Ford Duratec 3.5L Ti-VCT: Everything You Need To Know

Earning the Ward’s “Ten Best Engines” list in 2007, the Ford 3.5 Duratec engine has been used in different Ford and Lincoln vehicles since its production. It was developed in 2006, but the formal release was done in 2007. 

Yeah, it was made years ago already, but Ford still offered this engine in various applications. There is a new version called ” Cyclone,” a naturally aspirated 3.3 L Ti-VCT engine with direct and port injection.

The Cyclone replaced the naturally-aspirated 3.5 V6 for the Ford F150 in 2017. 

What are Ford Duratec 3.5 Ti-VCT Engines?

The Ford 3.5 Duratec engine is a member of Ford’s latest DOHC family of V6 gasoline engines, the Cyclone engines. The Cyclone line was first introduced as the Ford Vulcan Engine in 1985.

The very first model of the cyclone engine is the 3.5 V6 which appeared in the 2007 Ford Edge and the Lincoln-badged Lincoln MKX and Lincoln MKZ. 

Ford continued to use the Duratec name despite not having any resemblance in the cyclone engines. Components and design-wise, the cyclone engine is new. 

Now, going into the 3.5 Duratec engine. This engine has a displacement of 3.5 L with a 92.5 mm cylinder bore and 86.7 mm piston stroke. It has a peculiar design for a transverse application, putting the water pump to the valley behind the timing cover and driven by the thing chain. 

Further, the 3.5 Duratec engine is smaller than the conventional V6 engines as it can fit in smaller engine bays. 

The official power output of the Ford 3.5 Duratec engine is 265 HP and 250 lb-ft of torque on 87 octane gas. This power production is higher than the Duratec 30 and floored other V6 engines when it was released.

The highest output of the Ford Duratec 3.5 registered is 290 HP which was used in the redesigned 2011 Ford Explorer. 

Ford 3.5 Duratec engine is assembled at the Lima Engine Plant in Ohio. 

Engine Specifications and Design:

  • Production Run: 2006 – Present
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Cylinder Block Material: Aluminum
  • Configuration: V6
  • Bore: 92.5 mm
  • Stroke: 86.6 mm
  • Valvetrain: DOHC two valves per cylinder
  • Displacement: 3.5 L (3496 cc)
  • Compression Ratio: 10.8
  • Weight: 360 lbs. 
  • Maximum HP: 290 HP at 6,500 RPM
  • Maximum Torque: 255 lb-ft at 4,000 RPM

Engine Design

Let’s take a look inside the engine!

Cylinder Block 

The Ford 3.5 Duratec engine is an all-aluminum lineup. It has an open-deck cylinder block design made from aluminum with cast-iron liners, fully floating pins at the top.

Like its sibling, the 3.7 Duratec, the 3.5 engine was equipped with a forged crankshaft fastened by a six-bolt billet steel main caps. 

The pistons are lightweight, low friction made from aluminum. The block is also installed with cast-in oil squirters for temperature regulation and additional cooling.

These squirters work by spraying oil into the pistons so that the optimal temperature is maintained. 

Cylinder Heads

The cylinder heads of the Ford 3.54 Duratec are also aluminum, with four valves per cylinder. Direct actuating mechanical buckets (DAMB) actuate the valves.

The 3.5 V6 features chain-driven double overhead camshafts design with variable intake timing or variable intake and exhaust timing (Ti-VCT) – twin independent variable cam timing,

In 2011, Ford replaced the single roller timing chain with a silent-type chain. 

On prior V6s Duratec engines, the water pump is placed at the rear of the engine and driven by the pulley on the intake camshaft through a rubber belt. However, these engines feature a chain-driven water pump at the front, under the front engine cover. 

Furthermore, the Ford 3.5 Duratec has an electronically controlled sequential multi-port fuel injection and coil-on-plugs type of ignition. The intake manifold is also made from plastic and has two pieces – upper and lower intake pieces.

The exhaust manifolds are cast-iron. 

Applications of the Ford 3.5 Duratec Engine:

  • 2007 – 2010 Ford Edge 
  • 2007 – 2010 Lincoln MKX
  • 2007 – 2012 Lincoln MKZ
  • 2007 – 2016 Mazda CX-9
  • 2008 – 2012 Ford Taurus 
  • 2008 – 2009 Ford Taurus X
  • 2008 – 2009 Mercury Sable 
  • 2010 – 2012 Ford Fusion Sport
  • 2009 – 2012 Ford Flex 
  • 2015 – 2017 Ford F150
  • 2011 – 2014 Ford Edge
  • 2013 – 2019 Ford Flex
  • 2013 – 2019 Ford Taurus 
  • 2013 – 2019 Ford Police Interceptor Sedan
  • 2011 – 2019 Ford Explorer

Problems Surrounding the Ford 3.5 Duratec Engine:

The Ford 3.5 Duratec engine arrived in the automotive industry in 2007 to power the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKZ, and Lincoln MKX. After several years, the engine can be found in almost any Ford model.

With its wide applications, the engine was able to last up to this day. The upgrades and several modifications were made to ensure that the engine can catch up with the newcomers today. 

However, as great as the engine can be, we cannot evade the fact that there are no perfect engines to start with. That also applies to the Ford 3.5 Duratec engine. 

Here are some troubles or issues that the Ford 3.5 Duratec might encounter. 

1. Water Pump Issues

Not only does the Ford 3.5 Duratec engine experience this issue, but many engines do. Water pump issue is the, if not, most common cooling system issue on engines.

These components are important because they manage the coolant circulation in the engine. Without the proper coolant flow inside the engine, overheating might happen quickly. 

With that, an immediate repair is needed so that the overheating will not cause any further damage to the engine. 

But, take note that due to the transverse design of the engine, the water pumps of the 3.5 Duratec are located at the rear, behind the timing cover, and driven by the timing chain.

It not only makes the work extra hard, but it will also increase the chance of the 3.5 Duratec water pump leaks. 

If there are no coolant flow issues, there is no real risk of severe overheating. But it is important to still repair the water pump for peace of mind. 

2. Ford 3.5 Duratec Ti-VCT Torque Phasers Issue

Early models of the Ford 3.5 use i-VCT. In 2012, however, all Cyclone engines began using Ti-VCT (Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing). But the problem with these latest models is that their cam torque actuates phasers have failure issues. If that happens, power loss and rough idling might be the symptoms you can see. 

But if it goes far beyond that, it can also affect the performance and efficiency of the engine. 

The primary purpose of the Ti-VCT engine is to efficiently adjust the intake and exhaust valve timing for better fuel economy and efficiency. 

3. Oil Dilution 

Oil dilution issues come from the eventual pump failure. Due to the placement of the water pumps, an extreme failure in this component may cause the coolant to leak and mix with the engine oil.

That is not a good situation for both the owner and the engine because it will affect the engine is evident and subtle ways. 

This issue will diminish the ability of the engine oil to lubricate the internal components. When that happens, these peripheral components can no longer perform their designated duties.

If this thing goes unnoticed for a long time, prepare yourself for expensive repairs. 

On another note, this issue begins with the internal bearings of the water pump. As these bearing starts to wear and deteriorate, they begin to produce clunking and rattling sounds from the water pump area.


When you’re at the back, it does not have striking features to impress you initially. 

The Ford 3.5 Duratec engine does not also have the firepower to woo you and kick your back, unlike other V6 engines out there. But, it compensates itself with a great balance of fuel economy and overall reliability.

Great balance of fuel economy and reliability.

With its current career, the engine looks like it is still in its prime, and you cannot deny its contribution to the industry as one of the leading stout V6. 

Overall, the engine is solid and has above average rating in terms of reliability. It is best for light-duty and efficient power and gas mileage. Though it has some issues and problems, its longevity proves that this engine was made to last for a long time. 

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