Last Updated: 25.12.2021

The throttle is a crucial part of a fuel-injected engine that restricts the gas inlet and can increase or decrease its power. Therefore, when you press your car’s gas pedal, you’re actually opening the engine’s throttle plate. This will allow more air to get into the engine, giving it more power. 

The throttle body is situated between the intake manifold, the piping, and the intake filter. But with time, the throttle body does get dirty, and this can affect your engine’s power. Luckily, cleaning this part of the engine is relatively easy, and anyone can do it even without taking it off. 

So, if you want to know how to clean throttle body without removing it, please read on…

What Are the Signs of a Clogged Throttle Body?

When your cars’ throttle body fails or is clogged, it can start losing its power, and if not cleaned on time, it can cause more damage. So here are a few symptoms of a clogged or damaged throttle body to watch out for:

Lack of Power

finger holding the throttle body

When the throttle body is clogged or damaged, the engine won’t receive the air intake it needs to accelerate. Therefore, it may lack the power to accelerate faster. Some vehicles can become limited to the second gear and won’t exceed a speed of about 35 miles/hour.

If you notice this issue, you can scan for throttle-related codes using the on-board diagnostic scanner. If you notice these codes, your car’s throttle needs to be cleaned.

Engine Performance Problems

As mentioned earlier, the throttle restricts the amount of air that gets into the engine. So when clogged, it can result in poor idle or the car stalls when it stops. It can also result in engine problems when driving. 

Therefore, make sure you clean the throttle using the throttle cleaner, and if the problem persists, you may have to replace the throttle.

Limp Mode or Reduced Power

If your car is slower than expected, the throttle body may be clogged or it may be damaged. Reduced power or limp mode is a unique safety feature that limits the engine’s performance to prevent severe damages. Therefore, when the computer detects a fault in the engine, it initiates limp mode.

You should scan the car using an on-board diagnostic scanner. The fuel part should always read “closed-loop after the engine warms. But if it reads open-loop, then the vehicle’s computer has switched to limp mode. 

If it’s in limp mode, you should clean the throttle and diagnose it again. If you still get the same error, the throttle is damaged, and you need to replace it.

Rough Running

Thanks to the poor fuel/air mixture, a clogged or defective throttle body can force your vehicle’s engine to start misfiring, thanks to the poor fuel/ air mixture. So if your vehicle starts misfiring, you should scan its computer using an on-board diagnostic scan.

How to Clean Throttle Body Without Removing It

Cleaning a clogged throttle is one of the simplest maintenance tasks any car owner must do. I believe that everyone should be able to clean it without removing it. Remember, you need to clean the throttle body once every 30,000 miles. 

Here are the steps you need to follow to clean the throttle body.

Step 1: Get a Throttle Body Cleaning Kit and a Clean Towel

spray cleaner for throttle body

Before you start any maintenance task, the first thing you should do is make sure you have all the needed tools. So before you locate the throttle body in your vehicle, you should get the cleaning product and a cleaning towel. 

Remember, some vehicles like Ford have a specific cleaner, and there is a warning sign on the truck. But if you don’t see any warning signs, you can get a standard throttle cleaner from the store and a clean towel.

Next, prepare a clean and well-ventilated workstation; after all, you will be dealing with volatile solutions. Remember, you need to be working in a well-lit area.

Step 2: Locate Your Car’s Throttle Body

remove the engine cover to locate the throttle body

The throttle box is normally in the engine compartment in the car’s hood. So here are a few tips to help you locate the throttle body:

  • Generally, the throttle is situated between the intake manifold and the air cleaner.
  • It is made using aluminum.
  • The throttle of older cars is linked to the gas pedal by a wire. In this case, you can locate it by simply pressing the gas pedal with the vehicle switched off. When you press the gas pedal, you will notice the moving part.

But on most modern vehicles, you’ll have to remove the air intake rubber to access the throttle. The intake rubber is normally secured by a clamp that you can easily remove. The air intake rubber makes it relatively easy for anyone to find the throttle body. 

Next, remove the air intake rubber and place it in a secure place.

Step 3: Move the Car’s Throttle Plate to an Open Position

open the plate of the throttle body

To access the inner parts of the throttle body, you must first switch it to an open position. But make sure you don’t move the throttle plate using your hand. Instead, you should have a friend pushing the gas pedal inside the car. If you use your hand to move the plate, you will confuse your car’s computer and reset it.

Step 4: Spray Your Cleaning Product and Clean It Using Your Towel

spray the air intake with cleaner

With the throttle plate open, you can finally spray the cleaner in the throttle. But make sure you don’t spray too much of this solution as it can over-flood the car’s engine. You can spray the plate four times and on the inner parts of the throttle.

Clean the throttle using a clean towel. Remember, you are removing buildup debris and not clogging it, even more, so you should use a clean towel. Before installing the air intake rubber, don’t forget to clean the throttle plate.

Step 5: Install the Air Intake Rubber and Start Your Car

Install the air intake rubber

Once you have confirmed that the throttle is clean, you can finally install the vehicle’s air intake rubber and secure it using its clamp. Try moving it around to ensure that it is tightly secured; after all, you don’t need it leaking air.

Finally, you can start your vehicle and confirm if the engine can start. If it isn’t starting, you should press the gas pedal and start the vehicle again. 

If you use too much throttle body cleaner, the engine may not start immediately. So you shouldn’t worry; instead, you should continue cranking the vehicle until it finally starts.

FAQs

Can the Cleaner Damage Your Vehicle’s Engine?

The cleaner cannot damage the car’s engine. In fact, it is designed to remove contaminants, varnish, and gum that may be stuck in the throttle. But if you are not careful, you may end up flooding the engine with the spray. Fortunately, this won’t leave your vehicle with permanent damage.

Can I Clean the Throttle Body Using WD40?

No, the WD40 won’t be as effective as the throttle cleaner because there are some hard deposits that can only be removed by the throttle cleaner. The cleaner is designed to break down carbon and most fuel-related buildups.

Can You Clean the Throttle Body Using the Brake Cleaner?

Even though it is not advisable, you can only clean it using a non-chlorinated brake cleaner. Most car manufacturers advise against using chlorinated brake fluid, which is combustible. The brake fluid can also damage all the rubber and plastic parts it touches.

Conclusion

By now, you already know how to clean the throttle box without removing it. But you should understand that this is preventive maintenance that has to be done after every 30,000 miles. If your vehicle still doesn’t start even after cleaning the throttle, you may have to replace it. Therefore, you should seek a mechanic’s help if you have never replaced the throttle before. Plus, the problem may be more than a clogged throttle.