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Ford recalling nearly 140,000 2013 Escapes with 1.6L EcoBoost engines over fire potential

Ford Motor Company is recalling 139,917 model year 2013 Escape vehicles manufactured 5 October 2011 through 2 June 2013 and equipped with 1.6L EcoBoost engines. These vehicles may experience localized overheating of the engine cylinder head which may cause cracks that could allow oil to leak; leaking engine oil may come into contact with a hot engine surface, potentially resulting in an engine compartment fire.

In addition, 9,469 of these vehicles, already repaired under and earlier Ford recall (NHTSA #12V-336) will have an incremental inspection of the engine compartment fuel line, as the line may have been installed incorrectly when repaired under the prior recall. The incorrectly installed fuel line could chafe and eventually leak fuel.

In the information sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning the recall, Ford said that beginning in late August through October, it began to receive a series of engine compartment fire reports, indicating a potential trend.

A teardown of engines returned from the field indicated engine overheating and cracked cylinder heads that allowed oil to leak; Ford’s investigation focused on the potential for an overheat condition to cause the cylinder head to crack prior to being damaged in the fire.

As part of the investigation, vehicles and engines were tested under severe load and temperature conditions that were considered most likely to create a potential for overheating; however, this severe testing was unable to duplicate a cylinder head crack. Review of the conditions at the time of the fires also did not suggest severe loading or high ambient temperatures were involved.

Ford then used CAE modeling to evaluate what unique environmental and engine operating conditions might lead to cylinder head cracking in this location. The modeling predicted that under certain operating conditions, localized overheating of the cylinder head could cause sufficient stresses to crack the head in the location found on field returns.

However, additional testing through October was not successful in replicating the field events and correlating the CAE model.

In late October/early November, additional engines were returned and analyzed; Ford identified additional cases of cylinder head cracking. In November, an overheat crack was reproduced on an engine dynamometer test.

Ford will notify owners by mail and instruct them to take their vehicle(s) to a Ford or Lincoln dealer to have enhancements to the engine shielding, cooling and control systems made to their vehicles; a subset of the population will also have the engine compartment fuel line inspected and replaced as required.


Roger Pham

I've discussed potential reliability problem of turbocharged engine in GCC forum before due to increased in exhaust pressure and heat. This is versus the cooler exhaust of Atkinson-cycle engine due to overexpansion, hence enhanced reliability while accomplishing the same goal of efficiency increase. Atkinson-cycle engine needs electrical boost to restore the power loss, however, the electrical boost also helps in braking energy recuperation and avoid engine idling that will further increase efficiency.

The verdict: Atkinson-cycle with electric boost wins over Ecoboost, on both count of reliability, longevity, AND efficiency gain!


Ford's FireBoost engines.

Lot's of problems with them reported in recent months. Probably result of their aggresive downsizing.
Even VW, having much more experience with turbocharged gasoline engines than Ford, don't downsize that much.
No wonder Toyota and Honda are reluctant to use it.

Roger I remember your post, where you predicted material fatigue from overheating - that's exactly what happened. Probably Ford engine designers relied too much on imperfect modelling software, allowed too little margin for error and for the less predictable circumstances.

In addition to Atkinsonized ICE with electric boost, it would make sense to add an inexpensive electric supercharger (Valeo). High voltage battery system would already be there, supercharger would allow strong acceleration even when battery gets depleted. The cost would be higher fuel consumption (when supercharger is active), but it is acceptable sometimes - high performance guaranteed, regardless of battery SOC. Driver could be notified if he/she is driving uneconomically via audio/visual interface and/or via pulsating gas pedal (Continental AFFP system).
It could be combined with e-Boost button (F1 style, newer Honda CRZ hybrid have it).

Roger Pham

Very good point, Alex. PHEV's like the Fusion HEV and Fusion Energi will do well on 2-cylinder engine, thus giving more room for batteries and increase trunk space while decreasing weight and cost. An option of electric supercharger would be great for those who wants even more power than the two-cylinder engine can provide.

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