Ford 2.3L EcoBoost (EB) Reliability
We’ve written quite a few common problems guides. However, we’re taking a slightly different approach from the norm for the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost engine. This post may be a bit premature as the 2.3 EcoBoost is still a pretty new engine. It’s also showing to be reliable thus far so there may not be much to discuss. Nonetheless, in this article, we’ll discuss 2.3L EcoBoost reliability and a few considerations for those in the market.
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 2.3 EcoBoost makes anywhere from 270 horsepower up to 345 horsepower. The popular Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost receives 310 horsepower in standard form and 332 horsepower on performance pack versions.
Ford’s 2.3 EB engine is found in the following cars:
- 2015+ Ford Mustang EcoBoost
- 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 3.5 EcoBoost 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.
2.3L 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)
Alright, common problems is in quotations for a reason. As with most common problems we discuss it’s not always fair to call them common. Nor is it always fair to call them problems in the first place, common or not. We’ll dig into the 3 points listed above and discuss overall reliability of the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost.
1) Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Running Hot
There are a few things we want to discuss here. We try to avoid discussing early 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 boosted 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 2.3 EB 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 2.3L 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) Ford 2.3L 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 eventually ends up in the intake ports.
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
- Power loss
- Rough idle, vibration, shaking
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.
2.3 EB 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) Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Head Gasket Failure (Early RS Models)
This is hardly worth mentioning as it’s been discussed and the problem appears to be limited to early 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 2.3L 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.
2.3L EcoBoost Reliability
Is the 2.3L EcoBoost reliable in the long-run? What is the longevity of the 2.3 EcoBoost engine? As of now these questions are somewhat unknown. However, right now all lights appear green. The 2.3 EcoBoost engine 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 2.3 EcoBoost is a 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, 2.3L 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 2.3L EcoBoost engine.
2.3 EcoBoost 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 2.3L 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 2.3L 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 2.3L EcoBoost 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? Are you considering buying one?