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CHAPTER 21 Throttle Position (TP) Sensors

OBJECTIVES
After studying Chapter 21, the reader will be able to:
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Prepare for ASE Engine Performance (A8) certification test content area “E” (Computerized Engine Controls Diagnosis and Repair). Discuss how throttle position sensors work. List the methods that can be used to test TP sensors. Describe the symptoms of a failed TP sensor. List how the operation of the TP sensor affects vehicle operation. Discuss TP sensor rationality tests.
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Automotive Engine Performance, 3/e By James D. Halderman

Copyright © 2010, 2007, 2003 Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458 • All rights reserved.

KEY TERMS
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Potentiometer Skewed

Throttle position (TP) sensor

Automotive Engine Performance, 3/e By James D. Halderman

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Copyright © 2010, 2007, 2003 Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458 • All rights reserved.

THROTTLE POSITION SENSOR CONSTRUCTION • • Most computer-equipped engines use a throttle position (TP) sensor to signal to the computer the position of the throttle. Halderman 4 Copyright © 2010. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. Inc. 3/e By James D.. 2003 Pearson Education. The TP sensor consists of a potentiometer. a type of variable resistor. Upper Saddle River. . Automotive Engine Performance. 2007. FIGURE 21–1 A typical TP sensor mounted on the throttle plate of this port-injected engine.

. return voltage is high or low. Depending on whether the contact is near the supply end or the ground end of the resistor. 3/e By James D. . NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. 2007.THROTTLE POSITION SENSOR CONSTRUCTION POTENTIOMETERS • • • • A potentiometer is a variable-resistance sensor with three terminals. Halderman 5 Copyright © 2010. Inc. One end of the resistor receives reference voltage. while the other end is grounded. 2003 Pearson Education. Automotive Engine Performance. Upper Saddle River. The third terminal is attached to a movable contact that slides across the resistor to vary its resistance.

Upper Saddle River. 2007. Automotive Engine Performance. Halderman 6 Copyright © 2010.THROTTLE POSITION SENSOR CONSTRUCTION POTENTIOMETERS FIGURE 21–2 The signal voltage from a throttle position increases as the throttle is opened because the wiper arm is closer to the 5-volt reference. 2003 Pearson Education. the resistance of the sensor winding effectively reduces the signal voltage output to the computer. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved.. 3/e By James D. Inc. . At idle.

.” Automotive Engine Performance. Upper Saddle River. . 2003 Pearson Education. 2007. The throttle position (TP) sensor used on fuelinjected vehicles acts as an “electronic accelerator pump. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. • This reference voltage is usually referred to as a 5volt reference or “Vref.1 volts.” The PCM supplies the TP sensor with a regulated voltage that ranges from 4.8 to 5. Halderman 7 Copyright © 2010. 3/e By James D. Inc.TP SENSOR COMPUTER INPUT FUNCTIONS • • • The computer senses any change in throttle position and changes the fuel mixture and ignition timing.

. Upper Saddle River. Halderman 8 Copyright © 2010. 2007.PCM USES FOR THE TP SENSOR • The TP sensor is used by the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) for the following reasons. 3/e By James D. 2003 Pearson Education. • • • • • • • Clear Flood Mode Torque Converter Clutch Engagement And Release Rationality Testing For Map And Maf Sensors Automatic Transmission Shift Points Target Idle Speed (Idle Control Strategy) Air-conditioning Compressor Operation Backs Up Other Sensors Automotive Engine Performance. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. . Inc.

3/e By James D. An oscilloscope. . 9 Automotive Engine Performance. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. 2007. 2003 Pearson Education.TESTING THE THROTTLE POSITION SENSOR • A TP sensor can be tested using one or more of the following tools: • • • • A digital voltmeter with three test leads connected in series between the sensor and the wiring harness connector or back probing using T-pins or other recommended tool that will not cause harm to the connector or wiring.. A breakout box that is connected in series between the computer and the wiring harness connector(s). A scan tool or a specific tool recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Halderman Copyright © 2010. Inc. Upper Saddle River.

3/e By James D. 2007. Upper Saddle River. 2003 Pearson Education. . Halderman 10 Copyright © 2010. Automotive Engine Performance. Inc.TESTING THE THROTTLE POSITION SENSOR FIGURE 21–3 A meter lead connected to a T-pin that was gently pushed along the signal wire of the TP sensor until the point of the pin touched the metal terminal inside the plastic connector.. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved.

Clean transitions and the lack of any glitches in this waveform indicate a good sensor. 3/e By James D. Upper Saddle River. Halderman 11 Copyright © 2010.. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved.TESTING THE THROTTLE POSITION SENSOR FIGURE 21–4 A typical waveform of a TP sensor signal as recorded on a DSO when the accelerator pedal was depressed with the ignition switch on (engine off). Inc. . 2007. 2003 Pearson Education. (Courtesy of Fluke Corporation) Automotive Engine Performance.

To measure the ground. 2003 Pearson Education. 3/e By James D.. 2007. simply turn the ignition on (engine off) and touch one test lead of a DMM set to read DC volts to the sensor ground and the other to the negative terminal of the battery. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved.2 volt (200 mV) represents a poor ground. then the sensor output will be skewed or out of range. 12 Automotive Engine Performance. Halderman Copyright © 2010. Upper Saddle River.Check Power and Ground Before Condemning a Bad Sensor • Most engine sensors use a 5-volt reference and a ground. Any reading higher than 0. measure both the 5-volt reference and ground. . If the 5 volts to the sensor is too high (shorted to voltage) or too low (high resistance). Inc. Before replacing the sensor that did not read correctly.

2003 Pearson Education. Halderman 13 Copyright © 2010. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. Automotive Engine Performance.. . Upper Saddle River.Check Power and Ground Before Condemning a Bad Sensor FIGURE 21–5 Checking the 5volt reference from the computer being applied to the TP sensor with the ignition switch on (engine off). Inc. 2007. 3/e By James D.

Inc. 2003 Pearson Education. . NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. A reading of greater than 0. 2007.Check Power and Ground Before Condemning a Bad Sensor FIGURE 21–6 Checking the voltage drop between the TP sensor ground and a good engine ground with the ignition on (engine off).2 volt (200 mV) represents a bad computer ground. 3/e By James D. Upper Saddle River.. Automotive Engine Performance. Halderman 14 Copyright © 2010.

engine off. Automotive Engine Performance. slowly depress and release the accelerator pedal from inside the vehicle. STEP 2 With the ignition on. 3/e By James D. and average readings. Upper Saddle River.or 5-volt reading would indicate a fault or short in the TP sensor.TESTING A TP SENSOR USING THE MIN/MAX FUNCTION • • Many digital multimeters are capable of recording voltage readings over time and then displaying the minimum. 2007. . • • • STEP 1 Connect the red meter lead to the signal wire and the black meter lead to a good ground on the ground return wire at the TP sensor.. Any 0. To perform a MIN/MAX test of the TP sensor. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. Halderman 15 Copyright © 2010. manually set the meter to read higher than 4 volts. STEP 3 Check the minimum and maximum voltage reading on the meter display. maximum. 2003 Pearson Education. Inc.

Automotive Engine Performance. but can vary from as low as 0. • • STEP 1 With the key on. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. STEP 2 Check the scan tool display for the percentage of throttle opening.TESTING THE TP SENSOR USING A SCAN TOOL • A scan tool can be used to check for proper operation of the throttle position sensor using the following steps. Upper Saddle River.. . the TP sensor voltage display should be about 0. Halderman 16 Copyright © 2010. 2003 Pearson Education.2 volts. Inc. The reading should be zero and gradually increase in percentage as the throttle is depressed. 2007.3 volt to as high as 1. 3/e By James D. engine off.5 volt.

. 2007. Remove the wedge and cycle the ignition key. Halderman Copyright © 2010. If the percentage of throttle opening returns to 0%. STEP 4 Start the engine and observe the TP sensor reading. 17 Automotive Engine Performance.. Use a wedge or thin object to increase the throttle opening slightly. Upper Saddle River. Shut off and restart the engine. 2003 Pearson Education.TESTING THE TP SENSOR USING A SCAN TOOL • • STEP 3 The idle air control (IAC) counts should increase as the throttle is opened and decrease as the throttle is closed. The throttle position sensor should again read zero percentage. the PCM determines that the increased throttle opening is now the new minimum and resets the idle position of the TP sensor. Start the engine and observe the IAC counts as the throttle is depressed. 3/e By James D. Inc. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. The throttle percentage reading should increase.

Inc. 2007. Halderman 18 Copyright © 2010. . 2003 Pearson Education.. Upper Saddle River. Automotive Engine Performance. 3/e By James D.TP SENSOR DIAGNOSTIC TROUBLE CODES • The diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) associated with the throttle position sensor include the following. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved.

A TP sensor can be tested using a digital multimeter. Inc. Upper Saddle River. 3/e By James D. and a ground. Copyright © 2010. 4. A throttle position (TP) sensor is a three-wire variable resistor called a potentiometer. torque converter engagement and release. Halderman 19 .5 volt at idle and increase to about 4.SUMMARY 1. or a scan tool. as well as for rationality testing for the MAP and MAF sensors. 3. The TP sensor signal voltage should be about 0. and automotive transmission shift points. plus the signal wire to the PCM. Automotive Engine Performance. 2003 Pearson Education. The TP sensor is used by the PCM for clear flood mode. 2007. The three wires on the TP sensor include a 5-volt reference voltage from the PCM. 2. which also goes to the PCM. a digital storage oscilloscope (DSO).5 volts at wide-open throttle (WOT). 5. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved..

2003 Pearson Education. 2. 3. 3/e By James D. What is the purpose of each of the three wires on a typical TP sensor? What all does thePCMdo with the TP sensor signal voltage? What is the procedure to follow when checking the 5-volt reference and TP sensor ground? How can a TP sensor be diagnosed using a scan tool? Automotive Engine Performance. Upper Saddle River.REVIEW QUESTIONS 1. . NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. 4. 2007. Halderman 20 Copyright © 2010. Inc..

d. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. 2003 Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River. O2S ECT sensor Engine MAP sensor TP sensor Automotive Engine Performance. Which sensor is generally considered to be the electronic accelerator pump of a fuel-injected engine? a. Halderman 21 Copyright © 2010. c..CHAPTER QUIZ 1. b. . Inc. 2007. 3/e By James D.

5 to 2. Halderman 22 Copyright © 2010. 2007.8 volts 13. c.5 to 15.0 volts Automotive Engine Performance.5 volt or 10% of WOT TP sensor voltage 1.CHAPTER QUIZ 2. b. a. 3/e By James D.50 to 2.80 volts 0. 2003 Pearson Education. Typical TP sensor voltage at idle is about ________. Inc. . 2. d. Upper Saddle River.. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved.

2003 Pearson Education. d. A TP sensor is what type of sensor? a. c. Halderman 23 Copyright © 2010. Inc. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. b.. 3/e By James D.CHAPTER QUIZ 3. 2007. Rheostat Voltage generating Potentiometer Piezoelectric Automotive Engine Performance. . Upper Saddle River.

Most TP sensors have how many wires? a. Inc. d. Halderman 24 Copyright © 2010. 2007. 3/e By James D. Upper Saddle River.CHAPTER QUIZ 4. 2003 Pearson Education.. b. . c. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. 1 2 3 4 Automotive Engine Performance.

CHAPTER QUIZ 5. Inc. . c. b. 2003 Pearson Education. 2007. Oxygen sensor MAF sensor MAP sensor Either b or c Automotive Engine Performance. Upper Saddle River. Halderman 25 Copyright © 2010. 3/e By James D. Which sensor does the TP sensor back up if the PCM determines that a failure has occurred? a. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. d..

3/e By James D. d. Inc. c. . 2007.. Upper Saddle River. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. Which wire on a TP sensor should be backprobed to check the voltage signal to the PCM? a. Halderman 26 Copyright © 2010. b. 2003 Pearson Education.CHAPTER QUIZ 6. 5-volt reference (Vref) Signal Ground Meter should be connected between the 5-volt reference and the ground Automotive Engine Performance.

c.. Inc.CHAPTER QUIZ 7. Automotive Engine Performance. Upper Saddle River. Halderman 27 Copyright © 2010. The TP sensor is open at one point during the test. 2003 Pearson Education. d. 2007. What does this reading indicate? a. 3/e By James D. The TP sensor signal is shorted to 5-volt reference. Both b and c are possible. . NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. After a TP sensor has been tested using the MIN/MAX function on a DMM. b. The TP sensor is shorted. a reading of zero volts is displayed.

b. The TP sensor is open at one point during the test. Inc. The TP sensor is shorted. d. After a TP sensor has been tested using the MIN/MAX function on a DMM. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved.CHAPTER QUIZ 8.. c. Automotive Engine Performance. . Halderman 28 Copyright © 2010. Upper Saddle River. a reading of 5 volts is displayed. 2007. Both b and c are possible. 2003 Pearson Education. The TP sensor signal is shorted to 5-volt reference. 3/e By James D. What does this reading indicate? a.

The ignition is switched to on..CHAPTER QUIZ 9. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. Technician B says that the TP sensor ground circuit has excessive resistance. b. d. A technician attaches one lead of a digital voltmeter to the ground terminal of the TP sensor and the other meter lead to the negative terminal of the battery. engine off and the meter displays 37. Technician A says that this is the signal voltage and is a little low. Inc. Technician A only Technician B only Both Technicians A and B Neither Technician A nor B 29 Automotive Engine Performance. 2003 Pearson Education. 3/e By James D. Halderman Copyright © 2010.3 mV. 2007. Upper Saddle River. c. Which technician is correct? a. .

CHAPTER QUIZ 10. Inc. . A P0122 DTC is retrieved using a scan tool. 2003 Pearson Education. 2007. d.. The TP sensor voltage is low The TP sensor could be shorted-to-ground The TP sensor signal circuit could be shorted-toground All of the above are correct. NJ 07458 • All rights reserved. 3/e By James D. This DTC means ________. a. b. Upper Saddle River. Automotive Engine Performance. Halderman 30 Copyright © 2010. c.