A throttle position sensor is a critical piece of a vehicle’s fuel management system, as it senses the amount of airflow going into the engine. Reprogramming the throttle position sensor can improve or fix a few issues that may be throwing the sensor off. In some cases, it will need replacing. To reset a throttle position sensor, disconnect the sensor from the vehicle’s electricity and allow it to sit without charge for 5 to 20 minutes.
How to reset throttle position sensor
The difficult part is safely disconnecting the sensor from its negative electric cables. In many cases, the reason why the throttle position sensor is faulty is that its cables are loose.
So, it does not have enough electric charge to accurately assess the amount of airflow going into the engine.
Before you begin, place thick gloves on to your hands to protect your skin and fingers from the electricity surging through the cables.
To disconnect the throttle position sensor and reset it, you have to disconnect the sensor from its connection with the electrical system. This can be as easy as simply disconnecting the throttle sensor from the negative cable connected to the battery.
If this does not work, then there could be an error occurring inside the throttle position sensor. If this is a problem, then you will need to take your vehicle to a professional mechanic who can use their diagnostic tools to solve the problem.
What does a throttle position sensor do?
When the engine of a vehicle needs to generate power to power the car, the mechanical system inside pumps fuel into the combustion chamber.
It also channels air into the same combustion chamber. The mixture of fuel and air inside the cylinders is what allows a car to turn the gasoline into engine power.
The purpose of a throttle position sensor is to monitor the amount of air going into the engine system. With monitoring, the system can create the right mixture of air and fuel to create the appropriate amount of power.
The throttle position sensor does not measure the actual amount of air going into the engine. It actually monitors the position of the throttle butterfly valves. This is the device that actually allows air into the system.
Inside the throttle position sensor is a device called a potentiometer. It is connected to a needle. As the valve opens and closes, the needle moves up and down with it. This tells the throttle position sensor how much air is flowing into the engine.
Signs that your throttle position sensor is not working correctly
There are a few signs you and your mechanic can look for to identify if your vehicle’s throttle sensor is having issues.
If you do have any of these problems with your throttle position sensor, then you can try to reset it. The resetting option is the first solution to try before moving on to cleaning it and then replacing it.
Bad throttle position sensor symptoms:
- Changing gears is far more difficult than it should be, and even impossible sometimes
- Your vehicle’s fuel economy is terrible, and it burns much more gasoline than it should go the same distance or speed
- The engine will suddenly stall out of nowhere. NOTE: a randomly stalling engine can be very dangerous, especially when driving down a freeway at high speeds.
- The check engine light is still on, even if you just took your vehicle in for a quick tune-up.
- It takes more power for your vehicle to accelerate.
At what point must I replace my vehicle’s throttle position sensor?
Resetting the throttle position sensor may not fix all of the issues listed above. Sometimes, a throttle sensor can wear out, become old, or develop damage. So how do you know when the sensor is no longer viable, and you need to call your mechanic for a replacement?
Here are a few signs to look for to know if you must replace your throttle position sensor completely after initially reprogramming it:
- After you have already programmed your throttle position sensor, your vehicle still shakes badly whenever you drive it down the road.
- The engine will not be able to generate enough power. Even if the engine turns on for a few minutes, the power generated inside cannot keep it on and it will turn off.
- Your vehicle randomly accelerates out of nowhere even if you did not put that much pressure on the speed pedal.
- The check engine light will not turn off even after going through a routine maintenance check. Check engine lights are closely linked to sensors around the engine around the car. This type of issue will not fix itself after driving over a speed bump.
- Since a bad throttle position sensor can no longer provide the engine and other sensors with accurate information, other sensors will use the throttle position sensor as faulty information and overcompensate.
One way this will cause an issue is the fuel to air mixture inside the internal combustion engine system. The battle sensor will indicate to the other sensors that there is much more air in the engine than there actually is.
In reaction to this faulty information, the part of the engine that controls the amount of fuel that goes into the engine will allow more fuel in. So not only will the air to fuel mixture be off in the internal combustion system, but the vehicle will also burn much more gas in order to do the same distance.
If you do need to replace your throttle position sensor, it should not cost you too much. The average price to replace this sensor is $155 to $200. These prices included the new sensor and the cost of labor. It is definitely one of the cheaper repair jobs in an engine, so don’t sweat it if resetting the sensor does not work.
The throttle position sensor census how much air is flowing into the engine and into the internal combustion system. The most dangerous symptom of a bad throttle position sensor is random acceleration, even when the gas pedal is barely pressed. You can reprogram a faulty sensor and most of the issues from the bad sensor will go away. But a final position sensor will need replacing if the reprogramming method does not solve the issues. Replacing a throttle position sensor is around $150 to $200.