2015 Ford F-150: EcoBoost V6 Makes You Wait
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on October 14, 2015
I just finished changing the oil in our 2015 Ford F-150. In the process I discovered something highly unusual that every owner of an F-150, Ford Edge or Lincoln MKX powered by the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine must know.
You must wait 15 minutes after shutting down any 2.7-liter EcoBoost mill before you check the oil. If not, you'll get a false reading that will almost certainly lead you to add more oil than the engine needs. Why? Something about the design of this engine's internal oil passages makes it take a long time for the oil to work its way down to the pan and the waiting dipstick.
This is real. The false reading and overfilling potential is significant, as I discovered during the oil change.
It's also weird. That's a ton of time, time that dealerships and lube places with the word "Jiffy" and "Quickie" in their titles can't afford to spend. Time is money, right? Time is also convenience for us civilians. No one I know spends that kind of time at a gas station whether we check the oil or not.
To be fair, the waiting period is mentioned in the owner's manual, but in a rather offhand fashion if you ask me. Something this unusual deserves multiple mentions, bold text and the sort of obvious warnings that owner's manuals are usually good at.
Besides, checking oil is so old-hat that I wouldn't expect anyone with any experience to consult this manual page to learn how. The wait is not mentioned in the Capacities and Specifications section that describes oil type and oil capacity of each of the F-150's four engines. That's a pity because most of us do routinely look there. It'd also be an effective place to point this out to the 2.7-liter V6 audience while leaving owners of the other engines out of it.
Ford has realized they haven't made this odd and potentially damaging trait of the smaller EcoBoost engine clear enough. They have released a Special Service Memo (SSM) to dealer technicians and are considering an under-hood sticker to draw owner and third-party mechanic attention to this specific requirement. You'll want to read on:
SSM 45195 - 2015 F-150/Edge And 2016 MKX Equipped With A 2.7L - Engine May Appear To Have Low Oil Level
Some 2015 F-150/Edge and 2016 MKX vehicles equipped with a 2.7L engine may appear to have low engine oil level if the proper procedures are not followed. Refer to the Owners Guide, Maintenance, Engine oil check section. When checking the engine oil level after shutting off the engine, wait at least 15 minutes prior to checking in order to allow the oil to drain back to the oil pan. The engine oil level can be checked immediately if the engine has not been started. When changing the engine oil, the engine needs to be at normal operating temperature and the oil filter removed before draining the oil. Allow the oil pan to drain completely for up to 5 minutes. Check oil level after filling by following the oil level check procedure.
Did you catch the implications of the last sentence? That could have been clearer.
The 15-minute wait, a.k.a. the "oil level check procedure," applies a second time after you add any oil because it'll take 15 minutes for that oil to reach the pan, too. It applies after refilling the engine during an oil change (boy, does it ever), and it applies when re-checking the level after adding top-up oil between changes.
Maybe this is why the same manual page strangely cautions against adding top-up oil unless the oil level drops below the low mark that most of us take to represent a full quart low. Presumably, any partial-quart top-up would require a second 15-minute wait to reconfirm the new level, and you could conceivably earn yourself a third 15-minute wait if you found you came up short and wanted to add still more. That's ridiculous, of course.
Clearly, you'll want to alter your oil maintenance habits if you own one of these. Check your oil at home instead of at the gas station, either in the morning before you start the engine or a good 15 minutes after you shut it off when you return home. Or take advantage of a coffee break, lunch hour, or any other opportune moment when the engine has been off for at least that long.
If you happen to live in some enlightened place where you can still get full service and the attendant says you're a quart low, do not believe it unless a full 15 minutes have passed since you shut off the motor. Check it yourself as described above instead.
I might never have known any of this if I hadn't decided to change our 2015 F-150's oil myself and run headlong into this issue in a most distressing way. I'll reveal more in the next installment and go into some of the other unusual quirks of what turned out to be an eye-opening (and rather simple) 2.7-liter F-150 oil change.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 22,357 miles