Did you know that the first vehicle invented is usually credited to Karl Benz from Germany back in 1885/1886? If you have ever asked yourself what is a throttle position sensor? You’re in the right place.

Our guide below goes over what it is and how it works. Read on to learn more.

What Is a Throttle Position Sensor?

Every automobile has what’s known as a throttle valve which opens up whenever the pedal to accelerate is pressed. The throttle position sensor is the part that measures how open that throttle valve is. By measuring how open it is, it can control how much air can flow into the engine’s intake manifold.  

The sensor itself is mounted on the throttle body and when it takes the measurement of the movements those are transmitted to engine control modules (ECM). Also, other measurements that are transmitted to the control modules include the mass air flow (MAF), the temperature, and the engine RPM. 

These measurements are used to determine how much fuel is being injected in the engine and the timing of the spark. 

How Does a Sensor Work?

When throttle position sensors first came out they were attached to the throttle to monitor the position via that physical contact. In more modern times, thanks to technology there has been an advancement. The sensors can now work without having physical contact with the throttle. 

In order to do its job, the throttle position sensor uses the Hall Effect. This is where magnetic fields shift the throttle to the open and close position. Then the sensor can read the changes happening, so it communicates with the ECM to calculate exactly where the position of the throttle is. 

This reading is how the computer on your car determines the amount of fuel that needs to be delivered to your engine while you are driving. Keep in mind that depending on the make, model, and year of your vehicle the exact process can vary a little bit.

What If There Wasn’t a Throttle Position Sensor?

The reason this sensor was invented is that without it, the engine control module wouldn’t have the ability to monitor how much fuel is needed. It also wouldn’t be able to time the ignition effectively. 

If it can’t time the ignition it can cause the engine to either stall or surge, which is dangerous for both the driver and anyone in the car or car nearby. This FuelTech TPS Sensor is a great replacement for those that need to replace the sensor on their vehicle. 

When the sensor is doing what it’s supposed to do, then a car maintains optimal fuel economy and it allows your car to accelerate smoothly.

Signs of a Faulty Sensor

There are usually a few warning signs when a throttle position sensor is starting to act up. One common warning sign is if your car starts to quake and shake. Having a faulty throttle position sensor causes a car to shake like it has an engine knock. 

Another warning sign is the panel light activating. The ECU will display a warning on the instrument panel. You can use a diagnostic tool to allow you to determine why the check engine light is lit up. 

If you start to notice your engine surging or stalling, this is a major sign because the sensor is not able to send the correct mixture of air and fuel. For those that are stepping on the pedal to accelerate and not seeing the vehicle move, this is another sign. 

Not receiving a response as soon as you press the pedal means that the throttle position sensor is about to go bad or already bad. Sometimes when it is in the process of failing it might let you move over to the side of the road before it completely dies on you. 

One last warning sign is if suddenly your gas economy goes down dramatically. The reason is that your car will start to consume more fuel while the engine is trying to work harder to make up for the faulty sensor. 

Faulty Sensor Solution

If you end up with a faulty throttle position sensor, the best solution is to completely replace the sensor. Most people can make this change on their own as long as they are handy. 

You have to disconnect the negative battery terminal on the throttle position sensor before you remove the sensor electrical connector. Then you need to use a screwdriver to remove the sensor mounting screws and lift the sensor up. 

Take out the old throttle position sensor and put in the new one by reversing the steps above. Keep in mind that sometimes you need to also adjust the sensor screws by using a voltmeter to have an optimal reading. 

The throttle position sensor price can range between $150 and $250 (this price includes labor). As long as there is nothing else wrong with your fuel system you can usually save a lot of money by swapping the old sensor for the new one yourself. 

Feeling Like a Throttle Position Sensor Pro?

Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs of the throttle position sensor, you can show off your new knowledge to your friends and family next time you’re talking about vehicles. You can also share some of the throttle position sensor tips above.

If you found our article helpful, make sure you check out the rest of our automobile section for our latest articles.