Symptoms of a Bad Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor & Replacement Cost

accelerator pedalModern vehicles are equipped with a lot of sensors and computers to manage basic car controls automatically and precisely.

That helps in better gas mileage, smoother, comfortable and a safe drive.

Almost every modern car now has a sensor called the TPS and an accelerator pedal position sensor. As the name implies, these sensors are precision devices which determine the position of the accelerator pedal.

In this article, you will find the most common symptoms of a bad accelerator pedal position sensor

Signs of a Bad Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor

The impact of a failing accelerator pedal sensor is pretty much obvious as it directly affects how the car drives, responds to the pedal and gas mileage. If any of these symptoms occur or you experience your car isn’t responding to your pressing of the gas pedal as accurate, you should pull over immediately and call a mechanic.

Here are some symptoms which you can look for an experience if your car’s accelerator pedal sensor is faulty or completely dead.

1. Your car hesitates to move when the gas pedal is pressed

This symptom is easy to detect as every owner eventually gets familiar with how their car responds to pressing the gas pedal. If you feel that your car is hesitating to move, your accelerator pedal sensor could be failing. In such a case, it is advised to pull over immediately and call a mechanic since bad pedal timing can prove to be fatal.

2. The engine doesn’t idle smoothly

The optimal RPM of a car engine is around 600 to 700 rotations per minute. At these RPMS, the engine idles smoothly without shaking and consumes little fuel. If you experience that your car is unable to idle smoothly, a bad accelerator pedal sensor could be the reason besides the fuel mixture.

3. Your car doesn’t accelerate over a specific limit

If you experience that your car is only able to accelerate unto a point and won’t go faster beyond that speed, your accelerator pedal sensor is not able to send positioning signals accurately which causes your car to not speed up beyond a point of pressing the gas pedal.

4. Your car won’t shift up or jerks upon depressing the pedal

If the accelerator pedal sensor isn’t working as it should, it would give out incorrect reading to the car’s computer. In such cases, because the sensor is bad, depressing it would sometimes give out delayed or a burst of varying signals, which your car’s computer tries to accumulate and use to adjust the mixture.

5. You experience low gas mileage

Often times, your car’s throttle position sensor is at its failing stage but the effects aren’t obvious to you. You may not be noticing a delayed response from the pedal but if you see low gas mileage, it could mean that the car’s throttle position sensor is working but not as accurate as it should.

What is an Accelerator Pedal position sensor?

accelerator pedal sensorA driver continually depresses the accelerator pedal giving it the varying amount of pressure which determines the speed at which the car moves forward. The TPS sensor and the accelerator pedal sensor tracks the movement of the gas pedal which sends signals to the car’s computer. The computer then uses that information to adjust the air-fuel mixture according to the gas pedal position, current speed, the air temperature, MAF reading, and RPM. The result is a smooth and responsive drive.

Some cars use both an accelerator pedal position sensor on the pedal and one TPS sensor on the throttle body, while some cars do only have a TPS sensor on the throttle body. 

The importance of a TPS sensor can be emphasized as it can affect the gas mileage and engine response.

A TPS sensor may fail at once or gradually and will require to be replaced in either case. A car’s fuel economy can drastically be affected as a result, and it could even prove to be hazardous to drive a car with a failing throttle position sensor. It can be extremely dangerous to drive with a failing TPS sensor as, under certain circumstances when you need to take over another car or maybe a truck promptly and you realize your car isn’t responding as quickly or not at all when you press the gas pedal.

Position Sensor Testing & Solutions

Modern cars are equipped with safety measures and backup systems along with sensors and computers because electrical components can often go bad all of a sudden. Vehicle manufacturers have come with a safety measure which is called ‘Limp’ mode, in case any of such sensors go bad. The Limp mode is automatically engaged when the car’s computer detects a sensor failure or unwanted reading levels. This mode allows the driver to at least be able to safely get off the highway or busy road and pull over to avoid any mishap that might be imminent due to the unusual behavior of any of the sensors in the car.

Pull over and switch the engine off

Although if you experience any of these symptoms with your car, you should get off the highway as soon as you can because malfunctioning computers can do things you don’t want them to do and in case of a vehicle, that could prove to be extremely dangerous.

Avoid driving the car to the mechanic

It is extremely dangerous and risky to drive with a failing throttle position sensor or accelerator pedal position sensor because the faulty sensor could potentially cause the car to accelerate on its own. It is better to get your vehicle towed to a mechanic rather than having it driven all the way there.

Contact a certified mechanic

Unfortunately, these sensors are almost impossible to repair and often need to be replaced and cannot be repaired. But even the replacement isn’t that simple in most cases. The new throttle position sensor does often have to be synchronized with the car’s management system. Consult a certified and experienced mechanic for the job.

Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor Replacement Cost

Depending on the make and model of a vehicle, an estimated average cost of switch replacement goes range from $150 to $200. For some cars, these sensors can be more expensive. The labor cost can range from $60 to $90

Because the accelerator pedal sensor is an integral part of a vehicle, its job is critical, and while these sensors don’t go bad so often, these can be expensive to replace.

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10 thoughts on “Symptoms of a Bad Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor & Replacement Cost”

  1. Hello
    I m Hamid I have Toyota passo 2010
    1kr Fe engine 1000cc
    I m facing a issue related car Pickup or when I press sudden full accelerator my car hesitate or like jerking or knocking
    And also hesitating or jerking on uphill area and also I feel on slow running when I cross speed breaker my car takes 2 to 3 jerks and then smooth.and also takes jerks during smooth running when I cross theother vehicle and press sudden padel for speed up then jerks .
    Otherwise car is smooth when I press gradually press accelerator or on ECO mode and also car gone on 160 km/he without any issue
    Car average is normal 15 to 18
    I spend a lot of money for above mentioned problem
    I visited too many machines but they didn’t trace fault
    Also checked with different scanners
    No code shows
    I also done complete service and catalytic converter cleans
    I changed plug,coils,all sensors like o2,crank,gear shifter,MAF, throttle body,
    Fuel pump one by one
    But jerks not gone
    All of my mechanics says change the engine or gearbox
    I also change gear oil recently
    I m very upset what will I do
    Please help me

    • To me, it sounds like a lack of fuel pressure issue. Is there by any chance you can fit a mechanical fuel pressure gauge to see it while driving to make sure that the fuel pressure is not dropping?

      Do you have an automatic or manual transmission? If it’s an automatic, that one could cause the jerks, but if it’s a manual gearbox it will most likely not cause the jerks.

  2. Could it be my gas pedal sensor failing when I slow down and then go to accelerate and my car seems like it’s not getting any gas. Usually only happens when it rains

    • Check if there is any water on the floor mat while it’s raining, if this is the case there might be corrosion inside the connector to the accelerator pedal.

  3. I have an 04 buick Rainier. I hooked it up to the computer and the code told me throttle pedal postion sensor. My husband has the pedal off but can’t get it unhooked from a latch. I purshaed the past. Is it ok to only replace the sensor? Will it default it? Like I said Theres one latch holding it on dont want to break anything

  4. Hi, please help me, my Renault Fluence it rev high it self and reduce speed it self . So please help what is the problem?.

  5. Hi Josh,
    thanks for the description.
    My problem is based on unexpected “car hesitates to move when the gas pedal is pressed”. Car – Pajero 3.2DiD 125kW V80 (180k km mileage)
    It happened few times during these situations:
    – car stopped at lights (to be sure – no Neutral used)
    – accelerator pedals pushed, engine RPMs increase to expected range
    – but car really hesitates to move, max. 5km/h
    – several attempts to push the acc. pedal, no change
    – it spends 5-10sec and then (magic) car is back into normal operation
    No engine light, no ECU fault code found.
    Diagnostic of all measured values are in normal levels, but just during the normal operation. Because this situation (car hessitates to move) occurres randomly, no way to measure the values during.
    Sometimes (randomly) I feel a delayed reaction of the engine to the acc. pedal.
    Both pedal
    Also checked EGR. No problem found.
    But there is still “empty” fault code pool in the ECU. How is your point?Thanks.

  6. Honda CRV 2006
    Vsa light and engine light come on. car looses power and only drives at 40 miles an hour. ie accellerator unresponsive. brought to garage several times and problem keeps recurring.
    VSA light on and Triangle light on
    1) Car really hesitates to move, max. 5km/h
    2) it spends 5-10sec and then (magic) car is back into normal operation.
    3) Turn off engine and turn turn on, back to normal.
    4) Accelerator pedal is feeling like, speed up and down, speed cauage is ok.
    Replace air filter, Still same.
    Transmission oil replaced. Battery replaced. Break replaced,
    Please help me, Thanks

  7. I live in Africa Kenya to be specific I have 1999 vitz car 997cc and recently have had problems with the vehicle reving high while driving and accelerating on its own with high speeds without pressing the brake pedal, I recently bought a new engine but thinking it would improve but I’m still having the same problem kindly advice me?

  8. Due to a very high demand and high ammount of comments, you have to wait for some time for your car questions to get answered. If you want to get fast answers from a certified master technician you can ask your questions here:
    Ask A Mechanic

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