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Boosting EcoBoost service

While it was big news at first, servicing the EcoBoost engine might be common in your shop.
Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 07:00
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In May 2009, Ford began mass-producing an engine that has changed every vehicle it finds its way into. With the introduction of the EcoBoost engine family and its ability to deliver horsepower and torque normally reserved for the largest displacement naturally aspirated engines a V6 F150 with a trailer behind it or a 3 cylinder “hot hatch” now seems perfectly natural. 

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The original offering was the 3.5L V6 finding its way into the F150, Taurus SHO/Lincoln MKS and the Ford Flex/Lincoln MKT vehicles first. By utilizing a pair of small and speedy turbos on a dual overhead cam engine with direct injection and variable valve timing for each cam 365 hp came pretty easily and, as time has shown, reliably too. Not to take anything from the 3.5L GTDI engine; 100 horsepower and 100 foot-pounds of torque per liter is certainly rarified air for any performance engine. We also have to keep in mind that the 3.5L gives moms the kind of power to weight ratio in a seven-seater that most of us have come to expect from a two-seat sports car.

Yes, those numbers are good but Ford has another EcoBoost in the stable that produces 125 hp per liter and 148 foot-pounds. If we were talking about the Mustang GT producing this kind of power it would be sitting at 625 horsepower and 740 foot-pounds of torque all available from 1400-4500 rpm. Turbochargers sure are cool but this monster is really not a monster at all. It is the smallest of the EcoBoost engines with 3 cylinders and 1.0L of displacement. We might expect something this powerful to get horrible gas mileage and be mostly useless at low speed but the numbers look like 31mpg city/ 43 highway and 9.3 seconds to 60 mph. So enough with the specs let’s see how Ford makes such a small engine work. Be forewarned there are a number of technologies that may challenge your current beliefs regarding engine design.

From the foundation out let’s talk about the block. The 1.0L EcoBoost is the only engine in the line that has a cast iron cylinder block. Ford’s engineers went this way for two reasons. The first is strength. The latter is the theme of the entire 1.0L project and that is thermal efficiency. Ford says this engine warms up 50 percent faster with the iron block. The block has substantial support webs that tie the main caps to the oil pan rails. Inside the block there are piston oil squirters to maintain consistent piston temperatures.

The rear main seal retainer is moved to the back of the block to allow the rear main cap to have more rigidity.

To round out the rest of the bottom end you will probably notice that this engine does not have a balance shaft. Ford decided that they rob too much power instead applying a special misbalance to the flywheel to make this engine run smooth. The connecting rods are the powdered metal variety Ford has been using for many years. EcoBoost engines get a slight different metallurgy to make their rods stronger. The pistons are special in all EcoBoost engines to accommodate the direct injection nozzle mounted over the top of them. In Figure 3 you can compare the 3.5L direct injection piston on the right to the conventional DOHC 3.5L on the left. This is typical of EcoBoost piston design and yields a 10.0:1 compression ratio but runs on regular fuel.

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