Table of Contents
The purpose of your car’s throttle body The signs of a dirty throttle body Choosing the right throttle body cleaner How to clean the throttle body without taking it off Why cleaning the throttle body is important Resetting the ECU after cleaning the throttle body How to fix high idle problems after throttle body cleaning Does cleaning a throttle body damage it? FAQs
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Your car’s throttle body is a small but essential piece of the vehicle’s air intake system, and it’s one of the most critical components of your vehicle to maintain. Cleaning the throttle body shouldn't cause problems—but if it’s done incorrectly, it can result in electrical problems and high idling. Resetting your car’s ECU after cleaning the throttle body can reduce the chances of problems arising. Your car’s throttle body is a small but essential piece of the vehicle’s air intake system, and it’s one of the most critical components of your vehicle to maintain. Cleaning the throttle body shouldn't cause problems—but if it’s done incorrectly, it can result in electrical problems and high idling. Resetting your car’s ECU after cleaning the throttle body can reduce the chances of problems arising. The purpose of your car’s throttle body The signs of a dirty throttle body Grime buildup: One of the most common signs of a dirty throttle body is dirt or grime buildup. This inhibits the amount of air that can get to your engine, reducing your accelerating power. Carbon deposits may form inside the throttle body and cause similar issues. Poor fuel economy: A clogged or dirty throttle body can cause your car’s fuel economy to plummet. If you notice your mileage dropping by 10-15%, you might have a clogged throttle body. A check engine light: A bad throttle body can alert the vehicle’s electronic throttle control, which will turn on your car’s check engine light . Problems with the throttle body sensor can also result in check engine codes, like P0121. Rough engine idle: An irregular or jerky idle speed is one of the most common signs of a clogged or dirty throttle body. This happens when uneven airflow causes the engine’s idle to fluctuate. Vehicle stalling: If your car stalls after coming to a stop or when pressing on the gas pedal, you might have a dirty or clogged throttle body. Similar to a rough idle, this happens because of inconsistent airflow entering the engine. Slow or jerky acceleration: If your car’s engine isn’t receiving good quality air or the right air/fuel mixture, you may have issues accelerating. This means your vehicle is effectively choking and needs more airflow to perform well. Engine misfires: An incorrect air/fuel mixture caused by a dirty throttle body commonly results in engine misfires. This can feel and sound like a small bump or ping when revving your engine. Choosing the right throttle body cleaner CRC Throttle Body & Air Intake Cleaner : CRC is a trusted brand for automotive supplies found at most parts stores. STP Pro Series Car Intake Valve Cleaner : This quality product protects your car’s components even after you’re done using it. Berryman B-12 Chemtool Carburetor, Choke & Throttle Body Cleaner : This Berryman spray is great because it contains no hazardous or ozone-depleting chemicals. WD-40 - 300134 Specialist Carb/Throttle Body & Parts Cleaner : This WD-40 cleaner is great for throttle bodies. Just remember that you cannot use regular WD-40 on your throttle body. Genuine Chrysler Accessories 4897156AC Throttle Body Cleaner : This Chrysler cleaner is a great choice if you want to use a cleaner specifically designed by an automotive manufacturer. Sea Foam SS14 Cleaner and Lube : A favorite at auto repair shops, Sea Foam is excellent for cleaning the gunk out of the top end of your engine. How to clean the throttle body without taking it off Step 1: Open the hood and locate the air intake system. Then, follow the air tube from the air filter to find the throttle body. Step 2: Disconnect the air tube from the throttle body. You will need to loosen the hose clamps to do this, and you may also need to remove the air box and filter. Step 3: Clean the throttle body. Have your helper turn on the engine and lightly press the gas pedal to open the butterfly valve while you spray your cleaner inside the throttle body several times. Then, wipe the inside of the throttle body with your clean rag or a toothbrush. Be careful not to touch the inside of the throttle body with your fingers unless you are wearing gloves, as the oil from your skin can cause dirt to stick to the component. Step 4: Turn off the engine and reassemble the air intake system. Step 5: Wait 5-10 minutes, then start your car. You may notice some smoke coming from your exhaust, especially if you used Sea Foam to perform a top-end clean. The best way to clear this smoke is to drive your car a few miles until the exhaust is clear. Key Takeaway To clean your throttle body without removing it, disconnect the air tube, spray several squirts of your cleaner into the throttle body while your helper presses the gas pedal, then use a rag or toothbrush to wipe out the inside of the component. Why cleaning the throttle body is important Resetting the ECU after cleaning the throttle body Step 1: After you finish cleaning your throttle body, start the car and let it idle for four minutes. The RPMs might be high at first but should gradually settle down as the ECU absorbs the data. Step 2: Turn off the car for 90 seconds. Then, turn it back on and allow it to idle for another four minutes. How to fix high idle problems after throttle body cleaning A vacuum leak: A vacuum leak occurs when the throttle body allows more air into the engine than necessary, resulting in a too lean situation. If this happens, your first step should be to check the vacuum hose for leaks and replace or repair it if necessary. A torn intake hose: It’s possible to damage the intake hoses when cleaning the throttle body. If you tear one of these hoses, you might experience a high idle. To fix this issue, simply replace or repair the hose. Electrical problems: You can often diagnose and fix electrical issues with the throttle body by using an OBDII scan tool. However, some electrical problems may be complex and require the attention of an expert. Leftover grim in the throttle body: You might experience a high idle if you did not thoroughly clean the throttle body. You can fix the issue by cleaning the part again. If the throttle body is especially dirty, you may need to remove it from the vehicle for deep cleaning. Does cleaning a throttle body damage it? “Super cheap! Jerry saved me over $4500 during the entire year. The money really adds up.” —D’Shawn G.