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How to Tell When Your Throttle Body Needs Cleaning

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You are driving down the road and you decide to get on the expressway. You attempt to accelerate as you enter the expressway and change lanes, but your car just doesn't seem to want to pick up any speed. You try to turn on the radio, but it keeps going in and out and your check engine light ominously lights up. Even though you recently visited a gas station, you noticed that your tank is only half full.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Your throttle body may be dirty and if you don't clean it, can expect to have more problems with gas economy, electricity, and acceleration.


Today’s fuel-injected automobiles have intake systems that depend heavily on the throttle body. to regulate the flow of air into the engine. This is essential to fuel being combusted in the pistons. The throttle body controls the amount of air that gets into the engine. If it does not get the proper amount of air, it can run lean.

What is a throttle?

A throttle is an apparatus that manages fluid flow in a car.

The engine power in a vehicle may be increased or decreased by the restriction of inlet gases. Throttles regulate components of a car's engine, such as the accelerator pedal. Throttles are also referred to as thrust levers when they are used in aircrafts.

The throttle valve in a fuel-injected engine is located at the front of the intake manifold or in the throttle body

The throttle position sensor and airflow sensor send messages to the vehicle’s computer, which supplies the correct amount of gasoline needed at the injectors.

You will find the throttle body located between the air filter and the intake manifold. It is attached to the gas pedal with a cable, or by wire. When the driver depresses the gas pedal, the butterfly in the throttle body swivels to allow airflow into the manifold.

The throttle position sensor communicates with the ECU and lets it know that you have depressed the gas pedal. The airflow sensor will then detect that there is more air. It will tell the car's computer to increase the amount of gas being supplied from the injectors.

If the throttle body is clogged. dirty, or simply not functioning properly, it will impede the flow of air into the car's engine. This will wreak havoc with the vehicle’s performance.  It may also create problems with unburned fuel traveling through the exhaust system. Here are a few signs of a dirty throttle body.

A Build-Up of Grime

Obviously, if dirt and grime accumulate within a throttle body, you will have to clean it. When a throttle body gets too dirty, it is said to be coking. Coking creates a rough surface, muddling the air-fuel flow, and lessening the performance of your vehicle’s engine. Deposits of carbon may cause a related issue by creating a bumpy surface Inside the part.


Poor Fuel Economy

If you suspect your throttle body is dirty, you can check your fuel economy.  Fill your car up and notate the number of miles traveled on the odometer. Drive until there is no more gas left in your car and figure out how many miles you are able to drive per gallon. Your owner's manual should tell you how many miles you should get per gallon on the highway and in the city. If it is off by more than 10 to 15%, then the chances are good that you have a clogged throttle body. 

High or Poor Idle

When your throttle body is not working properly, you may notice that the car has a low idle. When you come to a stop, the vehicle might stall. It may also stall when the throttle is pressed down rapidly. A dirty throttle body leads to turbulent airflow which can cause the idle speed to fluctuate.

Uneven or Slow Acceleration

When you push down on the gas pedal, the flow of air and fuel into the engine is increased. If there is any dirt or coking on the throttle body, it will stop the vehicle from getting the necessary power from the combustion. You may notice that the car takes more time to get going than usual or that it accelerates and sporadic bursts.

Electrical Problems

Vehicles today are dependent upon computer connection, electronic controls, and electronic wiring. When the throttle body’s electronic sensor is dirty, it might cause faulty or unnecessary alterations to the air-fuel combination. This might cause the car to go into a secondary power reduced mode.

When this happens, you will get a warning. This means that your car’s performance has been purposely reduced. Your car’s main computer triggers this mode when it detects a system failure. 

Airflow Disruptions

When dirt and grime build up, it can create airflow and pressure problems in the throttle body. However, the problem could also be created by an incorrectly set throttle stop. There may be uneven airflow in the engine, which may lead to diminished acceleration and poor performance.

Check Engine Light  

If the throttle body is not performing correctly, it will set off an alert to the electronic throttle control. This will illuminate the check engine light on your dashboard. As you probably know the check engine light will go on for any engine problem.

Cleaning a Dirty Throttle Body.

If you notice any of these problems, the first thing to examine is the throttle body housing. If there is excess dirt or grime on the inner housing walls,  the system is having problems and you must do a thorough cleanup.

The car’s owner’s manual will tell you if your throttle body is mechanically or electronically controlled. You need this information before you begin the cleaning. If it’s a mechanically operated system, you should be able to clean it yourself. You can get a can of cleaner in any auto parts store and it should only take a few minutes. If it is electronically operated it is best to go to a mechanic.

Cost of Cleaning the Throttle Body

A professional throttle body cleaning costs between $226 and $290. If you are able to do it yourself, the cleaner can be obtained at any auto parts store and it is only a few dollars a can. 


If you do decide to go to a professional, you will have several options for where to go. Each of them has its advantages and drawbacks. 


Take Your Car To The Dealership

if you take your car to a dealership for any repair, you're likely to pay much more than you would if you took it to an auto body shop. The mechanic at the dealership will be trained in your particular make and model of vehicle. However, that doesn't mean much when it comes to a simple throttle body cleaning.


The dealership will charge you by the job instead of the hour. Some people like this because they are not going to be surprised by the price. If your car has other issues of which you are unaware, a mechanic who is certified in your make and model of vehicle may be better able to identify them.


Taking Your Car to an Auto Body Shop

Auto body shops are considered to be the best place to take your car for any repair. They are much less expensive than the dealership and instead of talking to a receptionist, you can talk to the mechanic themselves.


If you go to a chain auto body shop, they will often have coupons for services such as throttle body cleaning. They also have rewards for customer loyalty.


The only problem with going to auto body shops is that they can be fly by night. AAA maintains a list of reputable auto body shops all over the country. You can find one in your area by just visiting the website.


You should ask the mechanic what kind of training they have and if they have any references. You should also ask for an estimate in writing.


No one would ever sell their car just because of a dirty throttle body. However, if you are in the market for a new car, you will have several options as to what to do with the old one.


Use the Car as a Trade-In 

If you are in the market for a new vehicle, the dealership is likely to offer you a certain amount of money for your old vehicle. Be sure to Peruse the paperwork they give you carefully before you sign on the dotted line.


Sometimes a dealership will offer you less than your car is worth because they think that you won’t weigh your other options. Check the KBB value before going to the dealership. That way, you will be aware of how much they are lowballing you, so you can make an informed decision about their offer. 


Another thing a dealership might do is to offer you what seems like a good price for your trade in. Read your paperwork carefully before buying the car. They are likely to tack some of the money that they gave you for your trade-in back onto the cost of the new vehicle.


Sell The Car Yourself

You can always choose to sell your vehicle yourself. You can put up signs on community bulletin boards or take out an ad in a shopper. Some people use the internet to sell an unwanted automobile. You can either use a car website or a classified ad site such as Craigslist.


If you put up signs, you will have almost no chance of selling it. You may not get any calls or you may get calls from people who are not really serious about buying a car. 


If you use a car website, they will charge you a fee and you will have to compete against all the other car sellers on the site. You may want to consider the likelihood that your car will be seen by a person who wants the exact make, model, and year of the car you are selling.


If you use Craigslist or a similar site, you are likely to have to show the vehicle to quite a few prospective buyers. This is not only time consuming, but dangerous. Many thieves have found their marks through online billboards. Remember those prospective buyers would know where you live and know the make, model, and license plate number of your car.  


If you know something about car engines, you may try to part out the car. This is very time consuming and you are unlikely to make much money. Furthermore, you will end up having to pay for the towing.

How Cash Cars Buyers Works

We have a very easy way to sell your car. Just fill out our online form. The form asks for your email address, phone number, and name. It asks you to provide the make, model, year, and VIN number of the car. 


When we get your information, we will call you back and make you an offer. If you accept the offer, we will come get your car, pay you and tow the old wreck away for free; it really is that easy. 


If you do not have the title of your car, you will not be able to use it for trade-in or selling independently. An insurance company will not give you money for a car to which you do not have the title. If you need a title replacement, you would have to go to the DMV. They will charge you a fee and take their time about sending the pink slip to you.


We may not need the title. In most cases, no title is no problem as long as you have your driver's license and a copy of your registration.

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