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Nuts & Bolts: Ford EcoBoost Timing

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on March 3, 2017
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EcoBoost Timing

I have the opportunity to buy a low-mileage 2013 F-150 4x4 with an EcoBoost engine (3.5L, I think) from my mother-in-law at a good price. My problem is that I've been told about all the timing chain issues that plague those motors in the F-150s by a cousin in the car business. I've tried looking on the internet and have found information on this problem, but I can't figure out if it's a very common problem or a rare one. Which is it? Has there been any improvement in the engines, and has there been any improved parts made for the engines that develop this problem? I'm striking out finding any info on those topics. I'm hoping you can enlighten me because this is a very nice truck and that engine tows great. I don't want to have to pass on this truck because I don't know if the engine has a high chance of being a constant problem.

Joel
Via nuts@4wor.com

That’s the problem with forums and the internet in general: While they can be a good source of information, it’s almost impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff. The 3.5L EcoBoost is a great engine and has earned a good reputation in the truck market. There were reports of some timing chain noise on cold startup on some engines, enough so that Ford issued a TSB for 3.5L EcoBoosts manufactured before May 29, 2015. However, for every report of a 3.5L making noise there are about five from people who have put a bunch of miles on their trucks without issue. The main thing you can do to prevent potential timing chain stretch is to stay on top of oil changes. If your mother-in-law was good about keeping the truck serviced, then it’s unlikely you will have an issue. It sounds as though Ford made a change to the timing chain that fixed the occasional problem, so should you find the truck making startup noises, it’s a one-time fix instead of an ongoing problem. Since you know the truck’s history, we wouldn’t hesitate to jump on the truck if it’s a good deal.

The one thing that we have noticed firsthand about the 3.5L EcoBoost engine is that the mileage is pretty terrible when towing at or near the truck’s rated capacity. While mileage is great around town unloaded, once you hook it up to a trailer our mileage dropped into the mid-single digits, or well below a typical V-8. Though the EcoBoost did fine in terms of power, if towing is a big part of what you do then we recommend going with a V-8 truck.

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