Typically when we report on the findings of an investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it's because the government body has discovered a safety issue and prescribed a recall. In this case, however, NHTSA has closed an investigation into a reported performance deficit without ever getting to the recall stage.

The issue revolves around the Ford F-150 – specifically those equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine – of which some 360,000 were built in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 model years. After receiving an initial 95 complaints, NHTSA opened an investigation last May – almost a year ago – into the reported issue of reduced engine power under hard acceleration. The agency has since received a total of 525 such complaints, and Ford itself reported receiving over 4,000.

Together, NHTSA and Ford determined that the problem resulted from cylinders misfiring, an issue itself stemming from water getting into the charge air cooler (CAC) mated to the turbochargers. In particularly humid or rainy conditions, water was found to get into the CAC, causing some of the cylinders to misfire, which in turn triggered the ECU to disable those cylinders in order to protect the catalytic converter from damage.

Ford conducted its own testing and, rather than issue a recall, published a series of technical service bulletins prompting dealers to install deflect shields onto the CAC in the vehicles in question, solving the problem to 95-percent effectiveness in 2011-12 models and 100 percent in 2013 models. Apparently satisfied that Ford had resolved the issue, NHTSA has closed the file on this particular case.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      95AtlAg
      • 11 Days Ago

      I have a 2014 F150 v6 Ecoboost that has these issues (shudders / shakes / loses power) when accelerating and this truck has the "deflector shield" in place and Ford Service says they cannot fix the problem they cannot replicate.  

      Jason Barber
      • 2 Months Ago

      I have the same issue with my 2012 Ecoboost that the deflector shield did absolutely nothing.  It also had a leak of coolant that has taken 3 trips to the dealer to fix which included two hoses and connectors along with a new overflow bottle.  The last time they had it they also fixed the surging and bucking problem again.  This time they said that it was a silenoid that has gone bad.  Hopefully that fixed it but now I notice that the truck isn't as peppy and has a lot of turbo lag

      S C
      • 8 Months Ago
      So....people complain to NHTSA.....Ford investigates it WITH them, comes up with an effective fix to eliminate the problem, and they did it voluntarily....good job FoMoCo
      vulnox
      • 8 Months Ago
      My 2012 Ecoboost F-150 had this issue a couple times in the first few months I had it, and only when it was very, very wet out and I had been driving on the freeway for extended periods. While I had it in for an oil change (we were in an apartment, made oil changes difficult), and I asked them to work on that issue. They applied one of the TSB fixes which was the shield and I never had an issue again. I loved that truck and that engine. Can't wait for the 2015 to come out as I plan to get another. Every vehicle has their issues and given the huge change from the norm a turbo V6 with that much power in a truck is, I was totally fine with the very small issue as it was the only issue I had with that truck.
        mylz
        • 8 Months Ago
        @vulnox
        I'm more curious about your mpgs... I've yet to be mind blown by people's results. I know people with the v8 and others with the v6 and the mpgs are not anything to brag about.
          Matt_E
          • 8 Months Ago
          @mylz
          I would make a small correction to the statement of "Ecoboost is V8 power with V6 fuel economy". It's more like big 6+ liter V8 torque (plus at a lower RPM), with the daily fuel economy of a small V8. No gas engine available pulls a heavy load as well as an Ecoboost F150.
          vulnox
          • 8 Months Ago
          @mylz
          That is one area that Ford seem to struggle with. No, the Ecoboost MPG is not going to change the world. The best I had on the freeway was 25MPG in my CrewCab FX4 going from Indianapolis to Detroit and back. Solid and very respectable MPGs, but the 5.0L V8 that Ford offers along with the V6's and V8's offered by some competitors can claim very similar MPGs. The thing that people miss is the power while posting those mileage figures. The Ecoboost 3.5L in the F-150 is 385HP (or 365, its high enough, in trucks nobody cares about HP) and 420lb/ft of torque. On top of that, torque is delivered on the low end. The Ecoboost equipped F-150s can stomp all but the highest output V8s and every V6 out there in power and acceleration. It also does this while returning good mileage, and that's the real bonus. You get the best of both worlds. The Eco v6 may match the 5.0 in MPG in the real world, but it still does that while returning higher power figures at lower RPM. That is why Ford has said, from the very beginning, that the Ecoboost is V8 power with V6 fuel economy and they are essentially correct.
      brian.talmage
      • 8 Months Ago
      Why didn't they wait 10 years and cover it up along the way?
      EvilTollMan
      • 8 Months Ago
      This all pales in comparison to the issues GM's having at the moment.
      Finklestein
      • 8 Months Ago
      This really makes you question the extent of Ford's F-150 "torture testing" that doesn't even involve testing in high humidity/heavy rain....
        jtav2002
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Finklestein
        Also, it could just be the issue didn't present itself. Doesn't mean their testing is poor. Says they had less than 6k complaints total between Ford and the NHTSA (not that there weren't more out there). That's probably a pretty low number overall considering how many F150's they sell a year and the fact that they were having a close to 50% take rate on the EB trucks. So there are tons of them out there since the motor made it into the the F150 in 2011.
        mitytitywhitey
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Finklestein
        Historically, 'mild weather' hasn't been the 'torturous' on engines, since there is no danger of the engine overheating or fluids freezing. I could forgive Ford for developing an engine that works in -40 to 120F conditions, but becomes sluggish when it rains until you get a TSB fix. Not the worst 1st year teething problems ever, IMO.
      Phil Parkey
      • 8 Months Ago
      Two years and countless trips to the dealer never got me even a deflector, only a quote from Ford for $650 for a new intercooler. Nice neat cover up article. After countless close calls with the EcoBroke, finally dumped the truck and went back to Dodge Ram. Best wishes Ford. Never again here.
      carguy1701
      • 8 Months Ago
      In layman's terms, the intercooler does its job too well. Hell of a problem to have.
        Karfreek
        • 8 Months Ago
        @carguy1701
        It sounds to me like the intercooler gets a puncture in it from debris because Ford left it open with no screen/Grille (EcoBoost trucks get the license plate relocated to the drivers side of the bumper to open this area up to air flow). The Ford fix is to cover the intercooler to keep water away when the engine is operating under a vacuum to prevent water from, being sucked in. A lot of EcoBoost guys are putting aftermarket screens over the air intake to prevent punctures.
      Ford Man
      • 8 Months Ago
      hey for all you ****-HEADS OUT THERE YOU GUYS SUCK NEWS FLASH CHEVY IS WORSE THAN FORD p Chevrolet’s Chevy Volt has had many problems including fires from coolant leaks Chevrolet claims that they will fix the problems they say that the fires often happened 1-3 weeks after the crash test Chevy has had other problems with their vehicles including the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 due to fire risk involving the cylinder-deactivation systems this system shuts off some cylinders when extra power is no longer needed but the trucks still need to uses at least four cylinders but a system software glitch is causing most of the cylinders to shut down causing parts of the exhaust and other parts to over-heat resulting in fires not only are GM trucks having engine fires they’ve got transmission flaws too GM has called back 490,000 late-model pickup trucks and SUVs due to oil cooling lines not being secure in their fittings causing transmission oil to leak and when it does it can hit hot surfaces on the car causing fires GM claims that no-one was injured in those fires aside from fires to top the list GM Compact cars are responsible for 13 fatal crashes due to an ignition switch flaw which the compsny knew about but faild to fix it! these recalls have left a huge black- mark on Chevrolet. Chevrolet says they already knew about this flaw a decade ago due to these recalls GM has faced two investigations by The Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. so **** you you ungreatful ****-heads do the reading on this stuff before hand
      Ford Man
      • 8 Months Ago
      perfect Chevrolet’s Chevy Volt has had many problems including fires from coolant leaks Chevrolet claims that they will fix the problems they say that the fires often happened 1-3 weeks after the crash test Chevy has had other problems with their vehicles including the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 due to fire risk involving the cylinder-deactivation systems this system shuts off some cylinders when extra power is no longer needed but the trucks still need to uses at least four cylinders but a system software glitch is causing most of the cylinders to shut down causing parts of the exhaust and other parts to over-heat resulting in fires not only are GM trucks having engine fires they’ve got transmission flaws too GM has called back 490,000 late-model pickup trucks and SUVs due to oil cooling lines not being secure in their fittings causing transmission oil to leak and when it does it can hit hot surfaces on the car causing fires GM claims that no-one was injured in those fires aside from fires to top the list GM Compact cars are responsible for 13 fatal crashes due to an ignition switch flaw these recalls have left a huge black- mark on Chevrolet. Chevrolet says they already knew about this flaw a decade ago due to these recalls GM has faced two investigations by The Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. yah love my fords! truth
      Ford Man
      • 8 Months Ago
      this is for all you Chevrolet Jerks perfect Chevrolet’s Chevy Volt has had many problems including fires from coolant leaks Chevrolet claims that they will fix the problems they say that the fires often happened 1-3 weeks after the crash test Chevy has had other problems with their vehicles including the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 due to fire risk involving the cylinder-deactivation systems this system shuts off some cylinders when extra power is no longer needed but the trucks still need to uses at least four cylinders but a system software glitch is causing most of the cylinders to shut down causing parts of the exhaust and other parts to over-heat resulting in fires not only are GM trucks having engine fires they’ve got transmission flaws too GM has called back 490,000 late-model pickup trucks and SUVs due to oil cooling lines not being secure in their fittings causing transmission oil to leak and when it does it can hit hot surfaces on the car causing fires GM claims that no-one was injured in those fires aside from fires to top the list GM Compact cars are responsible for 13 fatal crashes due to an ignition switch flaw these recalls have left a huge black- mark on Chevrolet. Chevrolet says they already knew about this flaw a decade ago due to these recalls GM has faced two investigations by The Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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