Throttle Body Injection Troubleshootingby Tom Lutzenberger
The throttle body in a car provides the control of air and fuel injection so that the system runs efficiently and does not backflow. When this automotive part is not working correctly, or its electronic sensors begin firing off readings to the onboard diagnostic computer showing problems, it can create car problems. Not only does a malfunctioning throttle body have the capability to cause the check engine light to come on, it can also cause other sensors to overcompensate, causing other problems elsewhere. Typical related issues will include the oxygen sensor and the mass air flow sensor. As a result, automotive diagnostics of a troublesome throttle body can include a process of elimination with other parts as well.
Eliminating the Non-Issues as the Problem Source
Open up the car front hood and prop it up with the hood support arm to keep the engine area clear for working. Pop open the air filter box to pull out the old air filter. Use a shop-vac vacuum cleaner to remove all forms of debris caught by the filter. Replace the air filter with a new one. Close up the box.
Disconnect the air intake hose to the mass air flow sensor by hand. Use a screwdriver to disconnect any securing clamp on the hose. Use a screwdriver or torque screwdriver, depending on the screw used, to detach the mass air flow sensor from the air box. Spray the sensor wires with mass air flow sensor cleaner and let dry sitting on a shop rag. Do not touch the wires with anything. Re-install the sensor, reversing the steps of this section.
Go underneath the car near the transmission. Find the rear oxygen sensor on the exhaust channel. Use a crescent wrench or O2 sensor tool to disconnect it. Disconnect the sensor wiring from the car. Replace the sensor with a new one. Connect the new wiring. Get back up and use an OBD scanner to wipe the error codes from the car and start it again. See if the throttle body warnings come back when running the car.
After Elimination, Troubleshooting the Throttle Body
Locate the throttle body at the end of the air intake hose going into the engine block after exiting the mass air flow sensor. Use a screwdriver to disconnect the hose clamp. Pull the hose off the throttle body.
Shine a flashlight if possible into the part to examine the carbon buildup on the inner body. Check that the throttle flap is not stuck open. Use a socket wrench and crescent wrench to loosen the bolts holding the throttle body to the engine block. Pull the unit off and disconnect the electronic sensor from the car wiring.
Spray carb cleaner or similar solvent to breakdown the carbon deposits inside the throttle body and flap. Scrub the part with the plastic brush to avoid scratching the sensitive flap. Scrub until thoroughly clean. Let the body dry. Rebolt the unit the engine block with a new body base gasket in between. Reconnect the body sensor and the intake hose, screwing the hose clamp tight with a screwdriver.
Wipe the error codes from the car with the OBD scanner plugged into it and test the car engine by running it to see if the check engine light and error codes reappear again.
Things You'll Need
- Shop-vac vacuum cleaner
- New air filter
- Mass air flow cleaner
- Torque screwdrivers
- Shop rag
- O2 sensor tool
- OBD scanner
- Carb cleaner
- Socket wrench and sockets
- Crescent wrenches
- New throttle body base gasket
Since 2009 Tom Lutzenberger has written for various websites, covering topics ranging from finance to automotive history. Lutzenberger works in public finance and policy and consults on a variety of analytical services. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science from Saint Mary's College and a Master of Business Administration in finance and marketing from California State University, Sacramento.