Modern 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.
Every car now has a sensor called the TPS or the throttle position sensor which is also known as the accelerator pedal position sensor. As the name implies, the sensor is a precision device which determines the position of the accelerator pedal.
What is an Accelerator pedal position sensor?
A driver constantly depresses the accelerator pedal giving it the varying amount of pressure which determines the speed at which the car moves forward. The TPS 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.
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 promptly take over another car or maybe a truck and you realize your car isn’t responding as quick or not at all when you press the gas pedal.
There are a number of symptoms which you can look for an experience if your car’s TPS sensor is faulty or completely dead.
Accelerator Pedal Sensor Symptoms
The impact of a failing throttle position 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 notice low gas mileage, it could mean that the car’s throttle position sensor is working but not as accurate as it should.
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 manufactures 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 atleast 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 unprecedented 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 because the faulty sensor could potentially cause the car to accelerate on its own. It is better to get your car towed to a mechanic rather than having it driven all the way there.
Contact a certified mechanic
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to fix the sensor as, these parts are delicate and often need replaced and cannot be repaired. But even the replacement isn’t that simple. The new throttle position sensor would have to be synchronized with the car’s management system. Consult a certified and experienced mechanic for the job.
Accelerator Pedal Sensor Replacement Cost
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. 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