Bad Throttle Position Sensor On Jeep Cherokee (9 Symptoms)

How a Throttle Position Sensor Works

Every vehicle with an internal combustion engine h

Every vehicle with an internal combustion engine has something called a throttle body, also referred to as a butterfly valve. This valve is positioned in the middle of the intake manifold and the air filter.

The job of the throttle is to manage the air flow that goes into the engine. As the driver steps on the gas pedal to accelerate the vehicle, more air is needed in the internal combustion chamber of the engine.

While more air enters the engine, more fuel gets injected into it as well. The ignition of this mixture is how engine power is created.

The position of the throttle determines how much air enters the engine. There is a component in the fuel management system called a throttle position sensor which detects this position.

When you want to accelerate the vehicle, the sensor gives the throttle position information to the engine control unit. From there, the engine control unit will manage the throttle and allow it to take in whatever amount of air is needed in the engine.

The harder you step on the gas pedal, the wider the throttle will open to allow more air flow into the engine. At the same time, more fuel will be injected into the engine cylinders to create a balanced mixture for combustion.

See Also: 3 Causes of an Electronic Throttle Control Light On

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How To Fix A Bad Throttle Position Sensor

Most of the time, a bad sensor cannot be fixed. You will need to replace the TPS with a new sensor. You will, however, need to diagnose the problem before replacing the sensor. You want to make sure that the TPS is the root cause of your issue so that you don’t replace it for no reason.

Testing a TPS is not difficult, but it does require some special tools. Depending on your vehicle’s type of sensor, you will need either a voltmeter or an ohmmeter. If your vehicle has a potentiometer sensor, then you will use the voltmeter or multimeter. If it has a switch and combination TPS, then the ohmmeter is what you will need.

You should record the resistance of the TPS while pressing the accelerator pedal. A repair manual should list acceptable ranges for the resistance at various throttle positions. If the readings you get are outside these ranges, then the sensor is bad and will need to be replaced.

Replacing the sensor requires disconnecting the electrical connector and removing a few screws in most cases. The only issue that you might run into is the fact that the TPS can be difficult to access on some vehicles. It might require removing other parts first so that you can get to the connector and screws holding the TPS in place.

Is It Worth Repairing the Throttle Position Sensor on Your Jeep Cherokee?

A well-mixed mixture of fuel and air is crucial to the performance of your automobile. The air intake system controls the air entering the engine.

Since your engine needs more air as it moves faster, the air intake system is always in sync with the gas pedal. 

The throttle position sensor continuously sends gas pedal information to the engine control module.

The computer then decides where to position the throttle plate, one of the parts of the intake system allowing air into the engine.

Now, when you have a malfunctioning throttle position sensor, it’ll prevent the engine control unit from reading information from the gas pedal, which means failure in utilizing the throttle plate. 

Thus, your vehicle’s engine will not receive enough air, which will result in reduced power and poor performance.

Your Jeep may not be able to shift gears as a result. Replacing a bad TPS right away certainly makes sense from this standpoint.

Then again, a few things are always worth fixing while others are not. You must consider replacing the TPS on your car if it is relatively new and has low miles.

In contrast, if your vehicle has damage, has gone many miles, and now has mechanical defects, you should find a buyer for it, so you don’t end up with a money pit on your hands.

How it’s done:

  • Scan the computer system for codes.
  • Test the throttle position sensor and related wiring.
  • Remove and replace the throttle position sensor if found faulty.
  • Clean the carbon from throttle body.
  • Re-install throttle body and reset minimum idle speed to factory specs.
  • Clear trouble codes and check for proper operation.
  • Test drive vehicle.

What Are The Symptoms and Signs Of a Failing Throttle Position Sensor?

You may not think much about your car’s TPS, but you’ll notice when it starts to go bad.

Lack Of Power

If your engine isn’t getting the fuel it needs, or is getting too much, you’ll notice that it doesn’t seem to be accelerating as it should be. When you put your foot down, the TPS should be screaming out for more fuel, but it won’t if it’s malfunctioning. If the opposite happens, your vehicle may surge forward when you’re not intending to speed up.

Trouble Accelerating

In a similar vein, you may notice that your car will accelerate, but won’t get past a certain speed. It might feel like the car just fizzles out after first or second gear and won’t upshift or go any faster.

Uneven Idle

If your car can’t maintain a constant engine speed when it’s sitting still, your TPS may be on its way out. A constant level of fuel delivery is necessary to maintain a steady idle.

Check Engine Light

On its own, a check engine light can mean absolutely nothing, or can mean something catastrophic is happening. If it’s seen in conjunction with any of the symptoms above, it’s a good indicator of TPS issues.

You might see a check engine light when the TPS starts to fail., Depositphotos

Here’s How To Replace a Throttle Position Sensor

Let’s get started!

Disconnect the Battery

Before you start work, disconnect the battery’s negative terminal cable. This will prevent unwanted shocks to you and damage to other components under the hood.

Unplug Old Sensor

Once you’ve located the sensor’s position, you should be able to unplug the wiring harness that connects it to the vehicle’s computer system. Carefully unplug it, taking notice of any clips or connectors that need to be moved.

Remove Mounting Screws

Once it’s disconnected, you should be able to remove the screws that hold the sensor in place. Keep track of them in case you need to reuse them to install the new one.

Remove Old Sensor

Pull out the old sensor and dispose of it according to local regulations. 

Mount and Screw In New Sensor

Reversing the process, screw in the new sensor in the spot that the old one was pulled from.

Re-Plug Wiring Harness

Carefully re-plug the wiring harness into the new sensor, taking care to pay attention to clips and connectors that need to be aligned for proper installation.

Reconnect Battery Cables

Reconnect the negative battery terminal. Congrats! The job is done!

The Bottom Line

Your throttle position sensor is a critical component of your car’s fuel management system. Faulty TPS sensors can cause your vehicle to have odd symptoms that might even become dangerous. You might find that the vehicle does not properly accelerate when you press the pedal, or it could start bucking and surging as you drive. Either way, you should get the issue corrected promptly. Thankfully, the repair is usually not very expensive.

What Does a Throttle Position Sensor Do?

A throttle position sensor is similar to the motor cortex in the human brain, it controls one of the most important components of the car that keeps your engine running like a throttle body. Picture a little module in the car that reads how far down you have pressed the gas pedal. It gathers that information and relates it to the mass airflow sensor and the engine’s RPM to make sure that the correct amount of air/fuel ratio is going into your engine properly.

What is a throttle body?

Mass Airflow SensorAn engine needs two things to stay running which is air and fuel. Normally a car will pick up air through the intake and passes it through the Mass Airflow Sensor. The air will travel up the intake and it will reach your throttle body. The throttle body is a circular valve that’s located in between your air filter and Intake Manifold. In the old days, there was a wire attached to the gas pedal of your car and it would move accordingly to how you pressed it. Nowadays there is an electric system that’s far more efficient than the old ways but it can still have issues.

What happens when my throttle position sensor goes bad

When a TPS goes bad, then the car’s throttle body won’t function properly. It could either stay shut or it won’t close properly which is a severe issue. If it stays shut then your engine is not going receive air and it won’t start. When the throttle gets stuck in an open position than your vehicle will receive too much air and cause it to have a high or fluctuating idle.

Is it expensive to fix a throttle position sensor?


A throttle sensor is no motor swap but it could still get tricky. Depending on what type of vehicle you have this job could get expensive. If your vehicle has the throttle out in the open in a visible and accessible area then the job shouldn’t be too hard and it could cost you under $500 fix with parts and labor. Now some cars can get complicated as the throttle is inaccessible at first and will require tons of disassembling like taking off the intake manifold and air filter box. The price could easily double and get close to $1000.00 just for one small sensor.

Can You Drive Jeep Cherokee with a Bad Throttle Position Sensor?

Driving with a failing TPS is never a good idea. When the engine runs with a bad TPS, it may accelerate inappropriately, or it can accelerate on its own without you even pressing the accelerator. 

When you are driving in traffic, either condition is dangerous.

And since the Jeep Cherokee doesn’t have a safeguarding mechanism to protect you against this issue, you shouldn’t drive your vehicle until it’s repaired.

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday – Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday – Sunday 7 AM – 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com

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