How to Lubricate the Throttle Body


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

  • Screwdrivers
  • Torx screwdrivers and bits
  • Crescent wrenches
  • Goggles
  • Mechanic gloves
  • Throttle body spray cleaner
  • Clean toothbrush or similar small plastic brush
  • Disposable paper towels
  • Bucket
  • An auto lamp or hand flashlight
  • Mechanical oil
  • Q-tips
  • 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.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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