What the Inside of a Tortured Ford EcoBoost V-6 Looks Like

Ford EcoBoost V-6 Engine
Photos and Words by Jim McCraw; above photo courtesy of Ford

Ford Motor Co. made some history over the weekend when it did a complete engine tear-down and inspection of a "torture tested" 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 used in the latest F-150 at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Auto shows, like NAIAS, typically showcase the latest metal in fancy displays bathed in brilliant lights and staffed with beautiful spokesmodels. They’re about as far as you can get from the garages that all cars and trucks will eventually require a visit to for service and maintenance. But for an hour Saturday, Ford turned part of its spotless blue and white display space inside Detroit’s Cobo Hall into a service bay for the last chapter of the F-150 EcoBoost torture test.

Ford EcoBoost V-6 Engine Front
The front of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 prior to the start of the teardown in front of an estimated audience of more than 1,000 people at the 2011 Detroit auto show.

In case you’re one of the three or four people who haven’t been following the F-150 EcoBoost torture test story online, here’s a recap:

A production EcoBoost V-6 engine, serial number 448AA, was randomly selected off the assembly line at Ford’s Cleveland engine plant. The dual-overhead-cam power plant was shipped to dynamometer cell 36B in the Ford Dearborn engine labs and run for 300 hours to replicate the equivalent of 150,000 customer miles, including repeated temperature-shock runs when the engine was cooled to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit and then heated to 235 degrees.

The engine was then shipped to Ford's Kansas City truck plant and installed in an F-150 4X4 crew-cab pickup. It was driven to Nygaard Timber in Astoria, Ore., and put to work as a log skidder, dragging a total of 110,000 pounds of logs across the ground to demonstrate its 420 pounds-feet of torque.

Ford EcoBoost V-6 Valvetrain
The front engine cover, intake manifold and heads are removed from the engine to expose the valvetrain.

From there, the truck was driven across the country to Homestead Miami Speedway, where it was hooked up to a trailer carrying two of Richard Petty’s Ford Fusion racecars, a load of 11,300 pounds, and run continuously around the track for 24 hours, averaging 82 mph and covering 1,607 miles.

It was then taken to Davis Dam in Arizona, where it bested both the 5.3-liter Chevy Silverado V-8 and the Ram 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 in an uphill towing contest pulling 9,000 pounds up a 6 percent grade on Highway 68.

Finally, the 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost engine was shipped to Mike McCarthy’s race shop in Wickenburg, Ariz., and installed in his 7,100-pound F-150 race truck. McCarthy practiced locally for 1,200 miles and raced the truck in the SCORE Baja 1000, the toughest off-road race in North America, finishing first overall in the new Stock Engine class after 1,062 race miles.

Ford EcoBoost V-6 Pistons
A close-up photo of three pistons still inside their cylinders. Note the carbon buildup on the piston crowns.

McCarthy said the engine’s fuel economy was so good compared with his previous V-8 engines that he was able to skip two planned fuel stops during the Baja event, which helped him win the class.

After Baja, the thoroughly thrashed and raced engine was shipped back to Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., and dyno-tested once again. It was found to produce 364 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque, just one horsepower less than its rating and exactly the same output as its nominal torque rating, according to Ford.

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A leakdown test was performed to measure how well the engine’s 24 intake and exhaust valves and piston rings were still able to seal the cylinders. One cylinder was found to have a cautionary 13 percent air loss past the combustion chamber’s seals, while all other cylinders were acceptable with single digits of air leakage.

Ford EcoBoost V-6 Pistons And Crankshaft
Pistons and crankshaft displayed on a parts table.

Oil pressure at idle on the dyno was normal, in the mid-40 psi range.

After the dyno, engine 448AA, which had never been opened or inspected, was shipped to the Detroit auto show where, on Saturday, it was torn down for inspection in front of a live audience of more than a thousand Ford engine enthusiasts and their families.

The teardown was narrated for the audience by Jim Mazuchowski, Ford’s chief engineer for V-6 engines. Powertrain engineer Phil Fabien explained the advantages of things like turbocharging, direct fuel injection and twin independent variable cam timing while engine technicians Chris Brown on the right bank and Chris Rahill on the left bank took the engine apart using a pair of air wrenches and hand tools.

Ford EcoBoost V-6 Camshafts
The engine's four camshafts - two per cylinder bank to control intake and exhaust valve timing.

As they went, the engine parts were laid out on three huge tables so that when the tear-down was complete, the engineers and the audience could take a closer look. During the tear-down, engineers Steve Matera, Kirk Sheffer and Jeanne Wei organized the parts and made some key measurements.

Valve lash, which measures valvetrain clearance between the camshafts and valves, was checked at 0.17 mm on the intakes and 0.38 mm on the exhausts. That’s well within normal range for both, according to Ford. Crankshaft end play was measured at 0.12 mm, also acceptable.

The timing chain, which controls valve timing and synchronizes engine operation, was still within normal tolerances. With age, a timing belt loses tension, and a hydraulically operated timing chain tensioner is used to compensate for slack. The tensioner has 10 teeth that work like a ratchet to maintain tension. The EcoBoost V-6 used three teeth, well within the timing chain’s operating specs.

Ford EcoBoost V-6 Turbo Assembly
Exhaust side view of one of the engine's two turbo assemblies.

We didn’t get a photo of the valves, but they had carbon deposits similar to that found (and seen in pictures) on piston combustion surfaces.

Visual inspection of the cylinder heads, twin turbos, piston crowns, ring lands, rod bearings and cylinder bores by the engineers and your correspondent showed no major signs of anomalous wear after 163,000 miles of endurance testing. The main bearings showed cosmetic grooves but not excessive wear through the metal.

Engineer Wei said each and every part would be taken back to Ford’s labs to be checked with scales, cameras, lasers, micrometers and other measuring tools to get the final details on the rich, full life of EcoBoost V-6 engine 448AA.

You can see the disassembled engine with your own eyes until Jan. 23 at NAIAS.

Ford EcoBoost V-6 Teardown

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13% compression loss in one cylinder is not good, and there looks to be a moderate amount of carbon on those pistons. I would like to see an oil analysis on that engine. In any event, it looks like it held up O.K. considering the testing.

Looks good! Maybe a little heavy one the carbon buildup, but they were also using conventional oil as opposed to synthetic. I'd be curious to hear the measurements on turbo shaft play, as the turbo is usually one of the first major components to require replacement.

It says that this very engine was run on the dyno for 13,000 hours. That's 541 days. This engine wasn't being produced 541 days ago. What's the deal?

@Tyler: Sorry. Thanks for catching that! It was run for 300 hours on the dyno.

3.5L Ecoboost production started in May of 2009, IIRC. That means the engine would have been run non-stop until some time in November. This makes sense, since the first torture test video came out in November.

*doesn't make sense

@Big Bob: I wonder how much of the carbon deposits came before and during the Baja 1000, with all of the dust, debris and silt from that race.

@ Tyler - interesting point.
That would mean the engine was run in a dyno lab for close to 1 1/2 years round the clock.
If that is true - then that in itself would be impressive.

@ BigBob. 13% LEAKDOWN in one cylinder, not compression loss. Two very different things. Leakdown being measured by pressurizing the cylinders with nitrogen and measuring the leakage past the seals (valve seats, piston rings) and measured in % of N2 that escaped. Compression obviously being cranking compression measured in psi which they didn't state.

Minor correction - Richard Petty's Fusion race cars, not Taurus.

Love this test and the idea from Ford - it shows incredible confidence in their engineering department and it paid off. Incredible - well done Ford.

For the individuals that think 13% is a big problem for what this engine has seen need to get a little training in the matter. The average use engine on the road with that same miles would have a very similar wear state (if not more), and they wouldn't have seen the abuse. I used to be part of a race prep team and you would never think about sending a motor back out for competion with even a fraction of this abuse, because of the wear from the excessive loads.

not too shabby. i wonder about the condition of the turbos as well. I think it should be pointed out again that the carbon build up probably got much worse during the rally. Thats a cool display no doubt. im PROUD of ford for stepping up with a new idea and standing behind it.

Ford has an interesting powertrain here. Now i REALLY wonder why they STILL aren't forthcoming with economy ratings on the truck. the engine if NOT under load should produce a bit of a rise in fuel economy (i would believe) so WHY do they still confuse people with th 16/22 mpg rating AND say it tows 11300. the truck that gets 16/22 is the truck with the 3.15 gear set and it tows 8600 pounds. still significant weight but NOWHERE close to 11300. That truck has a 3.73 gear set and DOESNT get 16/22 mpg. I also think that IF they want to REALLY prove something then they should change their tow ratings to SAE J2807 ratings. (so should GM, Chrysler, and Nissan) This way ALL manufacturers can have an "apples to apples" comparison, not "apples to oranges". Understand me here im PRAISING fords effort here, i just HATE misleading information. If you want to prove a point, play ball the fair way.

Not for arguments sake but as a point of proof, Toyota was the ONLY manufacturer to adopt SAE J2807 towing standards, and the EPA postings they print are the SAME trucks that tow 10400 pounds. I just think EVERYONE should play by the same rules is all.

I would like to see a team of independent (not Ford) Tech. and engineers do a thorough inspection and analysis of the engine and its components and write a report on how the engine held up (engine wear) to all the testing. In the report to include compression testing, turbo condition (measurements on turbo shaft play) , valve wear, etc. Also an oil analysis would be helpful.
I want to congratulate Ford Mo. Co. for their commitment to make a good product and remaking of the american car industry. We are posed to once again compete with world car manufacturers.
Buy American. Keep America Strong!

@Kyle Rohde: Changed to Fusions. Thanks!

I doubt that is the same engine. That "448AA" sticker is way too clean for what it "supposedly" went through.

And, as stated above, a 13% compression loss is major.

Again...this engine is pointless as it gets the same mileage as a V8 yet cost more to purchase, maintain and, repair...which looks like it will happen often to the top end.

Ford is like a stuck record...it's the same garbage over and over and over again.

Testers have gotten 19 in the city and 24 on the highway at 70 mph with EcoBoost Fx4 3.73 4x4 so the fact that the sticker says 16/22 on 2wd is only undercutting it not overdoing it. As reported on this site, SAE procedures have not been finalized but Ford is ready for it regardless.

"When I drove the ecoboost around town. (Crew cab FX4, 3.73, fully loaded with 3 large men) I was getting 19.2mpg. The sales guy that is driving it across the country to all the different dealers for test drives said he gets about 24mpg doing 70mph."
- f150online

Is it really that impressive considering this engine maybe has 400-500 hours on it? Thats maybe 16,000-18,000 miles.

I will be impressed when it has 10,000 hours of actual use not this dyno crap.

Actually scrap the whole test, give me a small diesel.

@"P" you don't think Ford would clean that sticker to SHOW people it's the same engine? If the sticker were covered in dirt and no one could read it, you probably would say the same thing. Obviously Ford wanted to make sure people understood the same engine in all the publications is the same as the one sitting in front of them. Also, 13% air loss, not compression loss. READ UP

13% loss in one cylinder is one hell of a feat for the abuse the engine took. From the factory with a 10:1 c.r.(which is amazing for a turbo charged engine) which will bring the static cr down to 8.7 which is still a powerful cylinder compression ratio for a turbo charged engine using factory parts, fuel, turbos, ecu, ect. The carbon build-up on the pistons is also amazing showing how well the fuel is mixed with the direct port injection. In a turbo charge application the air/fuel ratio is WAY richer than in a naturally aspirated application. When I tear down turbo engines the amount of carbon build up is like a layer of paint on the pistons. Hell I don't even like Ford but I am impressed. If they really wanted to impress you guys they could have used E85 the whole time and went faster, more powerful, and left the engine looking brand new.

"And, as stated above, a 13% compression loss is major."

And, as stated above... oh, never mind.

ford is junk 13 % loss with maybe 20,000 miles what a joke i'll stick to chevy and dodge hell with ford junk

And if nothing was off, even slightly then you guys would say it was BS...

Mike Levine,

Give us your personal opinion of these results. Also explain how they can do 150,000 miles in 300hrs. Some people are not getting it. Thanks.

@Darryl: As the story states, Ford said 300 hours on the dyno was the "equivalent" of 150,000 miles / 10 years of testing because of the hot/cold shock tests they did to the engine while it was on the dyno. The dyno test wasn't mile-for-mile.

nothing but haters on these boards. You guys really need a hug.

I've tried my best to like this motor. I really have, but I just can't do it. Controlled environment tests mean nothing as compared to real world experience.
Maybe after a few years on the market I'll consider one, but I'll have to pass right now. My truck is my business, and I can't take a chance on something this unproven.

I think this engine looks AMAZING for the abuse it has been put thru. I have never seen a motor that clean inside after the amount of miles put on it. People complaining about the carbon spots on the pistons, after 150K+ miles on it, I think they are damn clean IMHO.

The bearings don't even look as if the overlay is wiped out yet, otherwise you would see copper/brass colors (if they are that deisgn?) I think this is amazing, looks like a winner for Ford.

"P" :

Man, you are rediculous. That engine held up strong. I am not a fan of Ford's new looks on their trucks (even though my model was the least desireable,2001 Supercrew), their engine/drivetrain is strong. You ahve to admit, and by doing so doesn;t mean no one else makes a good truck, just means Ford made a good drivetrain in their truck.

hemi lol:

I agree with you, I think all the Auto's should have to adhere to the tow standards ASAP to get these crazies off the road towing 11000+ pounds simply because it is "rated" for it. I mean across the boards too.The fuel mileage thing, you have a point. But, Toyota could fix that (offer something stiffer than a 4.30), as well as Nissan (offer something stiffer than a 2.94 or 3.36, Titan's don't have OD, just 5 gears with the last one being a 1:1 ratio) Both only offer one or two gear sets, nothing more. Both are lower ratio sets too. They should make a lower set for those folks that would like to see an increase in FE at the expense of a little towing capability.

@Mike - thanks for clarifying the dyno hours. The "Mike
Rowe commercial" says 300 hours. It did say 13,000 hrs. in this linked story as well:
Running the engine from -20F to +235F wood be a killer. Would any of you guys pump -20F Fluid into your engine after running it at WOT until it was red hot?
or vise versa - fire up a -20F engine and immediately run it at WOT?
I use a block heater starting around 0 F and let the engine slowly warm up for a minumum of 5 minutes.

'Ford is like a stuck record...it's the same garbage over and over and over again."

No "Matt", YOU are the stuck record! Same old stupid posts over and over again. Your not even smart enough to change up your drivel.

Hope you get kicked off of here like you did at BON and Autoblog. What a POS you are.

You have SERIOUS mental problems.

Sorry Bob buy it's not 13% compression loss it's 13% seal loss. With both valves closed they put pressure in a cylinder to see how much air is leaking the test is checking for good valve sealing and piston ring seal. A compression test is performed when the engine is turning of course a bad static test will most of the time end up in a bad compression test also.
Read carefully.

I spent a few minutes at the show looking at the parts, they all looked pretty good for the amount of testing they've been through. For anybody who doesn't know, the 13% seal loss in one cylinder isn't out of the norm for an engine with 150K miles on it. It's actually quite impressive for a turbo engine, especially one that undoubtedly took in a lot of dust in a 1000 mile Baja race.

Well I think it looks pretty good. Obviously some Ford haters are going to say "it looks too clean" (not a real test), and others say "it's not clean enough" (was a real test, but failed). But I would doubt that there are any qualified engineers here to really make that call. I guess what is important is, the engine still works after all that, with no major repairs needed. Carbon cleaning would be an obvious needed job. What was needed was a comparison with other engines. Nobody here is going to treat their engines like that. I'm realistic, I don't expect it to come back like new, and I think it held up quite well. I would buy this engine.

As you guys may remember running the Baja 1000 is the equivalent of 200,000 - 300,000 miles of street testing in one race! So believe it or not this EcoBoost engine has anywhere from 370,000 to 470,000 miles on it! Looks good to me.

Most impressive. Now, please give me a ~2.0L 4-cylinder version in a new Ranger with ~200 HP and ~300 FT-LB of torque that gets 30 MPG and I will be ecstatic.

i can't for the life of me see how some of the trolls out here can't see that if you were to travel for 300hrs at say 50mph that would come out to lets see: 300 X 50= 150,000 see, its not that hard just gotta take the hate glasses off from blinding you from facts. BUY AMERICAN B4ITS TOO LATE!!!!!!!!!!!

Sandman 4x4, you would have to drive 500 mph for 300 hours to get 150,000 miles...

Iam glad to see Ford do this test!!!!

But I would like to see them do the 5.0 litre the same way!

I still say they are downgrading the V8 in order to promote the V6!!!!

I would much rather have the simple V8 even with less hp than all the complex and potential problems with turbos!!!!

Starting and stoping a turbo engine is more stressful that a full pull or run! Thats what they should be testing, on and off cycle durability!

Looks to me that Ford would warranty this even and even the others for 150,000 if they are so confident!!

Also would like to see Ford keep Ranger and offer a Ecoboost in it! That would be a homerun!!!!

Did I mention that we're testing the 5.0-L F-150 next week? :-)

Ford propaganda !We all know only a Toyota product goes 8000 miles without any repairs,my 2010 Toytoa is now at 19,000 with only a bottom end knocking rod fix at Toyota !

Yes we all know, nothing stops a Toyota. ;)

300 hrs at a high throttle with temperature shocks that no motor will ever see if very impressive. and then to turn around and run a turbo charged motor in the baja, with all that dust?

That is impressive.

And if you have to take your brand new truck in at 19,000 miles because you already have a knock is NOT a good thing, that's bad.

I got my 2007 Edge 4 years ago. The 3.5 engine in it now has 80,000 miles on it. It performs better than new. I have changed the oil every 4000 miles, using Motorcraft Synthetic Blend 5w-20 and a Purolator Pure One filter. My only regret is that the EcoBoost package wasn't available.

For all you nay sayers out there, I also have a 1997 Taurus with the Duratec DOHC engine with 160,000 miles, which I bought new. The engine is all factory original, with the exception of one upper radiator hose and the filters. It has the original plugs and wires, and still gets 22mpg/city and 28mpg/highway. The oil is changed every 3000 miles with Motorcraft Synthetic Blend 5w-30 and a Purolator Pure One filter. I have owned many Ford vehicles over the years, and have never been disappointed in the product or the customer service or support.

I am a Ford guy. Meaning that I would prefer to buy a Ford over anything else comparable unless the competition offered something vastly superior and or more proven and even then I would have a hard time not buying a Ford. With that said, I am not a big fan of these dyno "equivalent" test. I mean as impressive as it is the way the freeze and run hot etc.. There is no test like a real world test and time proves everything. There is no way scientific or unscientific to calculate dyno stress test into miles. It is just silly to even advertise in such a manner. The test of them pulling the race cars for 24hr is pretty impressive and simulates more towing stress than probably 99% owners ever would, all be it it is in 24 hrs and not over 5 years. That being said, this engine has been out long enough that I would buy one in a second especially if people can beat the EPA ratings in 4x4.

@ Mike, Any info on the EcoBoost running premium fuel?
I can't wait for the 5.0 V8 test to see how it compares. A twin turbo DI 5.0 V8 would be nice.

Apparently there are people who make it their life's mission to hate on the EcoBoost. Here, let's examine a few of my favorite whines.

"16/22 is not that impressive!"
Um, yes, it is, especially when you consider that this engine is putting out enough power to crush the competition (besides the Tundra with the 5.7, which is prohibitively expensive and a V8, and Chevy's VortecMax - see above). And for those of you complaining about how Ford advertises mileage for a certain axle ratio, step back and see how your favorite manufacturer advertises its mileage - you may be surprised at the asterisks and fine print you find.

"It's not proven yet! I won't buy new technology!"
Boy, it's got a turbo. Turbos have been around for decades. Why aren't they so popular? Because they're premium engines, requiring more R&D, therefore, costing more. Most of the driving public has no need for a turbo engine when they can get a gas-sipping N/A engine for thousands cheaper.

"It's a V6.. real trucks should have V8s!"
Please go back to your trailer park. This is a 6 that can run with the 8s, both on paper and in the real world.

"The torn-down engine has too much wear!"
Really? Looks wonderful to me, and to many of the more sensible posters around here. Besides, what does it matter - Ford did these tests to show the vulnerabilities of their new engine (of which there are few), and what does that tell me? Ford has extreme confidence in their engineers and confidence in their engine. They're not pulling any punches in the marketing department.

"The torture tests don't stimulate real world wear."
Perhaps not, but this point is moot, since no other manufacturer has the balls to do such things to a brand new engine - or hell, even a current one. And yet you trust them blindly. Where's the logic there?

"Only took Ford x years to bring a best-in-class engine to the table."
Sure, but what incentive did they have to produce something new when the ol' 5.4 consistently outsold everything else on the road? Ford introduced the EcoBoost at a great time - CAFE standards will soon require mileage improvements in half-tons. Ford will already be there, and others will have to play catch-up.

I think some people here should actually look at ALL of the testing. It was not just the dyno. There was hauling logs, trips across the country. 24hrs towing 11,000lb at WOT and then Baja.

If this engine had had a major breakdown...... well obviously that might affect sales going forward. Should Ford really be taking these risks given the momentum they have today in the half-ton segment? As horrible as cold shocking an engine is, an engine failure in a major marketing campaign designed to showcase durability in particular would have shed a negative light on the entire brand-spanking-new F-150 engine line up.

The only real world fact that I find hilarious is looking at all the haters that are obviously Chevy guys complaining on how the EcoBoost is too complicated and just trying to be a fake V-8. If that is the truth, why is Chevrolet trying to play catchup and designing their own direct injection engine? They will install it in sedans first and then look into a Silverado model.

Sounds like Government Motors is trying to play catchup 3 years too late! Like always; GM bringing up the rear...

Wonder if they will do better once they are majority owned by the ChiComs???

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