Auto Body Group: Collision Repair Center | Throttle Position Sensor Symptoms Are a Direct Communication of Fuel Economy and More
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Throttle Position Sensor Symptoms Are a Direct Communication of Fuel Economy and More

We’ve talked at great length about the importance of keeping your car’s fuel injection system in working order on this blog before. One of the most vital means of communication between your car’s engine and fuel injection system is the throttle position sensor (often referred to simply as the TPS sensor, though admittedly this is as redundant as referring to an ATM as an ATM machine). A precise mix of air and fuel is necessary for your vehicle’s health and the TPS signal is responsible for keeping tabs on that mixture. As you can guess, a defective sensor can lead to a whole mess of problems with your car. Staying aware of throttle position sensor symptoms of defect can help you remedy such issues before they impact other car components.

The Hallmark of the Faulty TPS Sensor


The check engine light can indicate TPS issues but is also related to a host of other potential problems.

The TPS sensor is constantly running a complex formula to make sure your fuel injection system is operating as designed as a means of determining how much fuel to apply to your engine per millisecond. It may seem needlessly complex but it’s what makes your ride so smooth. However, you may notice a marked delay in response between the moment you put your foot on the gas and the point where your car accelerates. This is the hallmark of a faulty TPS sensor and a good warning sign to look for if you’re proactive about auto maintenance.

Looking for Further Throttle Position Sensor Symptoms

But a delayed response in acceleration is by no means the only sign of which to be aware. There are a myriad of throttle position sensor symptoms that can give you notice that something’s off with your sensor. Perhaps you’ve experienced erratic stumbling in your car’s performance, surges of activity in your idling engine, uneven or hesitant acceleration, sporadic illumination of your check engine light, unprovoked and sudden acceleration during freeway driving, or even a dramatic reduction in fuel economy. All of these are potential links to problems resulting from a faulty TPS sensor. While the “check engine” light is often a vigilant indicator, it cannot be relied on as a catch all symptom of throttle position sensor failure. We’ve seen many instances of failing TPS signals without any warning from the “check engine” light.


Delayed response to the gas is often a strong indicator that your TPS needs work.

Many car models are equipped with a safeguard for sudden TPS signal failure. This is a mode of operation that requires minimal power, allowing you to get off of freeways or even get your car home or to the auto shop with a drastically reduced performance.

What Replacing the TPS Signal Entails

Replacement of a faulty TPS sensor varies in complexity depending on your vehicle model. Often the procedure requires a trained auto technician to clear all of the registering fault codes. If your car requires new software to be installed, the new TPS signal will need to be re-programmed to work with the new software. Due to the vast amount of potential variations encountered in this stage, TPS replacement is often best conducted by a skilled professional. However, you can self-diagnose a defective TPS sensor by running a basic test with an ohm meter. This requires you to compare a switch-and-combination TPS against a TPS that relies on a potentiometer (that you’ll analyze with a volt meter). If this sounds complex, a mechanic can easily run these assessments for you and, in most cases, replace the TPS fairly affordably. In any case, throttle position sensor symptoms should be immediately scrutinized and all necessary repairs completed as soon as possible to prevent auto damage as well as hazardous driving.


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