Common Ford 2.3L EcoBoost Engine Problems

Ford 2.3L EcoBoost (EB) Reliability

We’ve written numerous guides on common problems. However, for the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost engine, we’re taking a slightly different approach than usual. This post may be premature, as the 2.3 EcoBoost engine is still relatively new.

Additionally, it has demonstrated reliability thus far, so there may not be much to discuss. Nonetheless, in this article, we’ll discuss the reliability of the 2.3L EcoBoost engine and a few points to consider for those in the market.

Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Models & Info

The 2.3L EcoBoost engine first appeared in the popular Ford Mustang and Lincoln MKC in 2015. It’s an inline-4 engine with a single twin-scroll turbocharger that performs admirably for a small engine.

Depending on the model and options, the 2.3 EcoBoost produces between 270 and 345 horsepower. The popular Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost has a standard output of 310 horsepower and a performance pack output of 332 horsepower.

The 2.3 EB engine is used in the following Ford vehicles:

  • 2015+ Ford Mustang EcoBoost
  • 2016+ Ford Explorer
  • 2016-2018 Ford Focus RS
  • 2019+ Ford Focus ST
  • 2019+ Ford Ranger
  • 2020+ Ford Everest
  • 2021+ Ford Bronco
  • 2015-2019 Lincoln MKC
  • 2020+ Lincoln Corsair

As previously stated, the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost engine is found in a variety of Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Additionally, Ford has been manufacturing EcoBoost turbocharged engines in a variety of configurations for the last decade. They are tried and true engines that perform admirably.

We actually wrote a post comparing the 3.5 EcoBoost engine in the Ford F-150 to the 5.0 V8 Coyote engine in the F-150. We lauded the 3.5 EcoBoost’s performance, efficiency, and reliability in that post. Thus far, the 2.3 EB engine exhibits many of the same characteristics. However, in a more compact package.

2.3L EcoBoost “Common Problems”

Several common problems with the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost include the following:

  • Runs hot
  • Carbon build-up
  • Head gasket (early Focus RS models)

To be sure, the phrase “common problems” is in quotations for a reason. As is the case with the majority of the issues we discuss, the term “common” is not always accurate. Nor is it always accurate to refer to them as problems, whether common or not. We’ll delve into the three points mentioned previously and discuss the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost’s overall reliability.

1) Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Running Hot

We’d like to discuss a few points here. We make an effort to avoid discussing early 2.3 EcoBoost recalls. However, it serves as a necessary prelude to the topic at hand. Ford issued several recalls for the 2.3 EcoBoost in 2015 due to excessively hot underbody temperatures.

They noticed that the exhaust temperatures were slightly higher than anticipated. This raised concerns that the excessive heat could cause parking brake cables, fuel vapor lines, and fuel tanks to fail. The fix required only the installation of proper heat shields.

This brings us to our next point, which is not a true issue. Turbocharged engines, on the other hand, frequently run hot. When boosted air exits the turbo compressor wheel, temperatures can reach 250°F, and possibly higher.

The 2.3L EcoBoost then relies on the intercooler to cool the engine to as close to ambient temperature as possible. Under normal driving conditions on stock cars, Ford’s factory intercooler performs admirably.

However, models such as the Mustang and Focus are designed to be high-performance vehicles. The power is available for use, but when it is frequently called upon, the air temperatures quickly rise.

This is especially important if you intend to tune or modify your 2.3 EcoBoost engine in any way. As charge air temperatures rise, the engine’s performance will be reduced due to the increased risk of knock. Fortunately, there are solutions.

Addressing 2.3 EB Hot Temperatures

Again, this is most likely a non-issue and it is unjust to label it as such. Generally, high charge air temperatures pose no danger to the engine or any other components. Rather than that, the engine will simply pull timing to avoid knocks.

However, owners of Mustangs and Focuses may be more reliant on the performance of their 2.3 EcoBoost engines. As owners of turbocharged vehicles, we understand how infuriating heat-soak can be.

Often, the simplest solution to heat soak and high temperatures is to upgrade the intercooler. It’s a worthwhile modification for the 2.3L EcoBoost engine if you plan to use the power frequently. This is especially true for those who live in hotter climates or who intend to tune their EcoBoost engines.

2) Ford 2.3L EcoBoost Carbon Build-Up

This is another point to consider, but it is not a true issue with the 2.3L engine. However, this is an additional maintenance cost that should be considered. Rather than port injection, the 2.3 EcoBoost engine utilizes direct injection (DI). While direct injection is an excellent technology, it does have a flaw. DI fuel enters the cylinder directly, whereas PI fuel is sprayed into the intake ports.

Every engine has some degree of oil blow-by. This is essentially the process by which oil passes through the gastrointestinal tract. Oil eventually makes its way to the intake ports.

Direct injection eliminates the need for fuel to flow over the intake valves to clean them. As a result, carbon deposits can adhere to the valves, resulting in a build-up of carbon. Certain engines have a greater or lesser amount of natural oil blow-by than others.

Many direct-injected engines, on the other hand, should be serviced approximately every 100,000 miles.

2.3 EcoBoost Carbon Build-Up Symptoms

  • Power loss
  • Rough idle, vibration, shaking
  • Misfires

As carbon deposits accumulate, they obstruct airflow into cylinders. Certain cylinders may accumulate more carbon than others. Eventually, you’ll experience a loss of power as a result of the restricted airflow. Additionally, you may notice a rough idle, vibrations, or shaking. These symptoms are frequently the result of misfires.

2.3 EB Carbon Build-Up Maintenance

Only a few 2.3 EcoBoost engines have surpassed 100,000 miles. Some of those who have reached that mileage have probably never considered carbon build-up. Typically, it is not an emergency.

However, on high-performance vehicles such as the Ford Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost, you probably don’t want to lose power. Regardless, it’s prudent maintenance to ensure the engine runs smoothly. The best methods for cleaning the intake valves are as follows:

  • Walnut blasting
  • Brake cleaner and brush

We’ve found that walnut blasting is the most effective method for cleaning the intake valves in our experience with numerous direct-injected vehicles. You may be able to rent the necessary equipment. While this is not a difficult task, it is critical to complete it correctly and to ensure that no walnut media shells enter the cylinders.

Additionally, you can use brake cleaner and allow it to soak on the valves before brushing away any deposits. You’ll then need a shop vac to remove any remaining deposits and brake cleaner. Again, the preferred method is walnut blasting. This type of maintenance can cost between $300 and $600 in a shop.

How to Prevent Carbon Build-Up

Certain engines, such as the third-generation 5.0 Coyote and the second-generation 3.5L EcoBoost, utilize both port-injection and direct injection. The PI ensures that fuel is constantly flowing over the intake valves, cleaning them. Many people also experiment with oil catch cans, but the results are not always consistent.

Catch cans were popular in the BMW world years ago, but the hype has died down. While an oil catch can help slow the build-up of carbon dioxide, it cannot completely prevent it.

Likewise, for the 2.3 EcoBoost water-methanol injection system. As the WMI is injected prior to the valves, it is likely to slow carbon deposits. However, in most cases, the flow is insufficient to completely eliminate carbon build-up.

3) Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Head Gasket Failure (Early RS Models)

This is hardly worth noting given that the issue has been discussed and appears to be limited to early 2.3 EcoBoost Focus RS models. At times, these issues can be difficult to discuss. The internet frequently exaggerates events. However, things can also be swept under the rug at times. Nonetheless, we’ll keep this brief and leave some room for interpretation.

This article speculates on the possibility that affected Focus RS models received Mustang head gaskets inadvertently. That appears to be the prevalent view. Only a small percentage of Focus RS vehicles were affected, and Ford resolved the issue in the end.

We felt it was worth mentioning in case anything more serious is occurring. Head gasket failures on Mustangs and other models equipped with the 2.3 EB engine do not appear to be common, if at all. Again, the 2.3L EcoBoost engine is relatively new. Time will tell if there are underlying issues here or if it was truly an error involving the use of incorrect gaskets.

2.3L EcoBoost Reliability

Is the 2.3L EcoBoost engine long-term reliable? How long does the 2.3 EcoBoost engine last? These are unanswered questions at the moment. However, all lights appear to be green at the moment. The 2.3 EcoBoost engine does not currently exhibit any significant design flaws or common problems. Ford’s 3.5L and 2.7L EcoBoost engines have also been extremely successful. The 2.3 EcoBoost appears to be a dependable engine that should last a long time.

However, reliability is determined by a variety of factors. Naturally, maintenance is critical. A properly maintained 2.3 EcoBoost engine should have no difficulty reaching 200,000 miles. Though a portion of reliability is also determined by luck of the draw. This is true for engines of all types and manufacturers.

Occasionally, well-maintained engines fail prematurely, while poorly maintained engines continue to run for hundreds of thousands of miles. It’s difficult to attribute that to anything other than pure luck of the draw.

Additionally, those who push the 2.3L EcoBoost engines with tunes, bolt-on mods, and larger turbos will put the engines’ longevity to the test. By and large, the more power you apply to an unopened motor, the greater the likelihood of failure and a shorter life span.

If you intend to modify your 2.3 EcoBoost, take no shortcuts. Otherwise, keep your engine properly maintained with the proper oils and oil change intervals. Almost certainly, you’ll enjoy your time with the 2.3L EcoBoost engine.

2.3 EcoBoost Problems Summary

The 2.3L EB engine is proving to be a dependable performer despite its small 4-cylinder configuration. There do not appear to be any significant common engine faults to date. Turbo engines, on the other hand, run hot, and the 2.3L factory intercooler may be insufficient for those who drive their cars aggressively or tune them.

Additionally, direct-injected engines develop carbon deposits on the intake valves, which can impair performance and drivability. We believe walnut blasting will be an excellent preventative maintenance item to perform every 100,000 miles.

Apart from that, the 2.3L EcoBoost is an excellent engine in general. Reliability is determined by a variety of factors, including maintenance, modifications, how the vehicle is driven, and the luck of the draw.

However, we believe that the majority of well-maintained 2.3L EcoBoost engines should reach 200,000 miles reliably. While all engines will experience issues at some point in their lives, the 2.3 EB is expected to be a strong, reliable engine.

What are your thoughts on the 2.3 EcoBoost? Are you contemplating purchasing one?

Up Next: Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Engine Problems: 3 Most Common Issues

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