Most Common Ford F150 Ecoboost Problems

8 Most Common Ford F150 Ecoboost Problems [EXPLAINED]

Most Common Ford F150 Ecoboost Problems

Ford’s Ecoboost technology has since been used in many of its popular models, including the very successful Ford F-150 pickup truck.

However, like any other vehicle, the Ford F-150 Ecoboost is not without its fair share of flaws. In fact, there has been a number of commonly reported problems ever since its debut in 2011.

Thus, if you fancy buying a Ford F-150 Ecoboost yourself, then this guide to each of its common problems and their respective solutions will definitely benefit you in the long run!

What are the most common problems of a Ford F150 Ecoboost?

Common problems of the Ford F-150 Ecoboost include carbon buildup in the intake valves, timing chain issues, cam phaser issues, ignition system issues, PCV problems, intercooler condensation, coolant leaks, and oil pan leaks.

Intake Valve Carbon Buildup

Too much carbon buildup is never a good thing for any car’s performance, and in the case of the Ford F-150 Ecoboost, it’s the intake valves that are the most prone to this issue.

Both the twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 engines of the Ford F-150 commonly run into carbon buildup in their intake valves, which has actually been linked to the fact that they’re equipped with direct fuel injection.

The usage of a direct injection (DI) system on the F-150’s Ecoboost engines makes it more likely that the fuel sprayed into each cylinder will eventually end up in the intake valves.

Compared to engines that have port injection systems, direct-injection ones like the Ford Ecoboost have no way of washing off the excess oil that accumulates on the intake valves and ports using the injected fuel itself.

Combine this with the fact that Ecoboost engines are also susceptible to oil blow-by, then it’s no wonder that the intake valves get covered in carbon deposits the most.

Intake Valve Carbon Buildup

While carbon buildup on the intake valves does not immediately cause any noticeable symptoms, over time, it can start significantly restricting the proper airflow needed by the engine.

As a result, you may eventually notice a decrease in engine performance, as the air restriction from the carbon buildup can affect the engine’s normal air-fuel ratio.

If left ignored, this can cause other more serious symptoms such as engine misfiring, engine stuttering, rougher idling, and the presence of diagnostic trouble codes (DTC).

Despite there being no specific mileage recommended by the manufacturer for when you need to clean the F-150 Ecoboost’s intake valves, a noticeable decrease in engine performance should be enough of a reason to have them checked and decarbonized.

Walnut Blasting for Carbon Buildup

Walnut Blasting for Carbon Buildup

One efficient and safe way to decarbonize and clean your intake valves would be through “walnut blasting”, which involves using crushed walnuts that are fed into an air compressor and blasting them into the intake.

Walnut blasting works very similarly to sandblasting or abrasive blasting, except that it doesn’t end up damaging your engine like sand would.

However, the main caveat of walnut blasting is that it may not be able to reach some nooks and crannies of your intake that are still covered in carbon deposits.

Walnut blasting rates can vary depending on the engine, though we’ve found that it costs an average of $500 to $600 for the Ecoboost V6.

Any leftover carbon deposits after the walnut-blasting process would have to be manually cleaned or scrubbed off by taking off the intake manifold to access the valves, which will, again, have to be handled by an experienced mechanic.

Timing Chain Assembly Issues

Timing Chain Assembly Issues

Another commonly reported problem that has plagued the Ford F-150 Ecoboost engines happens to concern the timing chain assembly.

Timing chain issues on the Ford F-150 can include the timing chain getting stretched over time, timing chain guide issues, and tensioner issues.

The stretching of the timing chain itself has been reported to cause symptoms such as rattling noises when starting the engine cold, a check engine light, and a P0016 diagnostic trouble code (DTC) upon diagnosis.

The good news is that Ford has already given attention to these timing chain assembly problems by issuing multiple technical service bulletins (TSBs) depending on the affected vehicle model years and the updated parts list.

The service bulletin initially only covered 2011 to 2014 models equipped with the 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6. However, the latest updated bulletin (18-2305) now includes 2015 F-150 models that have the same engine and exhibit the same issues as well.

The technical service bulletins instruct Ford dealerships to replace multiple components of the timing chain assembly at no charge in order to prevent the rattling noises and other reported symptoms from happening when doing a cold start.

Though if your F-150 Ecoboost model year is not covered by the TSBs, you would have to pay a rather steep sum of about $1,000 to $1,200 out of pocket in order to have the timing chain issues resolved.

Cam Phaser Issues

Cam Phaser Issues

Some of the most common problems that are attributable to the 3.5-liter Ecoboost engine on the F-150 fall under the “cam phaser issues” category.

Similar to the previous entry to our list, the 3.5-liter Ecoboost’s cam phaser is known to cause a lot of rattling during cold starts as well as the engine shuddering as you’re moving about.

While the cam phaser rattle has always been its own thing, the engine shuddering symptom only started happening after Ford tried to reprogram the Ecoboost engine’s PCM (powertrain control module) to fix the rattle (Customer Satisfaction Program 21B10).

According to Ford’s follow-up customer satisfaction program (21N08), the engine shuddering issue has been dealt with by simply reverting the 3.5-liter Ecoboost’s PCM back to its factory settings.

Ford’s 21N08 program has managed to fix both the cam phaser rattle and the engine shuddering issues on all affected Ford F-150 Ecoboost models from 2017 to 2020 that underwent the initial 21B10 program at no cost to the owners.

Ignition System Issues

Ford F-150 Ecoboost models are known to become problematic when it comes to various components of their ignition system. In particular, F-150 models with either the 2.7-liter or 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 engine received the most ignition system complaints.

Such issues with the ignition system can involve the spark plugs, spark plug coil boots, and ignition coils, all of which are prone to become faulty or wear out sooner than their supposed lifespan.

Spark Plug Wear

Spark Plug Wear

On average, spark plugs have a lifespan of 80,000 to 100,000 miles (129,000 to 161,000 km) on a non-turbocharged engine. But in a turbocharged Ecoboost engine, this can significantly get cut in half to just 40,000 to 50,000 miles (64,000 to 80,000 km).

Simple physics will tell you that a turbocharged engine will naturally wear out the spark plugs faster due to the generation of more heat and pressure inside it by the turbocharger.

However, since we’re talking about an Ecoboost engine here, there’s always a chance that the spark plugs will fail even earlier than their average lifespan on the engine.

Hence, you need to keep an eye out for some common symptoms that indicate that your Ecoboost engine’s spark plugs are already starting to fail.

Ford F-150 Ecoboost Spark Plug Failure Symptoms:
Engine misfiring
Rougher engine idling
Increased fuel consumption
Presence of any of the following diagnostic trouble codes (DTC):
P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, P0305, P0306

Luckily, Ford has already issued a technical service bulletin (TSB 14-0180) that actually addresses all of the listed issues above. The manufacturer states that the symptoms can be caused by the spark plugs and the spark plug coil boots becoming faulty.

The TSB covers an unspecified number of 2011 to 2013 Ford F-150 models that come with the 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 engine, which happens to be equipped with a GTDI (gasoline turbocharged direct injection) system.

Spark Plug Wear

Furthermore, all affected F-150 Ecoboost models have been fitted with 6 new spark plugs and spark plug coil boots to remedy the engine misfiring, the error codes (DTCs), and any of the other related symptoms.

Ignition Coil Wear

Ignition Coil Wear

One more ignition system part on the F-150 Ecoboost that’s worth checking for premature wear is the set of ignition coils.

Just like the spark plugs, you’ve got six ignition coils to consider, which have an average failure mileage between 80,000 to 100,000 miles (129,000 to 161,000 km) on the Ecoboost engines. 

That’s only half the mileage of non-turbocharged engines with ignition coils that can last 160,000 to 200,000 miles (257,000 to 322,000 km) on average.

Ignition coils work very closely with the spark plugs, so any sort of failure or malfunction on their part can also cause the same engine misfiring symptoms we’ve gone over in the spark plugs section.

Though, unlike the spark plugs, there is no technical service bulletin (TSB) issued in relation to faulty ignition coils on any Ecoboost-equipped Ford F-150 model.

Thus, if an issue with the ignition coils has been confirmed, expect to pay an average of $175 for a new ignition coil pack or an average of $30 a piece if only one needs replacing (OEM ones will cost significantly more).

If you’d rather have an experienced mechanic do all the dirty work, then you’re going to add an additional $75 to $100 on top of the parts costs. Otherwise, we also recommend checking out the ignition coil replacement tutorial below.

Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) Problems

Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) Problems

Problems that concern the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) have been commonplace among Ford F-150 models with Ecoboost engines.

The PCV acts as a valve that vents out any excess gases from the engine that manage to end up in the crankcase that holds your motor oil.

However, certain Ford F-150 Ecoboost models from the 2013 to 2015 model years experience their PCVs getting blocked off due to a fault in the hose valve cover adapter’s design.

As a result of the PCV blockage, excess exhaust gases are unable to leave the system properly, leading to a build-up of pressure and vapor in the crankcase and the emission of blue or white-colored smoke out of your exhaust system’s tailpipe.

The production of such smoke from your vehicle also means that there is an increase in the emission of harmful fumes that the emissions system has failed to reduce due to the PCV issue.  

While a technical service bulletin (TSB 17-0063) does exist for this specific blue or white smoke issue, Ford did not include any F-150 Ecoboost models on the list. 

Instead, only certain 2013 to 2015 Ford models that come equipped with the 3.5-liter Ecoboost GTDI engine are covered in the TSB.

In spite of this, we still get a general idea of how the whole PCV issue can be resolved for F-150 models with the same 3.5-liter Ecoboost engine.

The service bulletin states that affected models are to be equipped with a new PCV valve cover adapter (Part #HL2Z-6762-A) and filled up with 6 quarts of Motorcraft 5W-30 synthetic motor oil (Part #XO-5W30-QSP).

Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) Problems

The only small problem is that the motor oil associated with the part number above has already been discontinued, so expect stocks to be pretty limited. In this case, we recommend asking your local dealership for help in sourcing the right products needed.

Intercooler Condensation Problem

Intercooler Condensation Problem

Next up on our list of the most common problems on the Ford F-150 Ecoboost is the renowned condensation problem that forms inside the intercooler.

The intercooler is a major component of any turbocharged vehicle’s cooling system, and unfortunately for some F-150 Ecoboost models, condensation in the intercooler can cause several issues with the truck’s performance.

Cases of intercooler condensation have been observed to cause engine misfires and stumbles during harder acceleration and irregular engine surges during light to moderate presses of the throttle.

In addition, the vehicle may even throw one or several diagnostic trouble codes (DTC), namely P0299, P0300, P0304, P0305, P0306, and P0430 accompanied by an illuminated malfunction indicator lamp (MIL).

Both older model years from 2011 to 2012 and even the latest F-150 Ecoboost models can exhibit these kinds of issues or symptoms as a result of intercooler condensation.

The fix that Ford came up with for the F-150 Ecoboost’s intercooler condensation issue lies in Technical Service Bulletin #12-10-19.

The TSB gives us an explanation of where the condensation comes from, which happens to be from certain humid or damp environmental conditions that the truck is subjected to.

Fixing the issue involves installing both a new intercooler (termed as CAC/charge air cooler) and an updated air deflector plate, the latter of which is repositioned from the top to the bottom of the intercooler to prevent the condensation issue.

Drilling Weep Holes

However, some owners still report that the condensation issue still persists, in which they resorted to drilling “weep holes” on the CAC that are 1/16 of an inch big to alleviate the issue.

But do take note that going the draining route will also make oil and water leak out of that area and leave a mess underneath your vehicle, making it not the most perfect solution.

Further Manufacturer Updates

In later model years of the F-150 Ecoboost with the same problem, a fluid level sensor has been added to the intercooler along with a bypass passage that connects the base of the intercooler to the throttle body.

These changes, together with a reprogrammed ECU (engine control unit), have been the most effective solution in preventing intercooler condensation in the newest Ford F-150 Ecoboost models of today.

Coolant Leaks

The Ford F-150 Ecoboost has its own fair share of parts that leak, especially when it comes to coolant leaks from several of its cooling system components.

Some common places to look out for coolant leaks on the F-150 Ecoboost include the turbo fittings, the turbo housing, and the lower coolant reservoir hose.

Aside from coolant leaking from underneath the truck, you may also experience higher engine temperatures due to a decrease in coolant levels.

Leaks from the Turbo Fittings

Leaks from the Turbo Fittings

One of the most common places where coolant can leak is via the F-150 Ecoboost’s turbo fittings, which look like small bolts that are screwed into the turbo to maintain the flow of oil and coolant from the turbo lines.

However, these turbo fittings can potentially fail at the task of keeping such important fluids in. Not to mention that it can be quite expensive to have them replaced by a mechanic.

2011 to 2014 3.5-liter Ecoboost models, which run into this issue the most, make use of M14x1.5 6AN-sized fittings for the turbo, and you can find a sample of these fittings using the part number BL3Z-6A968-C.

Leaks from the Turbo Housing

Leaks from the Turbo Housing

As for leaks that come from the turbo housing, or in other words, the body of the turbo itself, you may have to get it checked for any cracks or damage from where the coolant can leak out from.

Leaks from the turbo housing can be easily mistaken for leaks that come from the turbo fittings that we’ve previously discussed, so it’s worth double-checking to see where the leak actually originates from on the turbo.

As you’d expect, replacing a damaged turbo on the Ford F-150 Ecoboost is pretty costly and can easily set you back $400 or more, and that’s not including labor costs yet.

Leaks from the Lower Coolant Reservoir Hose

Leaks from the Lower Coolant Reservoir Hose

One more place to check for coolant leaks is the coolant reservoir’s lower hose. Leaking from this area has been linked to the fact that the fitting used for it has a quick-connect design.

Other than being a quick-connect fitting, it’s also designed as an elbow pipe that may make the leak not as obvious or hard to spot from the start.

This is why it’s important to note that the coolant reservoir, also called a “degas bottle”, can initially start forming a bit of moisture at the lower hose before eventually developing into a full-on leak.

Additionally, it’s also worth checking the O-ring that’s attached to the lower hose, as it can already be worn out and could be the culprit of the leaking coolant.

A silicone hose replacement kit can be had for relatively cheap (about $17), which includes the lower hose elbow we’ve mentioned, a set of hose clamps, and an aluminum hose joiner.

When it comes to the O-rings, should you need one, a set of 3 O-rings is also sold separately for about $12.

Oil Pan Leaks (Leaking RTV Seal)

Oil Pan Leaks (Leaking RTV Seal)

Another common type of leak that’s quite prevalent among Ford F-150 trucks, including the Raptor trim, is the notorious oil pan leak.

It’s no surprise that F-150 Ecoboost models also run into this kind of oil leak, as they also come with plastic oil pans that have been proven to not last very long time and time again.

More specifically, certain 2015 to 2017 (TSB 19-2205) and 2018 to 2019 (TSB 19-2189) F-150 models equipped with the smaller 2.7-liter Ecoboost V6 have been reported to leak oil from the oil pan RTV seal.

The two respective technical service bulletins (TSBs) state that both the oil pans and the RTV seals of affected F-150 models will be replaced free of charge.

Though for some owners of F-150 models that have either not been included in the recall or are still unsatisfied with the plastic replacement oil pans, aftermarket metal oil pans can also be bought for $100 or more depending on the shop.

Just bear in mind that such metal oil pans may require some modifications to be performed to fit certain F-150 model years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)