Ford 3.5L Ecoboost problems: Is it a reliable engine?


The 3.5 Ecoboost engine is designed to produce fewer harmful emissions and uses less fuel. By design, this should mean an economical and reliable solution for car owners.

However, some rumores and cases cast doubt on whether the Ford 3.5L Ecoboost engine is actually reliable.

In this article, we will examine some of the common 3.5 Ecoboost problems, their causes, and solutions.

What is the 3.5L Ecoboost engine? 

The 3.5L Ford Ecoboost engine is a 3.5-liter V6 turbocharged and direct-injected engine. Due to its turbocharged design, the engine provides equal torque and power as engines with larger displacement. However, it uses less fuel, it is smaller, and it produces less harmful emissions. 

Introduced in 2007, the Ecoboost is an upgrade thanks to its new turbochargers and double fuel injection port designed to improve performance. Although its abilities vary from one model to another, the engine produces between 320-647 horsepower and 350lb-ft to 550lb-ft of torque. 

Compared to other Ford’s engines, 3.5 Ecoboost is one of the most powerful and reliable engines.


The 3.5L Ford Ecoboost engine block features the same stroke dimensions and bore as the Duratec. The engine has an open-deck design and is all aluminum. Apart from this, it has high engine sleeves, forged steel crankshaft with 6-bolt main bearing caps, and forged steel I-beam connecting rods. CNC machined piston and high-strength aluminum have low friction coating, and the piston top is shaped for combustion. Plus, the cylinder block sprays oil on the piston underside to keep the pistons cool. 

The engine features variable-vane, smaller and high-pressure turbos that allow peak torque faster while reducing turbo lag. As a result, the first-generation 3.5L Ecoboost engines are great for towing and driving around without using all RPM. 

Unlike the first, the second generation of the 3.5 Ecoboost is a more powerful engine version introduced in 2017. The most obvious addition was its new turbochargers and double fuel injection port combined with direct injection. This feature prevents carbon build-up on the intake valve and keeps the engine on the same performance level during a long mileage. 

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The new Ecoboost engine features two primary chain systems, including one timing chain that drives each cylinder back. These new chains are less prone to stretch and are more durable thanks to increased thickness on the side plates. It also reduces mechanical losses and friction.

What cars have 3.5L Ecoboost engines?

The following vehicle models use the 1st generation 3.5 Ecoboost: 

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

The following vehicle models use the 2nd generation 3.5 Ecoboost: 

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

What is 3.5L Ecoboost engine longevity?

The 3.5L Ecoboost engine has delivered up to 250,000 factory standard miles for many owners without a single breakdown. However, like all engines, none is perfect. Although the engine has proven itself to be reliable, let us highlight a few of the failures and problems that are common to the engine. 

An Austin car accident lawyer shares: “While the Ford 3.5L Ecoboost engine may experience some common issues, it is not necessarily an unreliable engine. Many factors, including maintenance practices and driving conditions, can influence the likelihood of encountering these problems.”

3.5L Ecoboost Engine Problems

Ford 3.5L Ecoboost problems: Is it a reliable engine?

Timing Chain Problem


The timing chain problems primarily affect the first generation of Ecoboost engines. The engine is sensitive to the oil condition. As a result, when you leave the engine for long without attending to it, you risk problems with the timing chain. Not only this but the chain tensioner and pulleys will also fall apart with time and use. 



  • Check engine light
  • DTC P0016 fault code
  • Cold start rattle
  • Drivability issues
  • Misfires
  • Rough idle
  • Throwing ignition timing off
  • Power loss


The solution to this problem is to replace the timing chain assembly. However, it is a fairly capital and labor-intensive job. The entire replacement can cost more than $2000. To avoid this problem, don’t lag on the recommended oil change time. Luckily, the second-generation models are a little forgiving and are less susceptible to this problem. 

Intercooler Condensation Problem


The most obvious symptom of intercooler condensation problems is stumbling or hesitation when working with high boost loads. It can also occur when driving at highway speeds. 


Intercooler condensation is common with the first-generation engines. The problem is attributed to operations in damp conditions. As a result, it usually happens on days with lots of rain or areas with moisture. 

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A design flaw traps water in the intercooler in high humidity conditions. Instead of evaporation, the trapped water causes poor functionality. 


Ford remedied this problem by installing the catch can in place of the air deflector on the intercooler. The catch can is a device that uses a vacuum created by the turbos. With this, it catches oil-water vapor from the intercooler. Another way mechanics solved the problem was by drilling a hole beneath the intercooler so that condensed water can drain out. You will spend between $150-$400 to fix this problem. 

Intake Valve Problem


  • Engine misfire from an inconsistent air supply
  • Loss of power
  • Rough idle
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Hesitation and stuttering


The first-generation 3.5 Ecoboost engines use direct injection. As a result, it sprays fuel directly into the cylinder. This causes carbon build-up in the intake valves. Due to a lack of a mechanism to deal with oil blow-by, the oil moves to the intake track before it gets to the intake valve. 

However, unlike port injection that washes the oil away, the direct injection engine remains there, and accumulation continues to the extent where air can’t flow into the cylinder. So simply, the lack of a natural cleaning process in the intake causes intake valve problems. 


To solve this problem, you need to clean the carbon build-up. You can walnut blast the intake ports yourself or leave it to a mechanic, which is preferable. However, this will cost you between $400-$500. You should also use high-quality fuels every time. 

Sum up

Like every car engine, the 3.5 Ecoboost has its problems. Nonetheless, you can’t argue that it is not a steady and reliable engine compared to most. The engine offers balanced torque, power, and sustainable efficiency. For most drivers, the engine is not problematic to a degree worth avoiding. Instead, it offers lasting performance and is relatively reliable compared to other engines in its class. 

Ford 3.5L Ecoboost problems: Is it a reliable engine?

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