Ford Ecoboost (F150, Navigator) cold start rattle and oil viscosity

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467
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NYC
First, thanks to all those who furthered my knowledge here on different things regarding oil. A few months back my engine was a complete mess with a horrible cold start rattle and diesel like sound. It ultimately turned out to be the cam phasers and underwent a month long repair at the dealership as a result of backordered parts. This post is in regards to the Ford F150 / Lincoln Navigator /Ford Expedition 3.5 liter Ecoboost cold start rattle and pinging noise.
I wanted to deliver the results of my investigation to this forum so if someone Googles it they might find some solutions. #1. The main reason why a camphaser would fail is oil viscosity. The wrong viscosity oil will eventually cause problems with a camphaser. Now I know there are some guys who would put a 5W40 in an engine which normally specifies 5W30. That might work with some engines, but I dont believe it will work reliably all the time with these Ford Ecoboost engines. Here is an article which better explains the role of the camphasers and lists reasons why they fail. Article on CamPhasers #2. The 3.5 liter Ford Ecoboost engine...a turbo charged direct injected engine...is really good at shearing or thinning or diluting the engine oil. I have examined many different used oil analysis or "UOA" and it seems the Ecoboost makes short work of the usual Mobil 1 and Valvoline oils. So normally these engines will take a 5W30 but by 5000 miles that oil is now a 5W20. This might be the problem with the camphasers going bad eventually. #3. The only two 5W30 oils I found which seem to hold their grade...not turn into a 5W20 by 5000 miles...are Amsoil Signature Series 5W30 and Shell Rotella T6 5W30 MultiVehicle. These oils seem to stay in the viscosity range of 5W30s. #4. There are some guys out there running Shell Rotella T6 5W40 but I just cant be sure what will happen to the camphasers or the catalytic converter after prolonged use. The Ecoboost engine was clearly not designed for it. It might be just fine in there over time, but its such an expensive situation Im not sure if I want to give it a try myself. #5. Liqui Moly makes a moly additive called MOS 2009 which should help prevent chain/cam wear. This additive might be a good preventive measure My conclusion is the best preventative maintenance is to utilize one of the suggested oils Amsoil or Shell, performed used oil analysis through Blackstone to figure out an exacting OCI and to use a moly additive. Pay special attention to CST values of the used oil analysis. You dont want that value getting under or shearing to 9.3 or below. In regards to warranty the dealer never asked me what oil I put into the car. Thus is you simply "clam up" about such issues you might be fine. If you dont use Ford approved oils you might find yourself in a bind if you admit to using those oils. Thus be slick if you have to put it into the dealership for warranty work. Keep in mind this post is just theory and not proven fact. My theory is shearing is causing the cam phasers to fail. The reason why Im getting so granular and looking into this so closely is because I really need this truck and I need it to keep working ...
 
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738
Location
New Hampshire
Originally Posted by oldhp
Any full synthetic 5W30 plus a name brand oil filter and don't go over 5000 miles on the OCI. You should be good to go. I would use QSUD.
What this ^^^ guy said. And you mention shearing if the oil...how the chains in the ecoboost shear a 5w30 oil down to a 5w20 oil, yet you forget to implying that it also could happen if you put a 5w40 into it...that'll shear down to the proper 5w30 spec. Did you ever consider that? Because that might happen, and then you'd have your longer interval at spec, no? Of course you'd have half your interval out of spec, but at least it'd be while the oil is new and clean. I think with cam phasers the key is keeping the oil clean. The screens can't become clogged. And flow, the oil needs to flow with the correct viscosity. For the most part I have seen problems with cam phasers because of neglect, more so than viscosity (although I have heard it "could" happen). The systems just don't do well long term with dirty oil. And sometimes systems are just prone to failure due to poor design. Ford in the past has been notorious for cam phaser failure. BMW has had their issues with their VANOS systems. There are some brands that almost never will have an issue - it depends on design, maintenance and demand placed on the system. Some companies don't even use oil to activate their systems anymore - Lexus/Toyota use electric motors - and when those fail, they're $600 a piece, but at least labor wise they're easy to replace. Bottom line change your oil
 
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3,659
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Northern Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted by oldhp
Any full synthetic 5W30 plus a name brand oil filter and don't go over 5000 miles on the OCI. You should be good to go. I would use QSUD.
This +1
 

BeerCan

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1,663
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FL
How many miles on that EB? I have a 105k 3.5EB that has mostly Xw40 and most oci close to 10k. I also had an older truck that i took over 80k on a similar diet before I traded it in. I am not personally convinced 5k oci are needed. Although I do use a 40 weight oil, I did so initially out of FUD over fuel dilution, now I just do it because. Not saying you should use my plan, just adding a data point.
 
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Long Island, N.Y.
Originally Posted by oldhp
Any full synthetic 5W30 plus a name brand oil filter and don't go over 5000 miles on the OCI. You should be good to go. I would use QSUD.
Agreed........have seen a lot of UOA ‘s on QSUD that show a high Moly content which should address cam/chain wear issues.
 

Navi

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467
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NYC
The only issue I have with 5W40 is if its truly compatible with the entire setup. For example, the popular Shell Rotella T6 5W40 may not be compatible with all emissions systems...catalytic converters specifically and it doesnt contain moly. I know a lot of guys with turbo Subarus run T6 5W40 but it might not work with all cars. I was looking at Mobil 1 Formula M 5W40 and a few others. I dont think any engine will seize up with T6 5W40 but its a matter of what are the long term effects which might be none at all or it might be something more serious. Many guys use T6 5W40 without any problems that they notice. I havent read any posts which indicate problems with T6 5W40. Shell made the T6 in 5W30 with a formula which would be more compatible with gasoline engines. Its on the thicker end of the 5W30 spectrum and seems to hold up very well. So if the concern is 100% compatibility with your gas engine T6 5W30 might be a better choice. I noted that Shell brags about testing it out in taxi engines in NYC which is more inline with what I do from day to day. I think the days of a one size fits all oil are at an end. Toyota 4 cylinder engines it doesnt really matter what you put in there, but these Ford Ecoboost engines seem finicky. I have never in my life heard of cams and chains going at under 100k miles. So I think owners of these engines need to look real carefully at what they put in it. Certainly supplement moly and thicker oil is a good thing for these engines. Im looking into 5W40... As for oil change interval I think you need to send the oil in for analysis. Each hour of engine idle is equivalent to 33 miles so in my case the odometer doesnt tell the true story. Im going to submit my oil to Blackstone next 3 or so changes to pinpoint what I need to do. Quaker State Ultimate Durability is generally a great oil, but it might not fit what I need for this engine. 450 horsepower turbo direct injection. I know I need moly and thicker is better. Keep in mind my truck is a work truck operated 7 days a week in the livery industry. Im in and out of NYC all day long thus why Im being so granular on the issues. If it were a casual truck I would just change it at 5000 miles with the Quaker State and wouldnt think twice, but the special limousine license plates prevent me from driving a rental or loaner thus I cant have this vehicle going down. I have 95000 miles on my truck and those are not highway miles. Lots of idle time.
 
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970
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Alberta
My 2016 3.5 eco has used castrol 0w40 exclusively since its initial change at 750miles. Its hot viscosity is just above a 30weight oil, which may or may not shear down in my 4-5k mile intervals. Perhaps that gives it a bit of margin when towing our 7500lb trailer. Another data point for your research.
 

Navi

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467
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NYC
I sent a note to Shell Technical asking if I can put Shell Rotella T6 5W30 MV in my vehicle. They told me no and suggested I use Penzoil Ultra...but in their marketing brochure they have a picture of a Ford Crown Victoria bragging about a NYC taxi test. I know that Crown Vic takes 5W20...technically the T6 is out of spec for the Crown Vic. They said no because it doesnt have that Ford spec.... Also the email is wrong. T6 5W30 is AP SN Plus so it has some basic testing passed for turbos. Im wondering why he didnt push me to Shell Gas Truck? [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
 
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Navi

Thread starter
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Here is the specs for Crown Vic oil. Im wondering if I emailed them asking if I can put it in a Crown Vic what would they say? [Linked Image]
 
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The Ecoboost being gasoline direct injection twin turbo, if not using Ford Motorcraft OEM oil I make sure any other oil choice meets API SN Plus. SN Plus is formulated to help lower probability of Low Speed Premature Ignition (LSPI). Probably the Rotella MV doesn't meet SN Plus whereas the Pennzoil product they recommended probably does, is why they steered you that direction. If the Rotella MV does meet SN Plus then who knows why they shy'd away from it.
 
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P.S. The dealership I bought my 2.7 Ecoboost F150 from (see sig) recommended to bring it in every 5000 miles for oil change and they emphasized they only use the OEM Motorcraft oil and Motorcraft filters. I'd asked why not the oil life monitor, they said there techs trust 5000 miles better. I thought it was a pitch for the usual service dept money grab, but perhaps they're onto something with the EB engines and 5000 mile OCI's.
 

Navi

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The Garden State
Originally Posted by LoneRanger
P.S. The dealership I bought my 2.7 Ecoboost F150 from (see sig) recommended to bring it in every 5000 miles for oil change and they emphasized they only use the OEM Motorcraft oil and Motorcraft filters. I'd asked why not the oil life monitor, they said there techs trust 5000 miles better. I thought it was a pitch for the usual service dept money grab, but perhaps they're onto something with the EB engines and 5000 mile OCI's.
The dealer we got our 2017 2.3 EB Explorer said the same thing, 5,000 mile max oil change interval. I know why, the Motorcraft 5W-30 blend oil really gets sheared in these EB engines by 5,000 miles and drops into the 20 weight range. I did an UOA with the Motorcraft 5W-30 blend for 4,275 miles from August to early December. The viscosity in the UOA was 7.82 cST. the previous oil change was Mobil 1 5W-30 for 7,000 miles and the viscosity was 9.0 cST. Synthetic oils seem to hold up better in EB engines for longer than syn-blends that the iOLM is based on. Whimsey
 
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OP-Thanks for bringing your experiences here. I've been following several of these threads on another forum, and it seems the jury is still very much out on the phaser issue. Many have had them replaced only to have within weeks or months the problem recurring, making oil wear or degradation/grade retention seemingly less likely the root cause? I don't know, just observing... and knocking on wood!
 
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5,295
Originally Posted by Whimsey
Originally Posted by LoneRanger
P.S. The dealership I bought my 2.7 Ecoboost F150 from (see sig) recommended to bring it in every 5000 miles for oil change and they emphasized they only use the OEM Motorcraft oil and Motorcraft filters. I'd asked why not the oil life monitor, they said there techs trust 5000 miles better. I thought it was a pitch for the usual service dept money grab, but perhaps they're onto something with the EB engines and 5000 mile OCI's.
The dealer we got our 2017 2.3 EB Explorer said the same thing, 5,000 mile max oil change interval. I know why, the Motorcraft 5W-30 blend oil really gets sheared in these EB engines by 5,000 miles and drops into the 20 weight range. I did an UOA with the Motorcraft 5W-30 blend for 4,275 miles from August to early December. The viscosity in the UOA was 7.82 cST. the previous oil change was Mobil 1 5W-30 for 7,000 miles and the viscosity was 9.0 cST. Synthetic oils seem to hold up better in EB engines for longer than syn-blends that the iOLM is based on. Whimsey
Whimsey, I wonder if a 10W30 full synthetic based on PAO might withstand the shearing forces in the EB's better? I mean think about, such an oil would have two shear resistance factors going for it: Group 4 PAO base oil which stays in grade better, and less Viscosity Index Improvers (VII) due to being a 10W - 30W spread instead of 5-30 (plus PAO generally needs less VII to begin with).
 

Navi

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Here is the Molybedium additive. I saw a UOA where a bottle was poured into a Honda Accord and the moly levels came in at 440 whereas when I look at regular oils its more like 50-100 levels. My understanding is moly helps with chain wear so this added to the Ecoboost oil can help or may help... [Linked Image]
 
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