In the fall of 2010, Ford threw everything they could at the new 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine in a series of grueling tests designed to prove its toughness and durability. They started by choosing a random engine off the assembly line and throwing it on the dyno for 150,000 miles of stress testing. They froze it. They fried it. Then they pulled 55 tons of timber up a mountain, ran full throttle pulling maximum load for 24 hours straight at the Homestead Racetrack and finished the legendary Baja 1000 off-road race with it. Ford even took it up to Davis Dam and embarrassed the best that Dodge and Chevy had to offer in a torque sprint up a 6 percent grade while pulling 9,000 pounds trailers. After 165,000 miles of abuse, they completed the engine’s journey with a live teardown in front of 1,000 spectators at the 2011 North American International Auto Show. You can view all of the videos at ford.com . You can also see all the torture Sunday, April 10, 2011, at 4:30 p.m. EDT on NBC.
We had some questions for Jim Mazuchowski, the engineer in charge of this engine program, and we thought you might too. While you can read our questions and Jim’s answers below, you can join also join Jim here on Sunday, April 10, 2011, at 4:30 p.m. EDT.
The first application of the award-winning EcoBoost technology – which combines direct fuel injection and turbocharging – in a rear-wheel-drive truck highlights an all-new class-leading powertrain lineup for the 2011 Ford F-150. This marks the most extensive engine makeover in the 62-year history of Ford F-Series. Animations of key technical features of all four new engines will be available at the site as well.
The new EcoBoost engine’s turbocharging and direct fuel injection are particularly relevant to F-150 customers looking for the power to haul and tow heavy loads. This unique EcoBoost engine delivers impressive low-end torque and maintains it across a broad rpm range, which is key in towing applications. Approximately 90 percent of the EcoBoost engine’s peak torque of 420 lb.-ft. is available from 1,700 rpm to 5,500 rpm. EcoBoost’s 420 lb.-ft. of torque is more than any other competitive half-ton truck.
Here is what was on our mind as we watched the videos, and what Jim had to say:
theFordStory: Did you have any concerns before the Torture Test Program began?
Jim: Yes: The fact that we did all the torture test episodes in-series and on the same engine. This was a first for us. We normally would have stopped after the dyno test (what was captured in the Dyno Stress video) and called that a complete durability test. That was just the beginning!
The Baja 1000 test course & environment also concerned me during episode #5. The fact that it was the last episode and engine 448AA was a stock engine out of Cleveland with no special treatment. The engine had already experienced the equivalent of 150,000 miles of very harsh use, and continued to be tortured in a production truck during the NASCAR episode. Towing 11,300 pounds around a race track at speeds over 90 mph put a lot of stress on the engine. Now we were putting engine 448AA into a race truck to compete in one of the most grueling off road races in North America. It was great to see the engine complete all of the challenges without a single component issue.
Were there any surprises you didn’t anticipate along the way?
That we completed all five episodes with no engine issues – none – during all five torture tests surprised even us. The web following was also surprising as 800-900 people watching the teardown that we did at the 2011 North American International Auto Show. Some from as far away as South Carolina. The following and interest created by the web documentaries was phenomenal.
What Torture Test Episode is your favorite? Why?
The Baja 1000 desert endurance race was my favorite. The engine was really tested to the limits. Hard accelerations on and off the throttle, high loads, extreme temperature swings. and of course the Baja environment and terrain.
The best testimonial was captured on the webisode when the race team member said, “it’s a game changer, man, we skipped the last pit stop [fuel] with Ecoboost.” That really substantiates our EcoBoost strategy of performance and fuel economy.
Was there a point in any episode that you thought “Will the EcoBoost endure this test?” What was the end result?
I was worried during the 24 hours on the Homestead Miami Speedway due to the continuous nature of the test: High engine rpm, a heavily loaded trailer and the transient nature of the engine rpm and turbo rpm around the corners. Also the elevated oil and coolant temps complicated the situation.
The end result was that the engine performed perfectly fine. No issues! No oil was required during the test: Just fuel, tires and a driver change. In fact the engineers drove the vehicle back to the hotel that night after the test was finished.
Overall, how do you feel the EcoBoost engine performed?
The EcoBoost engine performed extremely well. We pulled a stock engine out of the Cleveland assembly plant and had no issues during the torture tests. The engine didn’t require any parts replacement during any of the tests. And we used normal 5W30 Motorcraft oil.
During teardown, the engine looked very good and in-fact was within new-build specification for thrust washer wear and valve lash wear. There was also minimal wear on the rotating components. There were not many carbon deposits or signs of contamination abuse. The engine looks like it could go another 150,000 miles.
Is there a fuel economy advantage with the EcoBoost?
Inherently, when you downsize to a smaller displacement engine, you save fuel. The EcoBoost technologies (direct fuel injection and turbocharging) work together to allow efficient use and operation across a wide customer usage profile.
Direct injection also provides some charge air-cooling which allows the engine to operate at a higher compression ratio, making it more efficient and saving fuel.
Lastly, the EcoBoost torque curve with peak torque at 2,500 rpm and 90 percent of torque available at 1,750 rpm, allows the customer to spec out a lower axle ratio saving fuel and still maintaining excellent performance feel.
Can we expect the same durability and capability from the other F-150 engines offered?
Absolutely. All the engines in the F-150 follow a testing protocol and are required to pass a series of very rigorous tests that demonstrate reliability to at least 150,000 miles. The F-150 engines follow the same engine-development process and the same durability testing. Over 13,000 hours of dynamometer testing and 1.6 million miles of customer usage.
The Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Engineer analytical tools are all the same as well. Over 1,000,000 hours of computer analysis are performed.
Besides the engines, are there other aspects to the F-150 that add to its durability and capability?
Several vehicle actions complement the EcoBoost in the F-150. Good underhood placement of the charge air-cooler allow for efficient cooling of the “boosted air” and maximize EcoBoost performance. Cooling upgrades to the radiator and water pump were made that keep oil and coolant temperatures under control with EcoBoost. And finally underhood air-flow and component temperatures were mapped out and properly managed which also allow us to take full advantage of the EcoBoost capabilities.
See all the torture Sunday, April 10, 2011, at 4:30 p.m. EST on NBC right after the PBR Built Ford Tough Invitational.