Ford’s Self-Clogging 1.0-Liter EcoBoost Engine Is Finally Getting Recalled

Ford's smallest EcoBoost engine is known for dying early, and the root of the problem has been found.
2018 Ford Focus exterior

For years now, owners of Ford EcoSports and Focuses with the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine have complained of motors failing on their own due to oil systems that clog themselves. After an investigation, Ford and the NHTSA found the cause, resulting in Ford recalling more than 100,000 vehicles for a second time in 2024 already.

The problem is found in the 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine used in model year 2016-2018 Focus hatchbacks and 2017-2022 EcoSport SUVs. These engines have developed a reputation for losing oil pressure as early as 50,000 miles, with mechanics disassembling them to find oil pickups clogged by crumbled oil pump drive belts. The problem was speculated to stem from issues with the belt tensioner, and its exact origin was finally confirmed in the NHTSA’s recall document.

Ford Focus with the 1.0-liter Ecoboost engine
Ford Focus with the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine. Ford

The investigation found that the tensioner’s “caulking” (or RTV-like) joint breaks down from vibration over the vehicle’s service life, allowing the tensioner arm to fall out of position. It can impact the balance shaft, damaging the tensioner and straining the belt. Ford technicians have also speculated this can lead to the loose belt’s teeth skipping over the oil pump sprocket, tearing them off to gather in the oil pan. Either can cause a drop or total loss of oil pressure, both of which can ruin an engine.

This failure can cause not only a loss of power while driving, but a deactivation of the vacuum pump that aids braking, posing the risk of rear-ending another vehicle. Ford acknowledges one crash stemming from oil pump failure, resulting in two injuries but no fatalities.

2022 Ford EcoSport Titanium in Lightning Blue
2022 Ford EcoSport Titanium in Lightning Blue. Ford

Because the belt assembly isn’t meant to be serviced until 150,000 miles, but often fails just outside of Ford’s 60,000-mile powertrain warranty, owners have sought recourse through means such as a class-action lawsuit. Now, they’ll have some direct support from Ford, which says the recall repair will involve upgrading the tensioner to one with a shorter arm and a bolted joint. The service will also upgrade the belt to one with new material.

Owners are already being mailed recall notifications, and will be invited in for service at no charge as parts become available.

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