Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Ford 3.5 Ecoboost engine problems

Avoid these Ford 3.5 Ecoboost engine problems

If you own a Ford F-150, Ford Edge, Ford Explorer and other Ford vehicles with the 3.5 Ecoboost you must be aware of the potential Ford 3.5 Ecoboost engine problems. All of the problems shown below can be avoided by upping your oil change interval game. Do NOT follow the Ford maintenance guide or your friends’ advice when it comes to extended oil changes. This engine cannot handle extended oil changes! If you go the recommended 10,000, 12,000 or even 15,000 miles between oil changes, be prepared to put thousands of dollars into major repairs.

Ford 3.5 Ecoboost engine problems — P0016 and P0017 Crankshaft Position – Camshaft Position Correlation

This engine uses variable camshaft timing (VCT). When you see a P0016 or P0017 camshaft position correlation code it means that the ECM has attempted to bring the two variable camshaft actuators into synchronization but has failed to correct the problem. The result is that the two camshafts are now out of synch.

The VCT systems use an oil pulsing solenoid (also called a “phaser” because it brings the two VVT mechanisms into phase). The solenoid can become plugged with sludge which alters how much oil can pass into the VCT mechanisms or it can fail. A failed phaser will cause a P0016 or P0017. Common phaser issues are

• Oil flow restriction in the oil passages or the VCT valve body
• Variable camshaft timing bank1 solenoid 1 (VCT11) stuck in position
• VCT11 circuit open
• VCT11 circuit short to voltage
• VCT11 circuit short to ground
• VPWR circuit open
• Camshaft advance mechanism binding (VCT unit)
• Damaged VCT11 phaser
• Damaged camshaft position bank 1 sensor 1 (CMP11)
• CMP11 sensor circuits open
• CMP11 sensor circuits short to voltage
• CMP11 sensor circuits short to ground
• Radio frequency interference

If you’ve checked or replaced the phaser and cleaned out any sludge deposits and still have a P0016 or P0017, chances are you have a stretched timing chain.

Cause of stretched timing chain

The stretched timing chains that cause the Ford 3.5 Ecoboost engine problems can be traced directly to poor maintenance. These vehicles are equipped with the Ford Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor (IOLM). The IOLM monitors engine use and tells you when to change the oil. The oil change interval can be up to one year or a maximum of 10,000 miles. But the range is 7,500 at the low end and 10,000 at the high end. HOWEVER, that’s for “normal” driving which most drivers DO NOT DO.

The majority of the Ford 3.5 Ecoboost engine problems result from going too long between oil changes because they actually drive in the “severe” category which requires oil changes between 5,000 and 7,499 miles.

In addition, the Ford maintenance guides require that you never exceed 10,000 miles. Ford also gives you this warning on oil changes:

“When ENGINE OIL CHANGE or OIL CHANGE REQUIRED appears in the information display, it is time for an oil change. Make sure you perform the oil change within two weeks or 500 miles (800 kilometer) of the ENGINE OIL or OIL CHANGE REQUIRED message appearing. Make sure you reset the Intelligent Oil- Life Monitor after each oil change. If your display resets prematurely or becomes inoperative, you should perform the oil change at 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) from your last oil change.” Ford

Actual shop experience shows that following the normal oil change intervals of 10,000 miles between changes is causing excessive timing chain wear (up to 1.5″ stretch), turbo bearing failure and excessive camshaft wear on the square lobe that runs the high-pressure fuel pump. ALL OF THESE ISSUES CAN BE AVOIDED by following the severe service schedule. Change oil every 5,000 to 7,500 (max) miles and make sure you use a full synthetic oil and a premium quality oil filter.

If you don’t maintain your 3.5 turbo engine, the timing chain stretch and sludge buildup can cost you several thousand dollars for the timing chain, tensioner, and camshaft replacement.

Ford 3.5 Ecoboost engine problems — Turbo Wastegate Noise and failure

The Ford 3.5 Ecoboost engine uses a turbocharger with an internal wastegate. The wastegate vents boost pressure when the turbo is in boost mode and you decelerate. If you drive this engine in economy mode, you won’t activate the boost mode very often and that can cause the wastegate to stick closed. Then, later on when you tow or need more power going up a steep hill you may activate boost and find that the turbo can’t vent because the wastegate is stuck closed. When that happens, the turbo will make a “whining dog” noise. If you ignore the problem and continue to drive like this, you will damage BOTH turbos; a mistake that will cost you several thousand dollars. To avoid turbo failure, drive in non-eco mode at least once during every trip.

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Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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