Most cars, trucks, and SUVs that are on the road today are monitored and operated with literally dozens of computer controlled electronic systems. Whether it's the electronic ignition system or advanced emission control units, each system works independently to operate specific components that allow drivers to start and drive their vehicles. One of the most important systems in use today is the electronic throttle controller
, which receives an electrical signal from the physical action of depressing the throttle pedal and controls the opening and closing of the throttle body.
1. Intermittent throttle control
The throttle controller is controlled electrically as opposed to the older, mechanical cables that ran from the throttle pedal to the throttle body. In some instances, the electric signal is disrupted, whether due to a loose electrical wire, a relay control issue, or damage done to a sensor. In any case, in some instances it will cause the throttle controller to lose a signal and deliver intermittent throttle control. Sometimes this is a minor issue that is more of an inconvenience while other times it can cause the vehicle to shut down or for the driver to lose the ability to control the throttle pedal.
If you notice that while pressing down on the throttle pedal that the car does not accelerate, it may be caused by a damaged throttle controller and should be inspected and serviced by a professional mechanic.
2. Throttle hesitation or problems accelerating
In some cases a damaged throttle controller will cause the engine to have issues with acceleration or cause a "stumbling" effect when the throttle is engaged by the driver. This can result in lack of performance and can be a safety concern if not inspected and repaired quickly. Not having full access to the throttle can lead to accidents and in the worst case, a stuck throttle.
3. Drastic changes in fuel economy
When the throttle controller is damaged, it can also cause fuel to be consumed more frequently than it should. In this case, the problem may be caused by a miscommunication link from the throttle controller and the engine's air fuel mixture which is regulated by the mass air flow sensor on many cars.
When any of these warning signs occur, an engine with a throttle controller will trigger an OBD-II error code that is stored inside the ECM and can be downloaded and inspected by a professional mechanic with a digital scanner. This will also trigger the Check Engine Light to illuminate on the dashboard.
Once they determine the source of the error code, the corrective action can be recommended and the problem with the throttle controller can be fixed correctly.
In most cases, issues with the throttle controller are electric, either caused by a damaged sensor or electrical relay. However, there are times when the throttle controller is damaged and needs to be replaced. Anytime you experience the above symptoms or warning signs, take time to contact a local ASE certified mechanic who can inspect your issue and replace the throttle controller if that is the correct solution to your problem.