The electronic throttle control (ETC) system is an important part of your automobile. But it is often overlooked, and its maintenance goes ignored. So, the next time you see your car’s throttle control light blinking, take it to a mechanic and get the issue fixed as soon as possible.
You can reset the ETC manually at home in a few simple steps. But if that doesn’t fix the problem, consult a mechanic.
This article is a guide to tell you all about the electronic throttle control, its purpose, some of its malfunction indicators, the procedure to reset it manually, and much more. So, stay tuned and read till the end!
What is the Purpose of the Electronic Throttle Control?
The function of the ETC is to connect the acceleration pedal to the throttle. It has different functions in both diesel and petrol cars. And it is an important system for both!
In petrol vehicles, the throttle system controls the quantity of air going into the engine. In diesel cars, it checks the amount of fuel needed to generate power. When your car is in cruise control or when it has already warmed up, it runs on a lean mixture where the quantity of air is greater than the quantity of fuel. And when you start your car or demand more power, it runs on a rich mixture where the quantity of fuel is more than air.
The ETC electronically controls the throttle valve to regulate airflow into the engine. When you push the accelerator, the acceleration pedal position sensor sends a signal to the ECM, which in turn calculates the desired throttle valve angle.
This system improves fuel economy and reduces gas emissions.
How to Reset the ETC System Manually?
Follow these step-by-step instructions to reset the throttle control system manually:
Step 1 – Press and Release the Pedal
- Turn the ignition on but do not start the engine.
- Press the gas pedal and release it immediately. Repeat this process at least 3-5 times. This is to make sure that the throttle valve is working properly.
Step 2 – Turn On the Diagnostic Mode
- When you press the accelerator for 10 seconds, you will see the throttle light flashing. This means it is going into diagnostic mode.
- Release the throttle and wait for 5 seconds before pressing the gas pedal again.
- When you see the flashing of the check engine light slowing down, it means that the ECU memory has been cleared.
- Release the pedal and turn the ignition off.
Step 3 – Reset Complete
- The reset is now complete!
- Turn on the ignition and the engine. You will see that the throttle light has turned off.
What are the Causes of the Electronic Throttle Control Problems?
A car comprises many interconnected complex systems, and as it ages, these systems stop working smoothly. There can be several reasons that affect the functions of the ETCS.
Let us take a look at these causes in detail below:
1. Faulty Accelerator Position Sensor
The APPS is a crucial part of the ETC system. The function of the throttle control is to supply the required fuel-air mixture to the engine and provide it with the power it needs to speed up.
If you push the gas pedal too much, that means you want to accelerate. The pedal sensor takes note of the depression in the pedal and signals the ECM. The ECM then decides how much to adjust the valve.
But, if the pedal position sensor is faulty, it won’t be able to send a precise reading to the ECM. And you will face resistance when trying to accelerate. This can also turn on the check engine light if the computer identifies the faulty sensor.
2. Bad Throttle Position Sensor
When you press the gas pedal, the accelerator position sensor sends a signal to the ECM (Engine Control Module). The ECM then calculates the desired angle for the throttle valve.
Then it trusts the throttle position sensor to confirm the status of the throttle valve. After knowing how much the valve has opened, the ECM adjusts the fuel-air ratio for maximum optimality.
So, when the engine control module does not receive information from the throttle position sensor, it turns on the electronic throttle light to inform you of a system malfunction, which in this case would be a bad throttle position sensor.
3. Butterfly Shaft Stuck
If all the sensors are working and the electrical components of the throttle control seem fine, then the problem could lie within the throttle body.
The throttle body contains a valve known as the butterfly shaft, which opens and closes to let air into the engine. It is responsible for controlling the airflow. The valve not opening or closing can be caused by carbon buildup inside the throttle body.
You can manually remove the throttle body to check for obstructions. The carbon buildup can be cleaned by using a carburetor fluid and wiping off the sludge with clean wipes. You can also thoroughly clean it using a solvent after removing it from the system. Reattach it once it has dried off.
Signs of ETC System Failure
If there are issues with the electronic sensors of the throttle body, the computer will recognize errors and throw off the electronic throttle light. This light is an indicator that the ETC system is malfunctioning.
Some other indicators to let you know of this problem are:
1. Problems in Accelerating
You can accelerate while driving because the pedal position sensor senses the movement of the accelerator pedal and signals the ECM to provide a fuel-air mixture to the engine for the combustion process.
But if there is an issue with the pedal position sensor or the electric control module (ECM), your car won’t accelerate as much as you want.
2. Irregular Idling Patterns
If the throttle body is not functioning properly, then it might come to an idle position.
It might close partially or close too tightly. If it closes partially, the air will come in, and the fuel mixture will run too lean, indicating a higher concentration of air. This could result in jerking motions and cause damage to the engine.
This will cause the fuel to burn too quickly, impacting the fuel economy as well. So, if you notice the engine sputtering and stalling, it might be an indication of a faulty throttle control system.
3. Low Gas Mileage
The throttle control system is responsible for maintaining the proper air-fuel ratio. It improves fuel economy and ensures optimum engine function.
Due to any issues with the throttle control system, the gas mileage will drop. The fuel-air mixture will either be too lean or too rich for optimized driving and can cause damage to the engine.
Should You Replace the ETC System?
If you have tried resetting the throttle control system and the throttle light still didn’t go off, you will need to get it checked by a mechanic. And if the system is beyond repair, you may even need to spring for a new ETCS.
A faulty throttle control system can cost up to half a grand to be replaced. And this cost will only go up if you put off going to a professional. This problem can also lead to a ripple effect and cause other systems to malfunction as well.
You can also replace the system at home and save on labor costs. All you have to do is disconnect the wiring and unbolt the electronic throttle body from the engine’s intake manifold. It is fairly easy to do so, and you can find many “how-to” videos to help you through it.
People Also Ask
This section contains the answers to the frequently asked questions to learn more about the ETC system:
1. Do You Have to Reprogram the Throttle Body?
When you install a new throttle body, it needs to be reprogrammed to adapt to the new vehicle. In some models, the cars automatically recognize and reprogram the new throttle body. In other cases, the mechanic may need to do it manually.
2. Is It Safe to Drive with the Warning Lights On?
Many people ignore the electronic throttle light and continue to drive the car, but a faulty ETCS may cause damage to the engine and affect the fuel economy. It’s not safe for you to drive in such conditions. We recommend you get to the bottom of it and fix the issues.
You can reset the electronic throttle control as now you are equipped with useful information about the ETC system. So, from now on, if you see the check engine light on or notice any other symptoms of a damaged ETC system, do not ignore them.
It’s crucial to get the car serviced at regular intervals to stay ahead of any problems and not delay going to a mechanic if an issue arises with any of the systems.