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EcoBoost F-150 Intake & Exhaust Flow Choke Points

Shop F-150 Down Pipes

The stock down pipes are solely engineered to make sure your truck meets emissions standards. The stock catalytic converters are the bane of a high horsepower F-150. Swapping out for an emissions compliant, high performance down pipe is one option. If you're truck is an off-road only build, there are cat-delete options as well.

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The EcoBoost F-150 suffers from airflow choke points in the factory intake and exhaust system that restricts the power and performance of your EcoBoost truck. This guide will address those choke points in the intake and exhaust and teach you how to remove them.

American Muscle

Where the Airflow is Restricted

There are three main points where the airflow is restricted in your EcoBoost F-150’s powertrain. They are:

  • The air intake system
  • The catalytic converter/downpipe
  • The Y-pipe

This essentially means there is one choke point in the intake system, where air is funneled into the engine, and two choke points in the exhaust system making it difficult for the spent exhaust gases to be scavenged. This causes your F-150’s engine to have to work harder than it should to compensate for capped performance. 

However, you can remove (or rather drastically improve) the airflow choke points by upgrading your intake and exhaust system. This will increase the power output of EcoBoost’s engine and even increase your fuel economy. 

Upgrading Your EcoBoost F-150's Intake System

From the moment your EcoBoost F-150 sucks in air through the intake tube, your engine’s performance is being restricted. The design of the factory intake is somewhat small, limiting the volume of air drawn into the engine. 

To address this issue, you can replace the factory intake system, with an aftermarket cold air intake. An aftermarket EcoBoost F-150 cold air intake will have a larger diameter and more free-flowing filter than stock. An upgraded cold air intake system on your F-150 will allow the turbo to spool up faster, giving you snappier throttle response that will have your truck picking up more in the lower gears.

Aftermarket cold air intakes tend to increase the fuel economy as well as the horsepower and torque output. Depending upon which intake system you chose, you could gain anywhere from 10-25 HP & TQ. Once you are able to feed more air into your engine, the problem then becomes getting that air out of the engine once it mixes with fuel and combusts.


Cold Air Intake Kit Installed

Upgrading Your F-150's Downpipe

The EcoBoost F-150 gets choked up right off the bat when the air leaves the engine since it has to immediately pass through the catalytic converters in the downpipe. The factory downpipe system on the EcoBoost F-150 uses two restrictive catalytic converters which choke up the flow of the exhaust gases. Replacing your factory downpipe with an aftermarket one will allow you to either retain a catalytic converter system or go to an aftermarket off-road style exhaust setup with no catalytic converters.

If you decide to go for a catted downpipe, the catalytic converter in the downpipe will be less restrictive than the factory one, allowing you to still increase your power and performance. Catted setups will net you an extra 15-25 HP & TQ and give you a loud but not super loud exhaust note that will be deeper than stock. 

If you decide to go for an off-road downpipe, there will be no catalytic converter and you will have trouble passing inspection (if your state has an inspection). An off-road downpipe will be incredibly free-flowing and less restrictive than stock, allowing you to gain anywhere from 20-40 HP & TQ. Off-road EcoBoost F-150 downpipes have incredibly loud exhaust notes with a very deep and aggressive sound. You might also want to consider upgrading the rest of the exhaust with an aftermarket cat-back to further augment the sound and power output of your truck.

Tuning Your EcoBoost F-150's New Intake & Exhaust

While there are about an equal amount of tune and no-tune required intakes available on the market and some no-tune required downpipes, adding a tuner and custom tune to your EcoBoost F-150 is a necessary supporting mod to get the most out of an intake and exhaust upgrade. A tune will allow you to maximize horsepower and torque, smooth out your power band, refine your driveability, and get the most out of your fuel economy.


Handheld Tuner
Fitment includes: XL, XLT, Lariat, KingRanch, FX2, FX4, Limited, Platinum, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

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