Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Problems – Top 7 Most Common Ones!

Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Problems – Top 7 Most Common Ones!

August 19, 2023 0 By CarGuy

Are you interested in buying a new or a used pickup truck with the 3.5 V6 engine and want to learn more about the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost problems? If that’s correct, you are in the right place, because in this article, there will be a lot to cover.

Doing your own research is really important when it comes to purchasing a new or a used vehicle. There are a lot of different models out there that have different problems. So, knowing what problems can arise is really important when it comes to buying a vehicle. And this is why we are here to help you out.

First, we are going to learn more about the Ford 3.5 engine specs and learn more about the numbers that this engine makes, then we shall cover the applications. In the second part of the article, we will discuss the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost problems and learn what troubles this engine and we are also going to comment on its reliability. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the article.

Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Specifications

The Ford 3.5 engine debuted in 2007 with the Lincoln MKR Concept. This engine was one of the first engine designs with a different philosophy.

And this is the philosophy of downsizing. Ford wanted to build an engine that performs similarly to the 6.0L and also delivers a 15% better fuel economy, and also the ability to run this engine on E85.

And they managed to do this by using forced induction. In other words, the engine uses two turbos in order to squeeze the power of this engine.

The 3.5 EcoBoost started a whole revolution in this area when it first hit the market in 2010 and many other engines in this EcoBoost family followed.

What is worth noting is that there are two generations of 3.5 engines. And what is worth noting is that they sometimes overlap. So, there can be Gen 1 engines in 2019 and Gen 2 engines in the same model year.

The second generation of this engine added port injection along the direct injection, turbos started to use electronically regulated wastegates, cam phasers were redesigned because older cam phasers often failed, implements hollow camshafts for weight saving, new engines use two timing chains, and also use start/stop technology.

Here are the full specs of the 3.5 EcoBoost engine.

  • Engine Configuration: V6
  • Displacement: 3.5L
  • Bore Size: 92.5 mm
  • Piston Stroke: 86.6 mm
  • Block Material: Aluminum
  • Head Material: Aluminum
  • Head Design: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
  • Turbocharger: Yes, twin-turbo
  • Injection: Direct on Gen 1, Direct + Port on Gen 2
  • Variable Valve Timing: Yes
  • Fuel Management: Bosch
  • Horsepower: 310 – 660 hp
  • Torque: 350 – 570 lb-ft (475 – 773 N-m)

Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Applications

Now let’s take a look at the common applications of the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine.

First Generation Ford 3.5 EcoBoost

Ford Models

  • 2015 – Ford Transit
  • 2013 – 2019 Ford Flex
  • 2010 – 2019 Ford Taurus SHO
  • 2013 – 2019 Police Interceptor Sedan
  • 2013 – 2019 Ford Explorer Sport
  • 2016 – 2019 Ford Explorer Platinum
  • 2011 – 2016 Ford F-150
  • 2015 – 2017 Ford Expedition/L

Lincoln Models

  • 2010 – 2016 Lincoln MKS
  • 2010 – 2019 Lincoln MKT
  • 2015 – 2017 Lincoln Navigator/L

Second Generation Ford 3.5 EcoBoost

Ford Models

  • 2017 – Present Ford F-150
  • 2018 – Present Ford Expedition
  • 2020 – Present Ford Police Interceptor Utility
  • 2017 – Present Ford GT

Lincoln Models

  • 2018 – Present Lincoln Navigator


  • 2022 – Noble M500

Common Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Problems

Now let’s list the most common Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine problems.

  • Spark Plug & Coil Failures
  • Cam Phaser Failures
  • Carbon Buildup
  • Timing Chain Rattle
  • Condensation In Intercooler
  • Oil Leaks
  • Coolant Leaks

We listed the most common Ford 3.5 EcoBoost problems and now it is time to further elaborate on these problems in detail.

Knowing how and when these problems happen is really important for you as a future owner because by doing so, you will be able to detect a problem when it first appears in your Ford or Lincoln. Also, you will be very able to detect problematic vehicles if you are in the search for a used model. So, let’s elaborate in detail.

1. Spark Plug & Coil Failures

Spark plug and ignition coil failures are a common problem on these 3.5L V6 engines. So, why is this the case, why do these components suffer more compared to other naturally aspirated engines?

Well, there are two factors, the first is turbocharging and the second is direct injection. Both of these technologies are straining the ignition components.

This engine is designed to produce the same power as a 6.0L engine, so you get the idea why it is so stressful for the spark plugs in these engines.

They tend to fail quite often and whenever the spark plugs and coils are failing, you will get the check engine light, misfire codes, rough engine idle, poor fuel economy, and loss of power.

You can diagnose the DTC codes with an OBD2 scanner tool to see which one of these components is causing the problem and then replace the specific spark plug or coil.

You can also replace all of them if a few of these components are affected. This way, you will bulletproof the engine in the foreseeable future.

Now let’s move on to the next Ford 3.5 EcoBoost problems.

2. Cam Phaser Failures

The second most common problem with this 3.5L engine is the issue with the camshaft phasers for the variable valve timing.

So, what are cam phasers? Well, these components resemble sprockets that drive the timing chain. And these sprockets can also adjust the variable valve timing of the engine on the fly.

So,  they are really important components. This engine has four of them, one per camshaft. And they are notorious for breaking down.

Especially on Gen 1 engines. Whenever they fail, they start to rattle and produce other strange noises at idle

The solution is to replace them, and this can be rather expensive because there are a lot of hours of labor involved. And the second thing is that you need a special technician that knows how to adjust engine timing.

So, the replacement of these components can cost thousands of dollars in the worst case. We often recommend that you also replace the timing chain in this situation since the timing cover has to be removed for this job.

3. Carbon Buildup

Carbon buildup is another fairly common problem on these 3.5 EcoBoost engines. So, what is a carbon buildup and why does it happen?

Well, this engine is using direct injection. This means that there is a specific injector for each cylinder and this injector, unlike the older port design, does not inject fuel from the intake ports.

So, the ports start to collect oil vapors that are found in the engine and they become dirty. After some time, this will result in carbon buildup.

This carbon is really difficult to remove and there is a method called walnut blasting. Which is basically blasting walnut shells into the ports to clean them off. And this is one of the few methods that work.

It is recommended that this method should be done every 60,000 – 70,000 miles or so.

Luckily, Gen 2 engines do not have this problem, because they are using direct + port injection. This method of injection is much better for the engine and these deposits are washed out.

Now let’s continue with the next Ford 3.5 EcoBoost problems.

4. Timing Chain Rattle

Another very common problem with the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost is the issue with the timing chain. The timing chain in this engine is not that good.

We are talking about the first-generation engine, this engine used a single timing chain that had complex routing and was prone to stretch and start to rattle. In these cases, a check engine light with a P0016 or a similar code was also present.

This problem was reportedly solved with the second-generation engine and the rattle was gone. This second-generation engine uses a dual-timing chain setup that is far more durable.

So, if you intend to get a first-generation engine, make sure that the timing chain is in good condition and does not rattle. Since a replacement can easily cost you more than $1,000.

5. Condensation In Intercooler

A very common feature on the first generation of the 3.5 engine, specifically the ones used in the F-150 is the appearance of condensation inside the intercooler.

Many owners reported a stumble or misfire when they accelerated harshly after a long drive on the highway. All this happened in very humid circumstances like rain or fog.

This was reportedly caused because of the air deflector that was mounted at the top of the intercooler. So, what Ford did was mount this deflector at the bottom and any condensation that is trapped inside the intercooler to simply vaporize much quicker.

This problem happens on engines built between 2011 to 2013 and there is a special bulletin issued on handling this specific problem.

Now let’s move on to the next Ford 3.5 EcoBoost problems.

6. Oil Leaks

Oil leaks are also very common on these EcoBoost engines. This problem specifically comes from the oil pan.

These engines are using plastic oil pans and these oil pans have rather poor RTV, so what happens on all of these V6 EcoBoost engines is that the RTV fails and oil leaks start to develop.

These oil leaks can be pretty serious and you can end up losing a lot of engine oil in the process. The solution to this problem is to replace the oil pan with an updated one.

Engines from the second generation do not have this problem present. So, this engine mostly affects engines from the first generation.

Now let’s move on to the next Ford 3.5 EcoBoost problems.

7. Coolant Leaks

And the last problem on our list is the situation with the coolant leaks. Specifically, common places to develop leaks on these engines are the lines that feed the turbos, as well as the hoses in front of the engine.

In addition to this, the degas bottle has a hose that can develop leaks and cause you a problem where you lose coolant.

So, it is important that you track these leaks on time and not allow the engine to overheat. You definitely don’t want that to happen because the repairs for these problems are crazy expensive and can cost you a good penny to fix.

Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Reliability

When it comes to the overall reliability of this engine, we can say that the 3.5L EcoBoost is a pretty good engine.

Still, this engine was released in 2010 and throughout the years many refinements have arrived. This is why we recommend that you go for a second-generation engine.

By doing this, you will avoid having problems with carbon buildup, timing chain problems, and issues with oil leaks, and cam phaser failures.

These problems were patched out and now the 3.5L is pretty much a bulletproof engine. It still has some issues but they are only a fraction of what they were in the past.


In this article, we covered the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine. First, we learned the specs of this engine, as well as the applications of this engine.

In the second part of this article, we covered the most common Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine. Most of these issues affect the first generation of the 3.5 engine. So, we would recommend that you go for a second-generation engine.


What Are The Common Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Problems?

Common problems with the 3.5 EcoBoost engine include timing chain rattle, cam phaser failure, oil leaks, ignition components tend to fail often, there is carbon buildup on the intake ports and there can also be some condensation in the intercooler. Most of these issues are affecting the first generation of this engine and these problems have been patched out. So, try to avoid the first generation and get a newer engine.

Is The Ford 3.5 V6 Engine Reliable?

Yes, this engine is fairly reliable. Even the older engines that have more issues than the newer ones are good. But they can have some problems that can be expensive to fix, like the timing chain rattle and the cam phaser failure. So, that’s why it is better to get a second-generation engine.