What is the Throttle Controller all about?
Before the late 1980s, most cars had a straightforward mechanical throttle control. When a motorist wanted to move forward, they stomped on the accelerator pedal, the throttle blade opened, and air flowed into the engine. From here, it mixed with fuel, combusted, and turned the car’s wheels. (I’m skipping a few steps, but you get the gist.) To go faster, all the driver had to do was press down harder with your right foot—the throttle would open wider, giving the car a boot of power.
Today, most vehicles are equipped with electronic throttle control (ETC), or throttle-by-wire. An ETC electronically “connects” the accelerator pedal to the throttle, replacing the mechanical linkage. Now, when a driver steps on the gas pedal, instead of opening the throttle blades, he or she is activating an accelerator pedal module. It converts the pressure you put on the accelerator pedal into an electric signal, which is sent to an electronic control unit or computer, which opens and closes the throttle blade, increasing or decreasing the power output of the engine for optimum efficiency and performance.
Electronic throttle control is more complex, but has benefits:
- Reduced maintenance costs: Mechanical throttle systems are made up of a lot of moving parts, so they are subject to a lot of wear. By comparison, an ETC system has fewer moving parts, which means fewer parts to breakdown.
- Improved drivability and safety: An ETC allows for the integration of advanced driver assists, such as adaptive cruise control, brake override systems, and electronic stability control, and it reacts faster than a human (backs off the throttle) in situations where a vehicle loses traction.
- Reduced emissions and improved fuel economy.
Keep in mind:
A special "re-learn" procedure is required on some vehicles when parts of the ETC system are replaced or the wiring harness disconnected. The procedure occurs in some cars automatically every time the ignition is turned on. Others require a scan tool or special manual procedure.
How it's done:
- The vehicle battery is disconnected
- The throttle controller is removed and replaced
- The battery is reconnected
- The throttle system is relearned and computer tested
- The vehicle road tested
When it comes to something as vital as throttle control, we do not suggest tackling the repair yourself. If you do not possess the proper tools needed to diagnose the problem and/or training and experience to fix it properly, you could be putting yourself and, more importantly, your passengers in danger. Allow one of our expert mechanics to perform this service.
What common symptoms indicate you may need to replace the Throttle Controller?
- Vehicle may hesitate, misfire, or jerk on acceleration
- Have difficulties changing gears
- Display uneven power characteristics
- Stall without any apparent reason
- Experience sudden surges in speed while driving
- Flashing check engine light
- Severe drop in fuel economy
How important is this service?
A vehicle with a malfunctioning throttle control is not safe to drive. If the electronic throttle control warning light in your car’s dash comes on during start up or while driving, there is a fault condition brewing within the system. If the vehicle still drives normally, request one of our mechanics to diagnose your car as soon as possible. If throttle response is erratic, safely make your way off the road. Don’t gamble with your safety or the safety of your family and friends.