Ecoboost Intercooler: How to pull your boat better

Install Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 30-60 minutes

When your forced induction truck needs to cool off what is a person to do?  Enter the BladeRunner.  I’m not talking about the old early 80’s film.  I’m talking about aFe Power’s series of intercoolers for today’s late model turbocharged trucks.  As a guy with a 2012 F-150 Ecoboost that likes to haul a heavy 22ft boat, I wanted to make sure my truck kept its cool.  Cool intake air, that is.

The Ecoboost intercooler in its stock form has been proven to overheat quite quickly.  As RPMs go up from a hard dyno pull or yanking a load around, the stock Ecoboost intercooler is quickly heated up and power of course is reduced due to the hotter intake charge being delivered.  aFe Power has the solution.

Let’s take a look at a side by side comparison of the stock Ecoboost intercoolerand the aFe Bladerunner below.

aFe Power Intercooler Install - comparing side by side

aFe Power Intercooler Install - Measure 3 inchesNot only is it a much better looking intercooler over the stock F150 Ecoboost intercooler, it also flows much better.  aFe is using a 3” bar and plate design which outflows the stock F150 Ecoboost intercooler by up to 20% while being 95% more effective than stock.  Let’s look at a measurement of this guy.  Yep: 3.”  So no advertising hype here.

Now that we are introduced to the new aFe F150 Ecoboost intercooler let’s take a look at its packaging. aFe did a great job of packing, and the intercooler was perfect after shipping. All the gaskets, hardware, instructions, and an aFe sticker were nicely packed and included.
aFe Power Intercooler Install - In Box aFe Power Intercooler Install - Out of box

aFe Power Intercooler Install - DrainOne thing to note for the F-150 Ecoboosts: aFe did their homework.  On the web forums for these trucks you can find many people having condensation issues and a fluid buildups in their stock Ecoboost intercooler.  Some folks are drilling their stock intercoolers to fight this issue (yikes).  aFe has built in a drain at the lowest point on the F150 Ecoboost intercooler to fix this issue.

aFe Power Intercooler Install - BlockedThis F150 Ecoboost intercooler will work on 2011-2014 F-150 Ecoboost trucks.  They have a location on the intercooler for the 2013-2014 models that have the recirculation canister and pressure relief valve assembly to be reinstalled onto the new aFe intercooler.  For the 2011-2012 models hardware is supplied to block it off.  My installation being a 2012, I blocked it off.

With the new aFe F150 Ecoboost intercooler unpacked and ready for installation I moved out to the truck to start on the removal of the old stock Ecoboost intercooler.  Like many other guys out there, I only have the driveway for most installs.  Cardboard went down for a nice work area and to protect the parts from concrete rash.  Following the aFe instructions, this project was very straightforward. Below are the steps to start with and some pictures of them under the truck.

aFe Power Intercooler Install

Park the vehicle on level ground and engage the parking brake.  Disconnect the battery.  Remove the two 15mm nuts holding the plastic shield underneath the vehicle.  Remove the plastic clips holding the rubber cover behind the plastic shield just removed.  Loosen the clamps holding the passenger side intercooler couplings onto the intercooler, then disconnect the couplings from intercooler.  Remove the c-clip holding the driver side tube onto the intercooler, then disconnect the tube from intercooler.
aFe Power Intercooler Install - Unbolt Clips


aFe Power Intercooler Install - Unbolt


aFe Power Intercooler Install - Clips

There is also an intercooler bracket not shown here that needs to be left loose to hold the intercooler.  You then move to the top of the truck passenger side to loosen up the passenger side intake tubes that attach to the intercooler.


aFe Power Intercooler Install

There is a top bracket holding the intercooler also.  Be sure to not lose the rubber grommets as those are reused when reinstalling the aFe unit.


aFe Power Intercooler Install - Top Grommets

With everything up top loose back down below we go!  Take the passenger side tubes off the stock Ecoboost intercooler and then you can remove the bottom intercooler bracket to drop the old one down onto your chest. Do the sliding shimmy to get out from underneath the truck with it and it is out.

Out with the old, in with the new. Position the new F150 Ecoboost intercooler below the truck with the bottom of it facing the rear of the truck.  It makes it easy to lay on your back and push it into place.  The tricky part now is holding it up while bolting the bottom bracket back into place.  Watch the grommets to make sure they stay seated properly!


aFe Power Intercooler Install - New

Once the bottom bracket is bolted back up you simply reverse the removal process.  Make sure the driver side clip is seated properly as it can be a pain to get that side lined up. Other than that it is a simple reversal of what you have already done.  Let’s take a look at the old Ecoboost intercooler vs. the new in the truck.

aFe Power Intercooler Install - Old aFe Power Intercooler Install - Finished

This is a great upgrade that any turbocharged truck owner can benefit from.  It was as simple as an oil change to do and really makes a difference.  It really looks good behind those grilles too!  After several months of driving with the upgraded F150 Ecoboost intercooler, I have noticed that the truck seems to tow better. It could be that I am watching my temperature and fuel economy much more closely, though.

I used to be all over the place on fuel economy when towing my boat, even using cruise control.  Now when locking in the cruise control with the truck it gets more consistent fuel economy numbers, which I contribute to the new part.  I have taken off the main driver side charge pipe and have noticed it is dry!  The condensation issue is now a non issue due to the drain.

I am happy overall and feel the money was well spent on this upgrade. The truck tows better, stays cooler, and the condensation issue is solved.

For more information on this install and the parts involved, give me (Kyle) a call direct at 1-877-787-8989 x6811.

For Your Convenience

Below you will find StreetSideAuto’s product listing for the aFe intercooler and the official install instructions.

The opinions in this article are solely the writers’ and not the opinion of StreetSideAuto.com.

Important Installation Disclaimer 

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