How to Clean Throttle Body and Why You Need To

Have you ever experienced driving a car that doesn’t run effortlessly? One of the possible reasons why your vehicle doesn’t seem to operate smoothly as it should can be attributed to a dirty throttle body. Since your throttle body controls the air entering your engine, as soon as it gets filthy, it will affect how your engine operates.


The tendency is for your engine to run coarsely. Once you notice an uneven and rough ride, you should consider checking your throttle and cleaning it by yourself first instead of taking it directly to your auto shop. There are easy ways on how to clean throttle body of your vehicle on your own.

Why Your Throttle Fails?

Your vehicle’s throttle acts as the mechanism that constricts or obstructs the flow of fluids. The throttle can help increase or decrease the power of the engine. It is the system that regulates the power or speed of your engine.

So, when your engine shuts down, hot gas exhaust and unburned fuel flows to the top of the engine. Once the vapor gets cooked, black carbon deposits are formed inside the throttle body. This causes the throttle to become dirty.

Other common signs of a failing throttle body can be caused by electrical problems or vacuum leaks. Most of the models produced today such as fuel injected cars, rely significantly on the throttle body to regulate the amount of air entering the engine. Once you step on the pedal, a throttle position sensor receives an indicator where your foot is positioned.

This sensor transmits the information to the main computer frame. It ranges from zero acceleration to full acceleration. The computer then directs the amount of fuel to inject into the system.

What You Need

It is very important to know what makes your throttle body fail. This way you can diagnose and determine how to fix or clean your affected car parts. Below are the materials you will need for your DIY cleaning.

  • Screwdrivers (Torx screwdrivers, Torx bits, or socket wrench)
  • Throttle body cleaner
  • Household oil
  • Toothbrush or a small soft cleaning brush
  • Paper towels
  • Cotton swabs
  • Flashlight
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection

Make sure you gather all the necessary materials first before you start to save time and energy. This will help you avoid running back and forth to the store.

When doing DIY projects, always make sure you are following the safety precautions. Wear protective gear including eyewear o goggles and protective gloves. Never smoke while you are working on your car especially since you are using highly flammable materials.

How to Clean the Throttle Body

Park Your Car Outside, Wear Your Protective Gear and Inspect Your Battery Terminals

Make sure you park your car somewhere which allows you to have plenty of space to comfortably work on both sides of the engine compartment. Pop your hood and disconnect the terminal of your battery. Detaching the negative or ground terminal in your battery acts as a safety precaution to avoid any accidents.


Remove and Label the Hoses

Find the hoses that are attached to the throttle body or air ducts and remove them so that you can access the throttle body. Don’t forget to label the hoses using a masking tape or label stickers to remind you which hose matches each nozzle. This will help keep you organized and prevent you from wasting time figuring out how each matches.


Remove the Air Duct

Disconnect the air duct that is attached to the throttle body. It is usually fastened by a hose clamp. Use a screwdriver, Torx wrench, or any other type of wrench to loosen the clamps.


Usually, the air duct can be removed with a gentle twist and pull. If the air ducts are attached to both sides of the throttle, you can remove one side first to clean each side. When handling hoses or cables, always be careful not to disconnect the electrical wires or gaskets.


When you are removing the air duct, leave enough room to expose the throttle body. If you are having a hard time removing the air ducts, ask your mechanic to do it. There is no point in pressuring yourself to do it.

Let the expert figure it out. Otherwise, you may end up paying more for a broken or damaged car part. Also, take note that there are different types of throttle bodies.

Spray the Throttle Body Cleaner Inside the Air Duct

Be careful when using the throttle body cleaner, avoid dropping the thin, plastic spray nozzle into the opening of the throttle body.


Use a toothbrush or a small soft brush to gently eradicate the dirt inside the air duct. Every now and then, wipe off the residue using a paper towel.


Do this repeatedly until the surface is clean and bare. You can use your flashlight to monitor your progress.

Put Oil on the Throttle Shafts and Reinstall the Throttle Body Air Ducts

Dip your cotton swab in a household oil and dab it on the throttle shafts. This will maintain the smooth rotation of the throttle blade. A small drop of oil will suffice. Clean up any excess deposit that may have spilled onto your other car parts with your paper towels.

Place the air ducts on the original locations and tighten the hose clamps to secure it. Use the same amount of pressure you previously used to loosen it.


Reattach the Battery and Start Your Engine

Once you have reattached all the air ducts and hoses, remove all the tools and materials. Connect the battery and start your car. There should be an initial rough idle which is normal.


During this time, the cleaner fluid and residue are burned off. Some vehicles even produce a white smoke in the exhaust while in most cases, the engine control takes time to adjust after a battery is disconnected.

Clean Up Your Area

After you finish cleaning your throttle body, make sure you return your tools properly. Make sure you don’t leave anything under your hood. Wipe off all residue on the battery, engine, and other parts beside your throttle body.

Dispose of the rubber gloves and paper towels. Keep and store the rest of your throttle body cleaner in a safety cabinet so that you can reuse it later on.

Take Your Vehicle for a Test Drive

Allow your engine to idle for one or two minutes and let it adjust. Take your car for a spin. If your throttle body was full of dirt, gum, and varnish then you may possibly notice a difference in your driving after you clean it. It will significantly improve the performance of your vehicle.

Make It a Habit to Clean Your Throttle Body Regularly

Most auto manufacturers highly recommend removing and cleaning your throttle body every 100,000 miles. However, a lot of motorists clean the throttle body after 30,000 miles which is actually a good idea. Make it part of your routine maintenance so that you won’t forget it during your car check-up.

Once you finish your car’s maintenance and check-up, you’ll significantly improve the performance of your vehicle. You’ll prolong the lifespan of your car, increase your fuel efficiency and horsepower, and reduce your car’s emissions.

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Anthony Ebden

He's an auto blogger. He worked as an auto mechanic for more than 5 years and his mission is to provide our readers with the best car maintenance tips, DIY guides and the most updated trends in the automotive industry.

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