When the check engine light comes on, you feel like your heart is going to stop. This time, you take it to get the code read, and it keeps pointing you toward the TPS. But what is a TPS? What are the signs and how much does a TPS cost? How important is it, and how much will it cost?
Every engine has a lot of sensors that control every output to make it run as well as possible. The TPS is one of the first sensors used by your engine.
When it’s acting up, you’ll see a lot of different problems. But what is a TPS, how does it work, and can you change it yourself? Just keep reading, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know!
What is a TPS, and How Does it Work?
A TPS is a sensor that tells you where the throttle is. It is connected to the throttle body of your car and tells the ECU how open the throttle is.
In plain English, the throttle body lets air into your engine, and the TPS tells the car’s computer how open it is. The computer uses these inputs to set the amount of fuel to inject into the engine, the timing of the engine, and a lot more.
Because of this, the throttle position sensor is one of the most important sensors on your car. Without it, you’ll notice right away that a lot of things are wrong.
Symptoms of a Faulty TPS
TPSs are very important parts of your car. As soon as one of them breaks, you’ll know. But what will that really look like?
Check Engine Light
If a sensor isn’t working right, your ECU will turn on the “Check Engine” light. There are many reasons why the check engine light might come on, but the most common one is that the sensors are broken.
Also, if you think your TPS might be broken but your check engine light isn’t on, you probably have something else wrong. To be sure, you should connect an OBD II scan tool to your car to see if there is a hidden code that isn’t turning on the light.
Even though this is a sign of another problem, your check engine light might not be on even though there is a problem.
Your TPS helps your engine run at its best, and if the sensor isn’t working right, your engine won’t run as well as it should. The severity of the problems will depend on what’s wrong with the TPS, but you’ll need to replace the sensor no matter what.
Excessive Fuel Consumption
If the TPS isn’t badly broken, the worst thing that could happen is that the car might get bad gas mileage. Your TPS helps you use the least amount of gas possible, so if it’s not working right, you’ll waste a lot of gas. But there’s no way to know if your TPS problem will just cause you to use too much gas or if it will cause major damage.
When you start your car, if the RPMs jump or change all over the place, you probably need a new TPS. It’s a clear sign that something is wrong, and you need to take care of it right away. If your TPS is broken and your engine is idling roughly because of it, driving around will quickly damage your engine.
Average Replacement Costs for a TPS
Please do yourself a favour and try unplugging and plugging back in your TPS before you replace it. Even though this doesn’t usually fix the problem, sometimes all it needs is a reset, which can save you a few dollars.
There’s good news if your car does need a new TPS. Not only is it a cheap part, but most of the time it’s also easy to replace. Whether you do it yourself or have a mechanic do it, it’s a simple fix that shouldn’t cost you much.
The price of a typical TPS is around $100. But depending on what you drive, you could find one for as little as $40 or as much as $200. Shopping around on sites like AutoZone or O’Reilly’s is the best way to save money when you need to buy a new TPS.
They are almost exactly the same as OEM parts, but they cost a lot less.
When you look at how much it will cost to replace your TPS, this is the most expensive part. Depending on where you take it to get fixed and what you drive, the shop will charge you anywhere from $30 to $100 for labour.
When you add everything up, you might get lucky and only have to pay a mechanic around $70 to replace your TPS. But if you drive a more expensive car and take it to a dealership for repairs, you could end up paying as much as $300.
Even though that sounds like a lot, it’s much cheaper than having to replace the engine because you let it run too long with a broken sensor.
How to Replace a TPS Yourself
You’re in luck if you want to save a little money and do the job yourself. One of the easiest things for a mechanic to do is to change out a TPS. Here are the six steps you need to take to replace your TPS. Each of them is clear and easy.
Find the Sensor
If you don’t know what you want, just type it into Google. But it’s not hard to find if you know a little bit about how cars work. You’ll need to find your throttle body, which is a metal piece that connects to your intake. From there, you need to find where the sensor is attached. Your TPS is that sensor. It’s really that simple!
Disconnect the Battery
Before you disconnect or reconnect any sensors, you need to take your battery out. Modern cars have way too many sensors, and if a charge shorts out in the system, it can do a lot of damage and cost you a lot of money. Just disconnect your battery’s negative terminal, and you’re good to go.
Take the Screws Out/Unplug the Sensor
Once you’ve found the sensor, you’ll need to take out the screws that hold it in place and disconnect the wires. Depending on what you drive, the screws could have hex heads, Torx bits, or just be regular bolts. Most electrical connectors have a spot you’ll need to press down on as you pull the sensor out.
Remove the Sensor
After taking everything else off, you can take the sensor off. After you take everything off, the sensor will often just fall off, but sometimes dirt and grime will keep it stuck to the throttle body. If that’s the case, all you have to do is gently pull it, and it will come off.
Install New Sensor
After taking off the old sensor, you can put the new one in. Use the same screws and electrical connector that were used to connect your old sensor to the engine. With sensors, you need to make sure the screws are tight but not too tight.
If you tighten your screws too much, you might break your new sensor. Don’t worry about torque specs too much. You should be fine as long as everything fits.
Lastly, you can keep your electrical connector from corroding by putting some dielectric grease on it. This will stop anything else from getting in and make your connection better.
Don’t put the battery back in until you’ve hooked up everything else. Another benefit of disconnecting your battery while you do the job is that your check engine light will be turned off by itself. If your TPS was the problem, the check engine light should be off when you start your car.
Can You Drive with a Faulty TPS?
If your TPS is broken, you probably won’t be able to drive at all. You might have trouble getting up to speed, or the idle speed might be way too high. In either case, it will be very hard to control your vehicle.
Even if you’re lucky enough to be able to drive with a broken TPS, there are still a lot of risks involved. Even though you might be able to drive with a broken TPS for a while, it won’t be long before the broken sensor causes more damage to your car’s engine.
Even small problems with your TPS can cause your engine to use the wrong amount of fuel to air, which can cause damage. How long it takes to hurt your engine depends on how broken your TPS is, but it’s not worth the risk of needing a new engine because of a $100 sensor.
The TPS isn’t the worst thing that could be making your check engine light come on. Depending on what you drive, the sensor itself might be a little pricey, but it’s easy to change. You can get your car back on the road quickly if you know what you’re doing and work hard.