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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@Roberto, the EcoBoost does not require premium. Regular is fine.

I really thought we would get to see the valves and exhaust ports as well as ring grooves. I have promoted this engine numerous times and am also interested in more info on fuel pump lobe wear (can’t quite make out its condition) and fuel pump roller specs. The crank and rod bearings are outstanding.

@ Alex

I think what he wants to know is what are the power numbers on premium. Its not required, but will produce more..


Nitrogen is N3, not N2

what ford try to prove,dodge have a new engine do you thing they do the same advertising,and gm whit the new engine coming soon do you thing they do the same.....the best ex the ford diesel.....

Of course Ford had to take the risk, but what's more importantly, who is the referee? Who knows that same 448AA was the same engine that did all those tests? The public people were only able to witness the final outcome, not during actual tests. Those tree chopper got paid money from Ford and possible all those fans at the Baja. Fraud and advertisement is what a company can do best in getting attention from the buyer.

One more thing, anyone can change or re-engrave an engine number.

I wanted the ecoboost to do well and it has in most areas. The problem I see is the deposits that form on the intake valves and combustion chambers in such short period of time, which is a common issue in DI engines. BG did a test and took photos with a borescope showing the deposits forming in as little as 10k miles. Here is a link if you guys want to check it out http://www.bgfueltest.com/. According to BG these deposits caused some power loss but more importantly they cause the mpg to drop quite a bit.

I would like to see a GM (Government Motors) make an engine that can even come close to that. When you have a v6 with more power and torque than a v8...that's saying something.

@Tyler, GM has it backwards. They have a V8 that has the power and torque of a V6. :)

overall i'm impressed. I'm impressed that ford had enough confidence in their engine to do all this testing and the breakdown. And it sure seems like they have been honest with this test. It would be way too risky for them to swap a different engine in there for the breakdown. If someone found out they'd lose a ton of credibility. I don't think they'd ever do it. It would have been awesome if they did this testing side by side with a chevy v8 to compare to.

Any chance we can see the valves and seats from the 'bad' cylinder? Thanks.

ToyotaOwner seriously 19k thats Horrible I have 85k on a 5.3 liter vortec GMC and nothing like that has ever happened and i tow roughly 2000 lbs daily. thanks mike for the updates on this I have already contacted my dealer about ordering an Ecoboost for my towing needs. Keep your rams their is a reason no one buys them, keep your GMs I don't feel like replacing transmissions every 60-80k. AND TOYOTA hahahaha your right nothing can stop them cause the gas pedal gets stuck and puts you thru an embankment at highway speeds. Enjoy waiting on that "new" Chevrolet half ton though boys. Do you think they will upgrade the drivetrain it's older than I am


I would love to see ford do the exact same tests using 10w30 oil instead of the water like 5w20
I bet it would look even better.

I think it looks pretty good inside. I wonder how often they changed the oil inside this engine, because it looks fairly clean.

Way to go Ford!!! Showing America, again, Built Ford Tough!

For all the people that are paranoid about this "unproven" turbocharged technology:

Perhaps Ford (International/Navistar) should not have ever taken a chance to try something new...when they replaced the normally aspirated 6.9L diesel with the turbocharged 7.3L (Power Stroke) diesel, back in the nineties?

Just the same, General Motors (Detroit Diesel) should not have ever take a chance with something new...when they replaced the normally aspirated 6.2L diesel with the 6.5L diesel, again back in the nineties?

Give the Ford 3.5L EcoBoost a break already. What will it take for all you negative people to lay off...Ford giving each and every one of you your own F-150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine to do "your own testing"? I am sure that you have the time, money, and engineering background to do it better.

Until there is a line of these trucks back at the Ford dealerships (which I highly doubt will happen), with engine problems (not caused by driver/operator error), give it a chance. Appreciate advances in technology...especially when you do not have to sacrifice power, fuel economy, or durability.

The only compromise with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6, when compared to a V8, is two cylinders. Ford has shown that we can do without!

Josh, the oil change intervals were equivalent to 10K mile changes............. which is the recommended interval for this engine, I believe.

Someone else said that the leakdown on the one cylinder would be caused by the Baja 1000 run, and the dust. Synthetic would solve that problem.

Basically, what they are showing you is a worst case scenerio. There is no way that an engine in the real world, would be asked to endure what this engine has. Yet, after all of that, it is a perfectly serviceable engine with many years of life left on it.

My understanding, from the article, is the parts will be on display at the show, for a given amount of time. They will then go to be weighed and measured, and the full report will also be released. While this is a PR stunt, it has a very real purpose............. to prove to the naysayers that this is a very viable, and very tough truck engine. I would love one. The Ecoboost in the SHO is fantastic. If they do come out with the updated MKZ with one............. holy moly. (an actual "educated" rumor)

If one cylinder has got more leakage than the others, even if it is in spec, it represents a problem. If all cylinders had similar leakage whether it was 1 or 20% would represent an engine with uniform wear. 1 being low 20 obviously being higher level of wear. One that is different from the others is a bad cylinder. Now the engine may still run fine but down the line that is the hole that will fail first. It would be nice to know what the leakage was on the other 5 cylinders. Ford is also not the only one to test engines with the hot and cold shock procedure. I just can't trust the outcome of Ford's test. You know what that means Mike Levine. Lets see a PUTC torture test.

Very impressive V6, I really like seeing this kind of engineering for a truck. And they are still making two kick ass V8's as well, whats not too like. Well for one, its all the haters, this site has more ignorant people than I can laugh at( no offense M. Levine, I love this site ). Maybe they only make $7.50 hr and couldn't aFord a Ecoboost in the first place, never the less, it's still free speech.

Buy American, I like your style. I think Ford deserves a pat on the back for 1) knowing how to run a business, 2) doing it without taxpayer help, 3) remaining innovative throughout the whole 2008 debacle. I just wish somebody would go on and go diesel, instead of building a gas-burner to perform like one!!!

@Jordan L.: We've got our own torture test planned. That's all I'm saying for now. :-)

Sorry, didn't catch it was a leakdown test, not a compression test. Still not great, but again considering what this engine went through probably not bad.

@ Mike L Can't wait to read it. Thanks for the great work.

The engine may have held up but, I bet other important parts of the truck failed.

I've been a GM truck man for my entire driving career of 30 years so far. I love my 2008 GMC 3500HD 6.0 gas pickup. I now want to get a 1/2 ton for the fuel savings, sell my camper and buy a trailer. The new F150's fit the bill nicely and I have been test driving them. The 6.2 sounds great and has lots of power. The 5.0 was awesome, a little quieter but smoother sounding and really rips. 5.0 power is more than enough for most users. Fuel economy was tremendous in the 5.0 and horrid in the 6.2. No ecoboost in yet to test drive, but with torque like the 6.2 and economy slightly better than the 5.0 I am about to order my first ever Ford I even considered owning. That's part of what the ecoboost program is about, attracting people like me who would never have considered a vehicle similar to an F150.
The 5.0 is an awesome engine for the V8 crowd and will make them very happy, and it tempts me too. The ecoboost gives me the trailer towing grunt when I need it and the economy the 95% rest of the time.
Will I miss the one ton sized truck? Yes, once in a blue moon, but the rest of the time I will be grateful for the more nimble and economical ecoboost.


Great to hear man. I'm sure your new F-150 won't let you down. I too am going to buy a 2011 this summer, but even though the Ecoboost is impressive, I fit into the ''V8'' crowd, so I'll be opting for the 5.0L in an Extended Cab FX4.

I can't wait to read your article next week on the 5.0L!

I like both ford and gm but the comments hating on the 5.3 I don't think are fair. The 5.3 has been around now for what over a decade and has competed very well with little upgrades. These motors are brandnew from ford the better beat the competitors older motors. Also the videos on YouTube of the 5.0 and ecoboost racing the 5.3 are funny like we dident know who was going to win. Why don't they do a even test and put the new ford 6.2 and put it up against the somewhat new gm 6.2 or the Toyota 5.7 but ford already knows if they did that it wouldent at all beat them or not enough to make it look impresive. Also ford has been behind on the f-150 engines for a long time now so they had to developing something good. I like ford and there new motors the ecoboost looks awsome but there test are always tiped in there favor but that's why we have pickuptrucks.com and there shootouts to level the playing field. I can't wait to see the 5.0 review Mike and hopefully the ecoboost shortly after. I'm looking forward to gm's new motors I'm sure they'll be awsome as well competition is great these trucks just keep getting better and better and the consumers are the winners.

I don't care if you are not a Ford, Chevy, Dodge or whatever truck fan. These are impressive results! If anyone has even a slight bit of knowledge mechanically they would know these numbers are unreal. I work for one of the Big 3 and do dyno testing for a living and I don't think we have an engine that has come even close to this as far as testing or the outcome at the end of testing.

That's one hell of a feat considering what it had to endure! And it's a really good car!

great job and very impressive. You can keep repeating the numbers but some people are too numb or opinionated to understand them. Numbers don't lie.....let's see the little bowties or goats try a similar test. Keep shinning Ford and continue to be a real American company....

High leakdown on a single cylinder is often caused by some carbon debris on a valve seat. When this happens it is usually a transient condition, the carbon burns off or blows off. If the leakdown was bad in a cylinder for long term there is usually other indicatiors like high oil consumption, or excessive carbon build up in the ports and on piston comparared to the other cylinders.

WRT the 13% compression loss, the article actually said: "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."

Compression loss past the "combustion chamber's seals". Sounds to me more like they're trying to whitewash either a burned exhaust valve or worse.... a blown head gasket (though they didn't specifically mention the condition of the head gaskets). This *is* an aluminum engine after all, and historically all makers on this planet of automotive water-cooled engines with aluminum blocks and heads have had some amount of head gasket problems simply due to the physics facts of aluminum alloy metallurgy... none have escaped this fate.

Nice Job Ford! But at what speed was the engine run at 300 hrs? 300 x 50 = 15,000. Not 150,000. The math doesn't add up! Yes I know they did hot and cold testing but there's nothing like real world testing. I'd love to see how the motor hold up to -40 F start ups like my '03 Durango. Original battery and it starts without being plugged in! (Engine block heater for those in the south who have no idea.) Look all that said I love the idea of this engine but like with anything new I will wait and let someone else test it out in the real world for me. So maybe in a year or two I will decide to buy one or not. All that being said I would love for this engine to hold up in the real world because in a year or two I just may turn out to be a Ford F150 Ecoboost buyer.

exceptional results in my book.

if I was one notch up on the price bracket, i'd fork over the loan paperwork for a 2011 FX4 V6 EcoBoost. I don't know what they sell for, but when I build one out online, I'm north of 40K.

i hope this development pushes others.

probably buying a Tacoma,

Adjust your expectations.

XLT EcoBoost, 6.5' box SuperCab 4x4 is $35850. minus 20% discount = $28k. Move up to a SuperCrew add $2k more.

For all of you people who say where is the 'Real World Testing", what was towing 11300Lbs for 24 hours straight, running the BaJa 1000, & beating Dodge & Chevy at towing think is!!!

For me, the best most complete endurance test on a truck engine. All this shows what Ford's build tough means.
Good for Ford!

This engine wasn't tortured. If something is tortured, it will brake.

@supercliffy - YOUR KIDDING?
Anyone who does not plug in their vehicles when it gets down to -40F is a person who lacks judgment or sense.
The only time I've started my vehicles in that kind of cold weather without plugging in the block heater is when I've had no choice or some a-hole stole my extension cord.
Diesel gells around -40. Oil gets damn thick, one looses cranking amps from the battery much quicker. Moisture in the fuel freezes. Brakes freeze, metal gets brittle and can crack or break much more easily. Tires can even freeze to the ground and get pulled off the bead.
I've seen -45 and colder for weeks at a time. I recall 6 weeks of -45 to -49. Not much moves unless you plug it in or leave it running!

@zviera so are you saying that a window motor that goes out was tortured? Or if your headlight burns out (breaks) the regular use of it was torture? just because there was nothing broken doesnt mean this engine wasnt used in several applications that no single engine would ever endure in succession.
Please show me another stock half-ton engine that would go through all this and show less wear.

Zviera WRONG if it's a crap product it will BREAK (junior high grammar classes are awesome). It finished thr Baja 1000 bow tie and ram boys think the hemi or a vortec would hold up. I doubt it

@zviera. You better let John McCain know your definition of torture. He thinks he was tortured, and he doesn't look broken to me.

Guys its really not that hard to figure out. They do accelerated testing to get the number to be equivalent to 150k miles. How do you accelerate the tests? 1. Speed up the engine, 2. Increase the load on the engine. Both you do through a dyno.

I don't know about everyone else but I don't drive my car around a 6500 rpm all day, think about it. Throughout the live of your vehicle (150k miles), your vehicle would see 6500 rpm maybe 1% of the time and that is even being aggressive. Realistically, I'd say it is a fraction of a percent. Now the probably 80% of the time this engine was spent near the max rpm range.

Its about how many time the engine cycles (revolutions) not about milage people!

@ Corey - good point. Same with cold shocking the engine. How many -20F starts does the average person see in a winter?
or pumps -20F fluid into a red hot engine??



Many people still refuse to see the light...hey, did someone flip the light switch off by accident?

Maybe the light is not bright enough, for some people to see, because some joker was trying to be green by replacing the 100W incandescent light bulb with a 60W Compact Fluorescent Light bulb?

To those who complain about not having real world testing, what do you want to see PUTC do with the torture test they plan on doing? How many bags of groceries mom can fit in the bed? Can a teenager park it without getting dings all over it?

@Buy American or say Bye to America! - in some cases there isn't enough electricity to be measured on an EEG (electroencephalogram)

wow ,,thank you ford for the picture...we no what the engine look like after he blow.....repair,repair..ford,fordddd....

@ Mic - u mut bee oon ov Miath's bud eess???

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