Throttle Position Sensor TPS Replacement

How to Replace a Throttle Position Sensor TPS

The throttle position sensor (TPS) is used to send feedback information on the position of the throttle plate. This information is used by the computer (powertrain control module PCM) to assess the demand from the driver on the desired engine output. The computer then adjusts due to contributing factors such as engine speed and vacuum levels to determine load, and then adjusts the fuel and timing aspects of the engine. Without this input the computer cant accurately perform these tasks. When the throttle position sensor fails it can do so in one of a few different ways. First, and one of the most difficult failures to find is the intermitted failure. This is where the sensor works fine most of the time and only fails for a spilt second. This can cause a surge or a stumble in the engine performance. This kind of failure will not trigger a trouble code in most cases because of the short duration of the failure. 

Second, and most popular failure is a full time shorted sensor. This failure will result in a check engine or service engine soon light. The last failure is the sensor is operating, but slightly out of range, which means the feedback information could be lower or higher than what is should be causing the computer to process incorrect information. This can lead to engine runability problems that can range from subtle, to very noticeable problems. This condition may or may not cause a service engine soon or check engine light. Replacing the throttle position sensor is a simple job in most cases and is located on the throttle body on the pivot of the throttle plate. To replace a throttle position sensor follow the instructions below.

Begin by parking your car on level ground with the emergency brake on, and the gear selector in park. Please wear protective clothing, gloves and eyewear to guard against injuries.

Tools and Supplies Needed to Complete this Job

1. Torx head driver set.

2. Screw driver set

3. Wrench Set (in some cases)

4. Socket set (in some cases)

5. Replacement Throttle Position Sensor (TPS)

6. Shop Towel

7. Cleaning solvent such as carburetor cleaner


Step 1 - Release the primary and secondary hood releases and lift the hood of your car. Secure the hood with prop rod of needed.

Step 2 - Remove plastic covers or shrouds to gain access to the sensor. (If you cannot locate the throttle position sensor please refer to a car repair manual)

Step 3 - Disconnect the electrical connector from the sensor.

Step 4 - Remove the mounting bolts that hold the sensor in place and remove the sensor.

Step 5 - Clean the mounting surface to ensure proper mounting of the new sensor.

Step 6 - Install the new sensor and gently tighten the mounting bolts. (Note: On some older models you will need to adjust the sensor. This is done by using a scan tool and setting the minimum voltage to manufacturers recommended specifications.)

Step 7 - Clear any diagnostic trouble codes present. (Note: these codes could re-appear within 30 minutes of driving if the problem still exists).

Best Practices

  • To avoid damage to the throttle position sensor mounting bolts use top quality tools. Some of these mounting bolts use a thread sealer that can be difficult to undo.
  • Clean sensor mounting surface with a solvent such as carburetor cleaner.
If further assistance is needed, our certified car repair technicians are ready to answer your car questions. Also, gain manufacturer specific instructions and information by clicking - Auto Repair Manual

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Article first published (Updated 2013-08-16)