Many people use catch cans on their Ford trucks. These are small containers installed on the ventilation system of engines to capture unburnt fuel particles, moisture content, and other solid particles.
What Does Ford Say About Catch Cans? Ford has prohibited the use of catch cans with any of its engines. Therefore, its installation can void your Ford maintenance warranty. Moreover, they have added port injection with its direct-injected EcoBoost 3.5 engine from 2017 onwards to resolve the fuel vapor accumulation problem in the intake manifold.
This article will guide the Ford vehicle owners regarding the use of oil catch cans, manufacturer recommendations, and its legal status.
What is the purpose of a Catch Can?
According to catch can manufacturers, it prevents unburnt fuel, dirt, and moisture mixture buildup in the intake manifold.
A pipe between the crankcase and the intake manifold acts as a pressure reliever, also known as a positive crankcase ventilation system(PCV).
However, meanwhile unburnt fuel, waste particles, and moisture content can enter the intake manifold.
It keeps on accumulating, resulting in backfiring and reduced engine power and fuel efficiencies. The reason can be waste deposits on the intake valves.
To resolve this problem, you can install a catch can on the pressure-relieving pipe between the crankcase and the intake manifold.
It acts as a filter to collect fuel and other waste particles inside its bottom and allows only clean air to the intake manifold. However, you need to continuously drain the catch cans to empty them to ensure its working correctly.
Why port injected engines don’t need catch cans?
Manufacturers and mechanics recommend the use of catch cans for direct-injected engines. While in the case of port injected engines, they have small nozzles or ports that spray oils to intake valves.
In addition, a fine spray of oil washes off any dirt or oil deposits on intake valves. Therefore they don’t need any oil separator or catch can’s assembly compared to direct-injected engines where fuel directly enters the cylinders.
What Ford engines require catch cans?
Most Ford engines have a port injection or dual injection technologies to supply fuel to the cylinders.
Therefore, they don’t have an issue regarding carbon or other deposits inside the intake manifold. Consequently, you don’t need to install any catch cans on such engines.
However, its EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 engine before 2017 in the F150 Raptor and GT supercar has direct injection. Therefore, you will find it in those vehicles. But again, it is not mandatory, and you can do it of your own will.
Things to consider when using catch cans with the Ford engine
Before installing catch cans, you should make sure to know its working principle and a few precautionary measures to ensure its proper operation.
The first and most crucial step is a routine inspection of the catch can to check waste deposits and oil levels. It will not work correctly and can even block the air passage between PCV and intake manifold.
Moreover, it can cause pressure buildup inside the cylinder, reducing engine performance and damage in severe cases. Therefore, select the device with a large capacity and a mechanism to check the level inside it.
Moreover, you should also have technical skills to drain it. Otherwise, skip it, and your vehicle is absolutely fine without it. Visit the workshop for preventive maintenance at recommended intervals to clean intake valves.
Don’t use it in snowy areas
In snowy areas or with temperatures below freezing points, if you forget to drain the catch can, water accumulated inside can turn into ice blobs.
Whenever you turn on the engine, it can block the air passage or enter the intake manifold. Therefore, it will cause more damage to the engine than doing any good. Please don’t use it below the freezing point conditions.
No condensation in high temperatures
It can become hot if you install catch cans with no proper ventilation. When hot, oil vapors and moisture will not condense in it. Therefore, you will not get the expected benefits.
Ford recommendations regarding the use of catch cans
Ford has shifted all its engines towards port injection or dual fuel injection techniques. In double injection, they have both direct injection at higher rpm and port injection at lower rpm.
It is applicable in all turbocharged and naturally aspirated V6 and V8 engines with gasoline as working fuel.
It has also converted its EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 engine from direct injection to dual fuel injection technology. Therefore, Ford company does not recommend the use of catch cans with any of its vehicles.
According to Ford officials, carbon and oil deposits on intake valves, catalytic converter, and exhaust pipes on their direct injection engines are not significant enough to cause any issues.
Moreover, with the development of dual-fuel technology, engine performance and fuel efficiencies have further increased. Therefore, there is no requirement for any third-party supplier to modify the engine operation.
Chief engineer at Ford gasoline engines manufacturing facility has elaborated that its dual-fuel technology is superior to other manufacturers.
It activates port injection at idle and low rpm for fuel-efficient engine operation. In addition, its ECM controls the fuel supply share between port and direction injection systems with increased torque and rpm requirements.
Therefore, fuel ports will always remain ON to clean the intake valves and associated issues due to carbon or oil deposits.
Does using catch cans void the warranty?
No auto manufacturer recommends the use of catch cans or air-fuel separators to use with their vehicles.
However, some drivers use it to reduce maintenance issues. However, as it is not a recommended part from Ford, its usage can void the maintenance warranty of your vehicle.
Moreover, if you get any problem due to its improper installation or cannot drain it at regular intervals, you are highly likely to surrender the warranty from Ford.
Are Catch Cans a marketing gimmick?
You will see many articles and debates on online forums regarding the use of catch cans with your Ford engines.
Most of the comments in favor of its use will be from the people or suppliers who have businesses related to catch cans. Therefore, they advocate its benefits and exaggerate its usability beyond reasonable proportions.
I consider them as marketing gimmicks to sell their products. Its use has a few minor advantages, and there is no problem if you don’t use them.
I have seen most vehicles with my friends and colleagues having no catch cans performing well and no major maintenance issues regarding intake manifold and valves.
They have 1,50,000 to 2,00,000 miles still operating fine without the need for any air to fuel separators.
Is the use of catch cans illegal from the EPA?
Although using catch cans has no harmful impact on the environment, they help contain fuel vapors from entering the atmosphere.
But as PCV is part of the engine emission system, and according to various state laws, it is illegal to modify it.
Therefore, you can find yourself in trouble if any technician doing the test can see catch cans under the hood of your vehicle. They can impose fines on altering any OEM system without any approval.
However, it can vary from state to state. Therefore, you should check your local laws before going for installation.
With prohibited modification in the manufacturer’s emission system for your vehicle, one such state is California. As a result, they will fail your vehicle for a smog inspection test due to the presence of a catch can.
Why doesn’t Ford add catch cans as standard to its vehicles?
Auto manufacturers do not add catch cans as a standard part to their vehicles. The possible reasons are extra cost, regular maintenance to drain it, and its impact on engine performance.
It costs from $25 to $200 depending on the filter and capacity to carry fuel particles. Moreover, you will also need to find a suitable place near the engine to install it. Next, it can add extra maintenance to drain it when filled with gunk and debris.
You have to maintain it, otherwise, it can damage the intake valves. Finally, you can install it on a PCV that acts as pressure relief for the cylinders. It acts as a barrier in the PCV system and can reduce engine efficiency.