Project F-150 Ecoboost – Making Serious Power with Garrett’s Powermax Twin Turbo and Intercooler Upgrade

The stock Ford F-150 intercooler and turbos are decent at their intended boost levels, but when tuning the stock ECU and turning up the wick is when their shortcomings becoming grossly apparent. Enter Garrett Advancing Motion with their bolt-on Powermax turbo and intercooler upgrades for the Ford F-150 EcoBoost. The compressor side of the stock turbos on the F-150 are not very efficient at higher boost levels. Couple that with the “just good enough” stock intercooler and you have a less than optimal situation for power increases. At higher boost levels charge temps climb fast and really high!  During our independent testing of some off-the-shelf tunes that turn up the boost we found intercooler inlet temps nearing almost 500 degrees of oven baking heat after just a few pulls!

Under these conditions, an upgraded intercooler really works well and is badly needed.  Not only are these kinds of temps not good for power, but they’re also not good for long term reliability. Our Project F-150 EcoBoost is a working truck, as the owner lives in a relatively remote area of Arizona. So reliability is a top priority, right alongside performance.  Wanting more power without sacrificing reliability, we were all eager to test Garrett Advancing Motion‘s new Powermax twin-turbo and intercooler upgrades for the F-150 EcoBoost.

Garrett’s intercooler upgrade for the Ford F-150 EcoBoost is notable in its quality, attention to detail and OEM like fit and finish.

Garrett’s F-150 intercooler is designed to be a total plug and play part that is compatible with the stock vehicle using all of the factory components. The idea is for a clean installation that is easy to do. The heart of the Garrett intercooler is its large bar and plate core. The new core is much larger and thicker than stock with way more thermal mass and frontal area.  With more internal area, there is less pressure drop across the core due to flow restriction as well as a large drop in temperature.

The Garrett intercooler has machined bibs to accept the OEM Ford intercooler outlet elbow which is a complicated piece that needs a specially shaped bib to it to snap in place and be retained properly. The Garrett intercooler also has provisions for the OEM compressor bypass valve which is attached to the stock intercooler with another dedicated OEM bib shape.  The stock compressor bypass valve actually works really well and has a high flow rate so it is good to retain it instead of going to an aftermarket part.

The Garrett intercooler has fabricated and machined place pegs for attaching to the OEM mounts for the best fit possible and vibration resistance.  The intercooler has a drain plug because turbo Fords are known to accumulate a lot of condensation in the intercooler’s end tanks.  So much so that a few people have hydro-locked rods when the engine inhaled a gulp of accumulated condensate. With the Garrett intercooler, you can periodically drain the system if you wish.

10 comments

  1. I’m currently shopping for an Ecoboost F150, the stock intercooler setup just does not makes sense to me. First, with the acres of real estate on the front of an F150, why did they feel the need to put the licence plate right in front of the intercooler opening, covering 80% of it? Second, shutters? really? I mean I understand shutters on a radiator for warm up, but on an intercooler? And I don’t buy the aero benefit… with as much penny pinching as oems do, there’s no way that minuscule aero benefit could justify the price. My money is on the condensation build up Ford suffers with on their turbo cars. But to me thats like using pain killers to deal with a broken bone rather than casting it… I do kinda like the idea of fan on the intercooler tho… prolly helps with low speed high load situations that a truck could see..

    1. AJ Hartman built a 3.5EB SN95 with the MT82. I bet it’s a riot!
      I wish the package was a little smaller. It would be a fun swap engine if the bay is wide enough.

      1. And then got boned by dyno procedures… ah, NASA.

        But yeah, again, it seems fun. I wonder if the Link GDI ECU would run one of these well.

  2. Did I miss you testing the new intercooler with the same aftermarket tune you ran on the OE turbo/intercooler setup that increased the temps a bunch? If not, did you and what where the temps?

  3. Jeeezlus, power is waaay too easy these days. 435whp on a Superflow on pump gas through a truck drivetrain wasn’t something you could bolt on without sacrifice (comfort, driveability, etc). Now? No problem, hell, you could even finance the parts! 🙂

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