Top 9 Symptoms of a Bad Throttle Body (& How to Replace it)

The latest vehicles contain multiple new parts. A throttle body is a major part of the latest vehicles. It is installed to regulate the flow of the air entering the engine cylinder. When the throttle body goes bad, it produces different signs and badly affects the performance of your vehicle. This article mainly explains the bad throttle body symptoms, causes, and how to clean it.

Bad Throttle Body Symptoms

Symptoms Of a Bad Throttle Body

When the throttle body goes bad, it produces different symptoms such as check engine light, rough acceleration, misfiring, reduced engine power, high RPM idle, stalling, poor fuel economy, electrical issues, or surging. 

Let’s discuss these symptoms of a clogged throttle body in detail:

1) Check Engine Light

An illuminated check engine light is one of the first signs of a bad throttle body. The throttle body of your vehicle incorporates various sensors, including angle sensors, within its structure.

Check engine light

If the car’s powertrain control module (PCM) monitors any issues with the signals coming from the throttle body, it triggers the illumination of the check engine light.

However, the check engine light can also illuminate for different reasons, so it is advisable to have the car scanned by a professional mechanic to identify any trouble codes.

Read More: Check Engine Light Illumination Causes

2) Rough Acceleration

The throttle body plays a critical role in controlling the air-fuel mixture allowed to be entered into the engine cylinder.

Rough Acceleration, symptoms of bad throttle body

When the throttle body is faulty, it fails to supply the necessary amount of air-fuel mixture to the engine cylinder. As a result, the combustion process becomes inefficient, leading to poor acceleration and reduced engine power.

3) Misfires

The engine usually starts to misfire when the spark plug generates an insufficient spark or when there is an incorrect air-fuel mixture, resulting in poor combustion within the combustor.

Engine Misfiring

As previously mentioned, a faulty throttle body may disrupt the fuel-air mixture, leading to engine misfires. These misfires are noticeable as slight bumps or irregularities in engine revving.

4) Poor Engine Power

When your vehicle’s throttle body doesn’t work properly, it can cause an imbalance in the air/fuel mixture, resulting in poor engine power and poor acceleration.

Poor engine Power, signs of a faulty throttle body

Ideally, pressing the accelerator should increase the airflow to burn the additional fuel effectively. However, if the throttle body is bad, it may not allow sufficient air into the mixture, leading to a lack of power and no surge in acceleration.

5) High RPM Idle

The throttle body also plays a role in regulating the engine’s idle speed to maintain a constant speed. If there is something wrong with your throttle body, it can result in a high RPM idle.

Engine Idle

It’s important to note that a misaligned throttle valve can also lead to high RPM idle. Using a diagnostic scanner can help identify and rectify the underlying problem.

6) Stalling Idle

The throttle body may also have an impact on RPM in the opposite direction. If there is a significant amount of soot and contaminants buildup on the throttle body flap, it can restrict the airflow, resulting in a low idle RPM.

Stalling Idle

In some cases, this can cause the engine to stall. Cleaning the throttle body and performing a calibration using a diagnostic tool is typically an effective solution to resolve this issue.

7) Poor Fuel Economy

A reduction in fuel economy is one of the major symptoms of a bad throttle body. A choked or dirty throttle body can significantly affect the fuel economy of your vehicle.

Poor Fuel Economy

The most accurate method of calculating fuel efficiency is the full tank-to-full tank method. By filling the tank, noting the initial odometer reading or resetting a trip meter to zero, and then traveling a few hundred kilometers before refilling the tank and recording the total amount of fuel consumed, you can calculate your car’s mileage.

If there is a difference of more than 15 percent in fuel efficiency, it indicates a potential issue with the throttle body.

8) Electrical Issues

As cars increasingly rely on sensors and electronic systems, the electronic wiring plays a role in the nervous system of the vehicle.

Engine Wiring

If the electronic sensor of the throttle body becomes covered with contaminants, it can lead to incorrect readings and unnecessary adjustments to the air/fuel mixture.

In some cases, this can trigger a secondary power-reduced mode in the car, requiring attention from a professional technician. For vehicles without such a mode, the symptoms may include poor engine power, limited engine speed, and other similar measures.

9) Surging

Surging is also one of the common symptoms of a faulty throttle body. While driving at a consistent speed, you may experience sudden backward or forward surges, posing a safety risk. It is crucial to address this issue promptly.

Engine Surging, symptoms of bad throttle body

A dirty throttle body may also be the underlying cause of the engine surge, as it hampers the supply of air to the engine. Cleaning the throttle body is typically an effective solution to rectify these issues and restore proper airflow and engine performance.

Read More: Causes of Transmission Slipping

Causes of a Bad Throttle Body

The throttle body of your vehicle goes bad due to one or more of the following causes:

  • Carbon Accumulation
  • Environmental Factors
  • Mechanical Failure
  • Bad Idle Air Control Valve (IAC)
  • Electronic Malfunction
  • Dirty or Poor-Quality Fuel
1) Carbon Accumulation

Carbon may build up on your vehicle’s throttle body with time. The accumulation of this carbon affects the performance of the throttle body and may cause it to stick.

2) Environmental Factors

Intense weather conditions, such as extreme cold or heat, may also badly affect the performance of your throttle body.

3) Mechanical Failure

The throttle bodies have different moving parts, such as the throttle shaft and plate. If any of these parts become corroded, damaged, or worn, it may lead to the throttle body failure.

4) Bad Idle Air Control Valve (IAC)

The IAC valve of your car has the responsibility to ensure the proper idle speed. When this valve goes bad, it may force the throttle body to work poorly at idle, which causes rough idling or stalling.

5) Electronic Malfunction

Modern throttle bodies contain multiple electrical actuators and sensors that control the functionality of the throttle plate. When any of these sensors go bad, it may affect the throttle body performance.

6) Dirty or Poor-Quality Fuel

The fuel plays a vital role in ensuring the efficient performance of the engine. However, dirty or low-quality fuel may damage your throttle body. Dirty may also cause throttle body blockage.

What Is a Throttle Body?

The throttle body in a vehicle acts as a butterfly valve, regulating and controlling the airflow entering the engine cylinder.

Throttle Body

The primary function of the throttle body is to adjust the amount of air allowed to enter the engine based on input from the driver’s pressure on the gas pedal. This adjustment influences the fuel delivery into the engine cylinder, ensuring optimal combustion and increased acceleration power as more air enters the engine.

A properly functioning throttle body is responsible for delivering a precise mixture of air and fuel to the engine, enhancing its overall functioning.

But if it becomes faulty and encounters an incorrect air-fuel mixture, the combustion process can be disrupted, leading to engine misfires and other performance issues.

Throttle Body Location

The throttle body location varies according to the vehicle’s make and model. The throttle body is commonly positioned on the intake manifold, typically near the connection point of the large hose from the turbocharger or air filter.

Throttle Body Location

In some vehicle models, it is generally situated between the intake manifold and the air filter. It is typically constructed using aluminum, although other materials may also be used.

Throttle Body Replacement Cost

The replacement cost of the throttle body varies according to the vehicle model, labor cost, and the type of part brand.

The average throttle body replacement cost is between $230 and $700. The part cost is from $160 to $520, while the labor cost is from $70 to $180.

How to replace the Throttle Body?

A proper working throttle body is very important to achieve optimum performance from your engine. However, when the throttle body becomes damaged or faulty, you need to replace it as soon as possible.

Follow the below-given steps to replace your throttle body:

  • Park your car in a leveled area and turn off the engine.
  • Begin by disconnecting the negative battery terminal to ensure safety while working on your car.
  • Disconnect the air intake hose to gain access to the throttle body.
  • Use a socket and a ratchet to unscrew the bolts securing the throttle body.
  • Carefully detach the throttle body from the vehicle.
  • Clean your throttle body using a brush or towel. For heavily soiled throttle bodies, you may utilize carburetor cleaner or an appropriate cleaning solution.
  • Reinstall the throttle body, securely fastening it using the bolts. If the throttle body is damaged beyond repair, replace it with a new one.
  • Now connect the negative battery terminal back to its original place.
  • Turn on the engine and perform a test to ensure the problem has been resolved.

FAQ Section

What is the function of the throttle body?

The throttle body is used to regulate and control the airflow entering the engine cylinder.

What are the causes of a bad throttle body?

  • Dirty or poor-quality fuel
  • Carbon accumulation
  • Environmental factors
  • Bad IAC valve
  • Mechanical failure
  • Age and wear
  • Electronic malfunction

Can I replace the throttle body myself?

The replacement of the throttle body is usually a relatively simple task in most cars, but you must have some basic knowledge for this job. However, for certain cars, it may be necessary to reset or calibrate the throttle body using a scan tool after replacing it. Most individuals do not have access to such tools at home.

Does cleaning the throttle body make a difference?

The throttle body cleaning may be effective in improving performance, but its impact depends on the level of dirtiness. Over time, throttle bodies may accumulate oil residue, carbon accumulation, and other contaminants.

How do you reset a throttle body?

The methods to reset the throttle body can vary based on your car’s model. In some cases, disconnecting the battery for a certain period allows the system to reset. Alternatively, a scanner tool may be required to reset the settings. It is advisable to contact your vehicle’s service manual specifically for the recommended procedure.

What are the signs of a clogged throttle body?

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Check engine light
  • Surging
  • Rough acceleration
  • Misfires
  • High RPM idle
  • Stalling idle
  • Lack of power
  • Electrical issues

Can a bad throttle body cause a car to shut off?

A malfunctioning throttle body is typically characterized by a noticeably poor or extremely low idle. In more severe cases, you may experience stalling when coming to a stop or during sudden throttle inputs.

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