in the truck. You can, for example, turn off the seat belt reminder ding, or you can make the lighting on the outside of the truck brighter or dimmer, and adjust some of the camera settings. You can also activate “Bambi mode,” which leaves the fog lights on while your brights are also on.

But, it’s all done using computer code that is fairly advanced. The truck is programmed in hexadecimal, so if you’re not comfortable with that, stay away.

What are the dangers of using FORScan?

The Ford F-150 Lightning frunk is a highlight
The Ford F-150 Lightning frunk set up for camping | Ford
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One glance at the FORSCAN forums, and there are several instances of people “bricking,” or making their car as useless as a brick, with the software. And, there are some instances where the “fixes” do more harm than good, such as erasing the VIN number in the computer. The fixes for un-bricking everything from Ford Focuses and even Crown Victorias are available, but they’re not easy. While FORSCan is powerful, most of the code is meant to be read by a factory-trained technician. So, instead, check out these hacks for a better smelling truck.

If you like to modify your car, FORScan could be a good solution for some issues or modifications for a 2023 Ford Lightning. It can also show you error codes and help you clear codes that cause warning lights to go off. However, if you don’t understand your vehicle, the software, and the how the interface works, be warned that you could do some serious harm to your truck. And, like the host in the video says, “Don’t come running to me if you screw it up.”