2.3L Ford Engine Identification

Updated April 17, 2017

Ford offered several variants of the 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine for its cars and trucks. The most recent version was the 2003 to 2009 Duratec 23. It's a different engine than the Lima 2.3-litre in-line four that powered primarily the older compact Ford Ranger trucks. An unrelated 2.3-litre HSC engine came in passenger cars from 1984 to 1994.

Duratec 2.3

The Duratec 2.3-litre engine carried two designations: the 23EW manufactured in Chihuahua, Mexico, or the 23NS produced in Dearborn, Michigan. Both engines featured an all-aluminium block with cast-iron cylinder liners and an aluminium cylinder head. These engines had fuel injection. The 23EW powered the front-wheel-drive 2003 to 2007 Ford Focus, the all-wheel-drive 2005 to 2008 Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute sport utility vehicles, and the front-wheel-drive 2005 to 2009 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Output during this period was 151 horsepower. The 23NS version saw service in 2001 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks and generated 143 horsepower.

Lima 2.3

The Lima 2.3s belonged to the 2-, 2.3- and 2.5-litre family of in-line four-cylinder engines. The U.S. version arrived in 1974 to power the Ford Pinto. It was identified with a two-barrel Weber/Holley carburettor and a points distributor. A Duraspark electronic ignition came with 1975 and later Fords. In 1981, the 2.3-liter's intake ports changed to a "D" shape from an oval configuration. Model year 1983 and later Rangers received the 2.3-litre four. Four evenly spaced round holes in the heads identify these 2.3s. In 1989, the 2.3 received a distributorless ignition system and had eight plugs for the head. Other identifiers on the Lima 2.3 were the two-piece rear main seal on pre-1986 models, and a single-piece rear main seal in 1986 and later Rangers. Rangers received 2.3s with roller cams in 1989, as did the Mustangs, starting in 1991.

HSC Engines

From 1984 to 1994, in its Lima plant, Ford produced the 2.3-litre HSC, or High Swirl Combustion, engine for its Tempo and Mercury Topaz cars. The HSC generated 90 horsepower. Model year 1984 engines were equipped with a one-barrel Holley 6149 carburettor. Engines from 1985 to 1991 had a central fuel-injection system, and from 1992 to 1994, a sequential fuel-injection system. All engines had a cast-iron block. Another identifier was a shroud covering the intake valves to produce a swirling affect in the air-fuel mixture. Ford also mounted exhaust and intake ports on the same side of cylinder head.

Engine Codes

The eighth digit of Ford's Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, features a letter that identifies the engine in each Ford passenger car or truck. Ford affixed the VIN to the top portion of the dashboard on the driver's side corner. Light-duty Ford trucks equipped with a fuel-injected 135-horsepower Duratec 2.3-litre, in-line four-cylinder engine had the letter "D" in the VIN. Ford passenger cars equipped with the 151-horsepower Duratec 2.3-litre featured a "Z," while turbocharged, 175-horsepower Lima 2.3s had a "T" as the eighth digit in the VIN. Owners can identify a 145-horsepower version of the turbocharged, Lima 2.3 by a "W" in the VIN. The HSC 2.3-litre engines had an "S" in the VIN.

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About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.