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In Wake Of Lawsuits, NHTSA Investigates Ford EcoBoost Engine

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Ford F-150 EcoBoost Engine Teardown

Ford F-150 EcoBoost Engine Teardown

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Earlier this month, we told you about three Ohio motorists who are suing Ford over its six-cylinder EcoBoost engine. As with a similar lawsuit filed in Louisiana, the drivers claim that the EcoBoost's problem goes far beyond mere turbo lag, leaving their vehicles with reduced power for extended periods of time. 

In the Ohio lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received more than 100 complaints about the EcoBoost engine. In Louisiana, lawyers for the plaintiffs even point to technical service bulletins that Ford issued to fix the problem.

Now, NHTSA is finally paying attention: according to a notice posted to the agency's website, an investigation into the matter has officially been launched. It appears that the probe will focus on the Ford F-150, which sits at the center of the Louisiana lawsuit, though presumably any findings would translate to other Ford vehicles with the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost.

The NHTSA bulletin reads, in part:

The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received 95 reports alleging incidents of reduced engine power during hard accelerations in model year (MY) 2011 through 2013 Ford F150 trucks equipped with 3.5L gasoline turbocharged direct injection (GTDI) engines. Ford has issued three technical service bulletins related to intermittent stumble/misfire on acceleration from highway cruise in humid or damp conditions in some MY 2011 and 2012 F150 vehicles equipped with 3.5L GTDI engines.... Approximately one-third of the reports received by ODI indicate that the incidents occurred while driving in humid or rainy conditions. Many complaints allege safety concerns associated with overtaking vehicles. No related crashes have been reported to ODI to date. A Preliminary Evaluation has been opened to gather information to assess whether the subject vehicles contain a safety related defect.

Here's a sample of such a complaint, filed by an F-150 owner who may have experienced problems consistent with other drivers:

TRAVELING ON I 20 DURING HEAVY RAIN , GOT OFF INTERSTATE TO REFUEL AND AFTER REENTERING INTERSTATE ACCELERATED TO GET BACK TO HIGHWAY SPEED AND TRUCK STALLED WENT TO SHAKING REAL BAD AND ENGINE LIGHT CAME ON. WOULD NOT ACCELERATE JUST SHOOK REAL BAD AND I PULLED OVER TURNED IT OFF FOR A FEW MINUTES AND RESTARTED AND CONTINUED ON. NO MORE ISSUES ONCE THE RAIN STOPPED

According to Detroit News, Ford is cooperating with NHTSA's investigation, which is in its very earliest stage. The probe will continue for up to a year before moving on to subsequent phases, possibly resulting in a recall. We'll keep you posted as the investigation progresses.

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