All about Ford’s new family of turbocharged engines
What is EcoBoost?
EcoBoost is Ford Motor Company’s top sub-brand. As significant as VTEC was for Honda in the 90’s, EcoBoost is poised to do even more for Ford Motor Company. This marks the first time a major auto company leveraged the identity of a turbocharged engine in such a strategic and effective way. EcoBoost improves fuel economy by as much as 20 percent but costs far less than the several thousand dollar increase hybrids and diesels demand. Merging split personalities ‘Eco’-friendly and turbo-‘Boost’, EcoBoost engines offer a unique combination of torque, horsepower, fuel economy, performance, utility, durability and reliability. Launched in 2011 to international acclaim, these highly refined small displacement turbocharged *ECO*boost engines have fuel efficiency MPG gains while cruising around town or at light throttle on a highway – but when pulling a load up a steep hill or stomping on the gas pedal eco*BOOST* engines spool the turbo instantly with powerful torque for controlled acceleration with unrivaled towing capacity.
The rising costs of gas along with United States Congress’ CAFE laws means all automakers must produce vehicles with incrementally greater fuel efficiency every year. MPG may be king, but no self-respecting auto enthusiast wants to drive slow and boring vehicles! When Ford set out to improve the fuel economy of their cars and trucks, they knew customers wanted to have their cake and eat it too. The most effective solution: Turbo + Direct Injection + Variable Camshafts. Ford engineers went all-in on this initiative resulting in the incredibly versatile, exceptionally strong EcoBoost turbocharged engines.
To ensure the highest quality, most reliable engines, Ford engineers studied the warranty history of the outgoing engines and developed testing procedures based on the real-world driving experiences from current F-150 drivers. Big power is great for bragging rights but Ford needed to prove EcoBoost engines were up to the task, long-term, before truck enthusiasts would embrace this new power plant. Engine validation consisted of 1.5-million hours of computer analysis, 13,000 hours of engine dyno testing with 5000 hours at full boost and 2500 of those hours at 5000+ rpm. Finally, 100,000 hours of vehicle testing was logged as engineers devised tests that pushed these engines harder and longer than any customer, in any climate, could ever possibly do. Prototype EcoBoost engines underwent a wide range of tests with all components undergoing testing equivalent of 150,000 miles. The Ford F-150 EcoBoost race truck used an engine that has the equivalent of 10 years of rugged use. Finishing the grueling Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert endurance race in just over 38 hours, traveling 1,061 miles.
F-150 EcoBoost Test Engine
- A production 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine, #448AA, was randomly selected from the assembly line at Ford’s Cleveland engine plant. This engine had no idea it was in store for 163k miles of brutal endurance testing.
- #448AA was Shipped to dynamometer cell 36B in Ford’s Dearborn, MI engine lab and run for 300 hours, this engine’s first experience was a rapid simulation of 150,000 customer miles, including thermal-shock runs in which the engine was cooled to -20F and then heated to +235F, repeatedly.
- The engine was shipped to Ford’s Kansas City truck plant where it was installed in an F-150 4X4 Super-Crew. After assembly the truck was driven to Nygaard Timber in Astoria, Oregon, where it dragged a total of 110,000 pounds of logs across the ground (requiring all 420 ft-lb TQ)
- Next they drove the truck to Miami Speedway, and hooked it up to a 2-car open trailer carrying two NASCAR Ford Fusions (a total of 11,300 pounds) and run continuously around the oval track for 24 hours (average speed: 82 mph, distance covered: 1,607 miles)
- After this they took the truck to Davis Dam in Arizona, where it beat out the 5.3-liter Chevy Silverado V-8 AND the Ram 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 each pulling 9,000 pounds up a 6 percent grade in an uphill towing contest.
- The 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost engine was removed and then installed in a 7,100-pound F-150 Baja race truck. After 1,200 miles of practice they raced the truck 1060 miles in the SCORE Baja 1000, the toughest off-road race in North America, finishing 1st overall in the Stock Engine class. The truck’s owner said the engine’s fuel economy was so good compared with his previous V8 he skipped 2 planned fuel stops during the grueling trip from Ensenada to La Paz. After winning in Baja they sent the engine back to dynamometer cell 36B and dyno-tested one final time. It generated 364HP and 420ft-lb TQ, only one horsepower less than its HP rating and exactly Ford’s given torque rating.
- Lastly, for the final episode of the F-150 EcoBoost torture test, Ford Motor Co did a complete engine tear-down and inspection of engine #448AA (never been serviced or previously inspected) in front of thousands at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. 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.
EcoBoost Engine #448AA Teardown Observations
- Valve lash was 0.17 mm on the intakes and 0.38 mm on the exhausts
- Crankshaft end play was measured at 0.12 mm
- Timing chain did not stretch, EcoBoost V-6 tensioner used only 3 out of 10 teeth
- Visual inspection of the turbos, heads, pistons/rings, rod bearings and cylinder walls were within spec
- The main bearings showed cosmetic wear, nothing excessive