«Zetec» is the name given to a family of an inle-4-cilinders multi-valve production engines manufactured by Ford since 1991. Originally, the first name for this family of engines was «Zeta», but for legal issues with Lancia (name rights) Ford was obliged to change the name, and the choosen was Zetec.
Why are we saying Zetec is a «family of engines«? Well, Ford have called Zetec to many different types of engines with different suffixes to specify their particular variant. The displacement range goes from 1.0 L to 2.4 L, but the best known are from 1.6 L to 2.0 L, SOHC or DOHC, and with 4 valves per cilinder and valve cast aluminium cylinder head.
This article will be mainly focused* at the Zetec-E variant (improved version of the first Zetec) which is available in three engine capacities, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 L and has featured three main development phases.
*Why are we talking about these variants? Yes, we have one of this Zetec engines in our Lotus Seven VM77!
What version of Zetec engine I have?
The Phase 1 & 2 engines can be identified searching a three digit code on the block, near the engine number and the crankshaft (CKP) position sensor. The Phase 3 engine may have a four digit code stamped onto the block, but also has a label stuck onto the front of the cam belt cover. This will start with a 4 digit code which is the variant identifier.
The tables below will help you to identify which variant you have using the engines codes numbers. You have to choose what displacement your engine have and search its code (in Spain we can use the «Ficha ITV«) to identify your engine 🙂
Check this out!
Why I would want to use & upgrade my Zetec engine?
There are millions of this engines around , they are cheap to buy from a scrapyard and there is a lot of information about them. The latest versions (black top) have many small improvements over the earliest (silver-top) models. The head flows well and gives great mid-range torque. The bottom end is good for 7000 rpm as standard and is pretty hard to break. The bottom end is good for big kilometers.
The bad point is they have been known to shear a con-rod bolt or…two. As a standard unit (like ours nowadays) it has a restrictive intake manifold system that is worth changing it for something more free air flowing if you want to improve the engine power.
Step 1:The first thing to do with this engine (as with most production engines) is replace the old air filter to a good free flowing new one, also install a decent exhaust. Someone believes that a good chip it’s necessary, but it depends the money you want to to spend in your engine. These should give to engine about 15 bhp improvement.
Step 2: Camshafts and some light head work valves.The difference between the 1.8 Zetec RKC and RQB (15 hp) are some different camshafts and little more, so here you see what this can influences in the performance of your Zetec.
Step 3: The inlet system has to be replaced if you want more power, so search the well known throttle bodies and a good electronic management system (ECU). This is a very common practice in this Zetec engines. All the engines pictures you are seeing in this Technical Article has this throttle bodies!
Step 4: Turbocharge it. This operation it is only limited by the money you want to invest. Beware, put a turbo into a normally aspirated engine and improve the turbo associated items (manifold, cooling and management changes) is never cheap if you want to do properly. You won’t see awesome things in terms of power from this engine in normally aspirated form, simply because as all normally aspirated engines, they can’t be improved to give incredible power outputs without finding some way to increase airflow inlet substantially, and that requires forced induction, i.e, turbo or compressor.
So, what do you think about this Zetec engine family? Have you applied any modification in your great Zetec? Tell us your experiences with it! 🙂