Does Cleaning Throttle Body Make a Difference? (Easy Explained!)


Does cleaning throttle body make a difference

Do you know if cleaning the throttle body makes a difference? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

The throttle body is not exactly a component that many people seem to think about. Not surprising, really. The throttle body rarely breaks down and, if it does, chances are most people will associate the related problems with other issues in their vehicle.

On this page, we do want to focus specifically on the throttle body, though. This means that we want to talk about how your vehicle ‘feels’ should that throttle body get cleaned (which you do need to do every so often!).

What Does The Throttle Body Do?

As we said, not a lot of people know of the throttle body. However, in order to know why there may be a difference when you clean it, it is important that we tell you the role of the throttle body.

Now, if you can think back to High School science, you will know that for something to combust, you need fuel and you need oxygen. If there is no oxygen, something cannot catch alight. 

As you can probably guess, the same applies to your vehicle. In order for your engine to work, it needs to be able to burn off fuel. It isn’t enough to just pump fuel into the engine, though. There needs to be some oxygen too.

The job of the throttle body is to let in just enough oxygen for that fuel to combust. It does this by way of a variety of sensors and a valve that opens and shuts. It is that valve that becomes unclean.

What Does An Unclean Throttle Body Look Like?

It is pretty easy to tell when you have an unclean throttle body. The throttle body is dirty. it is filled with dirt and grime that has been sucked in with the air. 

Obviously, when there is an unclean throttle body, the air is not going to be able to get into your vehicle in the same way. This, ultimately, means that you will start to suffer from a few issues.

In fact, the vast majority of people don’t even know that their throttle body is unclean. They will only notice when their vehicle flashes up a check engine light, although there are also a whole host of issues that can happen at the same time.

Luckily for you, we are going to walk you through exactly what those are…shortly.

Does Cleaning The Throttle Body Make a Difference?

It depends.

Obviously, the throttle body is going to attract a little bit of filth. Not a whole lot, to be honest. The air that it is sucking in shouldn’t be that dirty. However, it will get dirty over time.

The throttle body is able to work around d a bit of dirtiness, and it will be checked during a vehicle’s service to ensure that it stays nice and clean on the inside. 

If the throttle body is only slightly dirty when you clean it, then you probably won’t notice a huge difference when you are driving that vehicle. Some people may notice that things feel a little bit smoother, however, this is pretty much going to be mostly ‘in your head’, a sort of comfort knowing that you have done something positive for your vehicle.

If the throttle body is filthy, however, then that is when you are going to start to see some major improvements in the way that your vehicle performs. In fact, your vehicle is going to feel pretty much like you are driving a brand-new vehicle.

Over the following sections, we want to highlight some of the differences that you may feel when you are driving your vehicle. If you go through them, this will also be a handy guide to the various issues that could occur when you have an unclean throttle body.

Do bear in mind that if your vehicle has an unclean throttle body, you will notice that the check engine light will come on. If anything, cleaning that throttle body will at least get rid of that light (assuming that there are no other issues with your vehicle, of course!)

Differences In Fuel Economy

One of the major issues with an unclean throttle body is the fact that your fuel economy gets worse. Dirty throttle bodies will have the fuel burning with far less efficiency than they should. The result?

You are going to be burning through a lot more fuel, and in this day and age, burning through a lot more fuel will probably mean that you need to remortgage your home!

So, one of the first things that people will often notice when they clean their throttle body is the fact that the fuel economy will improve ever so slightly. It won’t be major changes, but just enough. 

Differences To Acceleration

When you do not clean your throttle body, less air is able to get into the engine. This means that your fuel doesn’t combust in the same way.

This can actually cause a few problems, some of which will be detailed later on.

However, one of the first things people often notice when they clean their throttle body is the fact that the acceleration of their vehicle improves ever so slightly. This is because when the air can’t get into the engine properly, there will be far less power behind the vehicle.

This means that you may find that your vehicle chugs a little, or perhaps gets a little bit slower, on the whole, acceleration front. 

Differences To Transmission

If you have an automatic vehicle and you have an unclean throttle body, you may notice that the gears change at the wrong times, or you may find a little bit of slippage in the gears.

This won’t happen with manual vehicles, since you are relying on your own experience to change gears, not sensors close to the throttle body.

So, if you have a cleaner throttle body, you may notice that your vehicle gets a little bit better when it comes to predicting exactly when those gears should be changed on the vehicle. You will also find that your vehicle is less likely to have gear slippage when you are driving.

We do want to point out, however, that your throttle body would need to be pretty filthy for you to notice changes to how your vehicle’s transmission works.

Differences In Vehicle Start-up

This is another issue that you may notice when your vehicle’s throttle body starts to get a little bit clogged, and a major difference that you will notice when you clean a throttle body.

As we mentioned previously, when you start a vehicle, the fuel needs to combust. A dirty throttle body will prevent enough air from getting into the system.

This means that when you start the vehicle, it won’t start. Instead, you will deal with backfires.

This issue will be cleared up once you clean that throttle body. 

Differences When Vehicle Is Idle

No major differences here. However, those that have a cleaner throttle body will notice that their vehicle feels a little less ‘rough’ when it is running at idle. 

Less Stalling

You may also notice that your vehicle stalls a little less if you had a dirty throttle body and have given it a big clean-out.

However, we do want to point out that if your vehicle is stalling regularly, it is less likely to be an issue with your throttle body and more likely to be a problem with other components in your vehicle. 

How Do You Clean a Throttle Body?

We won’t give you a huge guide on how to clean your throttle body here. This is because we are advocates for having a throttle body cleaned by a professional.

That being said, it is something that you should have absolutely no issues cleaning yourself. Your vehicle manual will tell you how to remove the throttle body from your vehicle.

If you head to any automotive component supplier, they will have cleaners that you can use to clean these components.

In most cases, there shouldn’t be a whole lot of dirt hanging around a throttle body. As we mentioned, not a lot of dirt will really be sucked in. However, it is still a good idea to get it cleaned at least once every year or so, preferably alongside the rest of the vehicle service. 

Should you clean your Throttle Body and How to clean it on Toyotas >> Check out the video below:

Conclusion

If you have been keeping up to date with your vehicle maintenance, then you probably won’t notice a massive difference when you clean the throttle body of your vehicle.

However, if you have been putting off the maintenance for a while, then it is highly likely that you will notice huge improvements in fuel economy and vehicle acceleration, and you may even find that your vehicle changes gear a little bit smoother (if you have an automatic vehicle).

Your vehicle’s manual should provide you with a wealth of information on ensuring that you keep your throttle body nice and clean, although we do recommend that you head to a garage to ensure that it is done properly. 

References

https://www.mobil.com/en/lubricants/for-personal-vehicles/auto-care/vehicle-maintenance/how-to-do-it-yourself/proper-throttle-body-cleaning-guide

Steve P.

Steve is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Riviera. Steve is based in Boise, Idaho.

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