Though it was relatively short lived, the Ford 5.2 Voodoo engine was for a time one of the top naturally aspirated V8s available on the American market. Ford only put it inside the Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R, but goodness was it glorious. Making 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque from a naturally aspirated aluminum block, the 5.2 Voodoo engine is the thing of dreams. It has the feeling of a 1960s big-block, but with all the accouterments of modern technology.
Ford developed the Voodoo as part of the modular V8 engine family, though it uses a different block than the 5.0 Coyote. Differentiating the 5.2 Voodoo from pretty much every other Ford engine was the use of a flat-plane crankshaft instead of a cross-plane – which was inspired by the Ferrari F136 IB V8. It can rev out to an outrageous 8,250 rpm, and the special crank gives it a terrifying and uniquely intriguing sound.
Ford 5.2 Voodoo Engine History
Ford first brought out the 5.2 Voodoo engine for the 2016 model year. The only models to ever get the engine were the 2016–2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R. While many people think it is simply a bored and stroked version of the smaller 5.0 Coyote engine, it actually utilizes a brand new block.
Power output remained steady on the voodoo during its five model years at 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. In 2016, Ward’s Auto named the Voodoo the Engine of the Year, calling the high-output V8 “praiseworthy” and “remarkable.” Also according to Ward’s, when Ford was designing the engine they took their inspiration from the F136 IB V8 inside the Ferrari California. The F136 also used a flat-plane crank, and Ford used it as a “benchmark” with which to compare the Voodoo.
Ford designed the 5.2. Voodoo to be a track ready monster that can also be useful on the street. It has an enormous powerband that can make peak torque from 3,450 rpm all the way to 7,000 rpm. The 8,250 rpm redline allows the Voodoo to really be revved out in between shifts.
The 5.2 Predator Variant
The 5.2 Voodoo engine was unfortunately discontinued after 2020 when the Shelby GT350/R was succeeded by the Shelby GT500. Inside of the GT500 is the 5.2 Predator V8. The Predator shares the same bore, stroke, and displacement as the Voodoo but utilizes a roots-style Eaton TVS R2650 (2.65 liter) supercharger. Power output is much higher at 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque.
Unlike the 5.2 Voodoo, the Predator can be bought as a crate engine from Ford Performance. The 5.2 Predator has been in production since the 2020 model year. From 2020–2022 it was the sole power plant for the Shelby GT500, and starting for the 2023 model year it is inside the high performance F-150 Raptor R. Performance is slightly lower in the Raptor R at 700 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque.
5.2 Voodoo Engine Specifications
|Engine Family||Ford Modular V8|
|Displacement||5.2 liters (315 cid)|
|Bore and Stroke||3.70″ x 3.66″ (94mm x 93mm)|
|Valve Train||DOHC, 4 valve/cyl (32 Valve)|
|Fuel System||Electronic Port Fuel Injection|
|Head/Block Material||Cast Aluminum|
|Horsepower Output||526 horsepower|
|Torque Output||429 lb-ft|
Ford 5.2 Voodoo Engine Vehicle Applications
The Ford 5.2 Voodoo engine appeared in the following models:
- 2016–2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
- 2016–2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R
Ford 5.2 Voodoo Engine Design Basics
The Ford Voodoo engine is a 5.2 liter (315 cid) V8 engine with a cast aluminum head and block. The bore and stroke are 3.70″ x 3.66″ (94mm x 93mm), and the engine is naturally aspirated. It is derived from the Ford modular V8 engine family, but uses a different block than the 5.0 Coyote. The Voodoo block has different bores, water jackets, and head bolts vs the Coyote block. Ford used its patented plasma transferred wire arc cylinder-liner technology on the Voodoo to reinforce strength in place of iron cylinder liners.
The pistons are forged aluminum, connecting rods are I-Beam forged micro-alloyed steel, and the crankshaft is forged steel. Additionally, the crankshaft is “gun drilled” to reduce weight and pumping force loss, and the pistons use oil-cooling jets. Compression is very high at 12.0:1 and it can achieve volumetric efficiency of 110%.
Both the intake and exhaust valves have 14 mm of lift and are long duration, and help promote the high VE. The engine uses beehive valve springs, and the intake valve stems are hollow while the exhaust valves are filled with sodium.
The engine uses a dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) setup with four cams. There are four valves per cylinder for 32 valves total, and the engine utilizes Ford’s twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) for fuel economy and performance. Fuel is delivered via sequential multi-point electronic port fuel injection and uses twin high-flow fuel pumps.
The intake manifold is made from composite plastic with scroll design and uses charge motion control valves like the 5.0 Coyote for fuel economy and low-end torque. The 5.2 Voodoo engine uses tubular stainless steel exhaust headers, which are tig-welded by hand and have a 4-3-1 design followed by a crossover pipe.
Ford’s Flat-plane Crankshaft for the 5.2
As mentioned, the 5.2 Voodoo engine is very unique in that it uses a flat-plane crankshaft. As Ward’s explains, the flat-plane crankshaft is relatively rare for V8 American production engines but has many benefits. Traditionally, American V8s use cross-plane crankshafts. The difference between the two is where the connecting rods attach to the crank. On cross-planes, the rods are at 90° intervals, but on flat-planes they are at 180° intervals.
It might not sound like a big difference, but it allows for a unique firing order that alternates between cylinder banks. This allows the engine to gulp in much more air between ignition events, ultimately producing more power and torque. It also gives the Voodoo a unique exhaust note that differentiates it from cross-plane crank engines.
5.2 Voodoo Common Problems and Reliability
While there is no doubting the 5.2 Voodoo engine’s performance, there are some questions about its reliability. We would not go as far as to call the engine unreliable, but the engine has been the subject of two lawsuits and a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB). No one was (hopefully) planning on their track-focused 526 horsepower, 8,250 rpm Voodoo making it to over 100,000 miles without a rebuild, but even low-mileage Voodoos have had their issues too.
Ford 5.2 Most Common Problems
- Engine overheating
- Excessive oil consumption
- Timing chain tensioner recall
The first issue to creep up on the 5.2 Voodoo for many owners was overheating. While Ford marketed and sold the GT350/R as track ready monsters, some owners found those claims to be more than a bit dubious when they first took their Shelby to the track. Many owners complained that the car would suffer from massive power loss after just a few runs, often putting itself in limp mode.
Enough owners got together and eventually filed a class-action lawsuit against Ford over the problem. Ford responded by saying that the engines were performing as they should, and that the shutdowns were the result of the engine and/or transmission protecting themselves from damage after getting too hot.
The issue boiled down to the GT350 Track and R packages not having oil or transmission coolers equipped. This was the main cause of overheating, and really only affected the 2016 models. For 2017, Ford made the Track package standard and included oil and transmission coolers, fixing any potential issues.
The Ford Voodoo Oil Consumption Issue
The second issue to prompt a lawsuit is what some would call excessive oil consumption. In the owner’s manual, Ford explicitly states that the Voodoo can eat up to 1 quart for every 500 miles of severe driving, meaning they knew it was an issue from the beginning.
The test GT350 that Car and Driver drove drank an extra 21.5 quarts in just over 40,000 miles. However, reading the article you can tell they abused the hell out of the car, leaving their claims with an asterisk. Still, other owners have also widely complained about the issue, too.
It’s a known problem, and is something for any potential GT350 owner to keep an eye on. However, most of the time it does not cause catastrophic engine damage as long as an eye is kept on it. Neglect checking the oil on the 5.2 Voodoo at your own risk.
The Ford 5.2 Timing Chain Recall and Piston Slap Issue
The final two issues on the 5.2 Voodoo engine are relatively minor. The first is piston-slap, which many owners complained about upon first getting the car. The problem is most noticeable when the engine is cold and operating at low-load or idling.
According to Ford, the noise is completely normal and is a result of the forged aluminum pistons. All metal expands slightly when it gets hot, including engine blocks and pistons. Forged pistons have more thermal expansion than non-forged pistons, so they usually require slightly wider tolerances to account for it.
This means that when the engine is still cold there will be a wider gap between the piston and cylinder wall than normal, causing the piston-slap sound. It’s a completely normal sound and should go away for the most part once warm, though it may always be present.
The final problem of the timing chain tensioner recall was related to only those of the 2020 model year manufactured between December 2, 2019 and December 16, 2020. According to Ford, on some GT350/R models the assembly technicians may have forgotten to activate the secondary timing chain tensioner. This could lead to timing loss, ultimately resulting in misfiring, rough running, and potentially catastrophic engine damage.
Ford rectified the problem under the New customer satisfaction program 21B26. This program began in April 2021 and lasted a calendar year, allowing affected owners to have the secondary chain activated by the dealership for no extra cost. No other year of the Voodoo engine is thought to be affected by this problem.
Ford 5.2 Voodoo Engine Performance and Upgrades
From the factory, the Ford 5.2 Voodoo engine makes 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. Its impressive performance metrics include a zero to 60 mph time of just 3.8 seconds, a top speed of 173 mph, and a ¼ mile time of 12.0 seconds @ 120 mph. Fuel economy is decidedly terrible, with most owners averaging somewhere around 7-10 mpg, but if you bought your 315 cid flat-plane crank caring about fuel economy you made an admittedly poor decision.
Still, even with the fantastic factory performance, there is always room to add more. We’ll go over the top three mods to make the 5.2 Voodoo inside the Shelby GT350/R really prove its mettle.
We’re leaving a supercharger off the list on purpose. While forced induction gives you amazing performance, it destroys the soul of the GT350. This engine is an absolute beast naturally aspirated and deserves to stay that way.
Top Ford 5.2 Mods
- E85 Fuel
- Long-tube headers
By far, the top mod for the 5.2 Voodoo engine is ECU tuning. With just an ECU tune and no additional hardware changes, the 5.2 Voodoo can pick up as much as 50 horsepower and 60 lb-ft of torque on pump gas. Pretty incredible numbers considering all you have to do is load on a tune and press install. The top two tuning options for the Voodoo equipped GT350 are from Livernois Motorsports and Lund Racing. Both of them offer top notch tunes and support, and both offer flex fuel tuning, too.
That brings us to our next mod, E85 and flex fuel. The GT350 fuel system is E85 capable from the factory, meaning it does not need new fuel lines or injectors. E85 – or ethanol – is an alternative type of fuel that has been gaining prominence in racing circles over the last few years. This is due to its relatively high 105 octane rating, meaning it is more knock resistant.
More knock resistance means tuners can run leaner air-to-fuel ratios and more ignition and cam timing without risking detonation. As you can imagine, this allows tuners to extract quite a bit more power from ethanol than regular pump gas. Ethanol is also much cheaper than gasoline, though gas mileage is also considerably worse.
Going Flex-Fuel on the Ford 5.2
The one downside to E85 is its limited availability and potential for rough cold-weather starts. One compromise many people do is utilize a flex-fuel sensor. Flex-fuel allows for the use of E85 and/or gasoline together. The higher the ethanol content the more power the engine will make, but when you can’t find E85 you can still fill up on pump gas without an issue. It gives the best of both worlds, as you can run only E85, only pump gas, or any mixture of the two.
Ford 5.2 Long-Tube headers and AUTO-BLiP
Our only bolt-on recommendation for the Shelby GT350 with the 5.2 Voodoo are long-tube headers. While the tubular stainless steel stock exhaust is already pretty nice, you can unlock even more horsepower by getting rid of the stock catalytic converters. Replacing them with either catless (only legal on the track and not the street) or high-flow cats (street legal) can add upwards of 20 wheel horsepower and torque – and even more with tuning.
The final recommendation for light modding of the 5.2 Voodoo is the AUTO-BLiP intelligent downshift system. This does not add any horsepower to the Voodoo, but allows for smoother downshifting on manual transmissions.
Basically, it blips the throttle when it senses a downshift, allowing for perfectly synchronized downshifting at all times. It’s great for those who struggle with heel-toe downshifting but still want to cut down on times at the track.
Ford 5.2 Voodoo Engine Summary
Though not long for this world, the Ford 5.2 Voodoo engine was still something special during its limited production run. Powering the Shelby GT350/R to massive levels of performance, the Voodoo truly was a fantastic engine. From the factory it made upwards of 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, but those are just play numbers compared to what it is really capable of with modding.
Reliability was always suspect with the Voodoo, as it has faced class-action lawsuits related to overheating and oil consumption. Still, it is a feat of engineering and development, boasting some of the best technology ever put inside a Ford engine. The unique flat-plane crankshaft allowed for an exceedingly high 8,250 rpm redline, and it gives the Voodoo an exceptional and unparalleled sound among American V8s.
Unfortunately, the Voodoo is no longer available from the factory, but there are still hundreds of 5.2 powered Shelby GT350 and GT350Rs roaming the streets today. Consider yourself lucky if you can find a 5.2 Voodoo lurking in the wild, and make sure you take a good look – because chances are it will be long gone within just a few blinks of the eye.