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Ford EcoBoost Problems: Are Ford EcoBoost Engines Reliable?

Exploded view of Ford Ecoboost engine

Image source - Ford

Can a heavy duty engine be eco-friendly? Ford thought so when it introduced the EcoBoost engine.

With a 20% better fuel economy and 15% fewer greenhouse emissions than other engines in its class, the EcoBoost was positioned to be the go-to engine for drivers who wanted power and efficiency. But is such a machine too good to be true?

Read on to learn about the common issues drivers have found with EcoBoost engines, and how to spot them.

The Most Common Ford Ecoboost Problem: Faulty Engine Timing Chains

The timing chain is an integral part of most engines – and one EcoBoost owners have particular trouble with. The engine is “turbocharged,” meaning that air and fuel are directly forced into it, producing more power.

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, this means that the engine’s oil has to work overtime, which can wear out the timing chain and cause it to stretch.

One Ecoboost owner, f150ecoboost mentioned that “If I had only known all of this years ago when I bought the truck new, I would have 1) Changed my oil with greater frequency, 2) used heavier oil, and 3) monitored my oil level and smell much more proactively.”

While using heavier oil and changing it more frequently won’t completely solve the problem, it will slow the rate at which the links of the Ecoboost timing chain wear down and “stretch”.


Factory recalls are issued when a vehicle fails to meet safety or quality standards. If you’re shopping for a used car, see if any factory recalls have been issued before buying.

Cost to fix the Ford Ecoboost timing chain

The EcoBoost’s timing chain costs about $1,200 to fix, but you may need to replace other parts while you’re in there. You’ll likely want to replace the timing chain guides and timing chain tensioner, since a stretched timing chain tends to put additional wear on these parts. This can easily bump your repair bill up to the $1400-2000 range.

How to avoid buying a used Ecoboost with timing chain problems

If you’re in the market for a used vehicle with Ecoboost, there are a few signs you can keep an eye out for. If the engine backfires, loses power, or you notice it rattling while idle, your EcoBoost may have a bad timing chain.

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Carbon Buildup on Intake Valves of Ecoboost Engines

The process of direct fuel injection can also cause excess carbon to build up on the EcoBoost’s intake valves. But a mechanic should be able to clean them up, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple: Ford cautions against cleaning the intake valves, as doing so could cause damage to turbines, bearings, and seals. If you do replace them, it will set you back anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500.

In order to avoid buying an EcoBoost with dirty valves, keep an eye out for extended idling at stop lights, loss of engine power, or even smoke coming from the engine.

How to Fix:

Avoid carbon buildup by burning high-quality fuels. There’s not much else you can do since cleaning the injectors is recommended against by Ford, and it’s not recommended that you use fuel injector cleaners due to risk of damage to the turbos.

Anecdotally, it might be useful to ‘burn off’ this carbon buildup occasionally by cycling the engine up to very high RPMs for a minute or two – just don’t get caught doing 120 on the interstate.

How to avoid buying an Ecoboost with dirty injectors:

This is the fun part – test drive it! If you feel sluggish acceleration, a ragged idle, or any other issues with power delivery/acceleration, it’s likely that this model has dirty injectors.

That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker (especially if you’re getting one at a steal because it idles rough), but make sure to factor in at least another $1,000 into your total first-year ownership costs for fuel system repairs.


Wondering what to look out for when buying a used car? With such a large purchase, it pays to be a cautious shopper. Check out this list of red flags to look out for when buying a used car.

Problems with Ford Ecoboost Intercoolers

Another common EcoBoost issue involves the intercooler. According to Tomorrow’s Tech, an intercooler “improves volumetric efficiency by increasing intake air charge density through constant volume cooling.” Essentially, intercoolers lower the temperature in the engine.

However, this high air intake can also cause condensation in the intercooler, especially if you live in a humid region. Signs of intercooler condensation include misfires when accelerating – especially in damp weather or high humidity – and delayed idling. Intercooler condensation can also cause oil buildup in your engine.

Cost to fix:

The average cost to replace an intercooler is around $1,000.

How to avoid buying a Ford Ecoboost with intercooler problems

If you don’t live in a humid environment, this isn’t much of a concern. If you do, make sure to listen for backfires/misfires during your test drive – if you hear them, it’s a good sign that there’s moisture in your intercooler.

Also check for a rough idle, although this might indicate fuel injector problems as well as intercooler problems.

Should you consider buying a vehicle with a Ford Ecoboost engine?

When it comes to buying a car or truck, you can never do too much research. And if you’re looking at buying a Ford EcoBoost, there are a number of advantages – namely, better mileage and emissions.

However, there are also some common issues to be aware of, and you should keep an eye out for any problems with the timing chain, engine valves, or the intercooler.

Ultimately, your best option is to have a local mechanic inspect the vehicle for these and other issues. As long as you avoid the major issues listed above, your EcoBoost engine should be a reliable, efficient engine for years to come.

If you’re ready to take an EcoBoost for a test drive, download the CoPilot app to see all of the used Ford listings in your area.


The CoPilot app is the smartest way to buy a car. Search all listings in your area, get notified about deals, new listings, and price drops, or chat with one of our copilots for some hands-on advice.