Installing Performance Coils Yields Easy Gains On An EcoBoost F-150

As the intake valves open, 14 pounds of boost rushes into the cylinder. As the valves close the injector sprays a high-pressure mist of fuel. Now all the pressure is literally on the ignition system to light the fire. If you increased the boost with a hotter tune or turbo upgrade, that job gets even tougher, and the cylinder pressure is higher. A hotter spark might just be in order for your EcoBoost-powered Ford vehicle to properly light the fire.

The EcoBoost S.O.S. coils have 6 percent more voltage than stock coils. — Steve Davis, Performance Distributors

That’s why Performance Distributors created its Sultans of Spark coils for modern EcoBoost Fords. An addition to the company’s already robust line of ignition upgrades, these coils are designed to deliver more voltage to the spark plugs than the stock coils thanks to their design.

Our test truck is a 2016 Ford F-150 powered by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. We baselined the truck on the Power Automedia in-house Dynojet, then installed the Performance Distributors Sultans of Spark coilpacks (PN 31550), and tested the truck again to document the rear-wheel gains. Photo credit: Nicole Ellen James

“The additional boost definitely requires additional spark for the EcoBoost. Because the EcoBoost is a motor built for torque we took a different approach to our S.O.S. coils’ design,” Steve Davis, President of Performance Distributors, explained. “Considering the millions of F-150s out there with this engine is why we decided to build our coil with windings that improve the spark in the main powerband…the low- to midrange of these trucks, which makes a lot of sense for work trucks–towing, passing, etc.”

With that in mind, Performance Distributors built its S.O.S. coils to put out greater voltage. However, unlike its traditional coil upgrades, these are designed to deliver higher output throughout the engine’s rev range in deference to the torquey output of the EcoBoost engine. The result is said to be a more thorough combustion event, which allows the engine to produce even more power.

The S.O.S. coils from Performance Distributors are direct replacements for the factory coils, but they pack a much higher wallop of voltage. The six coil set for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine as found in our test truck sells for $299 and carries a two-year warranty from the date of purchase. Photo credit: Nicole Ellen James

“Being so close to the engine, they are subject to a little more heat. That’s why we improve on the quality of the thermal epoxy on the inside of the coils. Also, the OEMs are notorious for designing ignition systems that fall flat in the midrange,” Steve explained. “We, at Performance Distributors, are able to take advantage of this weakness by improving the voltage under load (hard acceleration). This is achieved by using better windings.”

…This is the first coil we’ve ever designed to improve voltage/spark geared specifically in the low-to midrange, so it must have worked! — Steve Davis, Performance Distributors

“The EcoBoost S.O.S. coils have 6 percent more voltage than stock coils,” Steve emphasized. “That is significant when considering you’re increasing it 6 percent on every cylinder.”

Start by removing the bolt that fastens each coilpack to the cam cover. Then pull the coilpack out just a bit and squeeze in on the factory connector to release the wiring harness. Then you can slide the coilpack right off the spark plug. You can remove them all and then install the new coil packs, but we prefer to do them one at a time. Even though our truck is only a couple years old, the stock coil packs are pretty weathered. Photo credit: Nicole Ellen James

Clearly the extra jolt of voltage is beneficial in the high-pressure environment of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. Simply swapping out the factory coils in favor of the Sultans of Spark units delivered gains of over 14 horsepower and 34 lb-ft of torque at the peaks. More impressive, the gains registered throughout the powerband, so it’s definitely an improvement in the seat-of-the-pants feel of the pickup.

Lube the tip of the new coilpacks with a bit of dialectric grease, then slide them over the spark plugs. If it is time for a tune-up, this would be a good time to swap in some fresh plugs too, but we stuck with the stockers to ensure the test only represented gains from the coils. Be sure to plug in the wiring harness and bolt the coils down to complete the install. It really is a simple swap. Photo credit: Nicole Ellen James

“I’m not surprised at the 14 additional horsepower. We’ve experienced similar power results with our other coil-per-cylinder applications, such as with our LS S.O.S. coils,” Steve said. “However, I am pleasantly surprised at the 34 additional lb-ft of torque the S.O.S. coils provided. But, this is the first coil we’ve ever designed to improve voltage/spark geared specifically in the low-to midrange, so it must have worked!”

EcoBoost S.O.S. Applications

The Performance Distributors Sultans of Spark coils aren’t just available for EcoB00st-powered F-150 pickups. The company offers these hotter coils for a variety of applications, including the following vehicles:

• 2013-2015 Ford Explorer

• 2011-2016 Ford F-150

• 2013-2017 Ford Police Interceptor Sedan

• 2014-2017 Ford Police Interceptor Utility

• 2013-2015 Ford Taurus

• 2013-2014 Lincoln MKT

They are available individually for $55 or in sets of six coils for $299.

As you can see in the accompanying photos and captions, the installation of the S.O.S. coils is really simple, so picking up that kind of power is well worth the effort. Better yet, you can install them in less than two hours and they will only set you back $299 for the set of six.

Our test truck put down baseline numbers of 284.67 horsepower and 358.12 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. Swapping out the factory coils in favor of the S.O.S. units raised the output to 299.01 horsepower and 392.31 lb-ft of torque. The simple upgrade accounted for peak-to-peak gains of 14.34 horsepower and 34.19 lb-ft of torque, but the gains are clear throughout the powerband. At just under 4,000rpm, for example, it was a 38hp and 51 lb-ft gain!

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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