You probably haven't heard of the throttle position sensor, but it's one of the most important parts of your car. When you push down the gas pedal, the throttle position sensor reads how far down it goes and uses that information to control the air/fuel mixture going to your engine. Unfortunately, throttle position sensors can sometimes start to fail, leading to unsafe driving conditions and potentially to further engine damage.
If your throttle position sensor starts to go bad, you need to have the car serviced as soon as possible. With that in mind, here are just a few common symptoms to watch out for.
Poor acceleration is one of the most common signs of throttle position sensor trouble. When you press down on the gas, you may find it takes longer than it used to for the vehicle to respond. The vehicle may also jerk when you try to speed up since the engine won't be working efficiently, or you may be able to accelerate normally only up to a certain speed, after which point the vehicle will refuse to accelerate further.
On the other hand, you may find your car surging forward without any input. This can happen while idling, since your car's computer won't be able to tell that the gas pedal is no longer being pressed down. However, it can also happen while driving at speed. At high speeds, a valve inside the throttle may pop open suddenly when you push on the gas, providing a much wilder burst of speed than you anticipated since the vehicle wasn't able to sense the position of the throttle.
Increased Fuel Consumption
Since your throttle position sensor is partly responsible for ensuring the right mixture of fuel and air reaches the engine, a bad throttle position sensor will often lead to increased fuel consumption. This occurs when other parts of the vehicle start to compensate for the lack of healthy airflow by providing more fuel. If you suddenly notice that you vehicle is drinking down more fuel than usual, a faulty throttle position sensor could be the root cause.
Active Check Engine Light
As with many mechanical issues, one of the first signs something is wrong with your throttle position sensor is an active check engine light. Even if you haven't experienced any of the other symptoms mentioned above, you should still bring your vehicle in to be serviced if the check engine light comes on.
For more information on this and other car repairs, contact a local auto shop.