The Ford 3.5 EcoBoost started to ring some bells after matching up and rise as more powerful against the naturally aspirated 5.0L V8. The engine released might not be the most docile, in terms of price tag, option for F150 but let’s see what it does
V8 engines have been the pretty standard option for those who drive American vehicles for a long time now. No other truck automaker comes to the reputation that Ford built throughout its developing, innovating, and integrating the truck driving experience into a fun idea.
As a result, some automakers planned to join and the growth of turbocharged engines brought the best of some engines we have today, mainly due to the competition and overall demand for this kind of engine. But whatever it is, we are glad that machine alternatives are widespread and leads us to more prominent choices.
What are Ford 3.5L EcoBoost engines?
The Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine was first featured in the 2007 Lincoln MKR concept vehicle badged as TwinForce. The primary goal of the 3.5L engines is to create a power unit alternative equivalent to the power and torque produced of the larger-displacement V8 engine, such as the V8 Coyote sourced machine. That also achieves 15% better fuel efficiency and reduced harmful substance to the air.
TwinForce engine’s initial rating is 415 HP and 400 lb-ft of torque on E85 fuel in the MKR model. The engine reappeared in the MKT concept in 2008 North American International Autoshow on the exact vehicle, but the name was changed to EcoBoost. The official production of EcoBoost started in Mid 2009 at Cleveland Engine Plant No.1.
Through its widespread use among Ford vehicles, the engine would go as one of Ford’s best-seller platforms – the F150 truck. Since EcoBoost 3.5L parallels to power and torque of 5.0L V8s, it is not surprising that this engine would be chosen due to its lower price and leaving the disadvantages out the door for a smaller displaced engine.
Engine Specifications and Design:
- Production Run: 2009 – Present
- Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
- Cylinder Block Material: Aluminum
- Configuration: V6
- Bore: 92.5 mm
- Stroke: 86.6 mm
- Valvetrain: DOHC four valves per cylinder
- Displacement: 3.5 L (3496 cc)
- Compression Ratio: 10.0 and 10.5
- Weight: 450 lbs. (Dry)
- Maximum HP: 647 HP at 5,000 – 6,250 RPM
- Maximum Torque: 550 lb-ft at 2,250 – 5,900 RPM
First Generation Ford 3.5L EcoBoost
The First Generation 3.5 EcoBoost V6 engine framework was built around the Duratec 35, also known as the Cyclone V6 engine. Both engines have the same engine block and bore, and stroke dimension. The EcoBoost block is an all-aluminum lineup, an open-deck design with high-strength steel sleeves. The engine is installed with a forged steel crankshaft with six-bolt main bearing caps.
CNC machined pistons are made from high-strength aluminum with low friction coating on the piston skirt; the piston top shape is specifically designed for more efficient combustion. Undermounted spray oil jets employed inside the block to keep piston temperatures regulated, cool, and strong.
The aluminum cylinder heads of 3.5L EcoBoost have four valves per cylinder, pent-roof combustion chambers, dual overhead camshafts, and centrally located iridium spark plugs; at the below-center of the valves are GDI fuel injectors. The intake valve has a 37 mm diameter, while the exhaust has a 31 mm diameter.
A single primary chain drives the camshafts integrated with Twin Independent Variable Camshaft. The valvetrain has a polished Direct Acting Mechanical Bucket. Further, the intake camshaft has an additional lobe causing a high-pressure pump for the direct injection system. The fuel pressure reaches 2150 psi, enough pressure for efficient operations of the natural injection system.
The 3.5L F-series EcoBoost V6 engine uses twin parallel BorgWarner K03 turbochargers which can spin up to 170,000 RPM and provides up to 15 psi of boost pressure. On the other side, the transverse 3.5L EcoBoost V6 uses a twin Garrett GT1549L turbocharger which has lesser boost pressure at 11 psi. The engine consumes 25% more air than its naturally aspirated counterparts.
These turbochargers are mounted to high-strength cast-iron low internal volume exhaust manifolds. After going through the turbo, exhaust gases travel through fast-cat converters to keep emissions low levels. The charge pipes, stock intercooler end tank, and intake manifold are made of plastic.
The 3.5L EcoBoost engine features modern electronic components such as Coil On Plug distributor-less electronic ignition system, high accuracy knock sensors, IAT sensors, MAP sensors, advanced Bosch engine computer unite, and wideband O2 sensors.
The first engine option for EcoBoost V6 is the 2010 Lincoln MKS, then the 2010 Ford Flex, 2010 MKT, and 2010 Taurus SHO. However, in 2009, Ford conducted an experimental 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine with gasoline indirect fuel injection and E85 direct injection and attained a brake mean effective pressure of 395 psi. That amount is equal to 316 HP at 3,000 RPM and 553 lb-ft of torque.
Applications of First Generation Ford 3.5 EcoBoost V6 engine:
310 HP at 5,500 RPM and 400 lb-ft at 2,250 RPM
- 2015 Ford Transit
355 HP at 5,600 RPM and 350 lb-ft at 3,500 RPM
- 2010 – 2012 Ford Flex
- 2010 – 2012 Lincoln MKS
- 2011 – 2012 Lincoln MKT
365 HP at 5,600 RPM and 350 lb-ft at 1,500-5000 RPM
- 2010 – 2019 Ford Taurus SHO
- 2012 – 2019 Police Interceptor Sedan
- 2013 – 2016 Lincoln MKS
- 2013 – 2019 Lincoln MKT
365 HP at 5,500 and 350 lb-ft at 3,500 RPM
- 2013 – 2019 Ford Explorer Sport
- 2016 – 2019 Ford Explorer Platinum
- 2013 – 2019 Ford Flex
- 2014 – 2019 Ford Police Interceptor Utility
365 HP at 5,100 RPM and 420 lb-ft at 2,500 RPM
- 2011 – 2016 Ford F150
- 2015 – 2017 Ford Expedition/Expedition EL
380 HP at 5,350 RPM and 460 lb-ft at 2,750 RPM
- 2015 – 2017 Lincoln Navigator/Navigator L
Second Generation D35 Ford 3.5 EcoBoost
Ford revised the design of the first-generation 3.5L into a new and more powerful version under the codename D35 engine or more addressed as the second-generation 3.5L EcoBoost V6. It was unveiled at Detroit Auto Show in 2015 and the 2017 F150, 2018 Navigator, and 2018 Expedition. The engine produces 647 HP paired with a seven-speed semi-automatic transmission.
This same second-generation 3.5L EcoBoost replaced the first-generation engine in the 2017 F150 lineup; it will be the primary engine on the limited F150 and remains an optional upgrade for other trims.
A most notable change is the addition of port fuel injection and combining it with the direct injector. Ports are added to aid carbon build on the intake valves that haunts most direct injection system. Under different engine conditions, a high-pressure fuel pump and direct injection system will cut the supply, so the engine will opt for port fuel injection, reducing emissions that direct injection suffers.
The changes include the cam drive system from a single primary chain to a more durable two primary chain system with separate chains driving each bank. Further, Ford buffed up the side plates of the chains. The cam chain drive sprocket drives the two primary chains. These changes were made to help minimize the chain stretch overtime on the first-generation 3.5L EcoBoost.
The camshafts design is changed to improve reliability and reduce tapping noise development. Along with that, camshafts are now hollow too. The piston cooling jet spray volume was increased, and a redesigned piston underside to transfer heat better into the oil.
To add, the 3.5L EcoBoost features an auto start/stop function, decreasing emissions during city driving by shutting the engine off in more extended idling periods.
Applications of Second-Generation Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine:
375 HP at 5,100 RPM and 470 HP at 2,250 – 3,500 RPM
- 2017 – 2020 Ford F150
- 2018 Ford Expedition
400 HP at 5,100 RPM and 480 lb-ft at 3,250 RPM
- 2018 Ford Expedition Platinum Series
- 2021 Ford F150
430 HP at 6,100 RPM and 570 lb-ft at 3,000 RPM
- 2021 Ford F150 PowerBoost Hybrid
450 HP at 5,000 RPM and 570 lb-ft at 3,500 RPM
- 2017 Ford F150
- 2019 – 2020 Ford F150 Limited
- 2018 Lincoln Navigator
647 HP at 6,300 RPM and 550 lb-ft at 5,900 RPM
- 2017 – 2019 Ford GT
660 HP at 6,250 RPM and 550 lb-ft at 5,900 RPM
- 2020 Ford GT
Engine Tuning, Potential, and Upgrades
In upgrading your 3,5L EcoBoost engine, the first you have to do is to upgrade a tune. This is a great starting point as this tune on the twin-turbo EcoBoost can add 50-80 whp and 70-10 wtq. Furthermore, the tuner creates a broader avenue for more significant power gains, especially when adding more performance upgrades. Some mods underperform without proper tune changes.
There are many tuners available there to choose from, and it’s all about your personal preference. You just have to look for the tune that has excellent support for adding or changing tunes in the future. After tuning, you can opt to upgrade your intake and downpipes.
Problems Surrounding Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engines:
The Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine is far from perfect, but it is more reliable than most truck engines out there. Many EcoBoost engines, including those who came before the 3.5L, serviced thousands of miles without any single problem. But some issues might affect the 3.5L EcoBoost.
The first and most common for direct injection engines is carbon build-up. This issue mainly affected the first-generation 3.5L EcoBoost’s since these guys run on a direct injection system. However, the second generation does not worry about this problem since Ford already fixed that by combining port and direct injection systems.
The problem with the direct injection system is that it lacks a natural cleaning process or oil blow-by in the intake, causing carbon build-up on the backside of the valves and walls of the intake ports. Port injection prevents this kind of phenomenon.
Over time, these deposits will restrict airflow into the cylinders leading to loss of power, rough idling, engine misfire, increased fuel consumption, and stuttering.
On the other hand, another issue that affects first-generation 3.5 EcoBoost, especially engines from 2010 – 2014, is the timing chain problems. The issue is all about the stretching of the timing chain. Some early signs of timing chain-related problems are drivability issues, check engine light, and cold start rattling.
A worn-out oil also contributes to the overall health condition of the timing chains, tensioners, guides, and cam phasers. So consider shortening the change oil intervals since turbocharged engines are pretty aggressive to the engine oil.
In addition to that, replacing standard maintenance items such as ignition coils and spark plugs must be periodically change at least every 60,000 miles. As we said earlier, turbocharged engines put a lot of stress on the ignition system and its components; expect ignition coils to last longer.
With the engine’s right balance in towing, efficiency, torque, and power attributes, the 3.5 EcoBoost engine gains a reputable name in the truck table talks. Comparable to the larger displaced engine, this machine can outwork some of them too. It is highly reliable and does not have a major problem to deal with. Though some may appear, it is no deal-breaker.
Moreover, even though the first generation engines took all the bullets as the first product, resolving these issues adds great impression for Ford – which is good. Besides, Ford delivered yet another affordable, satisfying machine to put into their trucks. Just make sure that you do a little bit of extra maintenance work to maximize the true potential and longevity of this V6 monster.