Throttle Position Sensors (TPSs) are relatively simple devices. TPS is a fancy new name for the old three-terminal potentiometer that is commonly known by many different names. Volume controls, tone controls, and balance controls are all three-terminal potentiometers. It is nothing more than a variable resistor and can be checked with Digital Multimeter (DMM).
A faulty TPS may be the cause of many drive-ability problems. Unexpected stalling, rough idle, hesitation upon accelerating, or unexplained acceleration while cruising at a steady speed are all symptoms of a defective TPS.
Things You'll Need
- Digital Multimeter (DMM)
- Alligator clip test leads
Disconnect the TPS connector. There are three wires going to the sensor body, the negative ground, the +12 Volt input, and the variable output to the onboard computer.
Insert the alligator clip test leads into the appropriate jacks on your DMM and set the "Range Switch" to the 20,000-Ohm or the 20K Ohm scale.
Connect one of the test leads to the center connector, the computer output connector, and the other lead to either the +12 volt or the – Ground connector on the TPS connector. The polarity of the test probes doesn't matter when making this test.
Slowly, move the throttle through its full range of movement from its "closed" position to its "full open" position, while observing the digital readout on the DMM. It should increase or decrease steadily and evenly as the throttle linkage is moved through its full range. Any sudden drops or increases in the reading indicates a bad TPS which needs to be replaced. A drop to infinite resistance at any point indicates a break in the TPS's resistance element and also indicates a bad TPS.
Tips & Warnings
- The actual resistance of the TPS varies from one make to another, so the steady, smooth increase and decrease of the readout is more meaningful than the actual maximum reading when testing a TPS.
- Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
GM Throttle Position Sensor Problems
The throttle position sensor is one of the most crucial components of any fuel injection system, right after the computer and fuel...
Symptoms of a Bad Throttle Position Sensor
Fleas caused the Black Plague. A few misplaced carbon atoms sank the Titanic. Tribbles crippled the Enterprise. Sometimes, the smallest and most...
What Does a Throttle Position Sensor Do?
The throttle position sensor is an electronic sensor that plays an important role in assuring efficient engine operation. Without a properly functioning...
How to Test the Throttle Position Sensor in a 93 Corolla
The throttle position sensor on a 1993 Toyota Corolla is a linear potentiometer (variable resister). The sensor signals the computer the amount...
How to Replace the Throttle in a Chevy Cobalt
The throttle body on your Chevy Cobalt is held to the intake manifold by four bolts. The procedure to replace it, however,...
How to Check the TPS Voltage on a Chevy Truck
The TPS on a Chevrolet truck is the throttle position sensor. This sensor tells the computer how far open the throttle body...
How to Test the TPS Sensor on the 1990 Ford F-150
The TPS (Throttle Position Sensor) in your 1990 Ford F-150 is a type of variable resistor called a potentiometer, used by the...
1992 Toyota Pickup Throttle Sensor Troubleshooting
Your 1992 Toyota pickup truck uses a variable-resistor throttle position sensor (TPS) to inform the computer of the exact position of the...
How to Test TPS With a Volt Ohm Meter
A throttle position sensor --- TPS --- is an electrical resistor housed on the throttle body. The TPS feeds information to the...