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EcoBoost 101: A Quick Guide to Upgrading Your Ford EcoBoost Engine

 

Chances are you’ve at least heard of the relatively new Ford EcoBoost engine—unless you live under a rock somewhere. And even then, someone probably peeked their head under your rock to tout the virtues of the EcoBoost: improved fuel ECOnomy and a noticeable power BOOST next to comparable-sized engines.

That’s why they call it the EcoBoost.

Actually, the EcoBoost got its name from the improved fuel economy and efficiency of its direct-injection design and the boost from the turbocharger that’s central to these engines. Not surprisingly, there are ways to achieve even more power and efficiency from your EcoBoost thanks to a variety of aftermarket parts options. We’ve compiled a list of some of the more-popular upgrades for the Ford EcoBoost family of engines, using the flagship 3.5L EcoBoost as our example. To understand why these upgrades are effective, you have to first understand how EcoBoost technology works.

EcoBoost Technology

Introduced for the 2011 model year, the EcoBoost family of engines comes in a variety of four- and six-cylinder sizes (and even three-cylinder) and is available on everything from the compact Focus to the workhorse F-150. Popular sizes include the 3.5L V6, 2.7L V6, 1.6L I4, and even a 2.3L which will be offered in the 2015 Mustang. Each one of these engines incorporates a common set of characteristics: turbocharging and direct injection.

The combination of turbocharging and direct injection results in more airflow and pin-point fuel delivery. Using the greater air volume from the turbocharger and increased fuel efficiency from direct injection, the EcoBoost engine creates power on par with larger, naturally aspirated engines while achieving much better fuel economy. Plus, the pin-point fuel delivery of the direct injection design fosters a reduced amount of “greenhouse emissions.”

Still, as motorheads and performance enthusiasts, we’re always wanting more. Building on the technology outlined above, here are some popular upgrades that will help you maximize the performance of your 3.5L EcoBoost engine:

EcoBoost Upgrades

Cat-Back Exhaust

As with any engine, you can make room for an even bigger intake charge by getting rid of the exhaust gases within the engine more quickly. We recommend swapping out your stock exhaust system with a larger diameter, mandrel-bent exhaust system to reduce exhaust restriction. Both Diamond Eye Performance and aFe Power make high-quality stainless steel systems to get the job done right—and add a more aggressive performance sound, too. Each system comes with a free-flowing muffler to keep the exhaust gases moving, so the EcoBoost’s turbo can cram more power-building air into the engine.

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Y-Pipes

The next step in your EcoBoost exhaust upgrade, aFe Atlas Y-pipes use a true 2-into-1 mitered merge collector to eliminate turbulence and improve flow compared to other Y-pipes. Like the cat-back systems, these Y-pipes use a mandrel-bent design to improve exhaust flow and have high-flow catalytic converters to keep your vehicle street-legal. aFe offers the Y-pipes in long-lasting stainless steel or more budget-friendly aluminized steel.

Air Intakes

It’s no secret that aftermarket intakes can increase power over stock intakes. aFe claims its Magnum Force Pro 5R Stage-2 intake system will boost power by 25 horsepower and 30 ft.-lbs. of torque. To do so, the intake features a 3-angle filter adapter, which aFe says increases air velocity for increased throttle response. It also uses a 16-gauge heat shield and heat-insulating black powdercoated intake tube to keep the air as cold and dense as possible.

aFe’s Classic Stage 2 Pro GUARD 7 air intake system takes things to a whole new level with a dual tube design and H-pipe balance tube—a feature usually reserved for exhaust systems. aFe promotes this balance tube as a way to increase turbo response. The Pro Guard 7 also comes with a heat shield to keep intake temperatures down.

Intercooler

By swapping out your stock intercooler, you can enhance the efficiency of the EcoBoost’s turbocharger. For example, a more efficient intercooler can outflow the OE tube-and-fin core design, which can reduce outlet flow temperatures significantly.

The bottom line is a greater volume or cooler, denser air reaches your engine from the turbocharger.

Intercooler Pipes

If you’re not up for swapping the intercooler, aFe also makes an intercooler charge pipe, which features a 3 to 3.5-inch mandrel-bent tube. This increased diameter creates a greater exhaust gas flow into the intercooler, increasing horsepower and torque in the process.

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Programmers

The EcoBoost is a modern engine so why not do a little modern tuning? Programmer and chips allow you to custom tune your engine for increased power, better fuel economy, and more by adjusting the fuel curve, timing and other parameters. Summit Racing offers an array of tuners just for the Ford EcoBoost engine. You can tune your engine, diagnose and clear trouble codes, monitor and log data, and more. Choose from one of these popular programmers:

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Throttle Body

Another way to increase airflow—and ultimately, power—is to replace the stock throttle body with a higher-flowing unit. BBK‘s Power-Plus Series throttle body, for example, is reported to increase power by up to 12 horsepower in some cases. And it’s an easy upgrade—it installs in just minutes!

What are you waiting for? Now’s the time to give your EcoBoost a, well—boost.

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44 Comments

  1. Ok now give us 5.0 ford fl50 2013 guick hp upgrades thanx

  2. will a 2013 fiesta 1.6 litre turbo fit into a ford focus 2 litre 2006 if i swap motor tranny and wiring harness

  3. Pingback: Hey Europe: Need A Better Car? Think Ford - CarNewsCafe.com

  4. 2016 ford edge with a 2.0 how to get more power?

  5. TheThinker says:

    … of course a bolt-on article without measured HP gains is pretty much useless, right?

    • TheStinker says:

      right, i’ve been all over the internet looking to see what kind of added performance an air intake can generate and found they don’t do anything yet this article practically guarantees it..

      • silverio hernandez says:

        its a waste of money on that ,instead do a tune ,and exhaust ,the original intake does the job its made for , and the others just look cool ,good luck guys.Silver

  6. Hi there. Im looking to try to get better fuel mileage out of my 2016 Ford 3.5 EcoBoost. It’s pretty terrible. I don’t know if a tuner and air intake and exhaust would help or would that just improve my power. Has anyone seen any decent mileage improvements with any upgrades? Thanks, waylon

    • 2015 MKT you are correct, mileage stinks!

    • I’ve been tracking the Average MPG for 90+ hours in “Trip 1”. I went from 17 to 20 mpg after a cold air intake and catback exhaust. Just added a cobb tune stage 1 and it did not help to increase mpg, but the overall performance increase is worth it.

    • I programmed my 2015 f150 3.5 with a SCT tuner , running 33 inch tires and I am getting over 1000 km on a tank of regular gas

    • Hey Waylon, I am on my 2nd ecoboost (2014) and it took it nearly 30k miles before the gas mileage came up to 17mpg. My first ecoboost was a 2013 FX4 and it was making 18mpg by 15k miles. No mods done on either engine and both pickups running 3.55 gears, wouldn’t want anything less.

      • Hey guys, I have a 2016 3.5 EB, Lariat 4×4 with the 3.55 rear end. My mileage stinks. About 17 mpg on the highway at 75 mph. A faaaaaar cry from the claimed 22 mpg. After reading your comments here maybe there is still hope as the truck has less than 3k miles on it. I pretty disappointed with the mpgs though.

        • I have a 2016 f-150 XL 4×4 2.7 ECO. Did a 480 mile round trip twice 1st time got 24.3 mpg on 89 oct. at 65 mph and got 23.9 mpg on 93 oct at 70 mph weather was in the 50’s both trips. was all interstate driving except for 50 miles. I was very impressed. Now looking to do some mods for shits and giggles. Not sure what to try first.

    • AnalogDan Wilson says:

      Waylon…Modifications like you mentioned that improve power will almost always improve fuel efficiency as well. It’s all about better overall engine efficiency.

  7. The 3.5 EcoBoost rocks with the HP Tuners nGauge and a custom tune by MPT Performance (and other tuner shops). It’s a good bit more refined than the livewire.

  8. May I politely request advice for a real problem – which if any of the new engines can I use to replace my 2002 Ford Explorer 4.0L Should car owners need an engine replacement is there industry advice showing alternative new engines if available

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      In the late model world we live in, the path of least resistance (and generally most cost effective) is to replace a worn motor with a new or remanufactured version of the same motor. Anything else would require any multitude of modifications to make it fit and/or work including costly dyno testing to write new computer programming!

  9. I have a 2016 F150 with the 2.7 ecoboost. Was looking for cold air intake kits, but refuse to untill I see real numbers (scientific) not just an article telling me it will increase performance

  10. I agree with Paul. I have a 2014 5.0 liter F150 rated at 365 hp. How about some horsepower
    up grades.

  11. Michael T Moore says:

    Getting mpg is all how you drive I have a 2014 f150 ecobost I get 21 to 22 mpg in summer 17 to 19 in the winter

  12. If I put dual exhaust on 1.5 Ecoboost will I notice lil more power

  13. Eddie Matthews says:

    Looking for a performance increase on my 2014 explorer 2.0L ecoboost. I guess a tuner ?

    • derpvondorp says:

      performance increase on explorer with 2.0L? Try giving the mice more cheese

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      Actually, Eddie, you can find some pretty good options for upgrading your 2.0L EcoBoost by doing a make/model/year search on SummitRacing.com. Give Summit’s tech guys a call at 33-630-0240, and they’d be glad to help you put together a few upgrades that would work well together.

  14. Nothing on catch cans??? these engines have a terrible PVC design!!! And just the moisture alone that gets trapped in the earlier ones intercooler system. The average person won’t believe the difference in idle quality and the increase in fuel mileage just by adding one

  15. Pingback: Ford Adds 'Drag Strip Mode' to 2018 Mustang, Making it Fastest Pony Car Ever - OnAllCylinders

  16. Dan Wilson says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with the comments that suggest that low restriction cold air intake systems “don’t do anything”. When viewing an engine as a simple air pump, it’s easy to understand how the overall efficiency would be improved by reducing the amount of air flow resistance on the intake side. On a naturally aspirated internal combustion engine, increased intake charge velocity will typically improve the volumetric efficiency when the other components involved can handle the extra CFM of air flow available.

    No matter if the engine utilizes carburetors or fuel injection, cooler air has the benefit of being denser which provides additional oxygen. On a properly tuned engine, cooler air ALWAYS produces more power.

    Its unfortunate that many aftermarket performance equipment vendors make claims of substantial power gains WITHOUT conducting real world testing to back up their claims.

    Since my shop isn’t equipped with expensive chassis or engine dynos, I have to use the multi-million dollar local facility known as The Atlanta International Dragway to test improvements. Back in the day before I put together my ’70 Mach 1 powered by a serious 351 Cleveland, I would race my daily drivers which included a ’87 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe that I still own today. The T-Bird wasn’t designed by Ford to be a drag strip terror but it handles like it’s on rails, and thanks to the factory Turbo and intercooler coupled to the 5-speed manual transmission, my “aero bird” equipped with a full NASCAR style aerodynamic body package is good for a 148 mph top end run. Not too shabby for a 140 cubic inch “Pinto” engine.

    With no other modifications other than replacing the stock production air filter with a K&N filter in the stock air box, the quarter mile ET’s consistently improved by a tenth of a second on every run. That’s enough to convince me that low restriction intake systems work as intended.

  17. Pingback: EcoBoost Mustang Upgrade Guide: Making the Most of Your 2.3L Engine - OnAllCylinders

  18. Anthony Rossi says:

    Last week, I purchased a 2017 F150 King Ranch, 3.5L EcoBoost. Lots of power. It replaced my 2006 L Series, Lincoln Town Car, with 80k miles, which I hated to lose. What will it take to install complete dual exhaust exiting the rear bumper and obtaining a ride, as closely as possible, to my Flood Out Town Car rode like a dream.

  19. Livernois tuner/programmer increases the 2.7L V6 in a Fod Edge by 110WHP, and fuel economy by 5mpg as well!

  20. How is the longevity on the EcoBoost Eng compared to the V8’s when it’s in the high mileage class? I’m skeptical of the EcoBoost Eng! I prefer the the 5.0/4.6 etc hate it has limited production in the new vehicles.

    • My 2011 3.5l Ecoboost F150 has 270,000 miles on it. Just now need a timing chain. other then that problem free with no mods.

  21. I have a 2013 Ford Fusion SE 1.6L Ecoboost.. can anyone tell me where I can get a Throttle Body Replacement Guide?

  22. can the 2015 f150 3.5L naturally aspirated engine be upgraded to an eco-boost by adding the turbos? Are they the same engines?

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