Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Accelerator Cable

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While most newer cars use drive-by-wire electronic throttle control, physical accelerator cables are still commonly found on many vehicles out on the road. An accelerator cable, sometimes called throttle cable, is a metal braided cable that serves as a mechanical link between the gas pedal and the engine’s throttle plate. When the gas pedal is pressed, the cable is pulled and opens the throttle. As the throttle is what controls the power of the vehicle, any problems with the cable can quickly translate into problems with the drivability of the vehicle so it should be inspected as soon as possible.

The most common way that accelerator cables fail is that they break. Over time, they can simply weaken with age and use, until they eventually snap. It is also not uncommon for them to come out of adjustment, to the point where a noticeable effect is produced. If the cable breaks, or comes out of adjustment far enough, it can affect the drivability of the vehicle to the point where the car will not be drivable until the problem is addressed. Usually, there will be a few symptoms displayed when the accelerator cable is having a problem.

1. Damage to the outer covering

The accelerator cable on most vehicles is covered by an outer rubber sheath that protects the braided metal cable inside. Sometimes the cable can come into contact with sharp edges or moving engine components that can wear into the sides of the covering. If you notice any damage or wear on the covering, then there is the possibility that the metal cable inside has received damage. Because the cable is under constant stress any damage to the cable can leave it more susceptible to breaking.

2. Delayed accelerator response time

When the gas pedal is depressed the engine should respond immediately and the vehicle should begin to accelerate. If when you press the pedal, there is a delayed response, or a significant amount of motion before the vehicle responds, then that may be a sign of a problem. Sometimes a cable can become stretched over time, which will not only delay the response of the throttle, but can also leave the cable more susceptible to breaking. Delayed response may also be indicative of the need to have the cable slack adjusted.

3. Problems with cruise control

Because most cable operated throttles also use a cable for the cruise control, if you notice any problems when using the cruise control, that may be a potential sign of a problem with the accelerator cable. If you notice any sudden changes in tension from the pedal, such as jerking or binding when you activate the cruise control, then that may be sign that there may be a problem with the accelerator cable. As both cables are connected to the same throttle body, any problems with the operation of one can affect the other.

Because the accelerator cable is basically what allows the engine to accelerate, any problems with it can greatly affect the performance of the vehicle. If you suspect that you may have a problem with your throttle cable, have it inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic. They will be able to replace your accelerator cable as necessary.


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Bernie

50 years of experience
41 reviews
Bernie
50 years of experience
Honda Accord - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
I specifically asked for Bernie to come back, since I was so pleased with the work he did on our other car. This time I got to meet Bernie personally. He is a kind family-man who exhibited the quiet confidence of someone you would expect with the 50 years of automotive experience that he has. I felt very comfortable giving him the key to my car. Two of my kids (ages two and four) came out to greet him, since they remembered him from his first visit. Bernie is great around kids and was very kind to my two-year old son who was trying to "help" Bernie do his job. Thanks again, Bernie!
Honda Odyssey - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
I was very pleased with Bernie's work, professionalism, and courteousness. Best brake job I have ever had, and I have had many done (and several done myself, but not on this vehicle). This was a maintenance appointment -- not a repair of something broken -- so I was surprised when the brakes felt so much better after Bernie did the work. You can really see the care he took with our vehicle when I examined everything after he was finished. Thanks, Bernie!

Daniel

9 years of experience
17 reviews
Daniel
9 years of experience
Hyundai Sonata - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Sacramento, California
Awesome customer service. On time and answered my questions with patience. Listened to my concerns and made helpful suggestions. Seemed very knowledgeable and experienced. I will be glad to request him again. Thank you!!

Breck

18 years of experience
532 reviews
Breck
18 years of experience
Toyota RAV4 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Conroe, Texas
Breck was awesome! He called ahead of time and asked if he could arrive early. He was friendly and easy to talk to. He made me feel comfortable with the service he was going to provide and explained things clearly to me. He smiled and made this experience a good one. I will absolutely be booking future appointments with Breck and I will recommend him and Your Mechanic services to others I know. Thank you!

Brian

19 years of experience
101 reviews
Brian
19 years of experience
BMW Z4 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Phoenix, Arizona
Brian knows what he is doing and I am so happy yourmechanic.com suggested him for my Z4 car inspection prior to purchasing and even happier he was available to perform my 1st service on the vehicle I purchased. His knowledge on the brand gave him ability to to an in depth inspection and he communicated very well informing me what to prepare for in ownership of my BMW. When he came to perform maintenance on my vehicle he shared so many tips with me. I will absolutely be having Brian come back out when I need future servicing on my car.

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