Don’t Use Combustion System Cleaners on the EcoBoost F-150
Using a popular engine cleansing system could ruin the turbochargers of your F-150 EcoBoost engine.
When many people “tune up” their modern engine, they run a bottle of engine cleaner through the induction system. These products are intended to help burn off any excess carbon build-up in the engine, but in the case of the EcoBoost engines in the Ford F-150, Explorer, Taurus, Escape and many others, this popular remedy for a rough-running engine could actually lead to early turbocharger failure.
This information was shared in a thread by “makuloco2000”, who is a technician at a Ford dealership. After speaking with corporate engineers about carbon build-up in a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, he learned that Ford recommends that owners of vehicles with EcoBoost engines do not use engine cleaner.
Talking with Ford
The video above from the FordTechMakuloco YouTube channel begins with the OP explaining that he had been working on a misfire issue in a vehicle with a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine and after running out of options, he reached out to the engineers at Ford Motor Company. They instructed him to use a scope to check the back of the intake valves for excessive carbon build-up, which can be a common problem on many modern combustion engine. That is why many shops offer combustion system cleaning products.
However, if he found excessive carbon build-up on the intake valves, he was not to use combustion system cleaner. Instead, he was instructed to replace the cylinder head under warranty, which seems crazy compared to just running a bottle of system cleaner through the engine, but there is a good reason.
It turns out that the combustion cleansing process can cause excessive heat which in turns leads to suddenly failure of the turbocharger seals. In some cases, this failure takes time while in other cases, the turbochargers fail immediately, but with this process being so common, why can’t combustion system cleaner be used on the EcoBoost engines?
Too Much Heat
The way that combustion system cleaner generally works is by introducing harsh chemicals to the combustion chamber. When these chemicals combust, they create higher levels of heat which helps to loosen up and clean out excess carbon. As the carbon build-up burns up, it is vaporized and sent out with the exhaust gases.
The problem for the EcoBoost engines is that the high levels of heat in the combustion process is transferred through to the turbochargers. In many cases, EcoBoost engines utilize a compact design with the turbochargers nestled tightly against the block with the catalytic convertors located immediately downstream of the turbochargers. This design leads to high levels of heat that the engineers account for when designing the system, but the added heat of the combustion system cleaners prove to be too much for the internal workings of the EcoBoost turbochargers.
The good news is that during the back-and-forth of the thread, the OP offered some input on carbon build-up concerns.
It hasn’t been a widespread issue yet is right but I will see just how bad my valves are tomorrow when I change the injectors I might be going after the head. If it is going to affect anything it will be these grocery getter engines more than the workhorse 3.5 in the F150 but time will tell.
So, the bottom line here is that if you drive an EcoBoost-powered Ford truck or car, you do not want to use the popular induction system/combustion system cleaner that is offered at many shops and dealerships, as they could lead to a costly replacement of your turbochargers.
Click here to check out the whole thread, along with a second, longer video where the OP explains how to operate your Ford truck in a way that will help cut down on excessive carbon build-up.