The Ford 3.5L V6 engine came out in 2007 for use in the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, and Lincoln MKZ. It then found its way into many other Ford models in the following years. Ford 3.5 V6 engines are also known as the Duratec 35, 3.5 TiVCT, or 3.5 Cyclone. The engine offers 265-290 horsepower and 248-255 lb-ft of torque. That kind of power likely isn’t going to impress anyone, especially today. However, the 3.5 Duratec engine does offer a great balance of fuel economy and reliability. Of course, no engine is perfect and there aren’t any exceptions here. In this article, we discuss a few of the most common problems with the Ford 3.5 V6 as well as overall reliability.
What Car Use the Duratec 35?
The 3.5L V6 Cyclone engine is in the following Ford, Lincoln, and Mazda models:
- 2007-2018 Ford Edge
- 2007-2010 Lincoln MKX
- 2007-2012 Lincoln MKZ
- 2007-2016 Mazda CX-9
- 2008-2019 Ford Taurus
- 2010-2012 Ford Fusion Sport
- 2009-2013 Ford Flex
- 2015-2017 Ford F-150
- 2011-2019 Ford Explorer
3 Common Ford 3.5 V6 Engine Problems
A few of the most common engine problems on the Ford 3.5 Cyclone/Duratec engine include:
- Water pump
- Oil dilution
- Cam torque actuated phasers
We’ll discuss each of the above issues in greater depth through the rest of this article. However, we have a few quick notes before moving on. The Duratec 35 engine is a sound, reliable engine. Faults and failures we discuss are specifically a few of the most common issues. That doesn’t necessarily mean they affect a majority of Ford 3.5L V6 engines. Rather, when problems do pop up these are a few of the most common areas.
That said, all engines are prone to all sorts of various problems. This is especially true with higher mileage and age. Some of the early model 3.5 Cyclone engines are over a decade old, so it’s just an extra point to consider. Anyways, let’s dive into the above issues with the Ford 3.5 V6.
1) 3.5L V6 Cyclone Water Pump Failure
Water pump failures are one of the most common cooling system problems on many engines. It’s a moving part responsible for circulating coolant through the 3.5 V6 Ti-VCT engine. Without coolant flow an engine is prone to overheating quickly. As such, water pump problems are typically an urgent repair. The Ford 3.5 V6 does have a serious design flaw with the water pump.
Due to the transverse design, 3.5 Cyclone water pumps are located behind the timing cover and driven by the timing chain. Not only does that increase the chance of the 3.5 V6 water pump leaking, but it makes the repair a bit more labor intensive. Fortunately, leaking water pumps are a bit less urgent than an actual water pump failure.
It’s still important to repair the water pump as soon as possible. However, as long as the Ford 3.5 Duratec is still getting coolant flow then there shouldn’t be any major risk of severe overheating. Of course, the pump may also fail internally which would affect coolant flow. Water pump problems usually pop up in the 80,000 to 120,000 mile ballpark on the 3.5 TiVCT engine.
Duratec 35 Water Pump Symptoms
Symptoms of water pump issues on the 3.5L Cyclone engine include:
- Visible coolant leak
- Low coolant
- Coolant mixing with oil
A visible coolant leak can be due to several different problems, but it usually boils down to the water pump. Of course, the coolant leak may result in receiving a low coolant light. In severe cases, the Duratec 35 engine coolant can mix with the oil. We will discuss this in the next problem with oil dilution. Additionally, water pump failure may result in check engine lights and overheating.
Ford 3.5 V6 Water Pump Replacement
Water pump replacement can already be a pretty costly repair on any engine. However, the Ford Duratec 35 water pump location makes it a bit harder to access and repair. It’s not terribly complicated to DIY but it does take some skill and patience. Otherwise, leave 3.5 V6 water pump repairs up to the experts. At a repair shop the job will likely run around $800-1200, depending on the year and model.
2) Ford 3.5 Oil Dilution Problems
We’ll be a little quicker on this section. Ford 3.5 V6 Cyclone oil dilution issues really stem from the above water pump failure. Due to the water pump location, a severe failure may cause the coolant to mix with engine oil. It’s a lot less common as the water pumps usually fail and leak from the weep hole. However, there are enough cases of oil and coolant mixing that it’s worth the mention.
Obviously, coolant mixing with engine oil is not a good situation. It affects the oils ability to effectively lubricate the internal parts of the 3.5L Duratec engine. If this goes unnoticed for too long it may cause catastrophic engine problems. Again, it’s a lot less common than most water pump leaks. However, it’s an important issue to be on the lookout for. We believe there may be a few lawsuits floating around due to the 3.5 Cyclone water pump issues that cause oil dilution. The below video is a helpful resource.
3.5L TiVCT Oil Dilution Symptoms
A few symptoms that may suggest that coolant is mixing with oil include:
- Rattling/clunking from engine
- Milky oil
This problem begins with the internal bearings on the Ford 3.5 V6 water pump. As the bearing fails you may begin to hear clunking and rattling sounds from the water pump area. Milky looking oil is a dead giveaway that something isn’t run. The 3.5 TiVCT may also run hotter due to the oil and coolant mixing.
3) 3.5 TiVCT Cam Torque Phasers Issues
We’ve referred to the Ford 3.5 V6 as the TiVCT a couple times in this article. It’s important to differentiate here. Early model engines use iVCT. However, in 2012 all 3.5 Cyclone engines began using TiVCT (Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing). Ford 3.5L V6 cam torque actuated phaser problems affect these later model TiVCT engines. The idea of TiVCT is to adjust the intake and exhaust valve timing to allow for better power and fuel economy. It’s excellent tech that’s found on most modern engines.
However, there are a few issues with the 3.5 V6 valve timing system. Cam torque actuated phasers are one of those problems that may pop up. These cam phasers are tasked with rotating each camshaft relative to engine timing. When the 3.5 Duratec cam torque phasers fail there are a handful of symptoms. Other failures can occur if this isn’t fixed in a timely manner.
Ford 3.5 Duratec Cam Phasers Symptoms
Look for the following symptoms that may point to a fault with the 3.5 Cyclone cam torque actuated phasers:
- Engine rattling sounds
- Power loss
- Rough running
Cam phaser failure will typically show itself with a check engine light and a rattling sound from the Ford 3.5 engine. In severe cases it can also throw off ignition timing. This will lead to power loss and rough operation.
3.5 V6 Cyclone Cam Phasers Replacement
As a note – consider replacing the TiVCT solenoids if your 3.5 V6 is higher mileage. That’s another area that can cause some issues as the engine ages. Moving onto the problem at hand. Cam torque actuated phasers lie within the cylinder head. It takes a decent bit of labor to get into that area so repair bills can add up. Depending on the year and model of the Ford 3.5L engine it can cost about $700-1200+ to fix cam phaser issues.
Ford 3.5 Ti-VCT V6 Reliability
Is the Ford 3.5 V6 Cyclone engine reliable? Yes, we believe the Ford Duratec 35 earns above average marks for reliability. Water pump and cam torque actuated phaser problems can be a bit of a headache. However, the internet tends to blow things out of proportion. The problems likely aren’t as common as some may lead you to believe. Otherwise, the 3.5L V6 doesn’t suffer from many common failures or design flaws. There are plenty of engines out there that have many more and much worse common issues. As such, the Ford 3.5 TiVCT earns solid marks for reliability.
Problems can and do happen, but that can be said about any automotive engine. Of course, maintenance is also key for any engine and that applies to the 3.5 V6 Cyclone engine. Change the fluids on time and fix issues in a timely manner. It’s basic stuff that goes a long way in ensuring you have a good, reliable experience with the Ford 3.5 V6 engine.
With proper maintenance it’s not unusual for the 3.5 Cyclone to make it beyond 200,000 miles without many, if any, severe engine problems. Not too bad for longevity. It’s a good engine all around that offers a balance of reliability, longevity, and fuel economy.
Ford 3.5L Cyclone Common Problems Summary
In 2007, Ford introduced the 3.5L Duratec engine in a few models before making its way into flagship vehicles like the Ford Explorer and F-150. It’s not the most powerful option when compared with the EcoBoost or 5.0 Coyote options. However, the 3.5 V6 does offer plenty of benefits for those who don’t need the extra power. The Duratec 35 is a very reliable and efficient engine that has been around for a while. No engine is perfect, though.
A few common problems with the Ford 3.5 V6 include the water pump and cam phasers. Water pump failures can also lead to costly repair bills if coolant mixes with the oil. It’s not a terribly common issue that would scare us away from buying the 3.5 Duratec. Otherwise, there really aren’t an major flaws with the engine.
Ford 3.5L V6 TiVCT engines are a great option for those who don’t need gobs of power, but simply want a reliable, efficient engine. With proper maintenance they’re known to make it beyond 200,000 miles without many serious issues. Stay on top of maintenance and you’ll likely have a great experience with the 3.5 Cyclone.
What’s your experience with the Ford 3.5 V6 TiVCT engine? Are you considering one?