Despite being typically crafted by robotic, laser-cutting machines, a throttle body is only as good as the small, internal flap door that opens to let air and fuel pass into a car's engine. When this door gets gunked up with burnt carbon or stops functioning correctly, the throttle body in a car will begin to cause problems and "check engine" warnings with the car computer. Properly cleaning and lubricating the throttle body and door flap inside will avoid this problem and allow the car engine to operate correctly. A clean throttle body allows the fuel/air mixture to pass through when needed and shutting to stop a backflow from occurring.
Things You'll Need
- Torx screwdrivers and bits
- Crescent wrenches
- Mechanic gloves
- Throttle body spray cleaner
- Clean toothbrush or similar small plastic brush
- Disposable paper towels
- An auto lamp or hand flashlight
- Mechanical oil
Park the car in a flat location with good ventilation. Find the air filter box in the car (which will vary by car make and model) and follow the air intake from the filter box to the engine. Find the throttle body clamped onto the engine intake valve.
Use a screwdriver to loosen the air intake hose clamp holding the hose to the mouth of the throttle body. Remove the air hose once it is loose. Examine the throttle body and determine the hardware used to connect it to the engine valve (again, this will vary depending on what kind of vehicle you are working on). Use a crescent wrench or a Torx screwdriver and bit to loosen the hardware. Detach the throttle body from the engine intake valve.
Put on goggles and mechanic gloves. Be careful to protect the electrical wires attached to the throttle body while you have it separated. Spray the throttle body inside with throttle body cleaner. Carefully scrub the inside with the toothbrush or small plastic brush to break up the burnt carbon and gunk.
Clean off the spray and broken up dirt with paper towels. Dispose of the used towels in bucket. Continue to spray and scrub until the throttle body is clean internally. Examine the work with a small auto lamp or flashlight.
Dab a little bit of mechanic oil on the throttle door hinges using a cotton swab. Oil it enough to lubricate the mechanism and not much more. Wipe up an overage of oil with a paper towel. Install a new throttle body gasket underneath the unit and secure it again to the engine intake valve.
Tighten the bolts or hardware connecting the throttle body to the engine. Reattach the air hose to the throttle body mouth and tighten the hose clamp with a screwdriver. Clear all your tools of the car and start it up. Let the engine warm and realize a normal idle. Dispose of the old paper towels in a plastic bag and outdoor garbage can.
Tips & Warnings
- Some throttle bodies require cleaning with a special brush. You can ask whether yours is one of them, and purchase the equipment needed, at an auto parts store.
- Throttle body cleaner is a solvent and highly flammable. Do not use it in a closed garage or near any heat or flame source. The fumes could ignite and cause a fire.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
What Is a Throttle Body?
Internal combustion gasoline engines require three things to operate: oxygen, fuel and a spark. On modern engines, fuel delivery and spark timing...
How to Replace a Car's Accelerator Cable
A frayed or broken accelerator cable can keep a car from operating properly. Without the accelerator assembly, the engine cannot open the...
How to Replace the Throttle Body in a VW Jetta
Jetta is Volkswagen's best-selling model in the U.S. The Jetta established itself as a undeniable force after undergoing a total redesign in...
How to Clean a Honda Throttle Body
The throttle body on a Honda, or any other vehicle, accumulates carbon build-up, dirt and gasoline gum over many miles of driving....
How to Clean a Toyota Camry Throttle Body
The throttle body on a Toyota Camry controls and mixes the air and fuel that goes into the engine. As air comes...
How to Replace a Throttle Position Sensor
The throttle position sensor (TPS) on most vehicles is located in the engine compartment. It sends input to the electronic engine control...
How to Clean the Throttle Body on a Chevy Colorado
The Chevrolet Colorado is the successor to one of Chevy's most popular small trucks, the S-10. Since its introduction, the Colorado has...
How to Clean a Throttle Body on a Pontiac
The throttle body of your Pontiac allows air to come into the intake manifold and mix with fuel so it can burn...
How to Remove the Throttle Body of a 3.8 Buick
The 3.8L engine found in some years and models of Buick cars uses a throttle body to regulate the amount of air...
Testing a Throttle Body
The throttle body in car a provides one of the modern features found in today's cars to help with fuel efficiency. In...