5 Best Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Bolt-On Performance Upgrades

How To Build A 500+WHP 3.5 EcoBoost

3.5 EcoBoost is a powerful performance engine, there’s no denying that Ford’s 3.5L V6 twin turbo engine is the perfect foundation for a fast, powerful F-150. Many other Ford models use the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. From the factory, it has a great engine with 355-450hp. Owners who want more power from their twin turbo V6 engine can do so by installing aftermarket parts.

Simple 3.5 EcoBoost performance upgrades can easily increase the engine’s power to 450-550whp range without sacrificing fuel efficiency. The best bolt-on upgrades for the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost are discussed in this article.

*This information applies to all 3.5L EcoBoost twin turbocharged motors. These upgrades may or may not fit your specific year and model. There are also variations in the engines, so some 3.5 EcoBoosts are better or worse than others in terms of performance.

5 Best EcoBoost Performance Upgrades

The following are some of the 3.5L EcoBoost performance enhancements we’ll go over in this article:

  • Tune
  • Intake
  • Downpipe
  • FMIC
  • Methanol Injection

Full bolt-on modifications, or FBO for short, are what you’re referring to. FBO can mean different things to different people, and it may or may not include a full exhaust. The downpipe back, on the other hand, offers only modest gains in power. Once we get to the 3.5 EcoBoost downpipe, we’ll talk about it more.

Whatever the case may be, installing the aforementioned five upgrades will significantly improve the performance of your Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine. The remainder of this article will focus on these modifications in greater detail.

Gen 1 vs Gen 2 EcoBoost Upgrades

It’s critical to understand the differences between the first-generation and second-generation EcoBoost engines before moving on to the fun stuff. The 2nd generation 3.5 EcoBoost from Ford includes some welcome improvements.

Reliability and emissions were two of the primary goals of the updates. It’s worth noting that port fuel injection was added because of its performance advantages (it still uses direct injection, too).

It’s much easier to fuel the 3.5 EcoBoost engines with the dual fuel system because of the higher horsepower they produce. Direct injection is excellent, but it uses an enormous amount of pressure to work.

The HPFP and direct injectors are expensive to upgrade. The second-generation 3.5 EcoBoost fueling system can handle a lot of power on E85 because it’s easier to upgrade. We’ll talk about fueling mods in more detail in the future, so stay tuned.

Anyway, the 3.5L engine from the second generation is more capable of upgrades. Besides the EWG (electronic wastegates), Ford also made lighter turbine wheels with improved angles.

But that doesn’t mean Gen 1 EcoBoost engines aren’t capable. However, bolt-on performance upgrades for 2nd-generation engines typically yield an additional 25-50whp.

1) Ford 3.5L EcoBoost Tuners

Ford 3.5L EcoBoost Tuners

If you only want to make one change to your vehicle’s 3.5 EcoBoost performance, we strongly suggest getting a tune. Tuners are the starting point for a powerful 3.5L EcoBoost Ford F-150 conversion. The twin turbo EcoBoost alone can add 50-80whp and 70-120wtq through tuning. For a $500 mod, you get a ton of performance.

When adding more performance upgrades, a 3.5 EcoBoost tuner allows for even greater power gains. Other mods can’t do what they can unless they’ve been properly tuned to take the new changes into account.

There are numerous 3.5L EcoBoost engine tuners to choose from. Look for a tuner made by a well-known, reputable manufacturer. Otherwise, the best tuner for your Ford F-150 will likely come down to a matter of personal taste.

Look for a tune that will support future additions or modifications such as adding or changing tunes. You’ll need a new tune as you make more performance-enhancing modifications.

Best F-150 EcoBoost Tuners

Again, there are a plethora of excellent choices, so this is by no means a comprehensive list. The following tunes are our picks for the 3.5 EcoBoost:

  • JB4
  • SCT X4
  • nGauge
  • COBB Accesport

In addition to the previously mentioned tuners, there are a slew of other excellent choices. Unfortunately, nGauge is closing down (or has recently closed), but their tuner devices are still floating around.

There is only one tuner available for the 3.5 EcoBoost, and that’s called the JB4. Instead of the usual flash tune, it’s a piggyback tune. While these tunes are rare outside of the BMW turbo community, they’ve been around for a long time and are excellent. The JB4 is very user-friendly in terms of installation and map changes.

Even though running the JB4 has a ton of advantages, those looking to make a lot of power (550-600+whp) should be aware of the disadvantages as well. We’ll go into more detail on all of this in a future article about 3.5 EcoBoost tuners.

2) 3.5 EcoBoost Intake Upgrades

3.5 EcoBoost Intake Upgrades

There’s a good chance that almost everyone has heard of the 3.5 EcoBoost intake performance upgrades. Cold air intakes, air filter upgrades, and so on are other names for them.

Many other engines and automobiles have undergone this modification, so the 3.5L EB is not an outlier. Turbocharged engines benefit greatly from the addition of performance-enhancing intakes.

The factory intake for the twin turbo V6 in the Ford F-150 is highly efficient, even at low boost levels. The factory intake is quickly overwhelmed if you begin to increase your power and boost too much. This is especially true as the power curve rises to its peak. In this case, installing a high-flow 3.5 EcoBoost intake kit is a necessity.

Intakes are a fantastic aftermarket addition to any tune. The more you can get out of the EcoBoost, the more value an intake mod will have. An intake system on a stock truck may only add a few hp. Intakes, on the other hand, can add 5-10whp to the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost when pushed hard enough.

If you’re looking for an intake upgrade for your 3.5 EcoBoost, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Where do you even begin with so many intake options available on the market? In reality, the performance offered by most intakes is very similar.

3.5L V6 Twin Turbo Open vs Closed Intakes

Intakes are often divided into two categories: open and closed. Open performance air intakes let more air into the engine compartment. A closed system, on the other hand, has a box or shield to protect the filter and draw in colder air. On naturally aspirated engines, it’s a critical point of differentiation. Modern turbo engines, on the other hand, have no use for it.

Because of the heat in the engine bay, an open intake will draw in slightly warmer air. As a result, turbos heat up the air as it passes through them. Compressing air also generates additional heat.

Because of this, a post-turbo intercooler is used to lower the engine’s operating temperature. The intercooler’s ability to cool the air is unaffected by the temperature of the air entering the intake filters.

We prefer open intakes because they flow better and produce more pleasing turbo/induction noises. Whatever the case may be, the performance of a closed intake system will be the same or very similar to an open one. As a result, the decision is purely based on factors like cost and personal preference.

3) Twin Turbo V6 Downpipe Mods

The 3.5 V6 EcoBoost engine’s downpipe (DP) upgrades are a hot topic of debate. So many threads and comments suggested that downpipes don’t offer significant performance benefits that we were surprised to find. Downpipe upgrades are well-known in the BMW community as one of the best basic bolt-on performance mods.

That’s because the turbocharger downpipes are directly attached to them. It will provide greater power gains than any other exhaust component on the 3.5 EcoBoost (except the turbos themselves). In terms of performance, having too much back pressure behind the turbos is terrible. As the distance from the turbos increases, so does back pressure.

The catalytic converters that come standard on the 3.5 EcoBoost DP are large and unsightly. Environmentally friendly, but terrible for vehicles equipped with Ford’s powerful 3.5 EcoBoost engine.

There are several advantages to upgrading to a 3.5 EcoBoost downpipe.

  • 10-25+whp gains (similar torque)
  • Faster turbo spool
  • Lower back-pressure
  • Louder exhaust

Your downpipe’s power output will increase in direct proportion to how aggressively you tune and modify your 3.5 EcoBoost’s performance settings. You may see gains of 10-15whp with a simple tune-only procedure.

It’s possible to see gains of 20-25 whp with stock turbos or aftermarket turbos. Due to reduced turbo spool caused by lower back pressure, substantial gains in low-end torque can be expected.

3.5L EcoBoost Catless vs High-Flow Catted DP’s

Reducing back pressure is the primary objective of a Ford 3.5 EcoBoost downpipe performance upgrade. Additionally, it’s good for the twin turbos, as it helps to lower the vehicle’s exhaust gas temperature (EGT).

The best downpipe for the 3.5 EB’s flow and pressure drop is a catless downpipe. That means the biggest gains in horsepower and torque will come from it. Catless downpipes, on the other hand, are illegal in terms of emissions, so that’s a serious flaw.

Most states’ emissions tests will still be passed by a downpipe with a high volume of catalytic filtration. Although these parts are legal, they may be considered illegal if they don’t meet emissions standards.

However, compared to cats, they don’t provide as many of the same advantages. 3.5 EcoBoost downpipes with higher flow rates will deliver about 5whp fewer results than catless downpipes.

Catted downpipes, on the other hand, can cost anywhere from $200 to $400 more. We highly recommend a catless downpipe for off-road racing because it is the most cost-effective option.

4) 3.5 V6 EcoBoost FMIC Upgrades

3.5 V6 EcoBoost FMIC Upgrades

For the Ford 3.5L twin turbo engines, consider adding a larger front-mount intercooler (FMIC). At stock boost, the F-150 3.5’s stock intercooler works well. Even so, it’s still susceptible to heat soak, particularly when towing or pulling several times in a row.

Adding more boost through tuning and other modifications will exacerbate the problem of overheating. As a result, the turbos become excessively hot, rendering the intercooler ineffective at cooling the charge air.

Upgrades to the 3.5 EcoBoost’s larger FMIC are an easy solution. Cooler air is obviously beneficial in terms of both performance and output. FMIC mods have numerous other advantages:

  • 10-20whp gains
  • Consistent performance
  • Lower chance of engine knock

With the 3.5 EcoBoost intercooler performance upgrades, you’ll see a noticeable improvement in reliability. Have you ever noticed how much weaker your turbo engine feels after you’ve floored it a few times?

That’s heat soak in action, and as a result, the engine’s performance begins to suffer. When doing glory runs, you may only see a 5-10whp increase in power.

An FMIC, on the other hand, will likely keep your EcoBoost from shutting down if you use it repeatedly. Keeping the engine cool helps keep it in better shape when the boost is higher than stock.

Best Ford 3.5L V6 FMIC Upgrades

For the 3.5 EcoBoost, here are a few great front-mount intercooler upgrades:

  • Mishimoto Performance FMIC
  • CVF Titan Intercooler
  • Wagner Tuning Performance FMIC

As with most other 3.5 EcoBoost upgrades, there are a plethora of excellent choices available. Surface area is an important factor in FMIC upgrades, but there are many others as well. An intercooler that is larger than the factory unit from a reputable manufacturer is what you’re looking for. We’ll write more about the 3.5 EcoBoost FMICs in the near future.

5) Ford 3.5 EB Methanol Injection

Alright. This time, we’ll get right to the point. Methanol injection is not something we recommend doing right away. If you’re going to use methanol injection, you should be comfortable with the basic bolt-ons first (also known as water-methanol injection).

The four upgrades listed above will significantly increase the power of your Ford 3.5 EcoBoost, putting you easily in the 450-500whp range. If you want to go much further, you’ll have to use fuel that’s better than regular 91 or 93 octane.

E85 is a much better alternative to methanol injection in our opinion. E85, on the other hand, places a greater demand on the fuel system than methanol does.

Despite its low ignition point, methanol burns hot and has a high octane rating. Fuel injection and pumps aren’t involved because this system is completely independent. As a result, if you’ve reached the limits of your vehicle’s stock fuel system, methanol can help. Depending on how heavily you plan to use water-methanol injection, you can expect to gain or lose power (WMI).

However, more aggressive 3.5 EcoBoost methanol injection setups are capable of producing 40-60 whp or even more.. The potential for significantly more power is also there.

There’s a lot to learn about WMI, and it’s not for the faint of heart. This will be the subject of its own WMI guide in the near future.

Summary

The Ford 3.5L EcoBoost engine, like many others with turbochargers, has a lot of potential but falls short in terms of output. The engine and turbos were designed to handle a lot more power than the 3.5-liter V6 can deliver out of the factory. The 3.5 EcoBoost can be taken to the next level with a few simple bolt-on upgrades. 3.5L twin turbo V6 engine is capable of 500+whp with these modifications.

The best place to start is with tuners because they are the most affordable option. Additionally, a tune allows you to get the most out of 3.5 EcoBoost performance upgrades by allowing you to extract more power from them as well. To help with the additional airflow, intakes are an excellent mod to pair with a tune.

In addition to that, we recommend downpipes for the EcoBoost 3.5 because of their superior performance. For the price, they deliver a slew of advantages and substantial gains in raw power. In order to improve consistency and avoid power loss due to heat-soak, FMICs are a fantastic mod. The Ford 3.5L V6 engine can be modified to produce more than 500 horsepower with these upgrades.

E85 and methanol injection are two fueling options for those who want to go even further. As the material becomes more difficult, we’ll provide more comprehensive guides. Anyway, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine is a true wonder, capable of incredible power with just a few simple upgrades.

Are there any upgrades to your 3.5 EcoBoost that you’d like to share? Do you have any plans to modify your vehicle?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

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