How to Tell If You Have a Faulty or Bad Throttle Position Sensor

June 5, 2020

A bad throttle position sensor will result in many serious problems on your car if you do not detect its failures soon. That is true. A malfunctioning throttle position sensor will send wrong data to your car’s computer, causing your car to shake heavily and to be less fuel-efficient than normal.

Therefore, learning some common bad throttle position sensor symptoms is very important to prevent any further damages. If you are seeking for an useful article writing about this topic, congratulations as you’ve come to the right place.

bad throttle position sensor symptoms
Signs of bad throttle position sensor.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get started now!

What Exactly Does A Throttle Position Sensor Do?

Before digging down to the bad TPS symptoms, let’s learn about what a throttle position sensor does for your car.

The throttle position sensor (known as TPS) is a component of your car’s fuel management system. It works to make sure that the precise amount of fuel and air is delivered to your car’s engine. It transmits the most direct signal to the fuel injection system of what power needs are being created by the engine.

Its signal is calculated continuously and incorporated many times per second with other data such as air mass flow, engine RPM, air temperature, and how fast the throttle position changes. The collected data is used to determine exactly the amount of fuel delivered to the engine at any specific time.

symptoms of a bad throttle position sensor
Throttle position sensor help delivering fuel and air is to the engine.

If the TPS and other sensors work well, your car will accelerate, coast and cruise effectively and smoothly like what you want, while being at optimal fuel level.

What Happens If Your Throttle Position Sensor Is Faulty?

There are many reasons behind a bad throttle position sensor and there are many signs of a bad TPS. When it happens, it leads to poor fuel economy and moreover puts you and other drivers around you in danger. It can also result in issues when setting base ignition timing, or changing gears.

The TPS can gradually fail or all at once. In most situations, when the TPS is broken, the Check Engine Light will turn on to warn you about the issues. Additionally, most carmakers supply a “limp home” mode of operation with decreased power if there is a failure in your engine. This is made to enable a driver to get off a crowded highway in a safer way.

And when you detect there is a problem with your TPS, everything you need to do is to replace it immediately. When replacing the TPS, you have to clear related fault codes and may need to reprogram the software of the new TPS module to fit with other engine management softwares. The best way is bringing your car to a skilled mechanic who can inspect and install the right replacement part.

Common Symptoms of a bad throttle position sensor

So how to tell if throttle position sensor is bad ? Here are some common bad throttle position sensor symptoms or failing throttle position sensor to watch for:

1. Poor Acceleration

symptoms of a bad throttle position sensor
Poor acceleration is one of the bad throttle position sensor symptoms.

2. Inappropriate Stalling

Inappropriate stalling is a clear sign that your vehicle has symptoms of bad throttle position sensor. Although, stalling can be a sign of any other car problem as well, yet if it happens regularly, this can be the major reason. So do not ignore the issue. And, to avoid any major problem in future, gather some basic knowledge and car repair tips for your car.

3. Speed Acceleration

This is one of the key bad throttle position sensor symptoms. Sometimes, the vehicle increases its speed abruptly. This usually happens on highways when the speed surges increase the speed of the car. Take your car directly to a car specialist to avoid any kind of accident.

4. Difficulty In Switching Gears

how to tell if throttle position sensor is bad
Switching gears are the bad throttle position sensor symptoms


Your car may face problems in switching gears with a bad throttle position sensor . When gearing up and down, you may face problems that show the sensor of the car is not doing very well. If this is the sole issue in your car, chances are that there is a problem in the transmission system. However, if this problem combines with the acceleration issue, it is a signal of a malfunctioned throttle position sensor.

5. Service Light Signaling

Signaling of service light can mean a lot many things, but a potential reason can be improper throttle position sensor. A faulty sensor does not mean the car will explode while driving, but it is a serious issue to you and your vehicle. When service light signaling appears, take your vehicle immediately to a service center. Try not to extend the issue for too long, or else the car may stop working and even may have issues repairing it.

Along with the above mentioned, several bad throttle position sensor symptoms reveal its poor functioning. TPS is small and intricate; therefore, only an expert can solve the trouble.

Make sure to keep your car in its best position to avoid any kind of sudden breakdown.

How to stop car hesitation (throttle position sensor)? Watch the video below:

Common car makes with TPS issue

Some brands usually found with the sign of a bad TPS are Honda, Saturn Automobile, Chevrolet, Ford… Honda Accord – a series of automobiles manufactured by Honda since 1976 is named on the list of car brands which face TPS issues. On many car user forums, the most common question about throttle position sensors belongs to Honda Accord. Same problem was found on the Saturn series S, 2005 Chevy Cobalt or 2002 Ford Focus.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Throttle Position Sensor?

The average price for replacing a throttle position sensor varies from $159 to $211. Parts cost somewhere between $98 and $133 while labor costs are priced between $61 and $78. The estimation does not consist of fees and taxes. There are many TPS suppliers therefore keeping in mind that you not only choose a good TPS but also a match TPS for your car.

2. Can I Drive With A Bad Throttle Position Sensor?

A bad throttle position sensor can cause inability to shift up, rough or slow idle and lacking power when accelerating. Driving with these symptoms will put you and other drivers around you in danger so you should bring your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.

3. How Long Do TPS Sensors Last?

The batteries in the TPS sensors are made to last 5 years. They are built into the sensor so they can not be replaced like those of a flashlight. Hence, it is recommended to replace TPS sensors every 5 years.

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