How to Clean a Throttle Body on a Car

mCleaning your throttle body.

A dirty throttle body can cause many different vehicle related concerns.  It can cause a lack in power, hard starting, poor idling, stalling, and many more problems.  Overtime your throttle body will begin to gain carbon and after time will cause some driveability concerns.

The carbon on the throttle body causes a lack of air or restrictions to airflow.  This will affect your vehicle’s performance.  It is normal and should not require a whole lot of skill to fix.  This article will discuss the procedure to fix your dirty throttle body.


The Procedure

  1. Park your vehicle and disconnect the negative terminal on the battery.  This will prevent you from accidently shorting any components on your vehicle.
  2. Locate your throttle body.  It will be located in your air intake.  Look for throttle cables connecting to it.  Or else on newer vehicles they will have an electronic controlled throttle plate.  Simply locate your air filter and follow the piping to the engine and you will find the throttle body.
  3. You need to remove the intake tubing to gain access to the throttle body.  You may have to disconnect some electrical connectors.  You may also have to remove some hoses, make sure to label the hoses with a piece of tape so you know where they go.
  4. With everything removed or disconnected from the intake tubing you will need to locate the clamp holding it in place.  This clamp will need to be removed using a screwdriver or torx bit depending on your application.  If you don’t have a screwdriver this ATD Bit Set which contains regular Phillips, Flat blade, and  Torx bits.
  5. After removal of the clamp you can slide the intake tubing off.  You may need to wiggle it and break it free depending on how long it has been on your vehicle.
  6. Now you are looking at the throttle body.  You will want to disconnect any electrical connections and any cables connected.  To remove the cables simply hold the throttle open and they should snap up and off.
  7. With all the electrical connections and cables removed you will need to remove the bolts or nuts holding the throttle body in place.
  8. After removing the bolts or nuts gently remove the throttle body.  Be careful if you plan to reuse the old gasket.
  9. You are now going to need a can of throttle body or carburetor cleaner.
  10. Use the cleaner and spray the throttle body on the inside.  You may need to use a rag and scrub or a brush, just use care and try to remove all of the carbon on the inside of the throttle body and on the throttle plate itself.  An old toothbrush works well to get into the hard to reach areas.
  11. Once you have the throttle body cleaned and the throttle plates take a blow gun such as this MILS148 Lever Hook Blow Gun and blow the throttle body out.  This will dry the throttle body off and help get any dirt off of it.
  12. If you have a new gasket scrape off the old gasket and install the new one with the throttle body, I recommend getting a new gasket, but if not simply install the throttle body.
  13. Torque the bolts or nuts in place to the manufacturer specifications.
  14. Reinstall the throttle and cruise cables.
  15. Reinstall the electrical connectors that were on the throttle body.
  16. You are ready to reinstall the intake tubing make sure the clamp is on the intake tubing and slide it back into place.
  17. Tighten the clamp until it is snug.
  18. Reconnect any electrical connections and or hoses that you removed from the intake tract.
  19. Reinstall the negative battery clamp and tighten it down.

You can now test drive your vehicle.  It may idle higher than normal since the computer is not used to having the clean throttle body, but after time it will learn and recalibrate itself.  Your vehicle should be much more responsive, idle better, and just overall run better.  It also may smoke a little when you first start it, this could be from some left over cleaner inside the throttle body and is not a concern.

Written by: Cody Mammenga an NDSCS Student

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