Ford 3.5l EcoBoost Engine Review: Specs, Problems and Reliability


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The EcoBoost 3.5L is a V6 twin-turbocharged engine from Ford Motor that has been powering midsize and full size cars, pickup trucks, supercars, utility vehicles or more commonly known as SUVs since 2010. The EcoBoost 3.5L relies on a DOHC (dual overhead cam) design with the V configuration in order to provide its keep consumers safe and comfortable during first time experience of driving an SUV.

This engine was first seen in the 2010 Lincoln MKS and is heavily derived from the Ford Duratec 35 V6 engine block. It has many characteristics similar to Ford turbin engines, like for example 15,000 rpm with a maximum boost of 17 psi when used as an automotive truck vehicle.

This engine’s versatility makes it a top choice among those who love to drive, because it works for so many different vehicles.

1st Gen 3.5L EcoBoost

The first-generation Ford 3.5L EcoBoost engine, while performing admirably in its own right, was crippled by the technology available at the time, leading to some minor design flaws that will be discussed later.

The first generation of the EcoBoost engine was capable of 355-380 horsepower depending on what vehicle it is found in. The smaller twin turbos quickly spool and provide lots of low-end torque which makes the 3.5L EB perfect for towing and daily driving without lugging your engine at high RPMs.

  • 2010-2019 Ford Flex
  • 2010-2016 Lincoln MKS
  • 2010-2019 Lincoln MKT
  • 2010-2019 Ford Taurus SHO
  • 2013-2019 Ford Explorer Sport & Platinum
  • 2011-2016 Ford F-150
  • 2015-2017 Ford Expedition
  • 2015-2017 Lincoln Navigator

2nd Gen 3.5 V6 EcoBoost

Ford released a new EcoBoost engine in 2017 for some models. This model features an increase in horsepower, with the exception of the 647hp variant which remains unchanged. The difference is that this engine has more power than the standard 3.5 unit found on most other cars supported by EcoBoost technology and provides a competitive edge to what would otherwise be

In addition to port-injection, the 2nd generation 3.5L EcoBoost Engine also has several other changes from the 1st gen engine that we’ll discuss below. Additionally, Ford redesigned the timing chain for better reliability and eliminated many of the design flaws that were seen in 1st gen engines.

  • 2017-present Ford F-150
  • 2018-present Ford Expedition
  • 2017-present Ford F-150 Raptor
  • 2018-present Lincoln Navigator
  • 2017-present Ford GT

3.5 EcoBoost Engine Specs

Manufacturer Cleveland Engine Plant No 1, Ohio, the USA
Production years 2009-present
Cylinder block material Cast Aluminum
Cylinder head material Aluminum
Camshaft drive Chain
Engine family EcoBoost
Displacement 3.5 liter
Aspiration Twin turbo
Configuration & cylinders V configuration, six cylinders
Vehicle engine orientation Transverse / longitudinal
Fuel type Gasoline
Valve configuration Dual overhead cam (DOHC) with variable camshaft timing (VCT)
Predecessor Ford Duratec 35 V6
Bore 92.5 mm
Stroke 86.6 mm
Compression ratio (2011 – 2016) 10.0:1
Compression ration (2017 +) 10.5:1
Max power @ RPM 647 @ 6,250 rpm
Max torque @ RPM 630 lb-pi @ 5,900 rpm
Firing order 1-4-2-5-3-6
Engine weight
Oil change interval, mile 9,000 (15,000 km) / 12 months

The 3.5l EcoBoost engine requires 6.2 US Quarts (5.9 Liters) of new SAE 5W-30 oil for an oil change with a new oil filter.

What Are The Horsepower And Torque Of The Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Engine?

  • Lincoln MKS: 365 HP at 5,500 RPM and torque of 350 lb-ft. at 1,500 RPM
  • Lincoln MKT: 365 HP at 5,700 RPM and torque of 350 lb-ft. at 1,500-5250 RPM
  • Ford Taurus SHO: 365 HP at 5,500 RPM and torque of 350 lb-ft. at 3,500 RPM
  • Ford Explorer Sport & Platinum: 365 HP at 5,700 RPM and torque of 350 lb-ft. at 3,500 RPM
  • Ford F-150: 290 HP at 6,500 RPM and torque of 265 lb-ft. at 4,000 RPM

Ford 3.5l EcoBoost Engine Problems

The pros and cons of the Ford 3.5L EcoBoost engine are many, but can be narrowed down to a few common items that people experience, including:

Intake Valve Carbon Build-Up

The oil and carbon buildup on the intake valves is a consequence of how direct injection engines work. Direct injection means fuel is sprayed directly at the engine’s cylinders, which causes the build-up over time. In port-injected engines, fuel is delivered through tubes branching from near the top of each cylinder head instead of down at its base.

Some DI engines have major issues with carbon buildup and require valve cleaning often, which is not a good thing. Power loss may result from the lack of air flow.

Ford’s second-generation 3.5L EcoBoost engine, by combining these features to overcome the disadvantages of one or the other, has succeeded in making this generation an even better option for consumers than its predecessor.

Excess Carbon Build-Up Symptoms:

  • Misfires
  • Rough idle
  • Stuttering / hesitation
  • Power loss

The 3.5L EcoBoost engine will misfire if there is carbon buildup on the cylinder wall. Carbon buildup can cause a variety of symptoms directly and indirectly, including fault codes, rough idle or stuttering, power loss and difficulty starting the vehicle.

Carbon Build-up “Fix”

You want to consider walnut blasting the intake ports, as these can become clogged with carbon deposits. Removing this material is best done by using a shop vac and abrasive media shells. Otherwise, you’ll usually just need access to the ports which often means they have to be dismantled first. Walnut blast intake cleaning service costs around

Ford 3.5L EcoBoost Engine can make an owner’s life significantly easier, especially because maintaining it just takes a few minutes every so often without the need for urgent attention. However, if you’d rather take your chances with the chance of having major engine problems in the future and only occasionally taking care of carbon deposits on the engine by spraying them.

EcoBoost Timing Chain Problems

In the face of such potential engine issues, it is imperative to keep an engine’s oil and fluids in top condition. If you fail to do so, serious problems could arise.

Timing chain issues are typically reserved for the 1st generation Ford 3.5L EcoBoost engines built between 2010-2014, but it is possible that they are only linked to F-150 models because of their popularity in those vehicles.

Despite this rumor, Ford did engineer a better timing chain system for the 2nd generation 3.5L

The 3.5L EcoBoost from Ford has some potential issues with the timing chain and guides. If you’re out of warranty, Ford will work with you to help rectify the problem.

The timing chain on the 3.5L EcoBoost engine can be an especially expensive part, but it is a necessary repair for any owner to keep in mind.

Timing Chain Symptoms

If you experience problems with your 3.5 EcoBoost engine, there are a few symptoms to notice such as:

  • Cold start rattle
  • DTC P0016
  • Check engine light
  • Drivability issues

Rattle on cold blocks can be caused by the timing chain, but plenty of other issues will trigger this symptom. Ford’s 3.5L EcoBoost engine throws P0016 as a fault code and will cause the check engine light to come on if there is an issue with the timing chain.

Intercooler Condensation Problem

F-150 models with 3.5L EcoBoost engines sometimes have issues with water being trapped (vs. vaporized) in the intercooler, due to a design flaw that does not allow water to be quickly vaporized in high humidity conditions. Ford redesigned this part later on to avoid adding demand on what parts are susceptible and difficult to dry.

Ford 3.5 V6 Spark Plug & Ignition Coil Issues

The 3.5 EcoBoost engine also has a history of spark plugs and ignition coils going bad. The high cylinder pressures from the turbos can put a lot of stress on the ignition system and cause these parts to wear out prematurely.

Spark plugs and ignition coils are a pretty standard part of any engine. With the 3.5L EcoBoost engine, however, you may need to change them out prematurely.

Ignition components are the main culprit when troubleshooting drivability issues. Ignition coils will more than likely last 25-35,000 miles while spark plugs should be replaced every 10,000 miles.

Spark Plug & Ignition Coil Symptoms

Symptoms of spark plug or ignition coils on their way out include:

  • Misfires
  • Rough idle
  • Stuttering
  • Check engine light (misfire codes)

Replacing plugs and coils can seem like a daunting task, but there is a hidden benefit to completing the project quickly.

Look at the fault codes to determine which cylinder is misfiring. Remove the ignition coil from that cylinder and swap it with a cylinder that is not misfiring. If the fault follows, you have found your issue.

If you do not maintain your engine, the spark plugs will need changing and it will be a cheap and easy repair.

Calibration Issues

Ford had to make nine different software updates to 3.5 EcoBoost engines 2011 models of which that were equipped with the engine but it seems there are still some calibration issues with the power, shifting and more. If all of these calibrations have been made and this issue should be eliminated.

Positive Crankcase Ventilation Problems

This problem most often occurs in plants that the 3.5L EcoBoost engine was installed on, and is not limited to any certain model vehicle. In this case, a hose valve adapter located directly above the positive crankcase ventilation was the cause of emission discharges entering the exhaust pipe.

You can remove this adapter or replace it with a redesigned part to eliminate these dangerous emissions and increase pollution levels from your auto’s exhaust system.

Induction Cleaning Mistakes

The 3.5L EcoBoost engine does not experience carbon build-up on the intake valves because of its rigid valvetrain design and lack of sensor-driven engine control; this helps keep exhaust gas recirculation and fuel economy in check.

However, those playing with third party induction cleaners should be aware that they will need tuner upgrades for their ECU to avoid turbochargers failure because PCM calibrations have been improved to reduce crankcase vapor ingestion. Ford has also released new parts such as PCV valves or solenoids that will reduce the amount of vacuum leaks from the air intake system.

Blue or White Smoke from Exhaust

If your 2013-2015 model has a 3.5L Ecoboost and you’re experiencing blue smoke coming from the exhaust, this is most likely due to damaged PCV hose valve cover adapter. The problem can be rectified by disconnecting the quick connect fitting on the valve cover adapter – but when it’s removed, there will still be damage to the locking mechanism mechanisms.

Use Ford’s redesigned valve cover adapter (P/N HL2Z-6762-A) to seal the leak.

Ford EcoBoost 3.5 L Lawsuit

In 2013, a Columbus-based Ford owner filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that moisture in the intercooler of their EcoBoost 3.5L V6 engine caused it to misfire and lose power. The lawsuit goes on to state that this problem was not only limited to the 3.5L EcoBoost engines–over 100 other consumers have reported experiencing this issue with their 2.0L Ecoboost I4 engines as well.

The plaintiff claimed that Ford failed to provide adequate warning to customers about the potential stalling and excessive shuddering in their 3.5L EcoBoost engines, saying that they had many reports of such problems from owners when they called into customer service.

A second lawsuit was filed in Louisiana relating to the same issue that got the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to actually get around to investigating the problem. Again, it showed Ford acknowledged the problem beforehand, which gave credence to these drivers who complained of a safety issue and needed prompt attention.

However, when you consider that there are hundreds of thousands Ford 3.5L EcoBoost Engines installed in vehicles on American roads, the number of complaints is statistically insignificant and probably why Ford didn’t pursue any kind of recall. The company issued Technical Service Bulletins to educate dealerships how to fix the issue for drivers who have it pop up after installation.

Technical service bulletins are issued on a regular basis by many manufacturers, and some vehicles will have hundreds of these TSBs over the life of the vehicle.

Even though lawsuits were filed years ago, there was no follow-up indicating if the lawsuits ended up being dropped or proceeding further. Ford did not issue any recalls and nothing significant came from them.

Avoiding Ford 3.5L Engine Problems

Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Engines are reliable, addressing some of the problems that have arisen with the 2nd gen engine.

Most Ford 3.5 V6 engines are reliable, but there’s a lot you can do to maintain your engine to assure it lasts for years – like changing the oil on time and using quality oils.

If you take care of your Ford EcoBoost engine, it’s likely the durability will make all that effort worthwhile. Durability comes with a premium: turbo engines need to be more well-maintained than traditional engine types in order to stay safe and reliable. But on the bright side, these motors give drivers excellent power and torque.

Transmission, engine mounts, and starter all need to be in good condition, but there are a few other things you should keep tabs on. While these issues can’t always be caught while test driving the car before buying it, it’s important to get a pre-purchase inspection from your mechanic for any vehicle equipped with this engine.

Timing chains and misfires often go unnoticed during test drives, but can be found if the vehicle is inspected by a professional mechanic.

Which Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Issues Did The 2nd Generation Engine Solve?

Improvements to the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine include solving almost all of its problems from the first generation to the second generation including:

  • Intercooler Condensation
  • Carbon build-up in the intake valves
  • Timing chain (no longer common)
  • Calibration
  • Coolant leak

High-Output 3.5-Liter EcoBoost V-6

Essentially a stronger, sportier version of the standard 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin turbo gasoline engine, this F-150 V-6 makes 450 horsepower and 510 pound feet of torque. TiVCT, PFDI, and auto stop start technology help it become more efficient as well.

The F-150 equipped with a 3.5L EcoBoost engine is tuned more for sport than maximum capability and may be fitted to an F-150 in any of the several configurations, including the trail-eating Raptor, luxury Limited, or any of the available drive trains.

Despite the F-150 Raptor now using a 3.5L EcoBoost engine, we think it is every bit as good as the V-8 original in terms of performance and capability off road.

Conclusion

Recently, we have been impressed by the 2017 F-150 with a 3.5L EcoBoost V6. Towing and payload are significantly improved, measuring at a maximum of 13000 pounds and 3230 pounds respectively on the upgraded models; as always, all other versions measure slightly less and vary depending on region. The 10-speed Automatic Transmission channels power to the rear wheels with available options for four wheel drive or regular two wheel drive transmission.

We really like this engine for its ample power combined with nice sound that has an undeniably strong trailering capability in comparison to conventional V8 engines which are nearly twice it’s size!

FAQs

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Timing Chain Wear?

The 3.5L EcoBoost engine costs $2,000 to replace, but the associated labor-intensive requirements justify such a price. In order to fix this type of engine, the mechanic must first tear it down before installing a new one.

What’s The Cost Of Fixing Intercooler Condensation?

The labor cost is $150. The product’s price is between $200 and $400, in comparison to other products on the market this is cheap.

Why Doesn’t Ford Recommend Induction Cleaners?

Out of the many induction cleaners in the market, there is one that does not rely on a turbocharger system: Ford 3.5L EcoBoost Engine.

Dan Hoffman

Dan is a co-founder of Engineswork. He knows everything about internal combustion engines. Ask your questions in comments down below this article - he will be glad to help you anytime.

2 thoughts on “Ford 3.5l EcoBoost Engine Review: Specs, Problems and Reliability

  1. I have had my 2017 Ford F150 for about two years now, and I’m writing to let you know that I am having major issues with my truck. About 8 months ago, it started throwing a code of po4db crankcase disconnect. It appears it’s in the computer system because the engine light stays on no matter what – sitting still or driving – and when I check under the hood there is no reason for this problem to be occurring at all.

  2. I have a 2017 F-150 platinum truck that I purchased just last year from Levittown Ford. It has 15,000 miles and is less than 1 year old but the clutch is grinding when I start it. It happened occasionally at first but now it’s been happening more often as time goes on. When this started around May of 2018, the grinding noise would get louder during the day if my routine changed or if I left my truck for 6 hours or more.

    Just steps away, Stevens Ford gave me the earliest appointment they could for 07/10/2018 and claimed that it was likely due to a back log of several weeks. My car was ready on 07/06/, because there were paperwork errors with claims they had not heard the noise yet; however, I made an appointment at my previous dealership and their timing chain getting replaced came as no surprise.

    I haven’t had my truck for a month and now it slippages when I drive. After research, I found out the 3.5L Ecoboost engine has been having this issue since 2004, but Ford hasn’t fixed it until now, despite knowing about the problem themselves – aftermarket auto parts companies such as MagnaFlow have cranked up production to compensate for that!

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