Common Problems: Is the Ford F-150 3.5 Liter EcoBoost V6 the Best Compromise?

Ford has gone all-in on the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. It has powered a myriad of Lincoln and Ford vehicles since 2010 and is found in everything from the Ford F-150 to the Ford GT. Yes, they’re mostly the same engine. But there were some problems with the Eco Boost V6 that cropped up in the first version, which were addressed with the second version. 

First, some background. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 is a twin-turbo engine. It offers anything from 355 hp to 647 hp in the Ford GT. The first version was overall a reliable and stout engine. But the second version featured extra power and torque, along with those updates. 

What was addressed on the second generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6?

The Ford F-150 Raptor Truck generations explained
Ford F-150 Raptor truck | Getty

The first-gen 3.5-liter EcoBoost combined twin-turbocharging, direct injection, and variable valve timing. This was Ford’s first stab at combining all three. Because the turbos were small, they spool up quickly and help the EcoBoost V6 scoot along. That works well for the F-150 and other models it was stabbed into like the Explorer, Expedition, and Ford Taurus SHO sedan. 

One thing all engine manufacturers discovered with direct injection was carbon buildup, which causes other issues. Ford was no exception. So it made improvements to the EcoBoost V6 in 2017 by adding port injection. So the 2017 updates dealt with the timing chain, carbon buildup, and also problems with the ignition system. 

EcoBoost V6 carbon buildup problems

Ford EcoBoost
Ford EcoBoost V6 | Ford.

This is something that affects all engines that incorporate direct injection, as we mentioned. Oil blow-by builds up as carbon in the cylinders and builds up on the intake valves. This restricts airflow as the miles mount, which affects power and overall engine performance. 

Issues include misfiring, rough idle, hesitation under acceleration, and power loss. With port injection, the fuel acts as a cleanser for the intake ports and valves. With the air restricted, it fouls up the air-fuel mixture, resulting in an engine misfire and the issues mentioned. 

If conditions worsen with your first-gen EcoBoost V6, the intake ports and valves need to be cleaned off. Walnut blasting is one way. Scraping it off of the intake ports manually is another. There would be no parts replacement involved, just the labor to clean them of the carbon deposits. 

EcoBoost V6 timing chain problems

Ford EcoBoost
Ford EcoBoost V6 | Ford

The 3.5-liter timing chain issues mostly affected the first years of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost from 2010 to 2014. The chain scratches, as most timing chains eventually do. But wear on the guides, tensioners, and cam phasers mounts as more miles mount. The good news is that according to TuningPro, even if your engine is out of warranty, you still can negotiate with them to help with the problem. Replacing all of the above is recommended. 

Spark plug and coil pack issues

A red 2023 Ford F-150 in front of rocks.
2023 Ford F-150 | Ford

This is another common problem with turbocharged engines. From normal use and heat, the electronic components wear out. Hey, they’re an electronic part exposed to high heat.

Symptoms include misfiring, rough idle, a series of small hesitations, and also flashing a check engine light. Ford says to replace the spark plugs at 40,000 to 60,000 miles, and coil packs replaced at 80,000 to 100,000 miles. 

But those time periods should probably be shortened to maybe replacing the plugs at around 25,000 to 30,000 miles, and coils between 50,000 and 70,000 miles. Replacing spark plugs and coils is relatively easy since they’re right up on top of the engine. 

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