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When you press the throttle, a cable attached to the throttle body, or carburetor, allows extra air and fuel to enter the engine. If you release the pedal suddenly, your engine speed doesn’t immediately drop to idle; instead, it slows in a controlled manner. Conversely, when your engine’s accessories such as air conditioning come on, the engine speed increases slightly. These operations function via the throttle kicker actuator, or solenoid. The throttle kicker prevents the engine’s RPMs from fluctuating too highly and keeps the throttle slightly engaged when accessories draw more power. It is controlled by both electronic means and vacuum. If the throttle kicker actuator isn’t functioning properly, your engine can stall when the throttle is released quickly, the transmission may have difficulty shifting, and the ‘fast idle’ feature may not work on startup.
The throttle kicker actuator fails very seldom and in most cases will last the lifetime of your vehicle. Other problems, such as an idle air control motor or another sensor-related issue, are more likely the cause of your symptoms.
If the throttle kicker actuator is not functioning properly, your engine can stall on deceleration or when idle, which can put you in harm’s way, especially in traffic conditions. The throttle kicker actuator should be replaced as soon as it has been professionally diagnosed as faulty.