NHTSA Expands Probe of Ford’s EcoBoost V6 Engines

Published on October 2, 2023 in News by Guillaume Rivard

An investigation launched in June 2022 following reports of catastrophic engine failures with Ford Bronco SUVs featuring the 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 has expanded to include a lot more vehicles.

We’re not just talking about some 25,000 Broncos now. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it will look into more than 708,000 vehicles.

More specifically, the 2021-2022 Bronco, Edge, F-150 and Lincoln Nautilus equipped with the 2.7-litre EcoBoost are affected. In addition, the 3.0-litre EcoBoost V6 in the 2021-2022 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator is also under scrutiny by U.S. regulators.

The NHTSA says it needs to perform a new engineering analysis after Ford provided evidence of 328 customer complaints (including field reports) and 487 warranty claims. The provided data is comprised of reports of engine failure resulting in several consequences, the most common of which being a loss of motive power while the vehicle is in motion.

Photo: Ford

It appears that multiple factors can lead to the fracturing of the intake valves in the subject engines. Ford acknowledged that a fractured intake valve can result in catastrophic engine failure and a loss of motive power and noted that following a valve fracture, a vehicle typically requires a full engine replacement.

In the U.S., over 800 EcoBoost V6 engines have been replaced so far as a direct result.

The defective valves were manufactured out of a specific alloy known as “Silchrome Lite”, which can become excessively hard and brittle if an over-temperature condition occurs during machining of the component, the NHTSA explains. A design modification was implemented in October 2021, which changed the intake valve material to a different alloy that is less susceptible to over-temperature during machine grinding.

Photo: Lincoln

Ford has identified that the defective intake valves commonly fail early in a vehicle’s life and has suggested that the majority of failures have already occurred.

The engineering analysis by the NHTSA will aim to evaluate the scope and frequency of allegations across the expanded scope of model/model year vehicle populations equipped with the 2.7L and 3.0L EcoBoost engines, and compare the broken parts with the new ones that Ford started using in late 2021.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, a recall might be in order. If that’s the case, there will inevitably be affected models in Canada, too. We’ll keep you posted.

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