When Does A Throttle Body Need To Be Replaced? Signs And Symptoms To Look For

There are so many essential components in your car that play a vital role in making your car run smoothly. A range of peripherals in your car can buy you time in a slightly weary condition. On the other hand, most of them need instant attention as they have the potential to disturb your whole journey.

One of them is the throttle body. The throttle body is the supplier of air to the engine. If you think your engine is planning to give you a hard time, you should check your throttle body. Here you need to know when does a throttle body need to be replaced because it is an important component that needs to be programmed once it is installed in your car.

This is because when the throttle body is not configured appropriately into your engine, your car engine would cause more issues while running. This is why, when you think that there’s a time to replace a throttle body, make sure to install it carefully.

To comprehend how the throttle body works and when you need to fix or replace it see the complete guide below.

Throttle Body – What is it?

A throttle body is an important device found between the engine and the air intake. It regulates the amount of air that flows into the engine and is controlled by the accelerator pedal. The throttle body is an important component of the engine and helps to ensure that the engine is operating efficiently.

This air is mixed with fuel and then burned in the engine to create power. The throttle body is controlled by the throttle cable, which is connected to the accelerator pedal.

When the pedal is pressed, the cable attached to the throttle body opens up the air valve, allowing more air to come and mix with the fuel to run the engine. The airflow blocks and the valve is pushed back to its original position when the accelerator pedal is released.

It is important to understand here that the amount of air that an engine need is directly affected by the speed of the engine or the performance of the engine as the more air flows in the engine, the more speed it gets and vice versa.

This is why you have to push the accelerator pedal when you need a higher speed while driving. Therefore, if you find varying speed issues without any extra effort on your accelerator pedal, it is time to check on your throttle body performance, as without a perfect throttle body function, you would experience engine malfunctioning.

Most throttle bodies are made of aluminum or plastic. They vary in size, but a typical throttle body for a small engine might be about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter and 4 inches (10 cm) long. Larger engines can have much larger throttle bodies.

How does a new throttle body reprogram?

Up till now, you have information about the throttle body and how it should work. Let’s jump to our main question, when does a throttle body need to be replaced? 

When you see that your car has begun being idle most of the time or the response of your engine is not the same as it was when you give the ignition start, be aware that the throttle body is the culprit.

 A throttle body controls the air pressure and the flow of the air in the engine which can be clogged by air dust or some other ways it can be damaged. To replace a throttle body, you might not need to take your vehicle to a garage. Instead, you can do it by yourself using a few tools. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to know how the throttle body is replaced at home using tools.

Instructions

1 – To begin with the replacement of your throttle body, disconnect any charging plug or battery cable that is providing power to the engine or supplying electricity to avoid any kind of electric short while you handle your engine at home.

2- Find your throttle body in the engine, it must be near to or on the engine intake manifold.

3- Once you find your throttle body, detach all the connected vacuum lines and the cable harnesses.

4 – Carefully find the bolts and screws to remove from the throttle body to disconnect it from the intake manifold. Use a socket or wrench to unscrew them.

5- While replacing your old throttle body with a new piece of the throttle body, clean up the carbon buildup and any lasting debris that may have piled up on the intake manifold mating surface. 

6 – Attach the new throttle body to the surface and screw up all the bolts and nuts and reattach the vacuum lines or cable harnesses to install the throttle body in place.

7- Reconnect the charging cable having a negative charge.

8 – Ignite the engine to see if the throttle body is installed correctly, the response is accurate, there are no leaks, and the engine is functioning normally.

Programming throttle body

The performance of either the engine or the throttle body depends on the conditions of your driving. Similarly, to program your throttle body in the engine you can go with different opening rates for airflow based on how you drive and what speed you normally need while driving.

For instance, your day-to-day driving lanes consist of stop-and-go traffic conditions so you don’t want to put your throttle body in an aggressive switch which may exert unnecessary pressure on your engine and rev too high.

On the other hand, when you are driving fast, precisely on a highway, you would definitely want your throttle body to open up fast and pick up quick speed. This is where you need to program your throttle body accurately.

Prior to programming or reprograming your throttle body, it is important to comprehend how it works and what you need to keep in mind while reprogramming it. The throttle body on the intake manifold is controlled by ETCS – electronic throttle control system. The system performs depending on the three components

  • TPS – The Throttle Position Sensor – The throttle position sensor, as the name describes, measures and holds the throttle plate.
  • APPS – The Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor – This component measures the position of the pedal accelerator.
  • ECU – The Electronic Control Unit- This component is used to control the closing and opening of the throttle body plates according to the functions of APPS and TPS.

When you are up to programming a throttle body, you have to gain access to ECU. Several aftermarket ECUs are available that come with built-in software that allows you to upgrade and modify the throttle body settings freely. In case you have installed a throttle body that didn’t come with an ECU with software compatibility, you can get and attach a tuning device separately to manually do your throttle body setting.

Now that you have installed the tuning device, you have to figure out what settings are there that you need to modify and what will be the result of the settings you are going to make. Here are some setting options that you can check in an ECU to modify;

  • The speed percentage by which the throttle body opens when the accelerator pedal is pushed. This function is controlled typically by TPS.
  • The ability to allow the amount of air to travel through the throttle body. This function is controlled by APPS.
  • The delay time setting by which the accelerator pedal is pushed and the throttle body opens to carry the air. This mechanism is supervised by ECU.

Now that you know what settings you can do when you attach a tuning device to your ECU, you have to decide what setting you have to make. Once you input the settings, your throttle body will perform all the functions accordingly.

One thing that needs to be cleared before you make or change any settings is that you must have knowledge about the engine tuning settings as your throttle body will compel your engine to act based on your input settings. Giving improper settings and making uninformed changes to your throttle body would not only affect your engine performance but could also damage your engine.

If you do not have enough knowledge of engine tuning, it is suggested to visit a professional tuner with your car who will be able to see the required changes and if you have replaced the throttle body in its place properly.

Symptoms of a bad throttle body

Symptoms of a bad throttle body
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Only if the throttle body is not functioning properly, your vehicle can be exposed to a number of problems. And whether they are due to a bad throttle body or not, you must see the following reasons for that;

  • Affected engine performance – As mentioned if the throttle body is not performing or not causing enough air to include in the fuel, your engine may misfire or run rough. This may contain;
  • Poor Fuel Economy – When there’s less air supply at your throttle body, your vehicle will consume a bit higher amount of fuel than it normally does.
  • Check engine light issues – issues with the throttle body can also create check engine light issues.
  • Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor code – A defective APPS code will trigger ECU issues for the throttle body.
  • Throttle Position sensor code – It also triggers code issues from ECU for the throttle body.
  • Electronic Control Unit COED – A damaged and not properly installed throttle body can also trigger code issues from ECU.

These issues can be easily resolved by replacing/reinstalling/reprogramming the throttle body itself.

Cleaning a throttle body?

When you are certain that your vehicle is having problems due to the throttle body, the first thing that you should do is to take out and clean the throttle body. A dirty throttle body can create a lot of fuss in your vehicle which can cause several problems that include fuel consumption issues, engine performance, and fluctuating engine lights.

However, cleaning your throttle body and associated peripherals is common and can be done just by following a few steps using simple tools. You will need a throttle body cleaner, rags, and a wrench or screwdriver.

First using the screwdrivers, unscrew the throttle body from its place. You can find the throttle body near or on the intake manifold in the engine settings just next to the air filter box. Remove the attached harnesses, cables, and charging wires and you can access the throttle body completely.

Use the rags to wipe the dirt or debris that you may find on the throttle body. Any grease and stubborn grime can be removed by using the throttle body cleaner. Make sure to clean the throttle body from the inside which may be creating problems in the engine running.

Once the throttle body is wiped out completely, you can put it back into its place fixing it with the screws. Reattach the wires and cables to make sure that they are connected properly causing no wire to be left behind.

Start the engine and check the functions that were misbehaving in the first place. Check the engine light that should not be triggered and at this time you must be witnessing some engine improvements as well. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many times should you check for your throttle body cleaning?

The answer will totally depend on how you drive. When you experience performance issues and there’s something that you see is continuously happening with your speed, you should check your throttle body functions. Depending on different factors, expert opinion suggests that you have to check for your throttle body cleaning after every 50,000 miles drive when you drive mainly on high-traffic routes.

Alternatively, when you drive mostly on the highways and at high speeds, you can go up to 75,000 miles before you plan a throttle body cleaning.

However, if you see performance glitches, you can check your throttle body frequently.

  • How long does a throttle body last?

A throttle body can last for an even longer time when you keep it in a good condition and work for its wear and tear. With proper maintenance, you can expect a throttle body to function amazingly from almost up to 200,000 miles.

  • What can you do to prolong the life of your throttle body?

Apart from cleaning and maintaining throttle body health, you can do the following things to enhance the life of a throttle body;

  • Avoiding driving in the rough and dusty conditions.
  • If you are using an aftermarket air filter in your vehicle, then you should ensure that it is made with high quality and you are keeping it clean as much as needed.
  • Adhere to a maintenance schedule to wash and clean your vehicle and its important components to avoid unnecessary problems.
  • If you encounter any driving or engine issues, don’t procrastinate them to bother you much. Get your vehicle checked by a professional and help your vehicle for the greater good.
  • What makes a throttle body dirty?

Multiple reasons can make your throttle body dirty from the inside and outside. The most common factor can be driving in dirty and dusty conditions. These conditions can easily clog your air filters and eventually cause damage to your throttle body, and in the long run – the engine.

Takeaway

From today’s detailed discussion you must have got an idea about when a throttle body need to be replaced. When you experience issues in your engine light, engine performance, and most of all – picking up engine speed, it’s time to take a proficient eye on the throttle body.

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