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Old 09-07-2021, 05:02 PM   #1
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Did you buy a used 3.5 EcoBoost?

Greetings all. Time for me to consider upgrading my tow vehicle. I prefer Toyotas but the Tundra's payload limitations are well documented. Many are pleased with the payload and performance of the F150 with the EcoBoost 3.5 however I have some concerns. I'd appreciate hearing your experiences.

Due to the high speeds and temperature that turbos operate at, proper maintenance is critical. Have you experienced turbo failure that may have been attributed to lack of oil changes by the previous owner?

With the way prices for new and used vehicles have gone through the roof, I'll probably be looking at trucks that are 5 or more year old. If you've had turbo issues, how many miles did you have on your truck?

Finally, it seems the max tow package is highly desirable. How can the presence of that package be confirmed?

Thanks for viewing and giving this some thought. Stay safe!
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Old 09-07-2021, 05:59 PM   #2
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I bought a used F150 SCREW 3.5 Ecoboost with the Max Tow package, 1828lbs of payload capacity and 89k miles on it. I've had no problems over the 5 years and 50k miles until this last Thursday.
A cylinder coil failed, luckily I had purchased the Ford extended warranty so the repair cost was just my $100 deductible.
Other than that, it's been trouble free and a fabulous towing machine.
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Old 09-07-2021, 06:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Greetings all. Time for me to consider upgrading my tow vehicle. I prefer Toyotas but the Tundra's payload limitations are well documented. Many are pleased with the payload and performance of the F150 with the EcoBoost 3.5 however I have some concerns. I'd appreciate hearing your experiences.
We picked up a 2018 F-150 XLT with the 3.5 Ecoboost in July. So far it's been trouble free. When I test drove it it had some weird shifting to the point that the seller took it to a Ford dealer to have them look at it. That dealer dropped the pan, replaced the filter and did a fluid flush. That helped a fair amount but I've come to learn that the 10-speed transmissions in those trucks can be a bit temperamental. Resetting the adaptive shift tables is a necessity if you pick up a used one. Once I cleared those out and it's learned how I drive, the shifting is smooth.

Quote:
Due to the high speeds and temperature that turbos operate at, proper maintenance is critical. Have you experienced turbo failure that may have been attributed to lack of oil changes by the previous owner?
No issues with the turbos so far. They sound good from what I can tell. The big issue on these seems to be startup rattle of the variable timing system. Ford put out a service bulletin to update a computer but they found it it was messing with the transmission so they won't do it anymore. The only real way to fix is to replace all of the timing gears/solenoids.

Quote:
With the way prices for new and used vehicles have gone through the roof, I'll probably be looking at trucks that are 5 or more year old. If you've had turbo issues, how many miles did you have on your truck?
I will recommend looking at a 2017 or newer as they have the 2nd gen 3.5 engine. They added port fuel injection which helps keep the intake valves from getting a lot of carbon deposits on them. There's some other improvements as well (more HP and torque).

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Finally, it seems the max tow package is highly desirable. How can the presence of that package be confirmed?
My truck has the Max Trailering Package on it. If you can verify the size of the gas tank, the Max Trailering package includes a 36 gallon tank. From what I can tell there's not much else to give away if it has that package or not. The only other thing I can tell is different is the bracket where safety chains connect are oriented differently. I don't have a picture to illustrate, but the bracket is vertical and is angled front to back.
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Old 09-07-2021, 07:13 PM   #4
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Highly valuable comments. Thank you both!
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Old 09-07-2021, 07:54 PM   #5
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I've got multiple people I know that all had issues between 100 and 150k. There isn't a vehicle out there though that doesn't have some sort of design flaw.

Best piece of advice I could give is get more truck than you think you'll need. It just makes common sense that something pulling at 75-80%of it's max weight limit is probably not going to last as long as something pulling half it's max.

If you can do without the new factory there are plenty of Diesels out there that'll haul that camper with no issues for 100's of thousands of miles. and you can probably do it for about the same price as a newer gasser.
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Old 09-07-2021, 08:59 PM   #6
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We purchased a 2011 F-150 XLT Ecoboost, 145" wheelbase, in 2015 with 135,000 miles on it. It now has 187,000+ miles with no engine or turbocharger issues at all. It's always gotten 3,000-mile synthetic oil changes and it's never had chain tensioner or cam phaser noise.
With 3.55 gears, it is rated for 15,500 gross combined weight rating. While it does not have a max tow tow package, it does have the factory brake controller and it has been an excellent tow vehicle. I wish it was a 157" wheelbase but hey, you can't have everything when you buy older vehicles.
This truck has always run a bit warm when towing, especially when we started pulling our Rockwood 2205S, with coolant temperatures hitting 250 degrees on a steep grade, as documented with a live-data scan tool. To alleviate this I installed a Mishimoto radiator. No more coolant/trans temp issues.
Mine does seem to have a knack of cracking spark plugs, not unheard of on the 3.5 Ecoboost engines when used as pullers. I generally change the plugs every June, although I was able to run the 2019-2020 seasons on one set. One plug finally started talking to me so I changed them this past June. My truck likes Motorcraft plugs, and any other brand causes "random misfire" engine codes.
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Old 09-07-2021, 09:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by 007matman View Post
I've got multiple people I know that all had issues between 100 and 150k. There isn't a vehicle out there though that doesn't have some sort of design flaw.

Best piece of advice I could give is get more truck than you think you'll need. It just makes common sense that something pulling at 75-80%of it's max weight limit is probably not going to last as long as something pulling half it's max.

If you can do without the new factory there are plenty of Diesels out there that'll haul that camper with no issues for 100's of thousands of miles. and you can probably do it for about the same price as a newer gasser.
I’ve had multiple diesels ranging from a 97 F250 PSD to my current 19 F450 PSD. Have also had many gassers including many NA engines and 2 different Ecoboosts- a 2013 and my current 18 model. For what you’re towing, I’d hands down without hesitation take my Ecoboost F150 every single time. Almost everyone I know that has owned a diesel produced in the past 15 years has had issues of some sort just as soon as everyone I know that tows with a gasser, including the Ecoboost. And the repairs without fail are MUCH more costly. There are only 2 real reasons to own a diesel- 1. You NEED the extra towing capability. 2. You can pay for one and just want it. From the late 90s through mid 2000s you could easily make the case for a diesel being the more economical choice for almost all buyers- just isn’t the case any more. Also, FWIW from a stranger on the internet, my parents own a 2011 F150 Ecoboost (very early model at that) and made it to just over 180k before needing any real repairs. 2 brand new turbochargers at around 2k installed and they now have well over 200k on it. Both of my most recent diesels had relatively minor emissions repairs needed that cost about double that each- fortunately was covered under warranty but still proves the point that new diesels have very expensive components that fail. Good buddy of mine just bought an 07 Duramax and it’s had multiple issues. And it is pre SCR.
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Old 09-07-2021, 11:12 PM   #8
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Don't overlook Chevy/GMC. My 2019 Silverado has the 6.2L (420 HP and 460 Ft Lbs), 10 speed transmission and max trailering package. With 1910 lbs of payload capacity I have no problems staying under that limit. The advanced trailering package makes towing a breeze. My theoretical max tow weight is 12,000 lbs and my max tongue weight limit is 1200 lbs. I'm pulling about half of my max weight and I can barely feel the trailer behind me. I do use the WDH that came with the trailer, but not the sway bar, as my trailer is rock solid at any speed.
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Old 09-08-2021, 01:31 AM   #9
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My experience:

In Nov. '15, I purchased a '11 Ecoboost as a primary vehicle with 42k miles. The truck was a basic XLT with a 1529 payload and the towing package that allowed a tow rating in the mid 9k lbs range.

In June '17 we purchased our trailer in my signature that weighed 7500 lbs fully loaded.

After towing the trailer for 4k miles around WA, in Aug '18 at 71K miles, I started hearing an exhaust manifold leak. Under an extended warranty, it went to the Ford dealer. There, it was determined that the wastegates on the turbos had failed causing pressure and heat to build, warping the manifolds on both sides. All parts needed to be replaced. It was also determined that the electronic vacuum pump ('11 Ecoboost only) had failed, needing replacement as well. In my ownership, that was the 2nd vacuum pump replacement...the first was a special warranty item by Ford.

Talking to the service writer, the whole reasoning behind the failure was unexplainable and was called a "Doozy of a problem". Ford did try to pin the cause on me for towing such a big trailer. They didn't get too far with that when I produced the CAT scale receipt showing my trailer was 2k lbs under the trucks tow limit.

The extended warranty picked up $5,500 and my share was another $500. OUCH!!!...But it was fixed.

Having lost faith and trust in that paeticular truck, I soon traded up to an F250 with the 6.2.

My father and uncle also both had '13 3.5L ecoboosts with their share of problems before 75k miles including multiple oil leaks on the passenger side turbo and complete loss of brakes (there is a specific recall for that year).

In all, my experience is one truck that was the first model year for that engine. I also know a half dozen others that own the Ecoboost and have never had an issue.

If I were hell bent on getting a used F150, i would look for a '15 or newer. The '15 and '16 would have the last of the 1st generation engine or the '17+ would have the more refined 2nd generation.

The F150 trucks themselves are very nice, solid vehicles.
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Old 09-08-2021, 02:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by MarkPW View Post
Greetings all. Time for me to consider upgrading my tow vehicle. I prefer Toyotas but the Tundra's payload limitations are well documented. Many are pleased with the payload and performance of the F150 with the EcoBoost 3.5 however I have some concerns. I'd appreciate hearing your experiences.

Due to the high speeds and temperature that turbos operate at, proper maintenance is critical. Have you experienced turbo failure that may have been attributed to lack of oil changes by the previous owner?

With the way prices for new and used vehicles have gone through the roof, I'll probably be looking at trucks that are 5 or more year old. If you've had turbo issues, how many miles did you have on your truck?

Finally, it seems the max tow package is highly desirable. How can the presence of that package be confirmed?

Thanks for viewing and giving this some thought. Stay safe!
My last Ford truck was a 3.5 ecoboost. It was a complete nightmare, both the truck and engine. Our relationship ended at 100,435km when the engine went - Ford wouldn’t cover a thing even though they had the service records since day 1. I owned it since new and the amount of problems was downright cringe - would be a long long post if I got into it. Ended up selling it at a salvage auction…4.5 years old! That truck (and the problematic 2 f150’s I had prior to it) was strike 3 you’re out for Ford. I will never own another Ford product for life. So I literally LAUGHED when you said you prefer Toyota’s but are looking at a ford, and a used one at that. Please, don’t make that mistake! The truck I bought after the ecoboost fiasco was a Tundra…and it has been single handedly the best vehicle I’ve ever owned, and I’ve had many. I have close to 300k on it, still driving it, with no repairs made just fluids/tires/brakes and a couple windshields. It gets driven on gravel roads (the real, rural kind..) and it’s been overloaded countless times. 3500lbs of retaining wall bricks, hauled 400km on the bump stops. Pulls straight cut combine headers every harvest, the swather on a mover between furthest fields, a 9000lb skid steer on a trailer…and on and on. And yes, prior to getting my fifth wheel a couple weeks ago it pulled the camper too. 8500lbs TT with a 1600lb tongue weight, made trips across provincial borders with it, no issues - just keep it gassed up of course! To sum things up, Tundra’s are very solid and heavy built trucks (more in common to a 3/4 than a 1/2 ton), they are proven reliable and time tested - I can speak to it with confidence. The 5.7L engine is going on 15 years without any changes or updates to its design…because it was made right from inception, same with the 6 speed transmission. And if you don’t believe me, get a mechanics word on it…watch The Car Wizard on utube…he’ll lay it out for you. Don’t worry about the payload numbers too much - the Tundra is more than capable and most importantly has the physical weight/mass to safely handle what you’re towing. Put on 10 ply tires, get a heavy well made hitch and go.
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Old 09-08-2021, 08:18 AM   #11
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I never bought into the "built on Monday" theory to explain a problem vehicle, but if such exists it may have been your F150. I agree on Toyota quality. My 2006 Tacoma has 200,000 and has been for the most part trouble free but I want something bigger/stronger for a cross country trip. I've heard others say the Tundra's payload is under rated. I wish it was more accurate. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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My last Ford truck was a 3.5 ecoboost. It was a complete nightmare, both the truck and engine. Our relationship ended at 100,435km when the engine went - Ford wouldn’t cover a thing even though they had the service records since day 1. I owned it since new and the amount of problems was downright cringe - would be a long long post if I got into it. Ended up selling it at a salvage auction…4.5 years old! That truck (and the problematic 2 f150’s I had prior to it) was strike 3 you’re out for Ford. I will never own another Ford product for life. So I literally LAUGHED when you said you prefer Toyota’s but are looking at a ford, and a used one at that. Please, don’t make that mistake! The truck I bought after the ecoboost fiasco was a Tundra…and it has been single handedly the best vehicle I’ve ever owned, and I’ve had many. I have close to 300k on it, still driving it, with no repairs made just fluids/tires/brakes and a couple windshields. It gets driven on gravel roads (the real, rural kind..) and it’s been overloaded countless times. 3500lbs of retaining wall bricks, hauled 400km on the bump stops. Pulls straight cut combine headers every harvest, the swather on a mover between furthest fields, a 9000lb skid steer on a trailer…and on and on. And yes, prior to getting my fifth wheel a couple weeks ago it pulled the camper too. 8500lbs TT with a 1600lb tongue weight, made trips across provincial borders with it, no issues - just keep it gassed up of course! To sum things up, Tundra’s are very solid and heavy built trucks (more in common to a 3/4 than a 1/2 ton), they are proven reliable and time tested - I can speak to it with confidence. The 5.7L engine is going on 15 years without any changes or updates to its design…because it was made right from inception, same with the 6 speed transmission. And if you don’t believe me, get a mechanics word on it…watch The Car Wizard on utube…he’ll lay it out for you. Don’t worry about the payload numbers too much - the Tundra is more than capable and most importantly has the physical weight/mass to safely handle what you’re towing. Put on 10 ply tires, get a heavy well made hitch and go.
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Old 09-08-2021, 01:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 007matman View Post
I've got multiple people I know that all had issues between 100 and 150k. There isn't a vehicle out there though that doesn't have some sort of design flaw.

Best piece of advice I could give is get more truck than you think you'll need. It just makes common sense that something pulling at 75-80%of it's max weight limit is probably not going to last as long as something pulling half it's max.

If you can do without the new factory there are plenty of Diesels out there that'll haul that camper with no issues for 100's of thousands of miles. and you can probably do it for about the same price as a newer gasser.
Diesels seem to have their own finickyness. Seems like a lot more scheduled maintenance and filters and DEF stuff.
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Old 09-08-2021, 01:57 PM   #13
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We bought a 2014 EcoBoost (Lariat model) and have not had any problems with it. Because we bought it used, I too wanted to know what kind of trailer package it had - whether a Max or a standard. I was able to track down the original window sticker and learned that it did not have a max package. So, as was written above, my theoretical hauling limit is 12,000 lb. If you do a Google search for "Ford Window Sticker by VIN", you can access a copy of your vehicles original window sticker.

As far as the engine, I use only synthetic oil and change it time. New air filters when needed - usually every other oil change. And simple general maintenance as recommended in the owner's manual. It has done very well for us!
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Old 09-08-2021, 02:38 PM   #14
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The max tow package is good to have but if you can find a “Unicorn” with the HD payload package also you’ll be in great shape. Had a 2013 with both packages and could of held an auction for it with the calls I got when selling. Lariat Super Crew 3.5 EB w/6.5’ bed 4x4 had just under 2200# payload.
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Old 09-08-2021, 03:04 PM   #15
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The max tow package is good to have but if you can find a “Unicorn” with the HD payload package also you’ll be in great shape. Had a 2013 with both packages and could of held an auction for it with the calls I got when selling. Lariat Super Crew 3.5 EB w/6.5’ bed 4x4 had just under 2200# payload.
Finding a used "Unicorn" HDPP F150 is nearly impossible because not many were built and owners don't want to sell theirs.
I spent 2 years trying to find a used one.
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Old 09-08-2021, 03:29 PM   #16
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You can tell if an F-150 has max tow package by the built in brake controller and also if it has an "E" locker I have a '13 Supercrew 4x4 with the 5.0L and I love it. previous truck was an '08 with the almost bulletproof 4.6L but lets face it that engine would barely get out it's own way, but dependable
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Old 09-08-2021, 03:48 PM   #17
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You can tell if an F-150 has max tow package by the built in brake controller and also if it has an "E" locker I have a '13 Supercrew 4x4 with the 5.0L and I love it. previous truck was an '08 with the almost bulletproof 4.6L but lets face it that engine would barely get out it's own way, but dependable
The brake controller is not included by default in the Max Tow Package. I added an OEM controller myself (easy) $90, and had the dealer activate it $65
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Old 09-09-2021, 12:45 PM   #18
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Did you buy a used 3.5 EcoBoost?

Hard to tell without looking at the original sticker if it’s got max tow. I believe in 2018 the tow package came with 20 inch rims so if you’re looking at 2018s that’s one thing to look for and you find most sites list. A 35 gallon tank and 3.55 locking rear differential if the site lists that info are good clues as well. If you go the Ford Certified Pre Owned route the ford dealers usually have a link to the original sticker and it will clearly list the Max Tow Package. That’s the one you want, not the Tow Package. I purchased my 2018 3.5 Lariat as a CPO and although I’ve not needed it, it nice to get another 12 months or 12000 added to the bumper to bumper and 100K on the power train warranty. Good luck in your search, the pickings are pretty slim and the prices pretty high right now. I’d wait and sit on the sidelines for a bit if I could...
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Old 09-09-2021, 03:24 PM   #19
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Brother-in-law bought a NEW F-150 (2016?) with Ecoboost. He LOVED the fuel economy and towing performance. He was very careful about proper maintenance. About 1,000 miles beyond the warranty the turbo self-destructed to the tune of $6,000. Ford gave him warranty repairs and he's trading for a V-8...
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Old 09-09-2021, 08:45 PM   #20
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Brother-in-law bought a NEW F-150 (2016?) with Ecoboost. He LOVED the fuel economy and towing performance. He was very careful about proper maintenance. About 1,000 miles beyond the warranty the turbo self-destructed to the tune of $6,000. Ford gave him warranty repairs and he's trading for a V-8...

This sounds all too familiar.

I specifically remember being so frustrated and bluntly asking the service writer "What engine DON'T you see in here?"

The 6.2 has served me well ever since!
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