Ecoboost Overheating when Towing: Problems & Solutions

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F-150 Ecoboost

Does your Ecoboost overheat when towing a heavy load? Here are some important things you’ll want to consider.

These days, if you want the best towing capacity of any full-size pickup, you go for the F-150 Powerstroke diesel. But if you prefer to stick to gas, your next best option is the Ecoboost V6 lineup. But as many F-150 Online members have discovered, these turbocharged engines run pretty hot as is. Throw on a huge load, and you can even run into overheating problems. Which is exactly what Paulb04 was facing with his Ecoboost F-150.

“I have a 2011 Ecoboost with max tow (35,000 miles) and I keep getting the dash lighting up for overheating when I tow up a grade. I am pulling a 2012 Jayco Eagle 284BHS, which weighs 7,066 lbs dry. When I last scaled loaded it was at 7,943. I had pulled this with my 2004 F-150 a few times. It pulled very well, but worked a bit too hard for my comfort. Which is why I upgraded to a new to me 2011.”

As RSTHD150 notes, there are a few things you can do to avoid these types of issues.

“Some things you guys have to consider. 

1. Elevation kills performance, you lose 3-4% per 1,000 ft.
2. The harder you push the truck, the more heat you generate. No matter how much Ford tests these trucks, there will always be a longer harder hill than what they live test against. Including the previous comment, this multiplies the effects of altitude issues.
3. Forced induction generates A LOT of heat.

Take that into consideration when towing your trailers. Back out of the throttle a little bit and grab one more gear and you should be fine. Maybe roll the windows down and blast the heater to eliminate hot temps.”

F-150 Ecoboost

JackandJanet points out something that most people don’t consider when towing. But it’s an incredibly important point, because “max” towing capacity isn’t always something you should pay attention to.

“Just came back from a 2,000+ mile camping trip into Colorado pulling our 3,500# trailer up and down some steep roads with no problems whatsoever. Ideally, when towing, you should not exceed about 80% of the rated capacity for safety’s sake.”

He also goes on to explain this a little further with some enlightening information.

“Ford, and the other truck manufacturers like to play up the pulling power of their vehicles. And my truck would certainly have no trouble pulling a 7,000# trailer (my truck weighs 6,450# measured on a CAT scale and the landfill scale I use with me in it). I can climb a long 6% grade in my truck in 4th gear pulling my trailer, so I have plenty of excess capacity there.

But, Ford and the others DO NOT make much of their axle limits and DO NOT really give you a good idea of the Delivered Gross Weight of the truck with all options. The reason they don’t is because it would tell you NOT to put anything with a high tongue weight on the trailer hitch. A 7,000# trailer would easily put close to 1,000# on the ball. That would over-gross my axles, wheels and tires. My truck has a Max Gross Weight Limit of about 7,200#.

For a short distance, such as the Ike Gauntlet Hill Climb that Ford has used in their advertising, the overstress of the axles is probably OK and may even be minimized by lowering the tongue weight and increasing sway control mechanically. But, for prolonged towing with a properly set up trailer with 12% tongue weight, I would not want to subject my truck to that stress.”

F-150 Ecoboost

So there you have it. It appears that Ford has mostly solved the issue of overheating Ecoboost engines from the early days. But these are still some important things to keep in mind. If you plan on maxing out your truck’s towing capacity on a regular basis or towing under extreme conditions, you’re probably going to want to step up to something bigger, like a diesel or Super Duty.

And if you’re having trouble with your Ecoboost while towing or if you’ve got a good solution to share, head over here and let us know about it!

Join the F-150 Online forums now!

Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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