Windupradio is supported by its audience. When you purchase via our links, we may get a commission. Learn more

What is RBDS on Ford Radio? How Does It Work?

Writen by Edwin Jones

Fact checked by Andrew Wright

what is rbds on ford radio

RBDS stands for Radio Broadcast Data System. It is the US equivalent of the Radio Data System (RDS). It distributes information to FM transmission, which can include the station name and title of the song.

If you’re curious about what is RBDS on Ford radio, keep on reading. We’ll not only talk about RBDS meaning but also discuss what it can do.

RBDS Meaning


Earlier in the introduction, we briefly talked about what RBDS stand for and its quick definition. Now, let’s take a quick look at it and see why it is an important feature in Ford radios.

In a nutshell, RBDS is a standard protocol that governs the distribution and propagation of FM signals. Technically speaking, it has a work rate of 1,187.5 bits per second.

At first, its counterpart (RDS) was only a standard the European Broadcasting Union implemented. Eventually, however, the adoption grew and became international.

Now, you’re probably wondering what does RBDS do? Simply put, it allows users to determine what FM station, program, or music they’re listening to. Let’s say you are looking for hip-hop music while on the road.

RBDS will display information relating to the song/artist/channel you’re tuning in to on the radio screen, so you’ll know when you’ve arrived at the right frequency.

How Does RBDS Work?


RBDS works by incorporating digital information into FM broadcasts. It has a signal that fits within the bandwidth of the stereo and sends data through waves.

There is software that makes it possible for RBDS/RDS to work. It is responsible for decoding the station program and displaying it, providing the information that users can see.

A radio data system transmitter can provide different information beyond the station name and song title or artist. For instance, it can also show alternative frequencies, radio texts, travel announcements, and traffic messages. The specific information it can display will depend on the model’s capabilities.

The Pros and Cons of RBDS

Among others, one of the main benefits of RBDS or RDS is it improves FM receiver functionality. It is alo user-friendly because of its ability to provide different details, such as program identification and even automatic tuning. You can easily find the stations that you want depending on your genre preference.

Meanwhile, one of the shortcomings of RBDS is that it can affect the overall sound quality in places with weak signals. This can result in a noisy sound or even mute. It’s also important to note that not all radio stations list support RBDS, even though most of them do.

How to Enable RBDS on Ford Radio


Now that you know what does RBDS mean, the next thing to learn is how you can activate this feature on a Ford radio. For the specific steps below, we’re talking about activating RBDS on Ford Focus. It might be the same in the case of other models.

  1. Turn the ignition on.
  2. Click the menu button on Ford radio. Keep pressing until the display shows RDS.
  3. Next, click Seek/Track then FM to start activating RBDS radio stations. Click Cat/Fold and then Up or Down to navigate between programs/music categories.
  4. To scan radio stations with RBDS technology that fits your selection/genre, press Seek/Track.

Troubleshooting RBDS Problems

It’s inevitable that you will experience problems. Below, we’ll talk about some of these problems, and more importantly, how you can solve them.

  • No Station Info Available: This could be because you have not activated the radio’s RBDS feature. You can solve this issue by turning RBDS on or off. Once you’ve done that, the RBDS should be auto preset without you having to activate it every time you use the car.

If that doesn’t work, the problem can also come from the station not supporting RBDS.

  • Incomplete Information: There are instances when the screen might show the station name but not the song or track info. This could happen after disconnecting the battery. Turning RBDS on again might solve the problem.
  • Slow Updates: At times, you might find a lag in the screen, which can still show information about the previous track even when it’s playing a different song. A potential solution could be updating the power control module.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between RBDS and RDS?

First, let’s look at radio RDS meaning. It means Radio Data System. On the other hand, RBDS is a Radio Broadcast Data System.

The two are mostly the same, except that there can be minor inconsistencies regarding the data that the radio can show. In addition, it’s worth noting that RDS is for Europe while RBDS is in the US.

Can I listen to RBDS on AM radio?

Yes, you can also listen to RBDS on AM. There is an optional in-receiver database, which can make it possible for RBDS to display information even on an AM radio.

How do you turn off RDS radio?

You can turn RBDS on or off as you wish. Press Menu until RBDS or RDS shows up on the screen. Click Seek/Track to toggle between on and off.


So, what is RBDS on Ford radio? As noted earlier, it is the Radio Broadcast Data System, which is simply a protocol for adding information to the station you’re listening to. For instance, it can show details about the program or station, as well as the title of a track and artist.

Read more: Steps to remove a Ford radio without tool.

5/5 - (3 votes)