Your vehicle’s throttle body is an important component of the air intake system. It has the critical job of managing the amount of air flowing into the engine based on what the vehicle is doing. Over time, various debris and buildup inside the engine can cause the throttle body to operate less efficiently, meaning that you may need to have it cleaned.
Having your vehicle’s throttle body cleaned by a professional typically costs between $90 and $250 depending on your vehicle’s make and model and where you take it for the work. Or, you can purchase a bottle of throttle body cleaner and do the job yourself for under $10.
How Much Does it Cost to Have Your Throttle Body Cleaned?
Most people should expect to pay between $90 and $250 to have their throttle body cleaned. The parts cost is normally $25 or less, and the rest is attributed to the labor.
Throttle body cleaning isn’t a very expensive job and it doesn’t require any special parts or tools, really. So, when you have your vehicle’s throttle body cleaned by a professional mechanic, you’re usually just paying for the labor cost.
Let’s take a look at some sample prices to help you get a better idea of what to expect.
|Sample Vehicle||Sample Price Estimate|
|2009 Toyota 4Runner||$245 – $$280|
|2011 Volvo XC90||$165 – $185|
|2007 Audi A4 Quattro||$245 – $280|
|2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK250||$119 – $135|
|2016 Porsche Macan||$125 – $145|
|2018 Toyota Camry||$85 – $120|
|2017 Honda Accord||$90 – $125|
Since most of the cost is attributed to labor, where you take the vehicle for service is a huge factor in how much your total price will be. Cleaning a throttle body shouldn’t take more than one hour, so keep that in mind whenever you get a quote.
The average hourly charge for labor at an auto shop is between $60 and $130 per hour. The charges at a dealership are normally much higher than a chain mechanic like Pep Boys or Your Mechanic. A local garage might also be cheaper depending on where you live.
You should also keep in mind that if cleaning the throttle body doesn’t resolve your vehicle’s issues, you may need a more expensive repair. Problems with the mass air flow sensor or the throttle position sensor can cause the same kinds of symptoms as a dirty throttle body, but they’re much more costly to fix.
So, most mechanics will start with the simplest repair (like a throttle body service) to see if that corrects the issue before they start replacing more expensive parts.
What is the Throttle Body and What Does it Do?
Your vehicle’s throttle body does the important job of determining how much air needs to be directed into the engine and allows it to pass through from the air intake. The throttle body replaced the carburetor in modern vehicles and when it doesn’t work properly, your engine will not run efficiently.
The throttle has sensors that tell the vehicle’s computer how much gas and air the vehicle needs to meet the present demands. The throttle body responds to messages from the car’s computer as needed.
Your vehicle’s throttle body is located between the car’s intake manifold and air filter. Whenever you press your accelerator, the throttle body is activated to allow air to flow.
Diagnosing a Dirty or Clogged Throttle Body
There are some subtle signs and symptoms that may indicate a problem with the throttle body. If you notice any of these, you could have a dirty or clogged throttle body impeding the airflow into your engine.
- Decreased fuel economy: If you notice that your miles per gallon are worse than normal or you’re having to fill up more frequently, it could indicate any number of issues. Still, a dirty or clogged throttle body will almost always cause this problem. When the throttle body isn’t regulating airflow properly, it could cause a reduction in your MPG of up to 15%.
- Poor acceleration: The throttle body is activated whenever you push your gas pedal. If it’s dirty or clogged, it may not be able to force the right amount of air into the engine when you accelerate. When this happens, you’ll notice that your car may be slow to accelerate or it may have bursts of uneven acceleration.
- Check engine light: A check engine light may indicate all sorts of problems with your vehicle, but it can also tell you that there’s a problem with the air intake system. You should always take your car to the shop when the check engine light illuminates. The technician will be able to hook up your vehicle to a computer and check for error codes to indicate a problem with the throttle body.
- Low or rough idling: If your vehicle has a low idle or if it stalls when you come to a stop, it could indicate a dirty or clogged throttle body. If your engine doesn’t get the right amount of air to power the internal combustion system, you will feel it in your vehicle’s idle.
Can You Clean Your Own Throttle Body?
If you’ve noticed any issues with your vehicle’s air intake system, it may be an issue with the throttle body. Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms, keeping this important component clean and operating properly is good preventative maintenance.
Cleaning the throttle body is a fairly simple process, and most people can do it themselves at home. If you’re able to, it can help save you some money versus taking the vehicle to a mechanic.
Here’s what you need to clean your throttle body
- Throttle body cleaner (from your local auto parts store)
- Household oil
- Cotton swabs
- A toothbrush or other soft cleaning brush
- Protective rubber gloves
- Eye protection (goggles)
- Paper towels
To locate the throttle body, look in the area between the air cleaner and the vehicle’s intake manifold. It’s usually made of aluminum, and you may be able to find it easier by having someone gently push the gas pedal with the car turned off. The throttle shaft will move when the gas pedal is pressed.
Follow these steps to clean your throttle body:
Note: Make sure that you perform this work in a well-ventilated area. Throttle body cleaner is highly flammable, so be sure to handle it with care.
1. Disconnect the ground terminal from your battery.
2. Label any hoses attached to the throttle body and air ducts.
3. Remove the air duct that’s connected to the throttle body.
4. Put on rubber gloves and protective eyewear.
5. Spray your throttle body cleaner into the air duct. Using your toothbrush or other small brush, remove any debris and loosen large deposits. Remove remaining gunk and debris with paper towels.
6. Re-apply throttle body cleaner and repeat the process as needed.
7. Place a drop of all-purpose household oil onto a cotton swab and apply it to the throttle shaft.
8. Replace the ducts and tighten clamps.
9. Reconnect the battery and start your car, allowing it to idle for a few minutes.
10. Take a test drive to see if there’s any noticeable difference in your vehicle’s performance.
Should You Clean Your Throttle Body?
Your vehicle’s air intake system is essential for your engine to function correctly. If the throttle body is dirty or clogged, the air intake system will not be able to do its job, which could cause car troubles.
Still, it’s not always worth it to take your vehicle into the shop for such a simple repair. If you’re willing and able to do the work yourself, it’s certainly worth the $10 bottle of cleaner. However, it may not be worth the $200 or more to take your car to a mechanic.
If you’re already having your oil changed, need a tune-up, or you’re having other work done, you should definitely have the technician take a look at your throttle body and clean it if necessary.
However, If your issues seem more serious or if you check engine light is on, it’s always a good idea to have your vehicle checked out sooner rather than later.
The Bottom Line
In many cases, you can get your throttle body cleaned for around $100, but it may be closer to $300 in some cases. The price will ultimately depend on where you take the vehicle and the going rate for labor where you live.
You can always combine services to try to save some money on labor costs, or ask your mechanic if they’ll take a look at the throttle body as a courtesy when you already have your vehicle in for work.
Many garages offer discounts for AAA members, senior citizens, military service members, and students, so it never hurts to ask if any of those might apply to you.
It’s also a good idea to get more than one quote before having work done on your car. That way you’ll be sure you’re getting a fair price and you’ll know exactly how much you’re paying for labor versus parts.