Piston Slap: That Ecoboost Turbocharger Whine?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap that ecoboost turbocharger whine

Matt writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I wrote to you a few years ago regarding a water leak in the moonroof of my old 2010 Ford Fusion. I traded that car in 3 years ago on a brand new at the time 2015 Fusion Titanium with the 2.0 Ecoboost and AWD.

I have had this car for 3 years and just rolled over 100,000KM with it. My issue is that under hard acceleration from a low speed or a stop there is a whining noise that sounds like its coming from the front of the car. The whining noise sounds like the whine a supercharger makes. If i accelerate gently there is no noise and if I floor it on the highway there isn’t a noise I can hear either.

It seems to be only a low speed thing and heavy on the throttle that recreates it.

I took the car to the dealership last week while it was under warranty and they claimed it was the turbo and replaced the turbo and a number of associated parts. The car is still making the noise under the same conditions and now my warranty is done. I’ve googled the issue and been on the Ford forums and couldn’t find anything related to the noise i’m experiencing.

Any idea why my turbocharged 2.0 Ecoboost sounds like a supercharged engine?


Sajeev answers:

Supercharger whine is a delicious thing, not so much when its turbocharger whine.

My initial feeling was that the source is a loose turbo plumbing somewhere between the air filter and the throttle body. That’s because higher engine loads/boost levels cause stresses in forced induction plumbing not seen at lower throttle inputs, causing the loose piece to break its “seal” with the rest of the system. Usually that leak causes performance issues, as boost flies out of the system and throws the anticipated air/fuel ratio out of whack. Not so here!

My best guess? There’s a body plug (AKA grommet) either missing or improperly installed: more likely if you put an aftermarket amplifier power wire (i.e. an old school amp, not the digital ones that are easy on power requirements) using a factory grommet to feed the wire past the firewall. It’s a long shot if you’re running a stock stereo, but still worth putting the Fusion on a lift to verify!

What say you, Best and Brightest?

[Image: Ford]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.


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  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Jun 21, 2019

    Fusion, thanks for the follow up. I love this segment but sometimes we're left hanging on what happens after we post our 2 cents (or less) Congrats on the 6!I guess you should change your user name.

  • Cbrworm Cbrworm on Jul 02, 2019

    I know it's long gone, but I would suspect transaxle gear noise.

  • Arthur Dailey I do miss the exuberant exterior colours of the 1950's domestics, including the two-tone paint jobs. And 'there is no face like chrome'.
  • Bunkie From the “you can’t make this stuff up” department, the headline of the ad that occupied the screen right next to the picture of this Maserati read “Blunder #11”It’s an in joke in my household as my wife keeps getting offers from one of her financial institutions to lease a Maserati, an offer that is, consistently, declined.
  • Theflyersfan Interest rates going sky high should knock out the next group of people on the fence waiting to buy. I haven't looked, but I'm betting 2.9 and 3.9% on longer 60+ month loans are either gone or almost impossible to qualify for. I'm starting to get "turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater" vibes here. And if you're an American in Iran, get out. We don't need a sequel to Argo.
  • Theflyersfan @Matthew Guy: You might have jumped the gun on this one a little bit. Chevy's website doesn't have a build/config page up yet, nor does KBB or Edmunds. All we have to go on is what Chevy has leaked out to us without seeing the finished product. And I don't see prices on options and each model just yet, just somewhat "around this amount." But all that being said, if I was in the market for a pickup, and saying that I close on a new home later this week (locked in rates before interest rates really went crazy), the MX-5 might need a stablemate. And the "regular" trucks that everyone thinks of have just gotten too large, too over-styled (except for the Ram), and way too expensive. So this size truck seems to hit the sweet spot of people, cargo, and ease of driving/parking needs. So, I'd probably go mid-range with something like the Z71 trim level. I'm guessing it'll be in the mid-30's with enough tech to keep everything connected, reasonable enough fuel economy, and comfort for a road trip. There are some great offroad trails all around Kentucky, and that would have me interested in something like a ZR2, but without knowing exact cost, not sure about that one.But in this class, the Tacoma and Ranger are up there in years and Nissan, while putting in a different engine and transmission, pretty much tidied up the same old bones and is selling it as all new...(Z car...cough...cough). I'd still have to try the Frontier vs. Colorado to make up my mind.
  • Bkojote I go off-roading quite a bit (nothing extreme, just some fun scenic trails) and everyone in our group with a Colorado has basically given up or switched to a Toyota/Jeep after dealing with constant issues and $$$ in repairs.The best trim for the Colorado is something on-road biased. These trucks are good for towing toys or some light duty stuff but a burly off road trim on this is silly as the 4WD system can't handle it. While I believe they fixed the major design flaws of the prior generation (an easily-damaged oil pan and poorly positioned shocks that hang precariously low), the clutch-based 4WD system is notorious for failing on moderate trails- look no further than the recent C&D "Trail Boss" review.
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