F-150 Ecoboost Misfire on Acceleration in Humid Conditions

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Vehicle: 2012 Ford F-150 Lariat 4WD Supercrew / Engine: 3.5L GTDI (Ecoboost) / Current Mileage: About 40K (still under powertrain warranty)

I am not a mechanic, just a frustrated owner who is trying to better understand the subject issue in an attempt to have Ford repair it.

A few weeks ago I was 350 miles into 2,300 mile road trip. I had been at highway cruise speed of 70-75 MPH for 3.5 hours since last stop. There had been intermittent light rain the entire way, and current conditions were mist, wet road and spray. Weather records indicate it was 50F and falling, 84% humidity. I accelerated in attempt to make a pass, but the truck started shaking violently and lost speed (this almost caused an accident). I let off and it seemed to run smoothly. I tried to gently accelerate again, but it started shaking again and I saw the check-engine light blinking. I pulled off the road and the CEL went out. After checking some things out I continued on with no further problem and went to a local Ford dealer.

The advisor said I'd experienced the "classic scenario" for condensation in the charge-air-cooler (CAC) causing engine misfires, which could be corrected per TSB 13-8-1. It would take a few days to get parts, but he said the truck was safe to drive so long as I used caution in wet weather. He attempted to print the TSB for me to take to my home dealer, but there was a problem with the system and it would only print the first two pages.

I've been getting extremely poor fuel mileage ever since the incident. Now that I am home, Ford is refusing to make warranty repairs because of a technicality: the DTC's have been cleared. The local advisor explained this was the result of having driven at least "3 drive cycles" since the incident, but he confirmed my truck has the original style CAC that is susceptible to this problem. He referred me to Ford Customer Service to make an appeal, but so far it has been denied.

The description of the TSB is "3.5L GTDI - INTERMITTENT STUMBLE/MISFIRE ON ACCELERATION FROM HIGHWAY CRUISE IN HUMID OR DAMP CONDITIONS WITH POSSIBLE DTC P0304, P0305, P0306, OR P0430"

Can anyone provide me with the full bulletin?

Thank you
 

nickb2

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#2
Basically, the tsb 13-8-1 http://www.torquenews.com/106/feds-drop-ford-f150-ecoboost-investigation is just adding deflectors and a new calibration.

They still have issues with CAC(charge air cooler) and a newer tsb 14-0017 has come out.

Watch this video, it explains the newer tsb. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHzbE2Pt1CI
 

nickb2

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#3
This was the previous TSB, superseded and now again superseded. Make sure the dealer is using the approriate tsb for your problem and not the old band aid fix.

Here is a copy/paste of previous tsb, cannot find 13-8-1. Will keep looking. However they do seem to resemble each other, but I think the BIG dofference is in the calibration cuz ford is sick of replacing bad cats.

Not my writing, just a copy, so here it is;

Ford just came out with a TSB today 12-6-4 to reprogram the PCM/TCM to latest level, installed a deflector shield on the intercooler and possibly replace the drivers side catalytic convertor if needed.

FORD:
2011-2012 F-150

ISSUE:

Some 2011-2012 F-150 vehicles built on or before 5/24/2012 and equipped with a 3.5L gasoline turbocharged direct injection (GTDI) Ecoboost engine exhibit a steady or flashing malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) with various diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) and drivability concerns.
ACTION:

Follow the Service Procedure steps to correct the condition.
SERVICE PROCEDURE



The calibration update contains improvement actions and enhancements to address the following conditions:

Intermittent stumble and/or misfire on hard acceleration after an extended drive at highway speeds being more noticeable during humid or damp conditions.
Intermittent engine surge during moderate to light loads at cruise.
Powertrain control module (PCM) Misfire DTC P030x.
PCM DTC P0430 and/or P0299.

NOTE:INSURE ALL HARD FAULT POWERTRAIN DTCS ARE ADDRESSED PRIOR TO PERFORMING THE CALIBRATION UPDATE.

Check for DTC P0430. Is DTC P0430 present?
Yes - Replace the left bank catalytic converter assembly. Refer to Workshop Manual (WSM), Section 309-00. Proceed to Step 2.
No - Proceed to Step 2.
Is the Charge Air Cooler (CAC) equipped with an air deflector plate? (Figure 1A)

Click the image to open in full size.
Figure 1 - Article 12-6-4
Yes - Proceed to Step 4.
No - Proceed to Step 3.
Install CAC air deflector plate with two new push pins. (Figure 1B) Proceed to step 4.
Reprogram the PCM to the latest calibration using IDS release 79.02A or higher. This new calibration is not included in the 2012.5 DVD. Calibration files may also be obtained at www.motorcraft.com.
NOTE:pLEASE ADVISE THE CUSTOMER THAT THIS VEHICLE IS EQUIPPED WITH AN ADAPTIVE TRANSMISSION SHIFT STRATEGY WHICH ALLOWS THE VEHICLE'S COMPUTER TO LEARN THE TRANSMISSION'S UNIQUE PARAMETERS AND IMPROVE SHIFT QUALITY. WHEN THE ADAPTIVE STRATEGY IS RESET, THE COMPUTER WILL BEGIN A RE-LEARNING PROCESS. THIS RE-LEARNING PROCESS MAY RESULT IN FIRMER THAN NORMAL UPSHIFTS AND DOWNSHIFTS FOR SEVERAL DAYS.

PART NUMBERPART NAMEBL3Z-5E212-ECatalytic Converter AssemblyW520514-S440Nuts (2 Req)CL3Z-19E672-ADeflector PlateW711281-S300Push Pin (2 Req)

WARRANTY STATUS:

Eligible Under Provisions Of New Vehicle Limited Warranty Coverage And Emissions Warranty Coverage
IMPORTANT: Warranty/ESP coverage limits/policies/prior approvals are not altered by a TSB. Warranty/ESP coverage limits are determined by the identified causal part and verified using the OASIS part coverage tool.
OPERATIONDESCRIPTIONTIME120604A2011-2012 F-150 3.5L GTDI: Check DTCs, Install CAC Air Deflector Plate if Necessary And Reprogram The PCM (Do Not Use With Any Other Labor Operations)0.5 Hr.120604B2011-2012 F-150 3.5L GTDI: Check DTCs, Replace The Left Catalytic Converter, Install CAC Air Deflector Plate if Necessary And Reprogram The PCM (Do Not Use With Any Other Labor Operations)1.0 Hr.
DEALER CODING

BASIC PART NO.CONDITION CODE5E212 (OPERATION B)126K775 (OPERATION A)42
NOTE: The information in Technical Service Bulletins is intended for use by trained, professional technicians with the knowledge, tools, and equipment to do the job properly and safely. It informs these technicians of conditions that may occur on some vehicles, or provides information that could assist in proper vehicle service. The procedures should not be performed by "do-it-yourselfers". Do not assume that a condition described affects your car or truck. Contact a Ford or Lincoln dealership to determine whether the Bulletin applies to your vehicle. Warranty Policy and Extended Service Plan documentation determine Warranty and/or Extended Service Plan coverage unless stated otherwise in the TSB article. The information in this Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) was current at the time of printing. Ford Motor Company reserves the right to supercede this information with updates. The most recent information is available through Ford Motor Company's on-line technical resources.
Copyright © 2012 Ford Motor Company
 

nickb2

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#4
Do you have this air dam on your intercooler?


Ford Technical Service Bulletin 13-8-1 is the latest attempt at a fix. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost six uses direct fuel injection along with twin turbochargers. The hot compressed intake air from the turbos flows through an intercooler to decrease temperature and increase density before the air reaches the throttle body and combustion chambers. Ford refers to the intercooler as a Charge Air Cooler (CAC). The problem seems to be moisture building up inside the CAC. It's believed that in humid conditions, the moisture accumulation reaches a point where water entering the engine with intake air is enough to cause a misfire condition. If your Malfunction Indicator Lamp coming on was the result of one or more misfire diagnostic trouble codes, that's another clue this TSB applies. Ford TSB 13-8-1 is on its fourth revision.

The procedure involves a PCM software update, replacement of the left side catalytic converter, and installation of an air deflector on the CAC. The converter replacement is only performed if there were misfire trouble codes set. This is most likely due to potential converter damage from excessive hydrocarbons in the exhaust, because of the misfiring cylinder(s). The major revision in TSB 13-8-1 is removal of the air deflector installed at the top of the CAC as instructed by TSB 13-3-3. Ford now wants a new style deflector installed at the bottom of the CAC to help reduce the excessive moisture condition. Get it to Ford service and mention the bulletin along with your description of the drivability issues. We hope this is the final fix. Because of the loss of power on acceleration when the problem occurs, the NHTSA has received safety complaints and is currently conducting an investigation. NHTSA Action Number: PE13018 opened May 22, 2013.


 

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#6
Nickb2, thanks for the replies. I have the original MY2011-2012 CAC with revision code AD, a top-shield, no bottom shield.

Yes, Ford's letter to NHTSA ODI is interesting, especially the last 4-5 pages. The video on TSB 14-0017 for MY2013-14 trucks is also interesting. All this makes me wonder if I really want the fix now. Deflectors plates to warm the charge air, and/or PCM updates to keep the turbos spooled up a bit more would both seem to hurt fuel efficiency. I have actually seen a number of complaints online about reduced fuel efficiency after one of the TSB's was performed. Though I don't know how much stock to put in those complaints, perhaps that is the reason Ford is so reluctant to perform the service. And perhaps they know they don't have it entirely fixed anyway, so opt not to waste time and dollars on the service when they can cite a technicality like cleared DTC's.

It may be best that I just modify my driving style for wet weather to "tip into" the throttle a bit more often to help keep the CAC dried out.

However, one dilemma is that this really is a safety issue. Ford downplays it in the letter, suggesting that drivability is not impaired. That is not really true. A reduction in the driver's intended rate of acceleration can absolutely be dangerous, especially when combined with the violent shaking that many people report. I assume the shaking is caused by the FMEM strategy to protect the catalytic converters. Indeed, no permanent DTC was logged for the cats in my case, but I can testify first-hand that the shaking is very alarming and could trigger driver error.

The other dilemma I have is the already seriously reduced fuel efficiency ever since the incident. Ford spent an entire day examining my truck in detail, checking various sensors, all the spark plugs, etc., but they found no problem and made no changes. Something happened to my truck, but we don't know what.
 

nickb2

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#7
In your case, I can see the reduced fuel efficiency going down due to a possible catalytic failure.

I do say possible because it has not yet coded hence no freeze frame data logging to go by. When misfiring like this, raw fuel is dumped into the cat. Very nefarious for the coating and a huge spike in temps.

I also have read up on the issue since you posted this. I have not yet really had issues with the eco boost as I usually only fix these types of problem out of warranty.

Now, it is easy to comprehend why ford is down playing this. Cats cost money. so if certain % of the 3.5l engines report having this type of issue, it would become a recall and cost ford large.

This goes back to the days of the pinto with the gas tank. Cost per life was not a big factor. It would have been a massive and extremely expensive endeavor to recall all those pinto's to be safer and not be driving a potential bomb.

Look it up. Several ppl died due to fords insistence to not recall these very dangerous cars until 1977 or 78. I don't know what a cat is at factory cost, but I wager it is astronomical if they had to recall all 3.5l engines and put new cats. That is why they are into their 4th or 5th calibration revision. Engineers are working overtime on this to reduce cost.

And yes, I do consider this a safety issue. Especially when trying to overtake in a fast lane and have this issue arrive suddenly. It could startle others driving behind you and you are stuck overtaking etc. This type of scenario is more than likely and dangerous and evidently a product of the CAC which in this case is too efficient, hence the air dams to reduce the efficiency of the CAC.

Keep an eye out for futur check engine light codes. Invest in a scanner such as torque pro, get an elm device on e-bay, and keep track of this. DO NOT ERASE anything. Just log the data with the logging function and keep it as proof.

Cited from wikipedia; I especially like the two last lines of this citation.Fuel tank controversy

Controversy followed the Pinto after 1977 allegations that the Pinto's structural design allowed its fuel tank filler neck to break off[7] and the fuel tank to be punctured in a rear-end collision,[7] resulting in deadly fires from spilled fuel.
Allegations and lawsuits

Critics alleged that the vehicle's lack of reinforcing structure between the rear panel and the tank meant the tank would be pushed forward and punctured by the protruding bolts of the differential[16] making the car less safe than its contemporaries.

According to a 1977 Mother Jones article by Mark Dowie, Ford allegedly was aware of the design flaw, refused to pay for a redesign, and decided it would be cheaper to pay off possible lawsuits. The magazine obtained a cost-benefit analysis that it said Ford had used to compare the cost of repairs (Ford estimated the cost to be $11 per car) against the cost of settlements for deaths, injuries, and vehicle burnouts . The document became known as the Ford Pinto Memo.[17][14][18]

An example of a Pinto rear-end accident that led to a lawsuit was the 1972 accident resulted in the court case Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co.,[19] in which the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District upheld compensatory damages of $2.5 million and punitive damages of $3.5 million against Ford, partially because Ford had been aware of the design defects before production but had decided against changing the design.
Recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ultimately directed Ford to recall the Pinto. Initially, the NHTSA did not feel there was sufficient evidence to demand a recall due to incidents of fire. 27 deaths were attributed to Pinto fires (the same number of deaths attributed to a Pinto transmission problem) and in 1974 the NHTSA ruled that the Pinto had no "recallable" problem.[20]

In 1978, Ford initiated a recall providing a plastic protective shield to be dealer-installed between the fuel tank and the differential bolts, another to deflect contact with the right-rear shock absorber, and a new fuel-tank filler neck that extended deeper into the tank and was more resistant to breaking off in a rear-end collision.[7][21]
Schwartz paper

In a 1991 paper, "The Myth of the Ford Pinto Case", for the Rutgers Law Review, Gary T. Schwartz[5] said the case against the Pinto was not clear-cut.[22][23]

According to his study, the number who died in Pinto rear-impact fires was well below the hundreds cited in contemporary news reports and closer to the 27 recorded by a limited National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database. Given the Pinto's production figures (over 3 million built), this was not substantially worse than typical for the time. Schwartz said that the car was no more fire-prone than other cars of the time, that its fatality rates were lower than comparably sized imported automobiles, and that the supposed "smoking gun" document that plaintiffs said demonstrated Ford's callousness in designing the Pinto was actually a document based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulations about the value of a human life rather than a document containing an assessment of Ford's potential tort liability.

Schwartz's study said:

The Pinto Memo wasn't used or consulted internally by Ford, but rather was attached to a letter written to NHTSA about proposed regulation. When plaintiffs tried to use the memo in support of punitive damages, the trial judge ruled it inadmissible for that purpose (p. 1021, Schwartz study).
The Pinto's fuel tank location behind the axle, ostensibly its design defect, was "commonplace at the time in American cars" (p. 1027).
The precedent of the California Supreme Court at the time not only tolerated manufacturers trading off safety for cost, but apparently encouraged manufacturers to consider such trade-offs (p. 1037).

 

nickb2

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#8
Not my writing but says what I mean by possible catalytic failure.

Misfiring

Misfiring in the engine system can cause the catalyst to over heat. Alternatively, an exceptionally rich fuel mixture will exhibit similar symptoms. When there is a presence of an extra rich fuel mixture raw fuel enters the catalytic converter and is ignited. This can cause the catalyst components to melt under such conditions.
Check Performance

Exhaust becomes trapped in front of the catalyst and there is a latent reduction in performance. This is created by back pressure which affects the running of your engine and stops it breathing. The sudden increase in back pressure can cause your engine to stall during your drive. It will act as though there is an air lock in your system. It will cause the car jerk or feel like there is no fuel reaching the engine when you push the accelerator.
Check Fuel Economy

You will most certainly become aware of deterioration in the economy of your fuel. Your car will utilize a noticeable amount more gas than usual and this will cost you significantly if the only fault is caused by a failing converter.

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/6-symptoms-of-a-failing-catalytic-converter#ixzz3K1levbxj




Interesting threads here on a ford truck forum. http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1126859-another-ecoboost-failure-story-6.html
 
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I wondered if the cat might have been damaged and was the reason for the reduced gas mileage. I asked Ford about it, and they downplayed that, too, since as you say it has not coded *yet*. The dealer told me cost for a new cat was $1200. I wonder if they have any way of checking the cat besides codes?

I certainly understand why they don't want a recall. Not just cost, but image, with future ROI on Ecoboost development and marketing jeopardized. I suspect they are managing the numbers closely.

Thanks for all the info and advice.
 

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#10
I wonder if they have any way of checking the cat besides codes?

There are a few ways to check for a catalytic convertor failure that does not require a scan tool. One of the easier ones is just to look at it. If you see a discoloration, bluish in nature, that cat has had a spike in temp.

The best way is to do a back pressure test if you don't have a scan tool.

If someone has a live data scan tool, the best way to determine is to look at long term and short term fuel trims.

One can use manifold absolute pressure to determine if excessive back pressure is present and cause low intake vacuum.

A vacuum gauge is also useful. In live data, calculated load is also a useful PID data to look at. A low reading indicates a possible exhaust restriction such as a clogged cat.

I could go on. A scan tool is helpful, but there are many ways other than that. A thermal probe is useful. Not the best way but can indicate a rich condition that will cook a cat if readings are excessive at outlet compared to inlet of cat. If the engine has many cats, comparing banks with heat probe may help pin down which side if scan tool gives no codes. Codes such as P0420 or P0423 may mean a bad cat.
 
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I picked up a BAFX scan tool and Torque Pro. I had no idea these tools were so inexpensive. That tip alone was worth my support of BAT Auto.

I have a 600 mile drive next Tuesday, and have TP set to log all cat temp and fuel trim PID's. Anything else I should have it log?
 

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#12
If you can log O2 data also, would be nice to see O2 switching. I don't know if you can log in a graph form with the android. I am used to a laptop. Never worked with an android application. But I did visit the BAFX site, that elm interface should work with a laptop with windows. Macs need another type of interface.

Android is good for long trips like you are going to do. Also you can check your gas mileage to a tee. BAFX seems to provide a good product. Is it version 1.5?

If you want, PM me and I will provide links for awesome software for laptops. The ones that come with the elm are crap.

There are certain links I can't provide on public forum.
 

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#13
Found this in my database. TSB for your situation. Not the same TSB number, but is for 2012 model 4x4 3.5l turbo. Very similar to all the other TSB's. Check ace0 attachment. ACe 1 attachment is for 2013. Quite different.
 

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nickb2

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#14
DL3Z-5K775-B part# for 2013 and no calibration. The CAC part # for 2012 starts with a B instead of D and has a revised calibration version 79.02A or higher.

Also found this. see Ace 2
 

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Happy Thanksgiving! Yeah, the BAFX is v1.5. Seems to work great with Torque Pro. I have it set up to log many of the PID's the BAFX said were supported by my ECU, including all those for cat temp, fuel trim and O2.

I may be pulling the road trip up. Will get back here once I have some data logged. Thanks!