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How to Increase Boost on an EcoBoost Mustang

How to Increase Boost on an EcoBoost Mustang

Factory rated at 310HP and 320 ft-lbs, the EcoBoost is reminiscent of the 2.3L SVO of yore. Churning 310HP out of a 2.3L four-banger is an amazing feat. Even better, the EcoBoost doesn’t cap out there; with the right techniques this little engine has more to offer.

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With the recent gains in technology one of the most effective ways to add power is through a tuner. A tuner can talk to your Mustang's computer and a number of settings.

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Quick Boosting Suggestions

  • The stock ECU for the EcoBoost monitors throttle mapping, fuel delivery, wastegate function, boost control, ignition, and more
  • Because of the new tech in the 2015s, a boost controller doesn’t work. A new tune is necessary to pump more boost through stock parts
  • Such a tune allows you to change the wastegate thresholds, ignition timing, fuel curves, and throttle maps
  • Adding a boost gauge to help monitor changes will help you control how much boost you’re putting through your engine

The EcoBoost ECU

As mentioned, apart from the same displacement, the original 2.3L that debuted in the Fox Mustang era shares nothing in common with the new model. The EcoBoost model is invariably more powerful, efficient and complex. As is the trend these days, the EcoBoost engine is micromanaged by a computer. Throttle mapping, fuel delivery, wastegate function, boost control, ignition etc are all controlled by the ECU. Despite great peak numbers of 310 horsepower and 320 ft-lbs of torque, the ECU with stock programming is actually quite conservative. Or, perhaps a better term to use is cautious. The factory-programmed ECU is cautious, often cutting or limiting horsepower, particularly at RPM’s above 3500. This has left those racing down the 1320 somewhat befuddled. A big difference in ¼ mile time can occur between runs, with no changes to the car, simply because the ECU has sensed some a condition and has limited the power as a response (it is interesting to note that torque remains unchanged). Luckily, we can rectify this condition and add more power.

2015 EcoBoost Mustang Engine Bay

Adding Boost

The easiest way to get more power is simply to add more boost. With more boost, you can add more fuel and make more power. In the old days of turbochargers, to increase boost you simply would slap on a manual boost controller, or, if you had a little more dough to throw around, a digital one boost controller. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for the new EcoBoost Mustang. It is a little more high tech. A boost controller for the new EcoBoost ‘Stang comes in the form of a computer reflash or tune. An aftermarket tune will reprogram the ECU into a more liberal or aggressive state, squeezing more power out of the little 4 banger and removing the nanny-like tendency of limiting power. Dyno testing has shown an increase of 30 HP peak and a 55HP curve gain (averaged numbers). Torque gains are around 45 ft-lbs peak and 60 ft-lbs across the curve. Again, all of this is coming from a 2.3L engine – super impressive, especially considering these are essentially first generation tunes for a newly released platform. With more time and testing, we can expect to see further major advancements further down the line.

While the tune is extremely crucial to the amount of boost, the physical components of the turbo system play a part as well. In all stock components, the general rule is 25 PSI is the max the ​EcoBoost can handle in stock form. Talk with your tuner about his or her preferences, as that is essential to the amount of PSI to be utilized.

2015 EcoBoost Mustang at the Drag Strip

Tuning for the Future

As mentioned, boost is controlled via the engine control unit. An aftermarket tune will remap the boost and wastegate threshold parameters, as well as ignition timing, fuel curves and throttle maps. Without a boost gauge present, it is difficult to estimate exactly how much boost is increased, nor is there much publicized data regarding the amount. Regardless, the aftermarket numbers are pretty impressive given that the 2015 Mustang hasn’t been around for more than a year. As mentioned, as the EcoBoost platform matures, we can expect to see a whole lot more aftermarket availability. Be it with hard parts or more custom software for the ECU. One thing is certain – Ford definitely designed this engine with the idea of tuning and ECU mapping in mind. For now, we’ve just dipped our toes into the water.

2015 Mustangs on a Trailer

How to Operate a Tuner for More Boost

Unless you are a professional tuner or highly versed in modern day engine management control, there is simply no way for you to create a tune for your EcoBoost Mustang on your own. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of variables and the complexity of the ECU mappings make creating or changing your tune too risky without having a huge amount of industry experience and professional level tools. Incorrectly tuning your EcoBoost can easily lead to critical damage that would render the engine unusable. Thus, tuning your EcoBoost for more boost and power is best left to the industry professionals. It, unfortunately, is not as simple as just hooking up a laptop and changing a few numbers.

How Does the Stock Intercooler Perform?

From the factory, the intercooler allows up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit inlet temperatures after the intercooler. That much heat can hinder performance and power by having the ECU pull timing. The stock piping that comes with the EcoBoost is quite soft and far from the top of the line quality. While it works perfect for stock applications, owners who are looking to get more power should look into replacing the piping as well as other items that complement the piping.

Upgrading Your Intercooler

While an aftermarket tune is always beneficial for the performance of a Mustang, an intercooler upgrade doesn’t require a tune. While it would have larger gains, it's not a necessity. So for the new owners who have the desire to upgrade their Mustang but are worried about warranties, fear not. You can get the best of both worlds by upgrading the intercooler! The intercooler cools the air before going into the combustion chamber which allows for a larger power increase. The stock unit is acceptable for stock levels only. Upgrading to something like a Mishimoto or SR intercooler would keep temperatures down further and allow for a better performing Mustang.

ecoboost intercooler

Cold Charge Piping

Charge piping is the piping that routes the air through the turbo system. Stock pipes are rather soft and can sometimes fail under harsh conditions. Upgrading to silicone piping is always a good idea when trying to push your EcoBoost to the limit and upgrade power. Polished aluminum is also beneficial, although they do not resist heat as well as silicone charge piping.

Mounting Location

While some intercooler upgrades use the stock location, others move the intercooler forward. This allows for the intercooler to get cooler air and not be surrounded by the engine’s heat. There are a few intercoolers in development that not only use the stock location, but are large enough to use the forward location as well. This allows for the benefit of getting cooler air, having a larger cooling capacity, and also using charge pipes that use the stock locations.

Hot Charge Piping

Hot charge piping routes the air after it has left the combustion chamber. It takes the hot air and goes back into the turbine and spin the wheel. As a turbo makes power from wasted exhaust gases. The exhaust gases turn the wheel, which develops more load and boost as a result. Because the piping flows higher temperature air, a metal hot side is not suggested. In a metal application, the heat warms the piping up, which not only could change the airflow, but also expand the piping.

Intercooler Piping & Clamps

Blow-Off Valves

A blow-off valve is utilized to bleed off excess air when the throttle closes. This is a safety mechanism that stops a bump in compression when the throttle body is closed. If you're considering running higher boost pressures, an upgraded blow-off valve is recommended to keep the system safe. Blow-off valves utilize a spring that opens the valve at a certain PSI. A good brand of blow-off valve is Tial. They make quality products while also giving that ‘whoosh’ sound when you let off the throttle.

Tial BOV

The Turbo System in a Nutshell

All in all, the stock charge piping is fantastic for stock applications. However, it's always a great thing to swap to aftermarket parts in order to augment the system.

  • Hot side piping
  • Cold side piping
  • Intercooler
  • Blow off Valve
  • Aftermarket tune

These upgrades can really wake up the S550 Mustang EcoBoost and get it in gear. It’s never a bad time to upgrade!

Fitment includes: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, EcoBoost