Induction Service Cleaners Can Damage Ford EcoBoost Engines

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By Tim Esterdahl

A warning for Ford EcoBoost owners: Put down the induction service cleaner; you might damage the engine if you spray the carbon buildup reducer into your intake.

A Ford service technician posted two videos earlier this year addressing the issue. Essentially he discovered that aging EcoBoost engines are experiencing misfires caused by carbon buildup on the intake valves. When he called Ford for a fix, he was told that Ford is recommending changing the cylinder heads because forced-induction service (sometimes accomplished by spraying a special cleaning fluid into the intake) will ruin the turbos.

Mike Levine, Ford's truck communications manager, concurs. He said a forced-induction service is "not part of the official maintenance guidelines for EcoBoost engines."

How Does Carbon Buildup Happen?

Over time, direct-injection engines like the EcoBoost can run extraordinarily rich at startup, especially in cold weather. Combine this richness with a truck making a short commute — meaning the engine doesn't reach its optimal temperature — and carbon deposits begin to attach themselves to the cylinders, including valves and heads. Eventually these carbon buildups rob the engine of performance and fuel economy.

For naturally aspirated engines, carbon deposits can be prevented by following the manufacturer's recommended service interval for air filters and spark plugs, and doing periodic injector clearings.

If these don't prevent the carbon buildup, or if you really want to clean your engine, a forced-induction service is normally the way to go — unless you have a Ford EcoBoost engine.

What Is Forced-Induction Service?

Forced-induction service involves spraying chemicals into the engine to clean it out. There are pros and cons to using these chemicals. Benefits may include a smoother idle, better fuel economy and more power (although these improvements could also be due to regular maintenance of fuel filters and spark plugs). The downside to using them includes harming the engine through improper use, and the facts that amateurs should not use them and automakers don't recommend them. If used incorrectly, these chemicals cause problems like catalytic converter failure, carbon dioxide sensor failure, damaged actuators inside the air-intake manifold and other issues.

Other solutions used by dealers and mechanics include things such as TerraClean. This is a decarbonizing machine that connects to the fuel system and sprays a chemical mixture that decarbonizes the engine. It is used in many automotive shops.

Why Don't They Work for Ford's EcoBoost Engine?

We talked with an automotive expert who confirmed what the video explains: Forced-induction chemicals cause a reaction that increases the temperature around the turbochargers leading to premature failure. A single turbo can cost thousands to replace.

The reality is that while the new EcoBoost is an impressive engine, carbon buildup will happen and for now, the only fix seems to be replacing the cylinder heads.

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Comments

Wow. Replacing the damn cylinder heads is the only solution? Guess buying the 5.0 V8 instead of the EcoBoost V6 isn't such a terrible idea.

For one thing, if you own a ecoboost, and you drive it to get the good mileage Ford is saying, you will drive it in a way that will help develop carbon buildup! But if you drive it to help prevent carbon build up, you know by driving it with your lead foot, instead of your light foot for mileage, you will have carbon build up! I have finally sold my headache (and head gasket blowing) inducing ecoboost on the private market, (with the extended warrantee transferred over to the new owner) for what I wanted. Then I bought a new Charger R/T AWD, and in the past 11 mos. have had NOTHING go wrong! and love it, sure it is not a truck, but what a great car! moves like "we the people" get 17 city and 25 hyw. and is great in the snow, plus has a Hemi to boot! I should have stuck with a MOPAR in the first place, even though the Ford F-150 was a nice truck, (ecoboost notwithstanding). Maybe in a couple of years when I need to replace my Chevy Z-71 truck, I will be able to look at the new F-150 in reg cab short bed, if the new trucks proves itself, and I can find one, or maybe will order one with the 5.0 in it. Or maybe not and stick with a Ram 4x4 Black Express reg cab with a Hemi!!!

Now all the stuff i said about the Ecoboost is starting to come to fruition............ Good luck to all the people who got sucked in........ sorry for your loss.

Wow really?

"The reality is that while the new EcoBoost is an impressive engine, carbon buildup will happen and for now, the only fix seems to be replacing the cylinder heads."

I want one!!

What a piece of $hit!!

Just swap the heads? That's all? Sounds somewhat like a 5.4, just remove the heads to fix the plugs.

There are a lot of people buying these just to go fast, run the 2.7 it gets pitiful mileage (according to Motor Trend) but you can brag about a zippy it is.

I don't see the 3.5 getting great mileage towing, people just like turbo engined trucks (they probably tell their wives " look at the mileage I can get" but the reason they like it is just to go fast. I can see 3.5s getting good empty mileage though.

It's funny, the Hemi will out pull it with just an 8 speed and 3.55 gears, atleast it did in last years shoot out. Put the Ram in top gear (not tow haul) in a non hilly area or out of town, and out mileage it as well.

I'll keep my HEMI ! Thank You!

Ford had aother design flaw in their old 302 engines as well. When it became a known issue, what did they do? Nothing. The same will happen here. Unless Ford get HAMMERED, and is forced to replace these engines on their dime, they will do nothing to correct the problem.

Anybody else remember this memorable statement from Ford?


"Let them Burn"

( speaking of the pintos exploding gas tanks)

No big deal, you say, there were not that many of them. That just tells me it didn't happen to you or one of your family members. Now the ecoboost engines aren't exploding, yet. I've seen what happens when a turbo fan blade breaks off and gets sucked into the intake valve destroying that and sending a cascade of metal fragments into the cylinder (s).

This saga is far from over.

I wonder if running premium fuel would help prevent so much carbon build up. A turbo engine and regular 87 octane fuel seems like a bad combo to me.

I love it. Gas turbos ARE and HAVE ALWAYS BEEN pure crap. Every time somebody comes along with a 'new and improved' gas turbo, a bunch of suckers jump in and get fleeced yet again. They've had about 80 years to make these things work reliably and they still can't get it done. Will you the fools that buy these things ever learn? Probably not...

What a woefully uniformed technician.

The misfire is from bad mixture formation.
Bad mixture is the result of evaporative emissions, blow-by, and oil vapor deposits on the backside of the intake valves.
The deposits are from a bad PCV system design.

So the Ford solution is probably to increase the spark energy, which means the spark plugs will wear out [erode] quicker.
Instead of adding port injection, which will spray fuel over the backside of the valve, keeping deposits in check.
or using a much better PCV/ oil blow-by separation system.

un-informed. sorry

Run synthetic oil, premium fuel, and drive it hard sometimes. Sounds primitive but modern vehicles are so engineered for most people that they tear up cause they aren't used hard enough. Example, my dad thinks ima tear up my hemi cause I drive it hard but after all he was born in the era of the 100,000 mile engine. Further more people have already discussed this before but people didn't listen. They also discussed buildup of dirt in intake manifolds when we switched from carbs cause no fuel ran through intakes on mpfi. Ask my old boss about a mazda rotary wankel engine. These things are meant to be driven hard and spin rpms. If u dont that is the reason for carbon buildup. Its mostly old men and women that have these problems of carbon buildup because of their over conservitiveness. Jmho though. Trust me guys, the engineers r 10 steps ahead of u. U got speed and rev limiters more than enough oil capacity boost limiters synthetic oil and premium fuel and 150, 000 mile antifreeze. So go ahead and open it up once in a while.

Btw im interested in seeing the 2016 ram at the Detroit auto show. Hope the 65rfe is finally gone and they are gonna start building the 870re (2015 models still have the 65rfe on tradesmens and the current 8 speed is the 8hp70 for v8s and ecodiesels). Im sure a 6.4 hemi could stay in mds longer too...

If u take care of ur vehicle, u can drive it as hard as u want (service wise). Anything else is a factory defect if something falls apart. As overengineered as this truck is drive it like u stole it.

Back in 2013 when I picked the 5.0 instead of the Eco-Boost.
I never had faith in the twin turbos , it was more complicated, didn't trust it and knew about the problems. I was afraid of spending $4000 + replacing the turbos later, but many people here on PUTC told me the turbos are $900. But this story said they costs "thousands !
I was told I have the only FX4 with a 5.0. or its a waste owning an FX4 without the Eco-Boost.

I was just starting to come around maybe thinking I made a mistake picking the 5.0 and was ready to make the switch to the 2.7 Eco-Boost on my next F-150.
NOW! This story just blew my ship outta the water!
I have to revaluate what engine I want in my new F-150 if I do want to replace my 2013 or not, I may hold on to my 2013 longer.
What this story didn't tell you is its also very expensive to replace the heads.


Bad info from a toyota writer. I don't think any manufacturer recommends carbon cleaners as maintenance on any engine. This tech cleaned the carbon off with a wire brush and cured the misfire at idle. It was running fine once warmed up anyway. If heads are removed they can easily be cleaned, no need to replace them. 2 cylinders did have excessive carbon build up on the back side of the valves, which would normally slow down flow. Not so much on a forced induction engine. Like stated, he cleaned them without removing heads. This typically is being blown out of proportion here by uninformed posters. Also turbos could be removed or restricted to prevent overheating while using cleaners.

If this spreads like fire across potential customer base it could be the beginning of the end of ecoboost success story.

Never really considered the ecoboost when I got my F150, it was 5.0 all the way. My experience with it has been great, so no need for validation, but articles like this still give me a warm feeling inside.

The issue is direct injection, not turbos! This is the very reason why ford and Chrysler wont put direct injection on a non turbo engine. The effects of direct injection are more noticeable on a turbo motor and there is no use to have to worry the extra cost and maintenance on a n/a motor when people buy it for cheapness and/or simplicity. In other words, to all of the dumb @$$'s out there, if u got any ecoboost or any gm vehicle with direct injection (2014-forward silverado for instance) ur in the same damn boat!

Moral of the story is don't use seafoam on an ecoboost engine. Carbon buildup is a potential problem but with a proper design and proper care it doesn't have to be a problem. His experience in this video is with a 2.0 liter ecoboost, not the 3.5 used in the f150. The 2.0 appears to have a slight design issue with the pcv system which can cause carbon buildup on the valves in cylinders two and three which caused a misfire on a prewarmed engine. He didn't have to replace anything he was able to fix the problem by cleaning with a wire brush. I don't believe they are experiencing this problem with the 3.5 ecoboost much yet, atleast not before 150,000 or more miles. I have yet to hear about it and I have been watching this engine pretty closely . Ford has been aware of this potential problem from the beginning. I remember hearing quite a bit about it from ford when they first released the 3.5 ecoboost. It was engineered and tested with that in mind. Also this video is from may. Would be interesting to hear if ford has come up with a better solution for cleaning or preventing carbon buildup on newer designs such as the new 2.7. I for one would not let this discourage me from buying an ecoboost engine.

Moral of the story is don't use seafoam on an ecoboost engine. Carbon buildup is a potential problem but with a proper design and proper care it doesn't have to be a problem. His experience in this video is with a 2.0 liter ecoboost, not the 3.5 used in the f150. The 2.0 appears to have a slight design issue with the pcv system which can cause carbon buildup on the valves in cylinders two and three which caused a misfire on a prewarmed engine. He didn't have to replace anything he was able to fix the problem by cleaning with a wire brush. I don't believe they are experiencing this problem with the 3.5 ecoboost much yet, atleast not before 150,000 or more miles. I have yet to hear about it and I have been watching this engine pretty closely . Ford has been aware of this potential problem from the beginning. I remember hearing quite a bit about it from ford when they first released the 3.5 ecoboost. It was engineered and tested with that in mind. Also this video is from may. Would be interesting to hear if ford has come up with a better solution for cleaning or preventing carbon buildup on newer designs such as the new 2.7. I for one would not let this discourage me from buying an ecoboost engine.

So what about the ecotec3? Ready to have gm charge u $60 bucks just to tell u it could be a mass airflow sensor, throttle position senor, oxygen sensor or fuel injectors before they realize its carbon buildup? Btw, heads are heads so I guess they are coming off too. Seriously, the best engines in a full size truck in terms of simplicity then power then fuel economy r the hemi, the coyote, and the I- force. Anything eco is too complex (tec3, boost, diesel). Nissan titan maintenance isnt bad but its behind competitors but look to the qx56 for its next v8 and 7 speed. Any v6 n/a isn't enough for a full size jmho. Toyota I forces oil changes are a pain if u aint got the cartridge wrench and muscles for the heavy skid plate. Ford 5.0 hold 8 quarts and dohcs (like Toyota). The hemi has 2 plugs per cylinder but they arent iridium. Oil changes are easy. It does take 7 quarts but all v8s take that or more nowdays. In all thats why I chose what I drive. Oh yeah ecotec3s take 8 quarts 0-w20. That only comes in synthetic. So if a quart is 9 bucks x 8 thats $72 bucks just for the oil. Filter not included. What about if old timers dont want to put synthetic in their trucks? Engine problems?

Also goes to show why you run a risk by modifying your engine against manufacturer recommendations, using other than the recomended oil or fuel etc. Engines are getting more and more complex and designed in very specific ways. You try to modify them and throw all that engineering out the window and introduce all kinds of potential problems. Sandman had problems with his ecoboost because he modified the air intake. I've never heard of a stock 3.5 ecoboost blowing a head gasket.

@CT

Quit making excuses.

This is a known problem across the Ecoboost lineup. These engines are junk.

Why do you make excuses for engines that don't get the mileage advertised, have tons of issues, and have ridiculous maintenance costs??

@beebe
Yea, people dont realize the engineering in their vehicles nowdays. Some don't trust it but most don't understand it. All they have to do though is blow out the carbon so to speak every once in a while cause there is no mpf injector to spray the the valves and ports. This is the very reason Toyota and subaru put mpfi and di together on there brz/ frs twins.

So when can we get our V6 diesels in the F150 again?

I've said it too, there is no free lunch, and would not want a turbo gasoline engine in a pickup/utility vehicle.

Even if you don't have to REPLACE the cylinder heads, folks on here make it sound like pulling them is akin to changing an air filter--it is a complete PITA!

In fact, I had to do it on my last Ford. At less than 100K miles, my intake manifold gasket went bad and I was leaking coolant. So I started to pull the intake manifold to replace the gasket. As it was, the manifold bolt had siezed in the head and broke--so now I had to pull the head which essentially requires removing EVERYTHING on the engine.

Yeah, have fun whipping those head off of the Ecoboost to clean the carbon... .

I agree with Dav

That's a major job pulling the heads off that engine!
Don't forget about pulling the front cover and the turbos.
It would be less labor just to install a whole rebuilt engine.

Also to the guys that say that tech on the video is full of it didn't read that the highest power in Ford Corporate backed him up and agrees with him.
Ford admitted he's right!

NO ! I don't believe PUTC brought this story just to please all the Ram Owners complaints that they only did favorable stories on the F-150 and ignored the Ram Trucks.
I have complete confidence PUTC isn't in bed with any brand!

The heads only have to be replaced after using forced induction cleaning ...its a maintenance guide/warning. If you choose to do a forced induction cleaning, you know the risk. Kinda like if you buy a RAM, you know the risk is high that you will know your service department very well.

I am kind of surprised pickup trucks.com would post this article based on a YouTube video of some random service guy from seven months ago. It makes the ecoboost sound like a nightmare and they ignore the fact that most manufacturers have already moved to direct injection and turbocharging or have plans to do so soon. Also ignores the fact that ecoboost owners have not been reporting this problem in the f150. They present it as an inevitable nightmarish problem for all ecoboost owners when in reality it doesnt appear to be much of a problem at all for any f150 owners when there are probably thousands of them now with more than 150000 miles. And people still think this site is biased in fords favor?

@ sandman4x4

Yeah the great Hemi!!!! a friend of mine bought a use dodge charger with the 5.7L Hemi and a valve set broke off and fell into the no. 4 cylinder. Breaking the piston and trashing the engine block, and guess what Dodge wouldn't cover the damage, so he is in the process of replacing the engine. He was diehard Dodge fan until this happened, this is a problem that has occurred with many Hemi's. So you are dogging the Ecoboost technology when this is the future of gasoline engines. People like you made the same kind of comments, when jet engine were designed and first used, now they are the dominate means of power for airplanes. SEE YOU FEAR WHAT YOU DONT UNDERSTAND, AND THAT SAME MENTALLITY ALMOST CAUSE THE COMPLETE DEMISE OF CHRYSLER AS A CORPORTATION BACK IN 2008. AFRAID OF CHANGE AND BUILDING JUNK.

"YOU CAN'T LEAD FOLLOWING"

@Sandman4x4

Oh and by the way the charger had less than 100,000 miles. There is special clause in the warranty that states Dodge is not responsible for broken valve sets, because the customer may have change the oil infrequently. So you better keep the oil changing booklet up to date.

This old video has nothing to do with the F-150. It is discussing a different engine. And in the second video he claims the problem is due to leaky valves. This has nothing to do with the 3.5L EcoBoost which has been on the road for 5 years now.

Why not just add a catch can for the oil getting past the pvc I had to do this with my ls1 due to mods. that might help

For those interested in 'Top Tier Gas,and what it does etc.

http://www.toptiergas.com/retailers.html

Thislink will show you what brands are top tier.

Lot of Ford haters on the site as usual lol.

Replace heads to cure carbon build up? I bet he also recommends engine rebuilds when the oil gets old too.

Just give it the recommended high octane and take it on a good hard drive to blast it out.

Here is the situation for those that do not understand it:

Direct injected engines have little or no fuel spray that hit the back of the valves.

The PCV systems recycle oil through the intake, and this oil cokes on the valves.

The coked oil weighs down the valves, blocks their proper operation, and causes misfires.

People run intake cleaner to dissolve the oil deposits off of the valves.

The oil deposits dissolve off the valves, get sucked into the engine, get ignited, *dramatically* increase EGTs, and those high EGTs fry the turbos.

You are screwed.

Ford is also seeing increased blowby on their ecoboost engines, which is in turn diluting out the engine oil, this is causing poor lubrication of the timing chain, causing stretching of the timing chain necessitating replacement.

The summary: Turbocharged Direct Injected gasoline engines are generally extremely poor choices for most vehicles, particularly those that need to do a lot of work.

Axle has it right. VW just started putting port injectors in addition to the direct injectors on their 2.0 turbo gas engine (GTI) for this very reason. They only run intermittantly and keep the backs of the valves clean.

Axle does have it right. That is why GM and Chrysler are in no hurry to put turbo charged gasoline engines in pickup trucks, aka work vehicles. Ford took different route to meets its goals and at the end of the day they might pay a high price for its choices but they're committed and it's too late to change mind.
Time will tell how everything turns out.

There are many solutions. Proper variable valve timing greatly reduces carbon buildup. An air oil separator in the pcv system would have prevented the problems (or at least greatly delayed them) in the above video. Changing oil at regular intervals and using quality oils helps. Adding port injectors is another way to go. I have heard of the stretching timing chains resulting from blow by reported by some ecoboost owners but that is likely mostly from the lead foots that are in the turbos all the time. Will be interesting to see if the new diesel-like 2.7 motor with piston oil jets and a cgi block will be less prone to blow by. It has cam phasing which helps prevent carbon deposits. It is said to be designed for 2000 pound cylinder pressures (much more than a typical gasengine) so blow by should be less of an issue. Auto start stop also reduces carbon deposits from the pcv system since it is at its worst when idling. Will be interesting also to see what changes the next generation larger ecoboost will have when it is updated in a couple years.

Judging by the design of the engines, the 2.7 liter ecoboost actually ought to have better longevity than the 3.5 ecoboost for a few reasons, and the 3.5 has been pretty good so far.

Axle
Thank You for explaining it right.
Now I get it!

Also I trust PUTC cause they wouldn't print this story if there wasn't any truth in it.

Now the readers of PUTC know more than most Ford Technicians know cause how Axle explained it.

One thing maybe someone can help me with on my 2013 F-150 I don't understand.
I have the 36 gallon gas tank and many times filling it up on an empty tank when the gas gage needle doesn't move off "E" the MOST gas I could squeeze in it is 26-28 gallons.
Never run it where the low fuel light comes on but the needle didn't move from "Empty"
So I got a 8- 10 gallon reserve when it reads empty?

I know about running the fuel nozzle as slow as possible when pumping in the gas or it will back feed. When the nozzle stops I can squeeze in another 1 gallon.

Its funny when I am at the local gas station that only has 2 lanes and someone is waiting behind me and they get angry cause it takes me a long time to fill up my truck.
One old man got out of his car and started on me saying his car is going to run out of gas if he has to wait longer for me to get done so just to piss him off more when I got done with filling the tank I took my good old time using the window squeegee sponge thing cleaning off all my windows.
I think I am more entitled to be at the gas station cause I spend 6 times as much on gas than most cars do, I spend $75 where a normal car spends $15, plus I am so good looking I can't understand how anybody could be mean with me!

The Ford TSB's are still coming in rapid fashion attempting to solve many of the design errors for the 2011-2014 F150 Ecoboost.

The interference and interaction of the PCV blow by and condensation wreak havoc with this engine. If you live and drive in CO or AZ the engine will perform ok up to about 40,000 to 70,000 miles; but in SE Texas "at" dew point conditions you are lucky to get 10,000 miles out of a set of plugs or the cats, much less all the other problems of failed combustion.

This is information that Ford bashes love to exploit. Absoultry no truth to it at all.Ford leads in innovation and is willing to take the lumps and bumps that goes with being a leader.

So glad I just traded in my 2011 F150 Ecoboost.It had 65000 miles and 3 sparkplugs were fouled...misfiring. Sucks because I liked the truck, just didn't want to have it be a paper weight in a few years.

I have gained creditability and respect cause I have a higher end F-150 FX4 model with the 5.0.

I won't say this is a major issue with the 3.5 Ecoboost, but if you go to the F-150 forums, you will find that people are having problems with carbon buildup on the valves. FORD recommends you change the heads-not the technician. Four years in and Ford is sticking with a design that will have problems once mileage starts to rack up. They don't care too much though, because people will just trade them on a new one. Much like GM having high oil consumption with the 5.3 with the cylinder deactivation once the warranty is off. They have been doing that for what, 7-8 years now? Simple is always better. Nothing is simple anymore.

Good luck with that 5/60,000 mile powertrain warranty. Oh, I forgot the Ford fans only drive 12,000 miles a year.

All this technology makes me want to keep a spare older GM 5.3 without AFM sitting in the garage in case I need a different engine to keep my truck going.

While I give credit to Ford for trying something different to improve HP and mpgs, I wouldn't want to own one of these engines after the warranty expires.

If you have to get on them to keep the carbon out, the economy will drop so why bother with all the high tech goodies? If you drive them gently to get max economy, plan on a an expensive head job to keep it running right, thus in the long run isn't saving money either. In both cases, it's costing more than it should just to have a normal truck.

The old engines were beat on, maintenance done whenever they thought about it, and yet that lasted and lasted. Today, the high tech stuff costs but I wonder if it really is any better? I don't think so...



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