Ford’s EcoBoost engines are a series of turbocharged engines the company makes that rely on direct injection fuel and are made to offer power and torque that is on par with a larger displacement engine but giving you superior fuel efficiency at the same time. EcoBoost is supposed to be a more cost-effective engine for the company and for drivers as well because of that fuel he called me that they offer. Still, many drivers want to know if Ford EcoBoost engines are reliable.
Ford makes a wide variety of EcoBoost engines these days including they’re popular 3.5 L V6, a 2.7L V6, a 2.3L inline-4, a 2.0L inline-4, a 1.6L inline-4, a 1.5L inline-4, a 1.5L inline-3, and a 1.0L inline-3. As you can see, Ford is really committed to spreading these engines across their entire product line-up. And for the most part this has worked out really well. Ford EcoBoost engines are very popular, and they do live up to the promises made by Ford. They offer decent power and torque while reducing those greenhouse gas emissions. So, if you want to know if the Ford EcoBoost engine is any good, the answer is typically yes.
The 2.7L V6, for instance, delivers 325-horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque. The 3.5L EcoBoost engine that you’ll find in vehicles like the Ford F-150 Raptor or the Lincoln Navigator offers 450-horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. In the Ford GT the engine produces 647-horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque. So, these engines definitely do get the job done.
The problem is, as with any engine, there are going to be problems. Remember that Ford sells over 1 million F-150s a year. Not to mention all the other vehicles in their lineup. That means they have a lot of engines on the road and a lot of chances for something to go wrong. So as reliable as the Ford EcoBoost has been since it was first introduced back in the year 2009, there have been some problems that you should be aware of before you commit to any vehicle that may have a Ford EcoBoost engine.
Ford EcoBoost Engine Recall
A clear sign that any engine has a problem is when the manufacturer is forced to issue a recall for it. This is exactly what happened back in 2018. Ford had to issue a recall for 1.0 and 1.6 EcoBoost engines after a number of owners had serious problems with their cars overheating. The BBC in the UK investigated this and determined that hundreds of owners had complained about the same problem. There were even reports that some 1.6 engines actually lit on fire while they were driving. The problem with the 1.6 engine was actually different than the one with the 1.0 engine but both ended up being recalled.
According to Ford about 45,000 3-cylinder 1.0 EcoBoost engines made between 2011 and 2013 were fitted with a nylon coolant pipe that could fail at high temperatures. The 1.6L EcoBoost engine had a problem with localized overheating of the engine cylinder head that could cause the cylinder head to crack, leading to pressurized oil leaks and then the potential for fire. This problem was seemingly isolated to Ford owners in the UK rather than once in the US, and there is a continuous issue in the UK with Ford EcoBoost engines.
Problems with the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Engine
The 3.5 EcoBoost engine has proven to be pretty reliable for most drivers. That said, now that the EcoBoost engine has been in cars for over a decade, many of them are out of warranty and are starting to wear down over years of use. A 3.5 V6 is likely to be run harder than much of the smaller engines are because you can find it in the F-150 which is often used as a work vehicle. That means these engines are subject to more stress than your average engine and as such they are susceptible to a certain number of problems.
Timing Chain Problems in the 3.5 EcoBoost Engine
If a driver doesn’t maintain scheduled maintenance with their Ford, in particular regular oil changes, then the timing chain is going to be susceptible to some excessive wear and tear. Timing chains are made of metal, and they will last a lot longer than a timing belt, but if the oil change recommendation is ignored for too long then the timing chain could become misaligned throwing off the camshaft and crankshaft alignment, prompting a check engine light and causing potential engine misfires and more.
Spark Plug Problems in the 3.5 EcoBoost Engine
Excessive carbon build-up is a problem many engines face when it comes to spark plugs, and the EcoBoost has been no different. Carbon build-up can be caused by the engines burning hot, leaks in fuel or exhaust from the manifold, and so on. The solution is generally just to replace the plugs but sometimes even the boots need to be replaced if the build-up is bad enough.
Exhaust Problems in the 3.5 EcoBoost Engine
Between 2013 and 2015 there were a number of Ford’s produced that had the 3.5 EcoBoost engine in them that were known to have problems in the exhaust system. This manifested in a very obvious way with the production of white or blue smoke coming from the exhaust. The problem related to a positive crankcase ventilation hose valve cover adapter that could fail. Whenever this valve cover adapter was removed to do any kind of repairs or maintenance, the locking mechanism was prone to breaking and pieces would fall into the open valve port cover. They ended up burning, leading to the noticeable smoke that would come out from the exhaust.
Intercooler Condensation Problems in the 3.5 EcoBoost Engine
Ford’s made in the 2011 or 2012 model year sometimes had a problem with humidity and moisture building up in the form of condensation in the intercooler. This would lead to things like misfires, hard acceleration, jerking and lurching of the engine and so on. This would only happen on particularly humid or damp days, letting you know that this was the cause of the problem.
Intake Valve Problems in the 3.5 EcoBoost Engine
This was not a significant issue for most drivers and in fact wouldn’t pop up at all if you’re not the kind of person who does any extra, unusual work on their vehicle be on the bare minimum, normal sort of stuff. In this instance the problem was that some drivers would use aftermarket cleaners that are meant to improve engine performance. The kind of stuff that you add to your fuel tank to sort of clean out the fuel line in the engine while you’re driving.
The EcoBoost engines weren’t designed to be used with some of these products so as it circulated through the engine it would damage the intake valves. This could also cause havoc with gaskets, turbines, and seals in the engine as well. This wasn’t a Ford design flaw necessarily, so much as just a bad reaction to certain compounds used in cleaners that were definitely not designed for use in an EcoBoost engine.
Calibration Problems in the 3.5 EcoBoost Engine
There were nine different calibration updates issued by Ford for the 3.5 EcoBoost engine to fix problems that have cropped up. These covered everything ranging for the vacuum system to ignition problems to issues with shifting. If the calibration updates weren’t in place, that means there would continue to be problems.
2.7 EcoBoost Engine Problems
The second generation 2.7 EcoBoost engines have only been used since 2018. Because they’re relatively new engines there is not a ton of information about problems with them because nothing much has popped up yet. Consider that a ‘no news is good news’ situation. There are obviously some rare reports of drivers having problems with blown head gaskets and so on, but these are consistent with the rare problems that can pop up in any engine regardless of who manufactured it.
2.3 EcoBoost Engine Problems
Ford’s 2.3 EcoBoost engine dates back to 2015. This one is used in vehicles like the Ford Explorer and some Ford Focus models. There have been some problems, especially in Ford Focus RS models with the cylinder head gaskets failing. There have also been reported issues with the smell of coolant in the exhaust, loss of heat in the cabin, and overheating engines. This is all caused by the wrong cylinder head gasket being used. The cylinder head gasket was actually designed for the Ford Mustang, and not the Ford Focus RS.
There was also a problem in the 2.3 EcoBoost engines with carbon buildup on the back of the inlet valves in the walls of the inlet. This could end up restricting airflow and preventing the valve from completely closing the way it’s supposed to.
2.0 EcoBoost Engine Problems
The first 2.0 EcoBoost engine was introduced by Ford back in 2010. This is a widely used engine that you’ll find in the Fusion, the Focus ST, the Escape, the Taurus, and other vehicles internationally. The second generation of 2.0 EcoBoost was introduced in 2015.
One of the main problems with the 2.0 EcoBoost engine was the exhaust manifold cracking. There were also problems with a turbocharger control valve failing. This could cause the engine to lose power and your check engine light to go off.
Problems with a low-pressure fuel pump also cropped up in the 2.0 EcoBoost engine because the fuel filter could get clogged fairly easily.
1.6 EcoBoost Engine Problems
As we mentioned earlier, the 1.6 engine from the UK was definitely a poor engine for many drivers. This issue was also a significant problem in the United States as well. In fact, 29 vehicles are known to have caught on fire as a result of issues with the Ford 1.6 EcoBoost engine overheating.
The engine compartment in the 1.6 EcoBoost engine was prone to oil leaks because of the pressurized oil going through the engine compartment. This oil would overheat and catch on fire. Additionally, there were problems with coolant leaking from the cylinders that could end up costing the driver several thousand dollars to repair if the engine damage was bad enough.
After 230,000 Vehicles were recalled from the 2013 to the 2015 model years, Ford ended up retiring the 1.6 EcoBoost engine and replacing it with the 1.5.
1.5 EcoBoost Engine Problems
Ford introduced the 1.5 EcoBoost engine to essentially replace the 1.6 engine, and it’s actually done a really good job of fixing all of the issues that the 1.6 experienced. There’s really been no significant problems reported in relation to the 1.5 EcoBoost engine.
1.0 EcoBoost Engine Problems
This is the smallest EcoBoost engine that Ford makes, and it did have a number of problems that we’ve already mentioned relating to that UK recall. Because the engine only has direct fuel injection that means they’re susceptible to a lot of carbon build-up. When the intake valves get too clogged, that leads to loss of engine power and damage to the valves and valve seats.
The pre 2014 1.0 EcoBoost engines were the ones that had issues with the coolant systems. Since that time however the 1.0 EcoBoost engine has been mostly reliable.
The Bottom Line
Ford EcoBoost engines did have some issues early in their life but as Ford continues to develop and refine these engines most of the kinks definitely get worked out. Many of these engines have proven to be reliable and can last a very long time. The 3.5 is currently the most problematic engine in Ford EcoBoost lineup but that’s likely because of the high production numbers of the engines on the market, since these are used in F-150 models which are the best selling vehicle in the world so they’re being made in remarkably high numbers.
With proper maintenance and care, most Ford EcoBoost engines proved to be extremely reliable and dependable. If you are looking to get an older Ford model however, especially one that might have a 1.6 or 1.0 engine, definitely have a mechanic take a look at it before you commit to anything.