ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/18/19 3:08 p.m.

Since there has been much discussion around the EcoBoost F150s lately, I thought I'd detail a new problem with mine. Just as reference.

When I bought the truck used (2013 F150 FX4 Crew, 3.5L EB, now 60k miles) I worked in 2 free oil changes at the dealership.  Dealer oil change is normally $125 or so (yeah, I got no clue.)  Anyway, after the first change they failed to correctly secure the fiberboard "transmission skid plate" and it fell off the next day. I zip tied it back on because the turn and lock factory fasteners were dumb and prone to failure. Today it was time to get the second oil change done, so before taking it in I crawled under it to remove the "skid plate." I figured they'd just berkeley it up if I left it on. After removal I took a minute to look around for leaks. Unfortunately I found one.

There is coolant leaking from a fitting on the back of the turbo on the driver's side. Not enough to get past the fiberboad skid guard, but enough to leave a wet spot on the A-arm and be visible on the turbo. Also, the coolant level was a bit low, but not hugely.

With a little research I learn that there are two water fittings on each turbo that use a screw-in fitting on the turbo and then a metal tube pushes into them. The seal is made by a rubber o-ring in the replaceable fitting. The o-rings tend to fail from the turbo heat.

The unfortunate part of this is that I have to pull the turbo to replace them.  Initially, I was worried. But after watching a few YT videos, it's actually pretty simple. Pull the plastic inner fender and everything's right there. Drain the cooling system, take all the fittings loose, pull the turbo. Replace fittings on turbo. Reinstall. Should take about a day unless E36 M3 gets sideways.

The bright side? 2 fittings and 3 gaskets get the job done, they were in stock at the dealership, and cost a total of $65.

I'm not super happy that it has a leak, but it is 5 years old, and 60k miles. The fix is cheap and DIY-able.  Could be worse.

I'll probably tackle it this weekend, stay tuned for updates.


ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/19/19 1:01 p.m.

Just realized at 60k miles I should probably replace the coolant instead of reusing it. Strangely enough, my local stealership has s better price on Ford VC-3 Coolant than amazon, beating by about $5/gallon.

Sure, I could just use the compatible Prestone or whatever, but the Ford stuff's only $27/gallon. For a less than $20 difference in the job, I'll buy the Ford.

yupididit GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
7/19/19 3:36 p.m.

There's a recall for some EcoBoost vehicles. My ex's 2013 just got serviced for free because of a coolant leak. Thought she'd had to pay but they advised her there's a recall that it fell under. 

So you might want to check with your Ford dealer about any coolant leak recalls for the 3.5. 


ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/20/19 5:15 p.m.

Sadly, this one isn't covered by a recall.

Well, after a relaxed pace day the turbo is off and the fittings are replaced. Tomorrow will be reassembly. 

Not easy like an oil change, but it hasn't been bad. Access is tight but workable. The manifold nuts and bolts took some penetrating oil and a little convincing. One of the nuts on the exhaust is a bear to get to, almost no room to get a ratchet on the bolt but a hinge ratchet or hinge ratcheting wrench is a necessity.

Found a pile of sand and pin oak leaves sandwiched behind the inner fender. Definitely a Florida truck.


jfryjfry Dork
7/20/19 9:07 p.m.

Glad it came off relatively easy - taking exhaust stuff apart always has me bracing for the worst. 

Worst=stuck and breaking bolts and studs. 


On a separate note, I have a super nice dual catch can system for an early eco boost that I bought to use for another project but never did and likely never will.  Let me know if you’d be interested and I can confirm what years it’s made for.  

ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/21/19 6:21 a.m.

In reply to jfryjfry :

I might be. Let me know what it is and how much you want for it, if it's compatible. 

ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/21/19 6:29 a.m.

I woke up thinking about the actual metal tube that connects to the fitting that was leaking. It felt pretty rough. I realized if the tube is pitted from leaking that I should probably replace it while I'm in there, it would be stupid to chance a leak for something as small as a foot long tube and one more fitting. 

I went out to the shop with my coffee this morning and figured out how to cram my phone in there to get a photo since I couldn't see the sealing surface in question.

Yep. That's gotta go.

One bolt and another oring fitting in the block, it should come right out.

Which means I get to take today off and go to the dealer tomorrow for parts. Worst case they get them in Tuesday and I have 3 evenings to get it all back together. We're planning to tow the boat to the coast Friday, so the timing makes me a bit nervous. 

But hey, great repair test, right?

ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/22/19 7:44 a.m.

I just called the local dealer and they have both the tube ($64) and the fitting ($32) on the shelf. Awesome sauce. Kinda sucks that a1' metal tube and a fitting is $100, but if I put it back together without changing it and the thing starts leaking behind the turbo again in a couple months I would kick myself for not doing it.

Back in the shop after work to make the magic happen! 

ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/23/19 4:49 a.m.

And the magic did happen. In a little over 2 hours I swapped out the coolant supply line and reinstalled the turbo. Got all the engine connections hooked back up, filled the coolant system and had it running for leak testing.

Old vs new coolant line end. Replacement warranted. New line and fitting actually cost $65.00.


Worst bolt of the process is the outboard exhaust flange nut. You can get on it with a 15mm hinged ratcheting wrench to spin it down, but torquing requires....

A deep well socket cut down to 2/3 height, a universal joint stiffened up with electrical tape, and 18" of extensions. Thread that out the bottom and hit with a rattle gun.

On first crank I had a bad hissing coming from the work area. It took me a few minutes to track down a vacuum line I'd knocked off the brake booster. Other than it passed a 15 min run test with no leaks.

Tonight I'll button up.the inner fender, wrap up all the cosmetics and get her back on the road.

ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/25/19 10:41 a.m.

After 2 days of driving the truck to work it seems fixed. No leaks so far, coolant level is constant, truck runs right, and no check engine lights. For my first turbo R&R, I call that a success.

I have a hard time trusting the fact that it's actually fixed on the first attempt. I hadn't realized that working on the Jeep had maligned my outlook so much. Something breaks, you replace the broken part, and it's fixed. But the Jeep was never that way. It always required 3 attempts, 4 extra garage sessions, and fixing 3 other things that might be contributing. 

The only thing that kind of makes me nervous is that I reinstalled exactly the same number of fasteners I took loose.  Every nut, bolt, and plastic push-in went back on the truck. No leftover parts, and no empty bolt holes on the vehicle.  

I'm not sure what to do with that.


Anyway, the summary is, doing a turbo on an Ecoboost F150 is easily a DIY job if you're a competent mechanic.  If you have to do it, this video is really helpful although it's for the later trucks.

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