PSA: 2016 Ford F-150 2.7L Ecoboost Engine Failure

This post is based purely on experience and not on expertise, so please, use it as a starting point rather than an ultimate reference. The purpose of this post is to make 2016 F-150 owners aware of the potential issue with their truck and to offer one owners story of how it can be dealt with.

About 8 weeks ago, with 9000mi on my 2.7L Ecoboot F-150, I was merging onto the freeway at WOT (wide open throttle) and for a split second, saw a "Low Oil Pressure" warning (red box, not the usual yellow). This was accompanied by a panicked beeping, but only for a moment. As soon as I let off the throttle, both warnings disappeared. Now, I change my own oil and always have, and this was about 4000mi into my most recent (and first) change. I checked the oil level and found that it was low. Thinking that perhaps I had somehow underfilled the truck, I topped off the oil very carefully to the 'full' mark and went about my way.

Protip #0.5: If you have a tuner (or other bolt-on modifications) on the truck, now is the time to unmarry it and stash it away. There is a lot of speculation as to whether or not a dealer can see if you've had the truck tuned or flashed the ECU, but the more miles and key cycles you can put between that and your potential visit, the better off you'll be. At the very least, there's a substantially smaller opportunity for a dealer to claim that your modifications were to blame for any failure.

2000mi later, the same thing happened and once again, the oil level was off the dipstick. At this point, I did some research and found that Ford had issued a TSB (technical service bulletin) on the subject. TSB 17-0007. This bulletin states that some trucks built between April 1 and Oct 1 of 2016 may have cylinder heads that need replacement (and are presumably the root cause of the issue). It also states that other symptoms may include rough idle, misfire and/or abnormal exhaust smoke. Mine was built in this window and I always thought the exhaust smoked a bit much, but chalked it up to not knowing what should be normal for these motors.

So, suspecting that my F-150 may be affected by this, I called a couple of local dealerships to setup an appointment for diagnosis. The reason that I called a few was to make sure that should my truck need engine replacement, I would be able to get another truck as a loaner, rather than a Ford Focus or something. More on that later. I took it in, described my symptoms and told the service writer that I was aware of the TSB. He confirmed the TSB and said that if affected, it looked like I may need new cylinder heads.

Protip #1: Having been notified that I may need new cylinder heads, I politely asked how we could be sure that the momentary low oil pressure (at WOT) didn't negatively impact the rest of the longblock.  After all, the truck has 11,000mi on it and the last thing I need is for this damage to cause issues down the road (almost certainly 100mi past my Powertrain warranty expiration). My serious concerns were noted.

After a bit of negotiation regarding my loaner vehicle (I didn't buy a truck because a Focus would work for me and wouldn't settle for a vehicle that wasn't comparable), I left the lot in a brand new F-250 Super Duty Supercrew.  Fast forward to 1:00pm that afternoon - "Mr. BuiltRight, I have some good news and some...other news. The good news is that the trim panel that you mentioned was cracked is readily available and we'll be able to swap that out right away. The other news is that we're going to replace your entire longblock. Blah blah blah, parts are available but it may take a while."

Protip #2: There's no need to settle for a insufficient loaner vehicle when something this serious has happened to a nearly brand new vehicle and Ford is at fault. You paid good money for your truck and dealerships understand that for a lot of us, being without a truck is not an option. With that said, some dealerships simply don't have the means. Often times, though, they'll have an arrangement with a local rental car office that might have what you need. It pays to be friendly and fair here. I was told that if I wanted to leave with my loaner before the truck was diagnosed, I would need to pay a $30 fee but that if the truck needed work, subsequent days would be covered. Sure, I could have argued this away, but I'm careful to pick my battles and $30 is a small out-of-pocket expense if everything else goes smoothly and negotiating on it may only ensure mediocre service. These guys deal with a lot of angry, difficult customers, so some kindness and understanding can go a very long way.

OK, fine, at least I don't need to be concerned with other collateral damage that may have occurred. Being an engineer myself, I can understand that these things happen and appreciate that efforts are being made to rectify the situation. Parts were ordered and I had reasonable loaner vehicle. Fast forward a week and a half (today) and the latest update is that the new crate motor has arrived and that my truck is fully disassembled. I'll save final judgement for when I receive the truck after the work has been completed, but so far, the situation has been handled very well by my local Ford dealership.

Protip #3: This brings me to my final tip. Perhaps more of an opinion. The reason that having an adequate loaner vehicle is so important for me is that I don't like to have my work rushed. Dealerships run pretty lean these days and the last thing I want is for them to be assigning all kinds of different personnel to work on my vehicle because I'm being a pain in the ass about how long it's taking. I'd much prefer to wait an extra week and be more comfortable with the fact that a single mechanic did the work and wasn't being rushed to completion.  

That's all I've got for you! My sincere hope is that this is a relatively isolated issue and that there won't be other gremlins in the 2.7L ecoboot platform. I'm content to chalk this up to an 'oops' somewhere in engineering or manufacturing. Unfortunately, most owners will probably be blissfully unaware of the issue until their motor fails catastrophically and leaves them stranded, hopefully still within their warranty period. Please pass this along to an ecoboost F-150 owner that may benefit from the insight!

I'll report back when I have the truck back and have broken it back in!

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