If you're wondering what happens when you unplug the throttle position sensor, the short answer depends on your vehicle's model and year. Some cars might experience engine stalling and not starting at all. Other vehicles might experience the engine running normally but stalling after you engage the gas pedal.
Your vehicle contains many moving components and learning one or two things about them helps you avoid unpleasant and dangerous situations.
The throttle position sensor is one of the most critical among the different components in your engine. Unfortunately, this sensor can fail and might get disconnected because of a lot of reasons.
When this sensor gets disconnected, the vehicle will behave differently, and it might get to open, where you risk your life when continuing to drive this car. Therefore, it is critical for you as a driver to understand what happens when you unplug the throttle position sensor.
This article helps to answer the question and provides you with a lot of details to get you up to speed with the throttle position sensor in your engine and what could go wrong if it's disconnected.
What is the throttle position sensor, and what does it do?
Before diving into what happens when you unplug the throttle position sensor, we must highlight the basics and give you an overview of the throttle position sensor.
The throttle position sensor is responsible for communicating with your vehicle's computer and letting it know about your engine air intake. The throttle position sensor measures how much the throttle body is opened, representing the amount of air getting inside the engine.
This information is extremely critical in any vehicle, especially in modern cars. For example, without understanding how much air your engine consumes, the vehicle computer will struggle to understand when to send the fuel and perform critical processes.
As a result, the engine will not receive the amount of air to fuel mixture specified in the vehicle manual. Thus, you'll notice significant consequences for your engine's performance that might lead to dangerous situations.
What happens when you unplug the throttle position sensor?
Now you have a good understanding of the purpose of the throttle position sensor in your vehicle, and the next step is to understand what happens when you unplug the throttle position sensor.
You're not going to go ahead and unplug it yourself, but there are situations where some drivers might test and do that, but in other instances, the sensor connections could be loose and might get disconnected on their own.
In either case, you need to understand what could go wrong and how your vehicle will react if it's not having the right connected throttle position sensor.
Here are what will happen and some of the symptoms indicating that your throttle position sensor is moved from its place or is disconnected:
1- A check engine illuminating
The first thing that will happen once the throttle position sensor is disconnected is a check engine light illuminating the dashboard. You, as the driver, must never ignore a check engine light illuminating because it's a way for your vehicle to communicate and bring your attention to internal problems.
Sometimes the check engine light might illuminate because of minor problems, but also it could indicate significant issues that need immediate attention. But the longer you wait on a check engine light, the more complicated things be and the higher the repair costs.
2- Strange idling and stalling
When the throttle position sensor is disconnected, you'll notice that your vehicle is not idling properly and will stall between now and then. The vehicle's engine is not receiving the right amount of air and fuel mixture, and as a result, the explosion in the engine is not happening properly, and the energy is not enough.
Depending on your vehicle type, a disconnected throttle position sensor might lead to sudden vehicle stalling and vehicles not starting at all. And some other vehicles, when this sensor is not connected, the vehicle might run properly, but it will start immediately after you hit the gas pedal.
3- Issues with acceleration
You'll notice the problems right after you try to accelerate when you have the throttle position sensor disconnected. As we mentioned, the vehicle will not receive the right fuel supply. As a result, you won't be able to generate the energy Right after you hit the gas pedal, and that's why you'll feel that the vehicle is not behaving or accelerating as usual.
4- Dirt under the hood
If you look closer at your vehicle's hood, you might notice some dirt on the TPS component. Unfortunately, this component is the first one that will go bad after I disconnect the throttle position sensor.
When there is a lot of dirt in the TPS, it will prevent air and fuel from getting inside the engine. As a result, the engine will not receive any fuel to generate energy. Thus, you'll also notice that your vehicle is not behaving as usual, and the energy produced is insufficient.
5- Significant reduction in fuel economy
Considering the previously mentioned problems, the engine will not operate as it should, and the first thing you'll notice is that the car is consuming more fuel than before. In other words, you'll notice an ignorant reduction in your vehicle's fuel economy.
One way to check is to monitor how many times you must go to the gas station to fill your vehicle. If it's more than usual, it could be a sign of an internal problem, even in your vehicle, including an issue with a disconnected throttle position sensor.
Can a car run without a throttle position sensor?
In theory, your vehicle might be able to run without a throttle position sensor. However, the vehicle behavior will be significantly different than the typical situations.
Unfortunately, it's not guaranteed how long your vehicle can run without a throttle position sensor. Sometimes, the vehicle will shut down completely at the wrong time, causing you to deal with significant safety situations.
Therefore, if you believe your throttle position sensor is disconnected or in bad condition, you must replace it or connect it properly before using the vehicle.
How do you reset the throttle position sensor?
Once you confirm that your throttle position sensor is disconnected, you need to reset it, or if you install a new throttle position sensor, you must go through the reset process.
The good news is not resetting the throttle position sensor is not a complicated job. All it takes is disconnecting the cable to the battery and waiting for 5 to 10 minutes until the throttle position sensor is reset.
You can also try another method by taking out the fuse connected to the engine control module and then allowing it to wait for a few minutes until it's reset. Then, you can reconnect it.
How does a car act when the throttle position sensor is bad?
If your vehicle has a bad throttle position sensor, you'll deal with the previously mentioned complications, including the issues with idling and the troubles with accelerating.
Even more important is that your vehicle might accelerate on its own, which is extremely dangerous, especially if you're driving in traffic or on the highway.
Some customers complain about problems switching gears along with significant issues related to fuel economy.
How much does it cost to replace the throttle position sensor?
Trip list the sensor; expect to pay between $110 and $200. Typically, parts will cost you somewhere between $75 and $105.00, and the rest will be for labor costs.
You can replace your throttle position sensor if you have the skills and the required tools. However, if you've never done it before, it's better to leave it to professionals so you don't introduce new problems that could cost you a lot of money.
Many DIYs do not work the first time, and since you were dealing with a sensitive component connected to the engine, you'd better leave it to professionals.
Do I need to reset the vehicle computer if I replace my TPS?
It all depends on what you've done to address the TPS problem. In other words, if all you do is just reconnected or secure the connection of your throttle position sensor, then you don't need to reset the computer.
However, if you're installing a brand-new throttle position sensor, you'll most likely need to reset the computer.
We've highlighted the two common ways of resetting your vehicle's computer after installing a new TPS. However, if you're still having a hard time doing it, you might need to reach out to your mechanic to get better results and prevent any problems.
Will my vehicle start if the throttle position sensor is disconnected?
Typically, your vehicles should start without even having a throttle position sensor. However, in certain situations, you might deal with complications that could prevent your vehicle from starting because you have a disconnected throttle position sensor.
Older experts do not recommend it even if your car starts without a throttle position sensor. Instead, you'd better fix the sensor or connect it securely before moving any step further because the extent of the complications is unknown, and you can easily get into risky situations.
Is it worth fixing the throttle position sensor?
It all depends. Technically, replacing the throttle position sensor is not very expensive. However, even if you go to the repair shop or dealership, repair costs are still low compared to other car problems.
However, before deciding to fix your vehicle, you need to evaluate the situation holistically. In other words, if your vehicle has a lot of other problems related to the engine or transmission, it might not be worth fixing this car, and you should sell it instead.
More specifically, if you did the math and calculated repair costs and realized that they're getting close to 75% or more from your vehicle's value, this is a clear sign that you should sell the vehicle and not fix it.
Remember that selling your vehicle with certain problems is not easy, and finding a private buyer could be extremely challenging. However, if you reached out to companies like cash cars Buyer, we would buy your car no matter what type or condition.
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The throttle position sensor is a critical component in your vehicle that helps your vehicle's computer decide on the timing for fuel injection and other important processes.
This sensor could get disconnected for whatever reason and understanding what happens when you unplug the throttle position sensor is extremely important for you as a driver.
Once you unplug this sensor, you'll notice that your vehicle is not behaving as it should, and the car will stall or not start. Also, you'll see that the vehicle has a reduction in fuel economy, and some dirt is building up under the hood.
If you feel that your vehicle has many problems and is beyond repairs, you might want to consider selling it rather than wasting your time and money fixing it.
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