The 3.5 EcoBoost on the Ford F150 made its way to production in 2011. It was a ground-breaking engine that provided an excellent balance of power and efficiency. Before that, trucks were known to have rugged gas-guzzling engines. That being said, the EcoBoost did have some known issues – one of them being its timing chain. There is a perception that there was an F150 EcoBoost timing chain recall. The following is all you need to know about it:
3.5 EcoBoost timing chain problems
Let’s look at a bit of background now. The 3.5 EcoBoost engine is a decade old and is generally reliable. It only has two common problems – carbon buildup in the intake valves and timing chain issues. Both have been discussed in detail in the 3.5 EcoBoost vs 5.0 reliability discussion.
The timing chains stretch out. This issue plagued many F150 owners who were generally happy with the EcoBoost’s reliability. A major problem was that while the timing chains failed before their prescribed time, the failure often happened after the powertrain warranty had expired.
This is a problem with the first generation of 3.5 EcoBoost engines, which were available from 2011 to 2016. The second generation, which was manufactured from 2017 onwards, doesn’t have this issue though. Ford has fixed both the timing chain and the carbon deposit problems.
What causes EcoBoost timing chain stretch?
The simple answer is wear and tear. Timing chains do go under a lot of stress and there are tensioners to reduce the burden on them. The pins wear out over time and so does the plastic bushing. When these components fail, it doesn’t take long for the timing chain to do so as well.
The primary reason for the EcoBoost timing chain stretch is that it is a single chain system. This means that it takes more stress overall. Ford countered this in the second generation by replacing it with a dual-chain system to bear the stress better.
Was there an F150 EcoBoost timing chain recall?
As far as the recall is concerned, there was none. Many owners experienced the issue and there were even talks between some on forums to launch a class action lawsuit against Ford. However, this didn’t go through due to them realizing the possibility of forced arbitration.
Ford did take notice of the issue though. There was a technical service bulletin released on 24th October 2018. It addressed the ticking/tapping noises in the 3.5 EcoBoost engines on startup. It was aimed at the V6 F150s produced before 29th May 2015.
The reasons for this noise were issues with the cam phasers and the timing chain. After sending this notice, Ford notified the owners that they had to replace all the variable camshaft timing components and the engines’ timing chains.
3.5 EcoBoost timing chain replacement cost
If you encounter a timing chain problem, there is a great chance that you’re not covered by Ford’s powertrain warranty. You’ll hence have to get the timing chain replaced from your own wallet. So, how much will it set you back then?
Well, according to the data obtained by Repair Pal, the average cost of replacement for it is at least $1,411. If you are a gearhead and would like to fix the vehicle yourself, you can save around $1000 on labor costs.
The aforementioned technical service bulletin was for cam phasers as well. Fixing their problems is a more expensive task and you can expect to spend about $2800-3000. This is quite a hefty amount for components that were faulty in the first place.
Do all 3.5 EcoBoost have timing chain issues?
No, not all of them. As mentioned above, the timing chain problems are only common on the first generation of the EcoBoost. These problems have been eliminated in the trucks from 2017 and onwards. But even if you have a first gen engine, it is not necessary that you’re a sufferer.
It should be noted that your EcoBoost’s timing chain may have not failed prematurely. These components tend to last for an average of 100k miles (80k at least) according to most F150 drivers. So, the mileage that you’re at is a huge factor.
The affectees of the prematurely failing timing chain mentioned here, have reported their odometer readings to be as low as 26k miles. If your timing chain fails at this sort of mileage, only then you’re in trouble.