Snow Performance improves EcoBoost 3.5-liter F-150 performance
By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company and Snow Performance
We all know boost is good. If you’ve ever driven a boosted vehicle, you know the feeling of joy that accompanies the swing of the needle on a boost gauge. This is especially true of Ford’s EcoBoost engines, which combine the benefits of direct injection and turbocharging to make smaller engines perform like bigger engines.
However, even the EcoBoost engines are sensitive to increases in air-charge temperatures. The factory intercoolers are modestly sized, and the system can heat soak, which leads the factory PCM to pull timing and decrease performance. When this happens some of that boosted fun fades away, and no one enjoys that.
One simple way to improve the performance of a boosted engine is plumbing in a water/meth injection system. These systems benefit in two ways. First the methanol has a higher octane rating than pump gas, and second the mixture offers a cooling effect when introduced to the intake. A popular purveyor of water/meth systems for modern vehicles, is Snow Performance, which offers its Boost Cooler line of systems.
“The Boost Cooler injects a fine mist of water/methanol into the intake tract when needed making the induction charge colder and denser providing power similar to 116-octane race fuel along with a large intercooler,” Matt Snow, President of Snow Performance, said.
Of course the nature of Ford’s EcoBoost engines makes them particularly receptive to water/meth injection because the run a lot of boost throughout the power curve and the PCM strategy is designed to respond to the temperature of the air entering the engine.
“Being turbo’d and having closed-loop knock control, the EcoBoost is very heat sensitive. The vehicle’s computer reduces spark timing with increased air-charge temps and if any detonation detected,” Matt explained. “Water/methanol injection is very effective at reducing air charge temps—three to five times more effective than an air-to- air intercooler—and taking away any detonation. A 50-percent methanol mix injected on top of pump gas will beat 116-octane race gas in a 3.5-liter EcoBoost. This translates to a 30-horsepower gain on a warm day when heat-soaked.”
We were offered the opportunity to take a look at the highlights of the system’s installation and the results of the setup in action, and it looks like Boost Coolers and EcoBoost engines are destined to become fast friends.
“For the 30-horsepower gain, no tuning is required. Of course if timing or boost is added, power goes up. Adding 4 degrees of spark advance over what is normally in a premium pump gas tune yields another 25 horsepower.” Matt added. “Better yet, with the vehicles closed-loop knock control and heat-sensitive timing maps, it’s entirely safe.”
As effective as the 3.5-liter Boost Cooler is, we were also excited to learn that it won’t be the last vehicle-specific system for EcoBoost Fords. Next up is a kit for the 2.3-liter EcoBoost Mustang.
“The Mustang system is due out before the SEMA Show in November and preliminary results are impressive as well,” Matt teased.