Introduction: How to Clean a Throttle Body

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Video tutorial on how to clean the throttle body on your vehicle. This is a generic video, so procedure may slightly vary between vehicle makes and models. A majority of engine will be equipped with a rubber intake tube that is held on with a gear clamp. Others may have an air box, filter, etc. There are two types of throttle bodies, cable operated which is shown in the video and electronic/fly by wire that is found on most newer vehicles. Be sure to refer to your vehicle's manufacturer manual to determine how to properly open the throttle butterfly. Over time the throttle body can become gummed up with any oily residue which can cause various issues such as a stiff pedal, sticky throttle, poor throttle response, increased fuel consuming, lack of power, and rough idling. This is a simple procedure that can be done yourself with a minimal amount of tools and time. This particular tutorial was done on a 1984 BMW 733i.

Tools/Supplies Needed:

  • screwdriver
  • socket set
  • two clean rags or cloths
  • throttle body specific cleaner (used in the video is Permatex Throttle Body, Carb & Choke Cleaner #80279)
  • toothbrush
  • cotton swabs
  • penetrating oil

Step 1:

First we will need to gain access to the throat of the throttle body by removing the main intake duct. Most vehicles have a rubber intake tube that is held on with a gear clamp that can be removed by either using a screwdriver or a socket, but models will vary. Remove any vacuum lines or breather tubes that connect directly to the throttle body. When spraying a clean into the throttle body we want to make sure no residue is left over or ventures in areas we don’t want it to. This is a cable operated throttle shown in the video, therefore we can control this by hand or have an assistant hold it open for us. Other vehicles can have an electronically controlled throttle, therefore you cannot push it open by hand or if you do, this can damage any factory set calibrations. Electronically controlled throttle can be opened by turning the key on, but not running the engine, then have an assistant operate the gas pedal which will open and close the flap, but be sure to check with your manufacturer’s procedure to be safe.

Step 2:

Place a rag or cloth below the throttle body opening to catch any cleaner that runs out. In the video I’m using a Throttle Body, Carb, and Choke Cleaner made by Permatex which can be purchases at any local auto parts. Only use a throttle body specific cleaner as it won’t damage any components associated with your throttle body or intake. Open the throttle plate by operating the linkage or having an assistant push on the gas pedal and spray the cleaner into the throat. Allow it to soak in for a moment, then using a clean rag, wipe out the build up. Be sure to only use a clean debris free rag as we don’t want any unwanted debris inside the intake. Reapply the cleaner if needed, we can also spray the cleaner onto a rag and then wipe out any debris. Other items that we can use to clean the throttle body include a tooth brush or cotton swabs, do not use any items that can damage the bore of the throttle body. Once done, ensure that any vacuum or breather ports do not have any cleaner pooled in them. Use a clean rag to give a final wipe down to remove any of this access cleaner.

Step 3:

Before reinstalling all the parts, apply a small amount of penetrating oil of your choice to the throttle plate shaft. Any access oil that drips out can be re-cleaned by spray some of the throttle body cleaner onto the rag and wiping it away. Do not spray it directly into the throttle body as this can wash away the oil we just applied. Make sure the throttle plate is working correctly, then reinstall all products in reverse of installation.

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