My Experience With a Bad Sensor
At one point I had a used Chevy S-10 SS pickup. This little truck came with the powerful 4.3 liter V-6 engine, a lot of power in a small package. I had done my research on these trucks and came across rave reviews on the power plant and the handling of the SS model.
However, after driving the truck for a few months I began noticing some problems. I was getting progressively poorer gas mileage and the truck was hesitating on acceleration. It was suddenly surging while driving on the freeway. It stalled a few times at traffic lights. Occasionally the idle would surge up and down. However, the most troubling symptom was that the truck would violently buck and jerk at random times. Is that how it feels to be a rodeo cowboy?
I knew I had a problem but I wasn’t quite positive what was causing it. I didn’t want to guess. I drove the truck to my local auto parts store and had my car hooked up to an engine analyzer. These are handheld computers that read error codes from the car’s electronic brain. In this case it read a code showing that it was a bad throttle position sensor. The best thing about it was the check- up was free. Most auto parts stores and some repair shops offer this service at no charge.
What Is A Throttle Position Sensor?
The throttle position sensor is an electro-mechanical part that sends information to the car’s computer. It monitors the position of the car’s throttle – the gas pedal. These parts are subject to wear and tear over time. A failing sensor sends improper data to the computer. The computer system monitors and controls engine performance.
Having a proper diagnosis through reading the computers error codes saves quite a bit of money. I have seen folks try to fix this problem by replacing things like spark plugs and wires, distributors, ignition coils and in some cases the whole engine management computer. This stuff can get very expensive – especially on newer cars. A bad throttle position sensor cost can be a bit expensive in itself. So having the right diagnosis is extremely important.
Replace a Bad Throttle Position Sensor
Replacing the faulty sensor isn’t especially difficult. The job simply entails removing the bad sensor and reinstalling a new one. There are no mechanical or electrical adjustments to make. The computer will receive the correct information and it will run normally.
For the backyard mechanic I suggest purchasing a factory repair manual. This will show where the throttle position sensor is located on the engine. It will have diagrams and photos of the part as well.
A Faulty Throttle Position Sensor Can Lead to a Little Panic
The experience of a faulty sensor can cause a little panic. It feels like there is something very wrong with the engine. If you need a professional shop for this repair make sure to do some online research on part pricing and on the shop you are considering. You want it done at the right price and fixed the first time.
In this section we have covered the symptoms of a bad throttle position sensor. We know how the part works and how it affects the performance of your car. You don’t want to let this go because it can leave you stranded on the side of the road. Fix it right away.