We sought out every catastrophic GT350 engine failure instance we could find on the internet to finally put this infamous criticism to rest.
Introduction To GT350 Engine Failure
First, a bit of preamble before diving into the data. GT350 engine replacements are quite common, but not for the reason you are thinking. Any failure or defect which can be resolved by a long block replacement, is. For whatever reason, Ford has decided to perform long block engine replacements rather than perform repairs on an otherwise repairable engine. So this inherently causes a lot of engine replacements, which contributes to the perception on the internet that a lot of catastrophic 5.2 Voodoo V8 engine failures occur. But that is far from the truth.
Where We Sourced Our Data From
Below you will find all of the sources we collected data from on catastrophic engine failure instances.
- 2015-2020 Shelby GT350/GT350R owners and fans Facebook Group
- Blue Oval GT350 Forum
- Ford Shelby GT350 Forum
- Shelby GT350 Nation Facebook Group
- GT350 Track Attack Facebook Group
- Mustang Shelby GT350 Owners Facebook Group
- Mustang Shelby GT350 Owners Group Facebook Group
- S550 Shelby GT350 Owners Facebook Group
- Shelby GT350 Owners Association Facebook Group
- Shelby GT350 Owners Group Facebook Group
- SVT Performance
- Team Shelby
- Track Mustangs Online Forum
- Track Shelby GT350s Facebook Group
We searched the above data sources for the following key terms using their search function.
Collecting Our GT350 Engine Failure Data
We only collected data from first party sources that stated they experienced an engine failure. “I heard about this GT350 that blew an engine” is not a very reliable source of data and does not provide unique instance identifiers to scrub duplicates. Neither are polls which can be easily skewed by false entries, and they too lack unique instance identifiers.
We only collected data on catastrophic failure, meaning the engine stopped running or stopped operating normally requiring replacement. This means we omitted engine replacements for non-catastrophic failure such as oil consumption or for precautionary reasons like “strange noises”. This decision was made as the criticism of the GT350’s 5.2 Voodoo V8 is that they “blow up” or “the flat plane crank causes it to shake itself apart”.
We read each reply or comment on each post we found to ensure we captured any additional engine failures reported. Data was collected in a spreadsheet with the following columns.
- Unique instance identifier – Username
- Source – Where the data was collected from
- Chassis # – Dash plaque chassis number if available
- Model year – If available
- Engine replacement # – Some owners have had multiple engine replacements
- Mileage – The mileage when the failure occurred
- Cause – The cause of failure, if known/disclosed
- Modifications – If available
GT350 Engine Failure By Year
The total number of catastrophic engine failures we found reported on the internet is 114 or .6% of GT350s based on the current total production number of 17,541 (2015-2018).
2015 Model Year
No 2015 GT350 catastrophic engine failures have been reported.
2016 Model Year
Based on the 6,169 GT350s produced for the 2016 Model Year, 10 or .1% have been reported as having catastrophic engine failure on the internet.
2017 Model Year
Based on the 6,857 GT350s produced for the 2017 Model Year, 34 or ~.5% have been reported as having catastrophic engine failure on the internet.
2018 Model Year
Based on the 4,378 GT350s produced for the 2018 Model Year, 19 or ~.4% have been reported as having catastrophic engine failure on the internet.
2019 Model Year
Production numbers are not yet available so we cannot provide a percentage but we found 3 instances of catastrophic engine failure.
2020 Model Year
No 2020 GT350 catastrophic engine failures have been reported.
Unknown Model Year
The model year was unavailable for 47 catastrophic engine failure instances.
GT350 Engine Failure By Cause
We identified five catastrophic engine failure causes that occurred more than twice. The remaining failures that appeared no more than twice, we classified as uncommon.
- Rod Bearing Failure
- Connecting Rod Failure
- Oil Pump Failure
- Main Bearing Failure
- Valve Spring Failure
Unsurprisingly, oil is a huge potential contributor to some of the common failures we discovered. While we can’t say these potentially oil related failures could have been prevented, it doesn’t hurt to take precautions. A few of the catastrophic failures we found could be blamed by a low oil level. Which is why understanding the relationship between engine oil and your GT350 is so important. Keep your oil topped off and warm it up before giving it the beans.
Something we found interesting is that 3 of the 5 commonly failed components are confirmed to be improved on the second generation 5.2 Voodoo V8. The second gen Voodoo is using copper lead engine bearings and improved I-beam connecting rods which are shared with the GT500’s 5.2 Supercharged Predator V8. We would not be surprised if the second gen Voodoo also received the Predator’s improved oil pump with a larger gear made of stronger material and improved exhaust valve springs. If that rings true then that would mean 5 of 5 commonly failed components have been improved for the second generation of Voodoo.
The below failures did not occur more than two times. We felt that they were uncommon enough to classify them as such and are likely a result of random manufacturing, assembly or user induced defects.
- Block Failure
- Camshaft Failure
- Catastrophic Oil Leak
- Engine Seized
- Loss Of Oil Pressure
- Low Cylinder Compression
- Oil Pump O-Ring Failure
- Piston Ring Failure
- Piston Ringland Failure
- Timing Chain Tensioner Failure
- Valve Failure
- Wrist Pin Failure
GT350 Engine Failure By Mileage
The above chart correlates with the first half of the bathtub curve which is a failure rate model commonly used in the automotive industry. The three phases of the bathtub curve are early failures (decreasing failure), random failures (steady low volume failure) and wear based failures (increasing failure).
In our data we are seeing the early failures occurring between 0 and 10,000 miles. We found that the average early failure occurred at ~3,800 miles. Ford does their best to prevent early failures as it hurts their brand and ultimately their customer’s confidence in the product. However, it is near impossible to mass produce a product that does not experience early failures. Hence the purpose of Ford’s warranty, to resolve any early failures that may pop up. In summary, we are not seeing anything out of the ordinary in the early failure phase when compared to typical engine early failures. If a failure is going to happen, it will be quick and will fall within range of the warranty period so it can remedied by Ford.
After 10,000 miles, we are seeing the random failure phase begin as the number of failures begins to plateau. The random failure phase is the normal lifespan of in this case the 5.2 Voodoo V8. As we see in the chart above, there is a low volume, steady failure rate. These failures typically occur at random as they are caused by environmental or unexpected defects. In our data we found that no single failure cause appeared more than once after the early failure phase. This further validates that the failures are at random.
Without high mileage GT350 engine failure data, we will not be able to determine at what mileage wear based engine failure will begin to occur, which would complete the bathtub curve. However, we do not expect the 5.2 Voodoo V8’s lifespan to be any different than other Ford Performance engines which are living well past the 100,000 and 200,000 mile mark.
Forced Induction GT350 Engine Failure
We found only a single known instance of a 5.2 Voodoo V8 catastrophically failing with forced induction. That catastrophic engine failure was caused by piston ringland failure which the first party source attributed to a bad tune for their centrifugal supercharger.
To be clear this is not the full picture on GT350 engine failure but we believe this is the best insight available without getting ahold of Ford’s complete data. We also found that once again the internet has drummed up false hysteria. How so? We found that single instances of engine failure were posted multiple times and cross posted to different sources. This artificially inflated the perceived occurrence of catastrophic GT350 engine failure. Ford’s strategy of replacing engines over repairing engines certainly only added fuel to this fire.
We hope this article provides you as an owner or future owner with piece of mind that the hysteria revolving GT350 engine failure is simply unwarranted based on the insight into current internet reported failure data. Let us know what you think in the comments below.