Ford 3.5 V6 Cyclone Engine Problems: The 3 Most Common Problems

Ford 3.5 V6 Engine Problems

In 2007, Ford introduced the 3.5L V6 engine for use in the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, and Lincoln MKZ. It was then incorporated into a variety of subsequent Ford models. Ford’s 3.5-liter V6 engines are also referred to as the Duratec 35, the 3.5 TiVCT, and the 3.5 Cyclone. The engine produces 265-290 horsepower and torque of 248-255 lb-ft.

That level of power is unlikely to impress anyone, let alone today. The 3.5 Duratec engine, on the other hand, strikes an excellent balance of fuel economy and reliability. Naturally, no engine is perfect, and this is no exception. We’ll discuss a few of the most common issues with the Ford 3.5 V6 in this article, as well as its overall reliability.

What Car Use the Duratec 35?

Ford, Lincoln, and Mazda models equipped with the 3.5L V6 Cyclone engine include the following:

  • 2007-2018 Ford Edge
  • 2007-2010 Lincoln MKX
  • 2007-2012 Lincoln MKZ
  • 2007-2016 Mazda CX-9
  • 2008-2019 Ford Taurus
  • 2010-2012 Ford Fusion Sport
  • 2009-2013 Ford Flex
  • 2015-2017 Ford F-150
  • 2011-2019 Ford Explorer

3 Common Ford 3.5 V6 Engine Problems

Ford 3.5 V6 Engine

Several of the most frequently encountered engine problems with the Ford 3.5 Cyclone/Duratec engine include the following:

  • Water pump
  • Oil dilution
  • Cam torque actuated phasers

The remainder of this article will discuss each of the aforementioned points in greater detail. Before we continue, however, a few quick notes. The Duratec 35 engine is a proven performer. We will discuss a few of the most prevalent faults and failures.

That is not to say they are universally applicable to Ford 3.5L V6 engines. Rather than that, when issues do arise, the following are some of the most frequently encountered areas.

Having said that, all engines are susceptible to a variety of issues. This is especially true when the mileage and age of the vehicle are increased. Given that some of the 3.5 Cyclone engines from the early models are over a decade old, this is an additional point to consider. Anyway, let’s take a closer look at the Ford 3.5 V6’s aforementioned issues.

1) 3.5L V6 Cyclone Water Pump Failure

Water pump failures are one of the most frequently encountered cooling system issues on a wide variety of engines. It is a moving component that is responsible for cooling the 3.5 V6 Ti-VCT engine. Without adequate coolant flow, an engine is prone to rapidly overheating. As such, water pump failures are frequently an emergency repair. The water pump on the Ford 3.5 V6 is a serious design flaw.

3.5 Cyclone water pumps are located behind the timing cover and are driven by the timing chain due to the transverse design. Not only does this increase the likelihood of the 3.5 V6 water pump leaking, but it also increases the labor required to repair it. Fortunately, leaking water pumps are less urgent than a complete failure of a water pump.

It is still critical to repair the water pump immediately. However, as long as coolant flow is maintained to the Ford 3.5 Duratec, there should be no significant risk of severe overheating. Naturally, the pump could also fail internally, impairing coolant flow. Water pump failures on the 3.5 TiVCT engine typically occur between 80,000 and 120,000 miles.

Duratec 35 Water Pump Symptoms

Symptoms of a faulty water pump on the 3.5L Cyclone engine include the following:

  • Visible coolant leak
  • Low coolant
  • Coolant mixing with oil
  • Overheating

A visible coolant leak can be caused by a variety of different issues, but typically involves the water pump. Naturally, a coolant leak may result in a low coolant light being illuminated.

In severe cases, the coolant from the Duratec 35 engine can mix with the oil. This will be discussed in greater detail in the following section on oil dilution. Additionally, a failed water pump may cause check engine lights and overheating.

Ford 3.5 V6 Water Pump Replacement

Ford 3.5 Oil Dilution Problems

Water pump replacement is already a fairly expensive repair on most engines. However, the location of the Ford Duratec 35 water pump makes it slightly more difficult to access and repair.

While DIYing is not overly difficult, it does require some skill and patience. Alternatively, leave 3.5 V6 water pump repairs to the professionals. A repair shop will likely charge between $800 and $1200 for the job, depending on the year and model.

2) Ford 3.5 Oil Dilution Problems

This section will be a little shorter. Oil dilution issues with the Ford 3.5 V6 Cyclone are actually caused by an above-water pump failure. Due to the location of the water pump, a severe failure may result in the mixing of coolant and engine oil. This is a much less common occurrence, as water pumps frequently fail and leak through the weep hole. However, there are sufficient instances of oil and coolant mixing to warrant mention.

Obviously, mixing coolant and engine oil is not a good thing. It has an effect on the oil’s ability to effectively lubricate the 3.5L Duratec engine’s internal components. If this goes unnoticed for an extended period of time, it can result in catastrophic engine failure. Again, this is a much rarer occurrence than the majority of water pump leaks.

However, it is a critical point to keep an eye out for. We believe that a few lawsuits may be pending as a result of the 3.5 Cyclone water pump issues that result in oil dilution. The video below is an excellent resource.

3.5L TiVCT Oil Dilution Symptoms

Several symptoms may indicate that coolant is mixing with oil, including the following:

  • Rattling/clunking from engine
  • Milky oil
  • Overheating

This issue begins with the Ford 3.5 V6 water pump’s internal bearings. As the bearing wears out, you may hear clunking and rattling noises emanating from the water pump area. A milky appearance to the oil is a dead giveaway that something is not running properly. Additionally, the 3.5 TiVCT may run hotter due to the mixing of oil and coolant.

3) 3.5 TiVCT Cam Torque Phasers Issues

Throughout this article, we’ve referred to the Ford 3.5 V6 as the TiVCT. It is critical to distinguish here. iVCT is used in early model engines. However, beginning in 2012, all 3.5 Cyclone engines were equipped with TiVCT (Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing). These later model TiVCT engines are affected by Ford 3.5L V6 cam torque actuated phaser problems.

The purpose of TiVCT is to optimize power and fuel economy by adjusting the intake and exhaust valve timing. It is an excellent piece of technology that is found on the majority of modern engines.

The 3.5 V6 valve timing system, on the other hand, has a few issues. Cam torque actuated phasers are an example of a potential issue. These cam phasers are tasked with the responsibility of rotating each camshaft in accordance with engine timing. There are several symptoms associated with the failure of the 3.5 Duratec cam torque phasers. Other failures may occur if this is not addressed promptly.

Ford 3.5 Duratec Cam Phasers Symptoms

Examine the following symptoms to determine if the 3.5 Cyclone cam torque actuated phasers are defective:

  • CEL
  • Engine rattling sounds
  • Power loss
  • Rough running

Cam phaser failure on the Ford 3.5 engine is typically indicated by a check engine light and a rattling sound. In severe cases, it can also cause ignition timing to be thrown off. This will result in power outages and sluggish operation.

3.5 V6 Cyclone Cam Phasers Replacement

As a side note, if your 3.5 V6 has a higher mileage, consider replacing the TiVCT solenoids. This is another area where issues can arise as the engine ages. Now, let us return to the issue at hand. Within the cylinder head, cam torque-actuated phasers are located.

It takes some time and effort to reach that area, which means that repair costs can quickly accumulate. Depending on the year and model of the Ford 3.5L engine, cam phaser repair can cost between $700 and $1200+.

Ford 3.5 Ti-VCT V6 Reliability

Is the Ford Cyclone 3.5 V6 engine a reliable engine? Yes, we believe the Ford Duratec 35 earns a higher-than-average reliability rating. Problems with water pump and cam torque actuated phasers can be a bit of a pain.

However, the internet has a tendency to exaggerate things. The issues are probably not as prevalent as some may lead you to believe. Apart from that, the 3.5L V6 is free of many common failures and design flaws.

There are numerous engines available that have a plethora of additional and significantly worse common issues. As such, the Ford 3.5 TiVCT earns excellent reliability ratings.

While issues can and do occur, this can be said of any automotive engine. Of course, maintenance is critical for any engine, and the 3.5 V6 Cyclone engine is no exception. Replace fluids on time and address issues promptly. It’s basic stuff, but it goes a long way toward ensuring that your experience with the Ford 3.5 V6 engine is positive and reliable.

With proper maintenance, the 3.5 Cyclone can easily exceed 200,000 miles without experiencing many, if any, severe engine problems. Not too shabby in terms of longevity. It’s an excellent engine in every way, with a good balance of reliability, longevity, and fuel economy.

Ford 3.5L Cyclone Common Problems Summary

Ford introduced the 3.5L Duratec engine in 2007 in a limited number of models before incorporating it into flagship vehicles such as the Ford Explorer and F-150. It is not the most powerful engine available when compared to the EcoBoost or 5.0 Coyote.

However, the 3.5 V6 offers a slew of advantages for those who do not require the additional power. The Duratec 35 is a proven, dependable, and efficient engine. However, no engine is perfect.

The water pump and cam phasers are two common problems with the Ford 3.5 V6. Additionally, water pump failures can result in high repair costs if coolant mixes with the oil. It’s not a particularly common occurrence that would dissuade us from purchasing the 3.5 Duratec. Apart from that, there are no significant flaws with the engine.

Ford 3.5L V6 TiVCT engines are an excellent choice for those who do not require massive amounts of power but instead want a reliable, efficient engine.

They have been known to exceed 200,000 miles without experiencing any serious issues with proper maintenance. Maintain proper maintenance, and you should have a positive experience with the 3.5 Cyclone.

What are your thoughts on the Ford 3.5 V6 TiVCT engine? Are you considering purchasing one?

Up Next: Ford 2.5L Duratec I4 Engine Problems: Everything Need To Know

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