Ultimate 3.5 EcoBoost Engine Guide
Zach is a founder of 8020 Media and TuningPro. He’s been repairing, upgrading, tuning, and writing about cars & engines for over a decade. Zach has written over 400 automotive articles and continues to be a lead writer for TuningPro. His passion, experience, and deep technical knowledge make him a go-to resource for readers looking to take their car to the next level.
The Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine made its debut in several Lincoln and Ford models. It was quickly adopted to the F-150 in 2011 before making its way into many other models. The 3.5L twin turbo V6 engine delivers an impressive 355-450 horsepower in most applications. However, a variant of the 3.5L EcoBoost making 660 horsepower is also found in the Ford GT. Ultimately, the 3.5 EcoBoost is a very capable engine with many uses in the Ford and Lincoln lineup.
Additionally, the Ford 3.5L V6 offers a great balance of fuel economy, emissions, and reliability. A twin turbo design makes the 3.5 EcoBoost easy to tune, mod, and upgrade for big power gains too. There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to this Ford EcoBoost engine. In this article, we discuss everything about the 3.5 EcoBoost including problems, reliability, tuning & upgrades, specs, and more.
Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Specs
Specs for the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine are as follows:
|Engine||Ford 3.5 EcoBoost|
|Displacement||3496cc, 3.5L, 213 CID|
|Valvetrain||DOHC with VCT|
|Cylinder Block||Cast Aluminum|
|Bore x Stroke||92.5mm x 86.6mm|
|Compression Ratio||10.0:1 or 10.5:1*|
|Horsepower||310 – 660 HP|
|Torque (lb-ft)||350 – 550 TQ|
*1st gen EcoBoost engines use a compression ratio of 10.0:1. That was increased to 10.5:1 for the 2nd gen engines. However, certain high-output variants like the Ford Raptor 3.5L EcoBoost remain at the lower 10.0:1 ratio.
The 3.5 EcoBoost name is pretty simple; 3.5 represents the 3.5L displacement while EcoBoost is Ford’s name for their series of turbocharged, direct-injection gasoline engines. This 60° V6 engine utilizes twin turbos with a DOHC featuring variable cam timing (VCT). An aluminum block and head help keep the engines weight down.
All these specs lead to impressive power of 310-660hp and 350-550 lb-ft. However, most Ford 3.5L V6 models fall in the 355-450 horsepower ballpark.
The Ford Transit van receives a lesser 310 horsepower rating while the Ford GT supercar delivers up to 660 horsepower. It should be noted – the Ford GT 3.5 EcoBoost has a number of upgrades to support the massive power increase over the standard EcoBoost engine.
What Cars Use the Ford 3.5L V6?
First gen 3.5L EcoBoost engines are in the following Ford and Lincoln models:
- 2010-2019 Ford Flex
- 2010-2016 Lincoln MKS
- 2010-2019 Lincoln MKT
- 2010-2019 Ford Taurus SHO
- 2013-2019 Ford Explorer Sport & Platinum
- 2011-2016 Ford F-150
- 2015-2017 Ford Expedition
- 2015-2017 Lincoln Navigator
The 2nd generation 3.5L twin turbo V6 is in the following:
- 2017-present Ford F-150
- 2018-present Ford Expedition
- 2017-present Ford F-150 Raptor
- 2018-present Lincoln Navigator
- 2017-present Ford GT
Not only do the 2nd gen engines offer more power and torque, but Ford also made some great reliability updates. If you’re looking to buy a car with the 3.5 EcoBoost it’s important to understand the differences to make an informed decision. In the next section, we’ll dive into some of the changes from the 1st to 2nd gen 3.5L engine.
1st Gen vs 2nd Gen 3.5 EcoBoost
This will all be tied together throughout this article. However, it’s important to note: the original 3.5L twin turbo V6 is still a great engine. No engine is perfect, though, and there is always room for improvement. In essence, Ford didn’t implement the 2nd gen updates because the original variant is bad. The update was simply a way to make a good engine even better.
Some updates to the 2nd generation Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine include:
- Addition of port fuel injection
- Turbo updates
- Electronically actuated wastegates
- Lighter turbine wheels
- Sharper turbine vane angles
- Timing chain system updates
- Two chain system
- Chain side plates were thickened
- Double sprocket
- Hollow camshafts
- VCT phaser design change for reliability
- Piston oil squirter volume increase
- Auto start/stop
Wikipedia also has some additional information on the EcoBoost updates. It’s a great resource for more info on the EcoBoost changes from the 1st to 2nd gen. Still, we will dive a bit further into these updates too. Why are the 3.5 EcoBoost updates so important? How does it change performance, reliability, and tuning/aftermarket potential?
Why the 2nd Gen Updates Are Important
The original EcoBoost uses direct injection (DI) only. It’s a high quality fuel system that allows for improvements in power, emissions, and fuel economy compared to traditional port injection (PI). However, direct injection doesn’t come without a couple of its own flaws. More on this when we discuss 3.5 EcoBoost problems and reliability. Adding port injection does help eliminate those flaws.
Port injection is also important for those looking to make lots of power with the Ford 3.5L twin turbo engine. DI is very costly and complex to upgrade whereas PI is simple and cheap. It makes it easy to support the demanding fuel flow of E85, turbo upgrades, and other big mods.
Turbo updates allow the Ford 3.5L V6 twin turbos to spool faster and deliver more peak boost. The timing chain updates were to minimize problems that were occurring on some original 3.5 EcoBoost engines. Hollow cams help save weight, the VCT phaser update was to address previous problems, and the piston oil squirters deliver more volume for improved cylinder cooling.
Ultimately, the 2nd gen EcoBoost includes a lot of great updates. The 1st gen 3.5L EB still delivers good reliability, but Ford improved a lot of the most problematic areas with the updates. Turbo updates and the addition of port injection are also great for those looking to tune and upgrade the 3.5L V6 to take things to the next level.
Ford 3.5L EB Performance
Stock performance for the 3.5L V6 EcoBoost is hard to discuss in one article. Of course, performance depends on what car or truck is in question. AWD, 4WD, transmission, features, and a lot more can affect things like 0-60, 1/4 mile, and more. Nonetheless, let’s lay out some performance data for the 3.5 EcoBoost:
2011 F-150 SuperCrew: 6.2 seconds 0-60mph / 14.8s @ 95mph 1/4 mile
2021 F-150 Tremor: 5.3 seconds 0-60mph / 13.9s @ 100mph 1/4 mile
Numbers for the 2011 F-150 come from this Motortrend article while the 2021 F-150 is from Car and Driver. Both F-150’s were tested with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine. Even the 2011 numbers were impressive for the large, heavy SuperCrew model. However, the 2021+ 3.5 EcoBoost delivers 400hp and 500 lb-ft in the Ford F-150. It’s nearly a second quicker to 60mph and the 1/4 mile while trapping 5mph faster.
Meanwhile, the 3.5L twin turbo V6 propels the Ford GT to 60mph in 3.0 seconds with a 10.8 second @ 134mph 1/4 mile. It goes to show just how much potential the 3.5 EcoBoost has in a performance car.
F-150 3.5 Towing Capacity
Like stock performance, towing is very much dependent upon the specific 3.5 EcoBoost in question. The F-150 3.5L V6 twin turbo has offered best in class towing for most of its life, though. Looking at the 2021 F-150 3.5 EcoBoost vs 2021 competitors shows a considerable advantage for the Ford F-150:
- F-150 3.5L EcoBoost: 14,000 lbs
- Ram 1500 5.7L HEMI V8 w/ eTorque: 12,750 lbs
- Chevy Silverado 1500 6.2L V8: 13,300 lbs
Even up against the large 5.7L HEMI and Chevy 6.2L V8, the twin turbo EcoBoost delivers better towing capacity. It makes sense given the 2021 F-150 3.5L EcoBoost engine produces 500 lb-ft of torque. The HEMI delivers 410 lb-ft while the 6.2L Chevy engine comes in at 460 lb-ft. The 3.5 EcoBoost also beats Ford’s own 5.0L Coyote which can tow 13,000 pounds in the F-150.
The trend continues for other vehicle classes with the 3.5 EcoBoost, too. For example, the 2021 Lincoln Navigator offers best-in-class towing capability with the 3.5 EcoBoost. Point is – this twin turbo V6 is a very capable engine from both a performance and towing perspective.
3.5 EcoBoost Engine Mods & Upgrades
Now, it’s time to dive into some of the more exciting topics about the Ford 3.5 twin turbo V6 EcoBoost engine. Turbo engines often leave a lot of power on the table, and that’s very true when it comes to this 3.5L engine.
A few simple bolt-ons can push the 3.5 V6 to 450-500+whp on stock turbos. The 2nd gen EcoBoost is even capable of 600+whp and 650+wtq before needing turbo upgrades. In the next sections, we discuss some of the best 3.5 EcoBoost performance mods to achieve these insane numbers.
That said, engine upgrades for the 3.5 EcoBoost are topics we’ve discussed in many different articles. The purpose of this Ultimate 3.5 EcoBoost Guide is to look at the 3.5L V6 from a holistic view. Rather than re-writing thousands of words on each specific upgrade this will be a quick overview of Ford 3.5 EB mods and upgrades. Check out the links in the next sections for more info and details on specific upgrades.
*Dyno from Burger Tuning of a 2018 Ford Raptor with a JB4 tune. The truck is completely stock other than the JB4 tune and a small E85 mixture (E20) in the final two dyno runs.
Ford 3.5 V6 Basic Bolt-On Mods
The best starting point for power upgrades on the Ford 3.5L EcoBoost include:
These four simple bolt-on mods are a great starting point for any EcoBoost. Check out our article on the Best Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Bolt-on Performance Upgrades for more info on these mods. The links in the bullet list above go to mod guides for each of the individual mods.
With the basic bolt-on mods and pump gas the 3.5L twin turbo engine can make about 425-500whp. The earlier generation EcoBoost will fall on the lower-end while the 2nd gen will make about 40-60whp more with the same mods.
Taking things to the next level requires more aggressive tuning and higher-quality fuels. You may consider running race gas, methanol injection, or ethanol (E85). E85 is the ultimate fueling to make huge power and this is where the EcoBoost can make 550-600+whp.
However, ethanol is demanding on the fuel system. Full E85 requires about 30% additional fuel flow, which means you’ll need costly fueling mods on the 1st gen DI only engine. It’s a lot easier to upgrade the port injection system on the newer 2017+ 3.5 EcoBoost.
3.5 EcoBoost Turbocharger Upgrades
Ultimately, the above 3.5L EcoBoost upgrades will likely make more than enough power for most owners. That’s especially true if you run high-quality fuel – like E85 – that can support 550+whp. There are always those who want more, though. Enter 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrades.
Turbo upgrades for the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost aren’t just for more power. The stock turbos are very capable, but they do run out of breath on the top-end. Making 500+whp on the stock turbos also puts a lot of stress on them, so upgrading is a good way to make the power easier.
Anyway, with turbo upgrades the 3.5 EcoBoost is capable of 650+whp. It’s not a cheap if you’re looking to make that kind of power. You’ll likely want to consider additional cooling mods, transmission upgrades, tires, axles, and much more. Check out our 3.5 twin turbo upgrade guide for more info on power gains, costs, risks, and supporting mods.
It’s also important to consider the safety and the health of the engine, though. That much power can take a serious toll on the engine on other components. Can the 3.5L twin turbo V6 handle the abuse or do you need to upgrade the internals? Let’s jump in and discuss.
How Much Power Can the Twin Turbo 3.5L V6 Handle?
If you read our twin turbo upgrade guide then you likely have some idea of the Ford 3.5L EcoBoost engine limits. It’s a very capable engine that is retains good reliability under 550whp. The 3.5 EcoBoost engine doesn’t usually run into any major problems below that power.
However, it’s important to have a good tune and supporting mods. It isn’t a good idea to throw 550+whp at the engine without a quality setup. We highly recommend running heavy E85 mixtures at that power with all of the fueling mods to support the fuel flow. You’ll also want cooling upgrades and other necessary mods to support the added boost, heat, and stresses.
Pushing beyond 550whp is where things become increasingly risky. It’s hard to put an upper limit on any engine let alone the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine. Some may let go before 550whp while others may hold 600+whp for the long-term. All else equal, more boost and power is going to put more stress on the 3.5L V6.
Common Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Problems
Everything about the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost F-150 almost seems to good to be true. It offers best-in-class towing, excellent performance, and tons of aftermarket potential. There has to be a drawback, right? Well, there really aren’t any major drawbacks to the 3.5 twin turbo V6 engine.
The Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine also delivers pretty impressive reliability. No engine is perfect, though, and there aren’t any exceptions here. While the Ford 3.5L V6 is reliable there are still a few common problems with the engine (as is the case with any internal combustion engine). A few of those problems include:
- Ignition system
- Carbon build-up
- Timing chain issues
- Engine oil leaks
Ford 3.5L Twin Turbo V6 Issues
In the next sections, we will briefly dive into each of these issues. Again, this guide is meant to be a holistic overview of the 3.5L EcoBoost engine. If you’re looking for detailed info on these issues then check out this 3.5 EcoBoost common problems article.
1. Ford 3.5 Ignition System
Spark plugs and ignition coils are the main focus of the ignition system. The Ford 3.5L turbo engine doesn’t usually have actual defects or issues with these parts. However, twin turbo engines can be very demanding on plugs and coils.
You will likely notice these parts wear down a lot faster on the 3.5 EcoBoost compared to a traditional naturally aspirated engine. That’s especially true if you started modding and upgrading the Ford 3.5L V6.
2. 3.5L EcoBoost Carbon Build-Up
Carbon build-up is a problem that is unique to direct injection engines. DI sprays fuel directly into the cylinders. All engines produce some natural oil blow-by that makes its way into the intake ports where it often sticks to the back of valves. With port injection, fuel is sprayed into these intakes ports and cleans away any carbon deposits.
Since Ford added port injection on the 2nd Gen 3.5L EcoBoost this isn’t an issue for later engines. There’s a lot that goes into carbon build-up so make sure to check out the detailed problems guide for more info.
3. Timing Chain Problems
The timing chain is another known issue with earlier EcoBoost engines. In the 1st vs 2nd gen EcoBoost section we discussed some of the updates that were meant to improve timing chain reliability. They appear to have been an effective solution for the 3.5 EcoBoost since later engines don’t often run into timing chain problems.
4. Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Oil Leaks
Last but not least oil leaks are another fairly common issue on older Ford 3.5L EcoBoost engines. The same could be said for just about any older engine with 100,000+ miles. Engines use a lot of seals, gaskets, o-rings, and other parts subject to wear and tear over the years.
As such, 3.5 EcoBoost oil leaks aren’t just applicable to the 1st gen engines. They’re simply older and more likely to develop oil leaks in the short-term.
Is the 3.5 EcoBoost Reliable?
Yes, the Ford 3.5 twin turbo V6 EcoBoost engine delivers good overall reliability. Even the early 3.5 EcoBoost engines offer good reliability despite a few minor flaws. The timing chain can be a costly repair and potentially cause other damage if the failure is severe. That’s pretty much the one ding against the Ford 3.5L V6 engine.
Carbon build-up isn’t a major concern and rarely causes any serious problems if it’s not addressed. The ignition system is mostly just an extra maintenance cost for owning a powerful, twin turbo engine. Lastly, oil leaks aren’t due to any known design flaws but instead the nature of older, high mileage engines.
Ultimately, outside of the timing chain, the 3.5 EcoBoost doesn’t have any serious flaws or problems. Ford also did a great job at remedying some of the early issues with the 2017+ 2nd gen engines.
How Long Can the Ford 3.5 V6 Last?
Ford 3.5 EcoBoost longevity is about 250,000 miles. That’s a pretty good longevity for a high-performance 3.5L twin turbo V6 engine. Of course, EcoBoost longevity depends on many factors. The thought of making massive power with upgrades may seem exciting at first. However, constant abuse and higher-than-stock power can shorten the 3.5 EcoBoost longevity.
It shouldn’t be a huge concern with basic bolt-on mods and proper tuning. However, the risk is always there when increasing boost and power. Keep this is mind before you go throwing 500+whp at the Ford EcoBoost engine.
Otherwise, maintenance is one of the main keys to a long life expectancy of the 3.5 EcoBoost. Change the fluids on time, repair issues in a timely manner if they occur, and use good oils. Do all of this and the Ford 3.5L V6 longevity may exceed 250,000 miles.
Luck of the draw does play into life expectancy but that’s out of our control, unfortunately. Keep up with maintenance & repairs and hope you have a bit of luck on your side. If you do, the 3.5L EcoBoost is capable of making it to 300,000+ miles.
Ford 3.5L V6 EcoBoost Engine Summary
The Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine is impressive from top to bottom. With a 3.5L twin turbo V6 design, the EcoBoost delivers impressive horsepower and torque. Ford even uses the engine in their 660hp Ford GT supercar. It certainly says a lot about how highly Ford thinks about their 3.5L EcoBoost engine.
Ford also took the engine even further in 2017 with their 2nd gen updates. The original 3.5 EcoBoost is still a great engine. However, the updates made the 3.5L V6 even more powerful and reliable. If you’re looking for the most reliable and most capable EcoBoost then you should certainly consider the updated engine.
While the 3.5 EcoBoost delivers great performance from the factory there’s plenty more potential with a few upgrades. A tune and basic bolt-ons can take the twin turbo V6 to 500-600+whp with E85 fueling. Turbo upgrades can push the engine even further, but these costly upgrades aren’t for the faint of heart.
What seems crazy is that the Ford 3.5L engine doesn’t have any major drawbacks. The 3.5L EcoBoost also delivers good reliability and doesn’t suffer from any major design flaws or issues. With good maintenance the 3.5 EcoBoost is capable of making it to 250,000+ miles.
What’s your experience with the Ford 3.5L V6?
Leave a comment and let us know! Read our blog on 3 Problems occur in Ford 3.0 EcoBoost Engine
I bought a 2014 F150 with the first generation engine in and 12 months later, timing chain and phasers all changed to the tune of $3600. Will be changing the synthetic oil every 6 months going forward.
I have a 2018 F150. You forgot to mention the cam phasers and transmission problems. While I still love my truck, I feel all the information should be out there.
mike ingleby i have two 2012 f150’s one has 281.000 miles on it the only repairs done on it is 1 waterpump & right side exhaust manifold warped other than that is normal oil changes & spark plugs.still going strong!! my sons 2012 fx4 has 379,000 miles and we are doing the engine rebuild at this time due to excessive blow by at over 3 lbs of boost under that it still runs great just when you boost it up it throws oil out out of the valve covers after we put new gasketson it