What Is an Ecoboost Catch Can? And Whether You Need It

What is an EcoBoost catch can?” is one of the questions that come to mind when searching for ways to keep your direct injection engine clean and preserve its power. A catch can, also called an oil separator or catch tank, is a simple device that prevents oil vapor and other impurities from causing an accumulation of debris inside a Ford EcoBoost engine.

Ford Ecoboost Catch ~Ran When Parked

Please continue reading to discover where precisely the can is installed in the engine and how it works. The article also details why stock engines have no catch tanks and whether your vehicle really needs one.

What Is a Ford Ecoboost Catch Can?

A Ford EcoBoost catch can is a device that plugs into a hose running from the top of the crankcase to the intake manifold of a Ford EcoBoost engine. The can’s installation aims to control blow-by recirculation into the intake system. That keeps the motor clean and preserves its power.

Ford EcoBoost is a collection of turbocharged, direct injection (DI) gasoline engines (including the Ford F-150, Ford Mustang, and Ford Explorer) produced since 2009. The DI technology is a fuel delivery system primarily used in modern cars with petrol and diesel engines.

In these types of motors, instead of the air-fuel mixture entering the cylinders via intake valves, an injector jets fuel straight into the combustion chamber. As a result, the technology helps to increase power and torque and offers better fuel economy.

In fact, experts say that DI can boost torque delivery by up to 50 percent. However, this comes with a disadvantage. DI engines also have a positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) system, a one-way valve connected to the engine’s crankcase. When fuel is burned in the motor, it produces waste gasses that are vented through the vehicle’s exhaust system.

The function of the PCV system is to re-route the blow-by to the intake manifold, where it mixes with fresh intake air and returns to the combustion process. This re-routing helps to maximize fuel efficiency and control emissions. Unfortunately, turbocharged engines usually produce a lot of blow-by gasses.

That makes the OEM PCV systems inadequate and routes oil vapors and other contaminants back through the intake and intercooler piping.

All that waste usually coats everything with an oily film, reducing the intercooler’s heat transfer efficiency. The oil vapor in the PCV blow-by also degrades your Ford’s overall fuel octane, which decreases the engine power.

So, an F150 Ecoboost catch can capture all that crap from the PCV system before it returns to the intake system, keeping your engine clean and extending its life.

How Exactly the Catch Tank Works

The oil separator may be necessary in direct injection engines. In port-injection motors, the fuel is jetted into the intake manifold. In this case, the fuel works as a cleanser, washing off any buildup in the system.

But in DI engines, the fuel is shot directly into the cylinder, and there’s no filter or buffer to prevent debris from entering and accumulating.

Working Catch Tank ~Ran When Parked

Thus, to answer what is an EcoBoost catch can Ford in detail, the can works like a filter (netting), plugging into the hose line. It catches the contaminants before they enter the engine’s intake manifold. The device supplements the PCV system.

The ventilation hose from the PCV is disconnected from the air intake and directly connected to the catch can input.

So, the air moves from the base of the catch can via a tube, returns to the tip of the can, and in the direction of the outlet, flowing through the netting. A hose connection starts from the outlet, completing the circuit then reconnecting to the air intake port.

That means, as the air passes through the catch can filter, oil particles are trapped and pooled into larger droplets before falling into the catch can’s bottom.

The can has a drain plug to eject the oil captured periodically. Therefore, maintaining the catch tanks between regular service intervals is easy under normal conditions. The can should be emptied when full, which can take months.

If you drive on dusty roads, you may need to empty it more often – you’ll see the liquid coming from the top of the can when it’s full instead of just dripping down the sides.

Are Catch Tanks Really Necessary?

No, catch tanks aren’t really necessary for an average driver. However, installing one will be helpful if your vehicle does a lot of towing. The device will help keep your intake, turbo compressors, and intercooler piping clean for the engine to maintain power and efficiency.

Uses of Ecoboost Catch ~Ran When Parked

Intercoolers coated in oil are inefficient. Also, sensors and throttle bodies fouled with fuel junk must be cleaned more often, which can be an added expense. Contrary to many beliefs, oil separators don’t add horsepower to vehicles. But they can help you preserve the power that the car already has.

So, what does Ford say about catch cans? The manufacturer recommends them only if the turbocharged engine is used for hard driving or racing. Though they are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, you don’t need to do it on day one.

However, if you’re into modifications, installing a quality catch can system is a great way to upgrade the intake or intercooler system.

As of 2018, Ford upgraded the EcoBoost to include direct and port injection. That means anything newer than 2018 doesn’t need a catch can.

Why Do Stock EcoBoost Engines Lack Catch Cans?

Stock EcoBoost engines lack catch cans because the devices can cause performance issues. Sometimes, the cans can fail to properly vent the contaminants they capture, leading to several problems. Catch tanks are also unnecessary in Ford’s EcoBoost vehicles 2018 and newer, as they are made to produce insignificant blow-by.

As explained, catch tanks are installed in vehicles to capture oil vapors that would otherwise result in debris buildup within the air intake system. While that may sound good, the above are the main reasons cars don’t have these cans installed from the factory. See more details below:

  • Performance Issues

Oil separators boost performance by trapping oil vapors and preventing them from causing debris buildup inside the air intake, which can eventually affect the engine’s efficiency. The power a catch tank can preserve depends on how much oil is trapped.

For instance, if you have a performance engine that produces lots of blow-by, the device could help save significant power, which otherwise would be lost over time.

Ecoboost Catch Performance ~Ran When Parked

However, if the contaminants the device captures aren’t vented properly, it can cause problems within your engine. That may include oil leaking issues, decreased performance, and fuel economy.

  • Oil Catch Cans Are Unnecessary

Another reason cars lack catch tanks when coming from the factory is that these devices are unnecessary. Most modern engines (produced after 2018) are designed not to produce significant blow-by.

That means there’s no need for an oil separator to capture and store the waste gasses. Besides, the vehicles are constructed under strict guidelines to meet environmental standards.

Installing these devices can make them less compliant since they may not be 100 percent environmentally friendly. Though they don’t require much regular maintenance, they are still an added cost.

With that said, most people on 3.5 EcoBoost catch can forums agree that installing a catch can if the vehicle is still under warranty may void certain aspects of the coverage.

For example, if you have a catch can on your Ford F-150, and it’s established to cause failure, your warranty will be voided. Modifying parts or aftermarket add-ons can affect vehicle performance and safety. That includes brake function and various electronic systems.

A catch can is an aftermarket add-on or modified part that will void your vehicle’s warranty coverage.

How To Find the Best EcoBoost Catch Can

To find the best Ecoboost catch can, check if you have room under the hood to accommodate the device. A regular-size catch can will do just fine. However, since EcoBoosts are turbocharged with either 4 or 6 cylinders, you’ll be better off with a monster size.

Best EcoBoost Catch ~Ran When Parked

Another crucial factor to consider when looking for the best oil catch can for 3.5 EcoBoost is the quality. Different brands build and sell catch tanks, meaning their grades aren’t homogeneous. Most people search for the UPR catch can F150 or JLT catch can F150.

A baffled oil catch can is also good and has received many cheerful customer reviews online. The device places a filter or set of baffles between the PCV and the intake.

With the baffles, the catch can filter the oil-air blow-by mixture, trapping the contaminants while allowing the cleaner air to pass through with the help of a vacuum into the intake.

Other options you may want to consider, especially if you prefer a Do-It-Yourself option, include the APR universal catch can and the IAG universal drag catch can. But APR also produces direct-fit components for specific vehicles. You can get in touch and ask for your particular EcoBoost model.

The Vibrant Performance 12695 catch can comes with an integrated filter and works fine on your F-150 EcoBoost.

Note that you also must consider the price. You want a good-quality catch can, but that doesn’t mean you should pay a fortune. Compare the costs of the various quality brands and then decide. Your perfect pick should be a balance between quality construction and affordability.


You now know what an EcoBoost catch can is, its function, and whether you need one for your Ford.

Let’s summarize a few important notes:

  • An EcoBoost catch can or oil separator is a device that is used to prevent blow-by issues in a turbocharged, direction injection EcoBoost engine.
  • The device plugs into the connection between the crankcase and the air intake manifold.
  • When a catch can is installed in your EcoBoost engine, it can help increase fuel efficiency and prevent engine power loss by keeping the engine clean.
  • A catch can may be necessary if you plan to tow and need your Ford to maintain its power levels without ruining fuel economy.
  • Ford EcoBoost engines manufactured after 2018 feature both direct and port injection technologies, which ensure fewer blow-by; therefore, they don’t need a catch can.

We now leave you to decide whether your Ford needs a catch can. If you need one, shop for the best quality and affordable option.


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