The Ford EcoBoost engines are a family of turbocharged, direct-injection gasoline engines made by Ford. There are a wide variety of EcoBoost engines, from as small as 1.0L 3-cylinders to as big as 3.5L V6 engines. This engine series has been around since 2009, and Ford uses it for many of its vehicles. We’ll be discussing common Ford EcoBoost problems in this post.
If you’re planning to buy a Ford with an EcoBoost engine, it’ll be good to know what some common problems and reliability issues might be present. This will let you anticipate any costly repairs that you might encounter. And we’ll let you know of the preventive maintenance that you will need to do.
- V6 EcoBoost Problems
- Inline 4-Cylinders EcoBoost Problems
- Inline 3-Cylinders EcoBoost Problems
3.5 V6 Ford EcoBoost Problems
This is the largest EcoBoost engine that Ford makes. It has a displacement of 3.5L (3,496cc) and a V6 layout. This engine now has two generations: the first one was introduced in 2009. Ford used the first generation engine in a number of their vehicles up until 2016. These vehicles include the Ford Flex, Ford Explorer, Ford Transit, and Ford F-150 just to name a few.
The second-generation 3.5 EcoBoost engine was then introduced in 2015, and it started production in 2017. Making appearances in the Ford F-150, Ford Expedition, and Lincoln Navigator with power ranging between 375 to 450 horsepower. Ford also uses this engine for their Ford GT supercar, making as high as 660 horsepower in the 2020 model.
The 3.5 EcoBoost engine is relatively reliable, with not many owners reporting reliability issues. But the first-generation engine has been around for a while now. So you’re bound to encounter some problems, especially with the first-gen engine. Here are some common problems:
Timing Chain Problems
The timing chain is an engine part that synchronizes the rotation of the camshaft and the crankshaft. The timing chain is susceptible to excessive wear and tear if the owner doesn’t change the engine’s oil at Ford’s recommended intervals. This is because the timing chain needs to be well lubricated to work smoothly, otherwise, the timing chain can misalign. When this happens, the camshaft and crankshaft will also misalign. Disrupting the engine’s operation, and can eventually lead to damage.
However, this problem is easily avoidable. If you’re buying a 3.5 EcoBoost engine, check the service history and see if the owner misses any service. The 3.5 EcoBoost requires an oil change every 5,000 miles or so. And this goes without saying if you’re driving a Ford with the 3.5 EcoBoost, don’t wait too long to change your engine oil. This will help keep the timing chain in great shape and avoid costly repairs.
Spark Plug And Ignition Problems
Spark plugs are a device that creates a spark to ignite the fuel and air mixture inside the engine’s cylinder. When the fuel and air mixture combusts, it moves the engine’s piston down and this is what powers your car. One of the side effects of the turbo in EcoBoost engines is heavier carbon build-up on the spark plug. So you may need to replace the spark plugs more often, but spark plugs are usually no more than around $50 for a set.
However, if the carbon buildup is bad enough, the spark plug boot may also need to be replaced. The boot is the rubber plug that connects the spark plug to the ignition coil. If the engine is still having misfiring problems even after changing the spark plugs, see if the boots need replacing.
Additionally, the excessive carbon build-up can also be caused by an engine that’s running hot, and fuel or exhaust gas leaks from the manifold. If you see a check engine light, scan with the On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system to find out what the problem is.
One final note, a carbon build-up is quite normal, especially in turbocharged engines. You may need to change the spark plugs more often, but this shouldn’t put you off from buying a car with a Ford EcoBoost engine.
Intercooler Condensation Problems
To properly explain this, we will need to explain how a turbocharged engine works. A turbocharger works by spinning a couple of wheels inside the turbo housing by using your engine’s exhaust gas. When the exhaust gas enters the turbo, it will spin the turbine wheel. This turbine wheel is connected to a compressor by a shaft, and the compressor wheel turns along with the turbine wheel.
When the compressor wheel spins, it will take in ambient air to feed into the engine. However, this air will be very hot which isn’t very good for the engine. That’s why this compressed air will pass through an intercooler. This cools the air down, making it more dense and efficient for the engine.
The 3.5 EcoBoost’s intercooler (the first generation engine in particular) is susceptible to condensation problems, especially in high-humidity conditions. When there’s too much vapor in the intercooler this can cause the car to misfire and jerk while driving. Many owners report that this problem often appears at highway speeds.
There’s an aftermarket solution that can help solve this problem by using a “catch-can”. This device uses the vacuum created by the turbo to catch the water vapor from the intercooler. They will cost you around $200 to $400, with another $150 for labor costs.
Intake Valve Problems
An internal combustion engine has valves that allow fuel and air to enter the cylinder, commonly known as the intake valve. These valves will open and close accordingly, depending on which stage an engine cylinder is at. If a valve isn’t functioning properly, this will affect the engine’s operation. It will potentially lead to damage to other components such as to the gaskets and engine seals.
The problem is that the intake valves in the 3.5L EcoBoost engine are susceptible to damage if owners use aftermarket engine cleaners that aren’t compatible with the engine. If you have a 3.5L EcoBoost, be sure to use engine cleaners that are recommended by Ford to avoid damage. The intake valves themselves don’t really have any design flaw, it’s just that it isn’t compatible with certain aftermarket products.
Additionally, these incompatible cleaners may also damage the turbocharger’s bearings, seals, and turbines.
2.7 And 3.0 Nano V6 Ford EcoBoost Problems
Next on our list of Ford EcoBoost problems are the 2.7L and 3.0L “Nano” V6 engines. We’re discussing them together because they’re similar engines, and to be frank, there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with these engines.
The first-gen 2.7 EcoBoost was introduced in 2015, and Ford put it in the Ford F-150, Lincoln MKX, Continental, and Nautilus, and the Ford Edge lineup and Fusion Sport also uses this engine. Depending on the car and trim level, this first-gen engine produces anywhere between 315 to 335 horsepower.
Ford then unveiled the second-gen “Nano” engine in 2018, making small changes to improve performance and fuel economy. You’ll find this engine in the Ford F-150 from 2018 and onwards, and in the all-new – and rather handsome, I might add – Ford Bronco. Meanwhile, the 3.0L version is heavily derived from the 2.7L version, sharing many components. You’ll find this engine in several Lincoln vehicles as well as in the Ford Explorer ST. It takes anywhere between 350 to 494 horsepower.
One of the problems you might encounter with these engines is carbon buildup on the intake ports and valves. But to be fair, you’ll encounter this problem pretty much in any direct injection engine. If you have the first-gen 2.7L Nano engine, you might experience oil pan leaks.
But, likely, many owners have already replaced their faulty oil pans under warranty. But if you happen to find one that still has the old faulty pan, expect replacement cost to be as high as $500. Aside from those, there isn’t much wrong with the engine and it isn’t a widespread issue.
2.3 Ford EcoBoost Problems
You might be familiar with the 2.3L version of the Ford EcoBoost engine: it’s the engine Ford use for their high-profile sports cars such as the Mustang EcoBoost, the Focus RS, and the Focus ST. Other vehicles that use this engine include the Ford Ranger, Everest, Explorer, several Lincoln vehicles, and the base model Ford Bronco.
Are there any 2.3L Ford EcoBoost problems? Not a lot, the engine is mostly very reliable and the “common problems” you might see aren’t exclusive to the EcoBoost engine. Early versions of this engine had overheating issues but Ford issued a recall in 2015, so it should be fine now. And again, it has the same carbon buildup issue as other EcoBoost engines. But both the overheating and carbon buildup problems aren’t immediately urgent.
However, if you’re planning to buy early Ford Focus RS models, then you might have heard about head gasket issues with their engines.
2.3 Ford EcoBoost Head Gasket Problem In The Ford Focus RS
The head gasket is a seal that connects the engine block to the cylinder head. It’s there to prevent oil and coolant from entering the engine cylinder, as well as being a cushion for the engine block and cylinder head. Over time, the head gasket will fail. When this happens, oil and coolant will enter the engine’s cylinders and this affects performance, fuel economy, and the general operation of the engine.
A head gasket will typically last for about 150,000 to 200,000 miles in most cars. However, there have been cases with the 2.3L EcoBoost engine in the early Focus RS model where the head gasket fails prematurely. But why does this only affect the Focus RS and not other Ford vehicles that use this engine?
The problem stems from incorrect head gaskets being fitted into these early Focus RS. While the Focus RS and the Mustang share basically the same engine, there are still differences. In this case, the Focus RS has a different head gasket with different coolant passages to the Mustang.
Some early Focus RS models had the Mustang head gasket installed, rather than the one made for them. Most likely because of vague and ambiguous markings on the part. This incorrect head gasket causes coolant to get stuck, boil, and ruin the head gasket much earlier than it should.
To be fair, this isn’t a widespread problem since this only affects about 48 or 3 percent of all Ford Focus RS units. However, you might see this information online and it’s often blown a bit out of proportions. So, we want to remind you that this is unlikely to happen and you shouldn’t worry. It’s certainly not as bad as Subaru’s widespread head gasket problems.
2.0 Ford EcoBoost Problems
Ford uses the 2.0L 4-cylinder Ford EcoBoost engine in many cars. Some of the cars include the Ford S-Max, Galaxy, Mondeo, Explorer, Edge, and even the Range Rover Evoque among other cars. So, it’s quite a popular engine and there have been two generations of the engine. The first generation was produced from 2010 to 2015, and then a new version had to be made in 2015 since Ford had to design their own engine. Up until then, the 2.0 EcoBoost was actually based on the Mazda L engine.
So, are there any 2.0L Ford EcoBoost problems? There are quite a few, actually. And it’s quite surprising to see such a widely-used engine has several notable design flaws. Here are the common problems you might encounter with the 2.0L Ford EcoBoost engine:
Exhaust Manifold Problems
Cracking exhaust manifold is a common problem for both generations of the 2.0L EcoBoost engines. This is because the exhaust gas temperature in this engine can reach excessive temperatures, especially when towing or climbing. The constant heat cycles from the engine expand and contract the stainless steel exhaust manifold repeatedly. Eventually, hairline cracks will develop on the exhaust manifold.
If the exhaust manifold cracks, the exhaust gases will escape from the manifold rather than from the exhaust tips. Not only this is bad for the environment, but your engine will also lose all backpressure in the system. This means your turbocharger will have to work extra hard even just to produce normal power levels since they require backpressure to operate efficiently.
If you have a cracked exhaust manifold, symptoms you will notice include whistling noise coming from the engine, loss of performance, and the smell of exhaust fumes inside the car. Unfortunately, exhaust manifolds aren’t cheap to repair. A replacement job can cost as high as $1,000. If you’re planning on towing often, you might want to steer clear of this engine.
Boost Control Solenoid Problems
The turbo boost control solenoid is a valve that controls the amount of boost from the turbocharger. It controls the wastegate which controls the flow of exhaust gases to the turbo. The higher the flow, the faster the turbo will spin and the more boost it will create. If this solenoid goes bad, it won’t be able to open and close the wastegate properly. As a result, the turbo won’t be able to produce the appropriate amount of boost.
For example, if you put your foot down, the turbo should produce more boost as putting your foot down means you want more power. But if the solenoid is bad, it might not open the wastegate in this scenario and you won’t get the boost you need.
As with any other car part, the boost solenoid will fail naturally over time. However, in many other cars with turbochargers, the boost solenoid usually goes bad after about 10 years. While in the 2.0L EcoBoost, owners are reporting that the boost solenoid fails as early as 50,000 miles. When it fails, you will notice symptoms like loss of power, poor fuel economy, and a check engine light might appear.
The boost control solenoid only costs about $50 to replace. But replacing it might be a bit tricky if you’re not a trained professional. So you’ll probably have to put out around another $80 or so for labor costs.
Low-Pressure Fuel Pump Failure
The EcoBoost engine uses two fuel pumps: the low-pressure fuel pump (LPFP) and the high-pressure fuel pump (HPFP). The HPFP’s role is to deliver fuel to the injectors, while the LPFP is there to pull gas from the gas tank and delivers it to the HPFP. The LPFP can become clogged over time, and this can result in engine misfires and incorrect fuel and air mixture since not enough fuel is being delivered.
Keep in mind that fuel pumps in other cars will fail as well, but this is quite a common occurrence for the 2.0L EcoBoost engine.
1.6 Ford EcoBoost Problems
Of all the Ford EcoBoost problems, the 1.6L version probably has the biggest problem. The engine was prone to oil leaks, and combine that with overheating problems, then the entire engine becomes a fire hazard. This particular problem affects certain models of the Ford Escape.
Then in 2017, Ford issued a recall for over 360,000 Ford vehicles due to engine fire risk caused by coolant circulation problems. Ford vehicles that were recalled include the Ford Escape, Fiesta ST, Fusion, Transit Connect, Ford Focus, and the C-Max hybrid. There have been 29 vehicles with this particular engine that has caught fire due to overheating.
While this is quite scary, the recall should have fixed all of the 1.6L engine’s problems and you are unlikely to encounter it. However, Ford has now retired this engine and replaced it with a 1.5L engine instead.
1.5 Ford EcoBoost Problems
Ford actually has two 1.5L EcoBoost engines. This 4-cylinder version is the new and improved version of the previous 1.6L EcoBoost engine. That being said, the 1.5L does still have some problems. First, they have cooling system problems due to a design flaw in the engine block and head. It’s not as problematic as the 1.6 EcoBoost, but it’s there and some owners report that they require an engine replacement.
The next problem you might encounter is the fuel injectors leaking or being unresponsive. To be fair to Ford, fuel injectors in most cars will fail somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 miles, and this isn’t a widespread issue. But expect to encounter a fuel injector problem with the 1.5L EcoBoost once you reach the 70,000-mile mark. If you need new fuel injectors, they will cost you somewhere around $100 – $300.
1.5 “Dragon” Ford EcoBoost Problems
This 1.5L 3-cylinder engine from Ford is based on the 1.0L 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Ford unveiled this engine in 2017, and since 2018 it has been in several smaller Ford cars such as the Ford Focus, the Ford Fiesta ST, and Puma ST, as well as the Ford Bronco Sport. This engine churns out anywhere between 150 to 200 horsepower depending on which car it is in.
The engine is only around three years old, so there haven’t been any problems reported by owners since not many of them have done high mileage with the engine. However, some owners have complained about how the engine feels rough and makes a rather unpleasant noise during operation. This is to be expected as 3-cylinder engines are inherently unbalanced and will vibrate and sound rougher than more traditional engines such as inline-4 and inline-6 engines.
Some drivers also complained about how it’s not very fun to drive. Additionally, drivers have complained about the cylinder-deactivation technology. This technology allows the engine to deactivate one of the cylinders when the RPM is low, allowing the engine to save fuel and be more efficient.
However, owners have reported that the engine makes a “boom” when reactivating the cylinder and isn’t particularly pleasant. The engine is well-received in the Fiesta ST, but Escape owners, in particular, aren’t satisfied with the engine.
1.0L “Fox” Ford EcoBoost Problems
This is the last engine in this Ford EcoBoost problems list. It’s also the smallest EcoBoost engine that Ford makes, the 3-cylinder 1.0L “Fox” engine. This engine makes anywhere between 84 to 153 horsepower depending on which car it is in.
In 2014, Ford recalled about 45,000 cars that had this 3-cylinder 1.0L engine made between 2011 to 2013. The reason being a nylon coolant pipe that was likely going to fail at high temperatures. But since then, this engine has been mostly reliable and if you need a small Ford, this engine comes highly recommended.
Ford EcoBoost Problems – Wrap Up
Just like any other engine family, Ford’s EcoBoost has its own problems and reliability issues. The 1.6L had terrifying design flaws that could lead to a fire, but Ford has since did a recall and fixed the problem. The 2.0L and 3.5L V6 also have some common problems that owners are reporting. And these two engines seem to be the most problematic in the EcoBoost lineup. But for the most part, Ford has done a good job in recalling and fixing flawed components in the engine.
As far as we can tell, the 1.0L and the 2.3L EcoBoost engines are the least problematic. If you’re planning to buy a Ford that comes with those engines, then you can rest easy. However, we still recommend doing a full inspection of the car if you’re buying secondhand. A car may look good from the outside, but that doesn’t mean the engine is working smoothly. You can ask your trusted mechanic to do this, or look for car inspection services online. Either way, they should cost you no more than $250.
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