Ford 2.3L EcoBoost Engine

Common Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Engine Problems

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and TuningPro. He has over a decade of experience in the automotive industry including parts sales, writing, DIY modifications & repairs, and more. Jake is currently converting his N54 to a single turbo and building a Miata track car. He’s an experienced, hands-on automotive enthusiast who delivers in-depth, well-researched content.

The Ford 2.3L EcoBoost engine made its debut in the 2015 Mustang and Lincoln MKC. The turbocharged, direct injection design allows the engine to deliver great performance for its size. 2.3 EcoBoost engines are also showing to be reliable, but no engine is perfect. Some common issues include the engine running hot, carbon build-up, and head gasket failure. In this article, I discuss these Ford 2.3 EcoBoost problems along with overall reliability.

Ford 2.3L EcoBoost Engine Problems

Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Models & Info

The 2.3L EcoBoost engine made its debut in 2015 in the popular Ford Mustang and the Lincoln MKC. It’s an inline-4 engine utilizing a single twin-scroll turbocharger, which shows impressive performance for a small engine. Dependent upon models and options the engine makes anywhere from 270 horsepower up to 345 horsepower. The popular Mustang EcoBoost receives 310 horsepower in standard form and 332 horsepower on performance pack versions.

This engine is found in the following cars:

  • 2015+ Ford Mustang
  • 2016+ Ford Explorer
  • 2016-2018 Ford Focus RS
  • 2019+ Ford Focus ST
  • 2019+ Ford Ranger
  • 2020+ Ford Everest
  • 2021+ Ford Bronco
  • 2015-2019 Lincoln MKC
  • 2020+ Lincoln Corsair

As shown, the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost engine is found in many different Ford and Lincoln models. Additionally, Ford has been building EcoBoost turbo engine for the past decade in many different layouts. They’re proven engines that do their jobs well. We actually wrote a post about the F-150 3.5 EcoBoost engine vs the 5.0 V8 Coyote engine. In that post, we gave the 3.5L engine high praises for its performance, efficiency, and reliability. Thus far, the 2.3 EB engine is also showing many of the same traits. Albeit in a smaller package.

2.3 EcoBoost Common Problems

A few common problems on the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost include:

  • Runs hot
  • Carbon build-up
  • Head gasket (early Focus RS models)

We will discuss the above 2.3 EcoBoost problems in-depth throughout the rest of the article. However, it’s important to add some notes before moving along. These are some of the most common issues, but it doesn’t mean they’re common in the true sense of the definition. Instead, when issues do arise these are some of the most common areas.

That said, the 2.3 EcoBoost is shaping up to be a great engine so far. No engine is perfect, though. Problems can and do occur, but the 2.3L turbo inline-4 engine doesn’t suffer from constant reliability issues. Anyway, let’s jump into the common problems below and then circle back to overall reliability.

If you would rather consume this content via a video, check out our Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Common Problems video below:

1) Engine Running Hot

There are a few things we want to discuss here. We try to avoid discussing early 2.3 EcoBoost problems addressed with recalls. However, it’s an important lead into what we really want to discuss. In 2015, Ford issued some recalls for the 2.3 EcoBoost due to hot underbody temperatures. They realized the exhaust temperatures were a little hotter than expected. This brought concerns over the excess heat possibly causing failures to parking brake cables, fuel vapor lines, and fuel tanks. The fix was as simple as installing proper heat shields.

That leads us to our next point, which isn’t fair to consider a true issue. However, turbo engines often run hot. As air exits the turbo compressor wheel it can reach temperatures of 250°F, and potentially hotter. The 2.3L EcoBoost then relies on the intercooler to reduce those temperatures to as close to ambient as possible. Ford’s factory intercooler does a fine job at that under moderate driving on stock cars.

Though, models like the Mustang and Focus are built to be performance cars. The power is there to use, but once called upon frequently charge air temperatures quickly rise. This is especially true if you plan to tune or otherwise modify your 2.3 EcoBoost engine. As charge air temps rise the engine will back out some performance due to an increased risk of knock. Fortunately, solutions exist.

Addressing Hot Temperatures

Again, this is likely a non-issue and not fair to call an issue. Hot charge air temperatures usually aren’t a danger to the engine or any other components. Rather, the engine will simply pull timing to avoid the chance of knocks. However, Mustang and Focus owners may be more likely to call upon the performance of their 2.3 EcoBoost. Coming from turbo cars ourselves, heat-soak can be a frustrating issue.

An upgraded intercooler is often the easiest solution to heat-soak and high temperatures. It’s a modification well worth it on the 2.3 EcoBoost engine if you plan to use the power often. This is especially true in hotter climates or for those planning to tune their EcoBoost engines.

2) Carbon Build-Up Problems

Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Carbon Build-up

This is another consideration that’s not really a true problem on the 2.3L engine. However, it’s an extra maintenance cost that should be factored in. The 2.3 EcoBoost engine uses direct-injection (DI) rather than port-injection. Direct-injection is great technology, however it does have a flaw.

DI flows fuel directly into the cylinder whereas PI sprays fuel into the intake ports. All engines have at least some degree of oil blow-by. This is basically the process of oil making it through the intake tract. The oil ends up in the intake ports and sticks to the walls and valves.

In the case with direct-injection, there is no fuel flowing over the intake valves to clean them. As such, the carbon deposits can stick to the valves and eventually lead to a build-up of carbon. Some engines have more or less natural oil blow-by than others. However, many direct-injected engines should address this roughly every 100,000 miles.

2.3 EcoBoost Carbon Build-Up Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms of carbon build-up include:

  • Power loss
  • Rough idle, vibration, shaking
  • Misfires

As the carbon deposits get significant it restricts the air-flow into cylinders. Some cylinders may get more build-up that others. Ultimately, you’ll experience power loss due to the restricted air-flow. You may also notice rough idle, vibrations, or shaking. Those symptoms are often caused by misfires.

Carbon Build-Up Maintenance

Not many 2.3 EcoBoost engines have hit 100,000+ miles yet. Some that have hit that mileage probably haven’t even considered carbon build-up. It’s not usually something that’s urgent. However, on performance cars like the Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost you probably don’t want to be losing power. It’s good maintenance regardless to ensure the engine is running well. The best ways to clean the intake valves are:

  • Walnut blasting
  • Brake cleaner and brush

In our experience with many direct injected cars we’ve found walnut blasting is the most effective method to clean the intake valves. You may be able to find somewhere to rent the equipment needed. It’s not a challenging job, but it’s important to do it right and ensure no walnut media shells enter the cylinders. You can also use brake cleaner and allow it to soak on the valves and use a brush to knock off any deposits. You’d then need a shop vac to suck up the deposits and brake cleaner left over. Again, walnut blasting is the preferred method. At a shop this maintenance can run anywhere from $300-600.

How to Prevent Carbon Build-Up

Some engines like the 3rd gen 5.0 Coyote and 2nd gen 3.5L EcoBoost use port-injection and direct-injection. The PI ensures fuel is flowing over the intake valves to constantly clean them. A lot also try running oil catch cans, however results aren’t always consistent. In the BMW world, catch cans were popular years and years ago but the hype has died off. An oil catch can may help slow carbon build-up, but won’t completely prevent it.

The same can be said for 2.3 EcoBoost water-methanol injection. It will likely slow carbon deposits as the WMI is injected before the valves. However, the flow generally isn’t enough to completely eliminate carbon build-up.

3) Head Gasket Failure (Early Focus RS Models)

This is hardly worth mentioning as it’s been discussed and the problem appears to be limited to early 2.3 EcoBoost Focus RS models. Sometimes these problems can be tough to discuss. The internet often has a habit of blowing things out of proportion. However, sometimes things can also slip under the rug. Nonetheless, we’ll keep this short and leave it somewhat open ended.

This article discusses the possibility that affected Focus RS models accidentally received Mustang head gaskets. That seems to be the general consensus. Only a few percent of Focus RS cars were affected and Ford ultimately resolved the issues.

We figured it was worth a mention just in case anything deeper is going on. There don’t appear to be many, if any, head gasket failures on Mustang’s or other models using the 2.3 EB engine. Again, the 2.3 EcoBoost is still a pretty new engine. Time will tell if there are deeper issues here, or if it was truly an error with incorrect gaskets being used.

Ford 2.3L EcoBoost Reliability

Is the 2.3 EcoBoost reliable in the long-run? What is the longevity of the engine? The 2.3 EcoBoost doesn’t suffer from any significant design flaws or common problems that are evident as of now. Ford has also had great success with the 3.5L and 2.7L EcoBoost engines. It appears the 2.3L inline-4 is also reliable engine that should live a long life.

However, reliability comes down to many different things. Of course, maintenance is a highly important aspect. A well maintained 2.3 EcoBoost engine shouldn’t have any serious issues making it to 200,000 miles. Though, part of reliability also comes down to the luck of the draw. This is true across all engines and all manufacturers. Sometimes well maintained engines decide to give out early while poorly maintained engines go on for hundreds of thousands of miles. It’s tough to chalk that up to much more than luck of the draw.

Additionally, 2.3 EcoBoost longevity will be tested by those pushing the engines with tunes, bolt-on mods, larger turbos, etc. In general, the more power you push on an un-opened motor the greater chance of problems and a shorter life-span. If you plan to mod your 2.3 EcoBoost ensure you’re not taking any shortcuts. Otherwise, maintain your engine well with proper oils and oil change intervals. Chances are, you’ll have a great experience with the engine.

2.3 EcoBoost Problems Summary

The 2.3L EB engine is shaping up to be a reliable engine with impressive performance for its small 4-cylinder design. There aren’t any major common faults with the engine that appear evident to date. However, turbo engines do run hot and the factory intercooler may be insufficient for those pushing their cars hard or tuning them. Direct-injected engines also naturally suffer from carbon deposits on intake valves that can hinder performance and drivability. We suspect walnut blasting will be good maintenance to knock out every 100,000 miles.

Otherwise, the 2.3 EcoBoost is a great engine overall. Reliability can come down to many factors such as maintenance, mods, how it’s driven, and luck of the draw. However, we suspect the majority of well maintained engines should live a reliable 200,000+ miles. All engines will have problems at some point in their lives, but expect the 2.3 EB to be a strong, reliable engine.

What’s your experience with the 2.3 EcoBoost problems? Are you considering buying one?

Looking for more on the EcoBoost engines? Check out our 2.3 vs 2.7 EcoBoost, 2.0 vs 2.3 EB, and common Ranger engine problems guides.

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  1. Great Engine , no problems with 50,000 miles on it. Run a. Mix of 87 and 89 octane on long trips , or safter 4 or 5 tanks of 87 octane.

      1. Moi 30000 kilo et plusieurs problème , caméras de recul embuée , ecoboost ne fonctionne plus, vibrage dans une des roues et Ford refuse leur tords, problème électronique aussi , plusieurs lumières allumer dans le dash

  2. I have a 2015 Ford Mustang with ecoboost engine.
    We have had to have the head gasket replaced twice so far, and it is acting up again.
    This car in my opinion is a lemon, and I plan to dump it.
    There is a class action lawsuit on this issue, so I do not believe the internet is blowing things out of proportion on this issue. Ford knows there is a problem, but since 2010 has not fixed it on these engines. In general I have had very good experience with fords, I have owned several, and with regular maintenance, they can last a very long time. My Ranger is 20 years old and runs great. But Ford really need to work this issue out.

    1. My car has 38k miles on it, and the races blew out and Ford is trying to not swap my engine out. just got the car not too lonh ago!

      1. I think you spelled that out, “races” if you are hammering on your car, new or older, you are going to break something and Ford can’t back parts or cars if your vehicle is taking abuse

  3. I have a 2019 stock Ecoboost mustang and at 34000 miles it blew the head gasket and cracked the 1 and 2 cylinder walls. It hasn’t even been driven hard as I have a race pony for that. When I took it to the dealership they didn’t even question the issue and said it would take a month for the new motor with a revised head configuration because it has been such an ongoing issue the factory was out of them completely. I’m supposed to get it back today after 5 weeks.

    1. I had a 2019 Mustang Ecoboost. 2 cylinders kept misfiring around 8 months after I got it. So I brought it in and I was told I’d get a new engine put in. Weeks later I come in and all they did was “fix” the head gaskets and put a seal. Ended up trading in for a 2021 F-250 since those seals will only hold up until around the warranty is over and then fixing those head gaskets will come out of my pocket. Never getting a EcoBoost again but will be getting the 5.0 for sure in the next few years.

    2. I seem to be in your situation. Quite a shock that at 33000 miles my engine might need to be replaced. Ford have been very coy about what exactly is wrong with the engine. The major symptom was the little check engine light went on in the dashboard. Otherwise the car was running well. It is still under warranty (another 15 months left), but how do I trust this engine after the warranty expires? If this problem becomes widely known Mustangs with the 2.3 Ecoboost engine might not be easy to trade in or sell.

  4. I have a 2017 Lincoln MKC Reserve with the 2.3 Liter inline 4 engine. It had to be replaced at 40,000 miles due to over consumption of oil. After the dealer initiated a 1,000 mile oil consumption test, the very next day while driving it became sluggish, was blowing black smoke from the exhaust and had to be flat bedded back to the dealer. It was determined that the engine had to be replaced! Six weeks later I had the vehicle back, during that period the dealer provided a 2019 MKC for my use. More recently the check engine light started going on last June, 2021. After a number of resets, a couple of new coils, 4 new spark plugs, coolant flush & fill I got the SUV back only to have the check engine light come back on continuously! Finally after waiting several weeks for a loaner vehicle I was told the day after I dropped my vehicle off that it would now require yet another new engine! At this point that engine had 60,000 miles on it. I was informed on September 22nd, 2021 that there were 18 vehicles ahead of me all of which required new engines, albeit not 2.3 liter ones but engines nonetheless! They estimated about a week or so to replace each engine. As of today I’m still in a loaner awaiting my vehicle along with a refund of $720.00 on the work previously mentioned which was done in late June of 2021 to fix the issues with the engine which obviously did not! HELP!!!

  5. The 2.3 liter Ecoboost is a complete failure!! My 2017 Ford Explorer needs a new engine due to coolant leaks into the cylinder at 85,000 miles. Why is Ford doing nothing about it?

    1. Having the same issue 2017 Explorer 2.3 Ecoboost coolant leaking into cylinder #4. Fords solution is to replace the engine $12,000.00. How did this work out for you?

  6. My brand new (less then 2500 miles) 2023 2.3L mustang is waiting to get to the dealer for misfiring under load. Dealer couldn’t take the car for 3.5 weeks. Car didn’t even make it to the first oil change. Will get rid of this, and keep using my 200K mile Crown Vic!

  7. Hi what are your thoughts on using seafoam air intake cleaner. My 2.3 l explorer 2016 engine has approximately 100000 miles on it . Can i use this product safely or am i risking blowing off chunks of carbon into the cylinders thanks

    1. You should be safe – at 100k I’m not sure you’re going to have enough buildup for chunks to be flying off and the seafoam isn’t going to obliterate it all in one go.

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