In order for your accelerator pedal to actually work as you push down on it, it needs to be connected to the throttle. In older model vehicles there was a mechanical link that connected the throttle body and the accelerator pedal. Electronic throttle controllers (ETC) are taking over as the primary type of throttle controller. Throttle controllers use a position sensor which is found on the gas pedal. Each time you push down on the accelerator a message is sent to the control unit which then controls the throttle.
This is the kind of part that you really don’t think about. You simply press on the accelerator and expect the throttle to respond accordingly. Unfortunately, if the throttle controller is faulty and fails, you won’t have the luxury of just “stepping on the pedal” and getting results. Now granted, the throttle controller usually has some failsafe and backup features built into it, but again these too can fail. The throttle controller usually isn’t part of regular maintenance and service. Instead, it’s best just to watch for warning signs that it may be failing and nearing the end of its lifespan.
Speaking of warning signs, let’s take a look at some of the potential issues a faulty controller can cause:
You may press down on your accelerator pedal and not feel any response. This can point to a problem with the throttle controller.
It may be that the accelerator pedal does react - but very slowly and in a sluggish way. Again this can signal a problem with the throttle controller. If your car is slow to accelerate, have it inspected.
On the opposite end of things, you may notice a sudden increase in speed without you actually pressing down on the accelerator pedal.
The throttle controller is an important component of your vehicle so much so that if it starts to fail it can be quite unsafe to continue to drive your vehicle. While it’s meant to last the lifetime of your vehicle because it is an electrical part malfunctions can happen from time to time and will need immediate attention. If you’re experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms and suspect your throttle controller is in need of replacement, Have a certified mechanic replace the failing throttle controller to eliminate any further problems with your vehicle.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does a Throttle Controller Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.