Throttle Actuator

A throttle actuator helps regulate the flow of air entering an engine to be used with the injected fuel in the combustion process. Commonly referred to as an electronic throttle body actuator, now that cars are built with complex computer controlled systems, your electronic fuel injection system controls the fuel and the electronic throttle actuator controls the air supply going to the engine. The throttle body is the actual piece of your vehicle's motor that allows air to pass into the engine valves and the actuator is the mechanism that allows the process to be controlled automatically by your vehicle's electronic control module.

There was a time when the throttle was controlled by a cable wire. Those days are behind us and using a wire control system is viewed as an inefficient system when compared to the electronic systems that are now commonplace within the auto industry. Other alternatives to the wire were used for throttle control such as linkages or rods. The machines have taken over and the wire has been replaced by throttle actuators that allow computer systems to control the actions of the throttle body.

Originally the electronic throttle body actuator had a separate computer control system that worked independently from the other computer systems in a vehicle, but as it became popular for vehicles to have electronic throttle control, the throttle actuator was set up to be controlled by the central electronic control module of a vehicle.

Some like the good old days where things were simpler, but like it or not, the new technology that has come into the auto industry in the past half century brings good with it that just can't be matched by the old tech... the electronic throttle body actuator included. The old cable wire control system for the throttle was purely mechanical. With a throttle actuator, a vehicle computer system can control the flow of air to the motor, resulting in the phenomenal advances in fuel efficiency and boosts in precise acceleration that we have seen since the days now part of automotive history. Having the throttle actuator in place allows the on-board computer system to create more efficient and safer acceleration, regulating engine power to give greater driver control when a car goes into a skid on an icy road, for example. Because of the precision regulation of fuel and air in today's vehicles, due to electronic throttle body actuators and electronic fuel injection, not only has engine performance reached new levels with acceleration and horsepower, but engine emissions have decreased drastically. The waste of excess air or fuel being burned is not present with the precision controls of engine systems that we see in common use today.

If you have an older vehicle that doesn't have a throttle actuator, your throttle body is likely controlled by a cable wire, rod, or linkage. The cable wire, rod, or linkage would pull on the throttle, turning it to open the valve when you pushed down on the gas pedal, with no intervention by a computer system or throttle actuator. Aside from the benefits of computer precision to promote a safer driving experience through better engine horsepower regulation and improved fuel efficiency, the methods of throttle control that the electronic throttle body actuator replaced could cause a gas pedal to stick in place. A gas pedal would hang, partially pressed down, leaving the throttle valve open and resulting in your engine holding an rpm above idle. While this did present a potentially unsafe situation, it was easily corrected by putting the toe of a shoe under the gas pedal and pulling the pedal back into its idle position. This was a minor problem but still added to the rest of the list of reasons that the throttle actuator, allowing a computer system to control throttle levels, was viewed as an improvement over the previous throttle control methods used in vehicles.

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