How Electronic Throttle Control Systems Work

Benefits of Electronic Throttle Control

Electronic throttle control systems may seem a little silly. After all, if a mechanical throttle control system works, why make it more complicated?

While it's true that electronic throttle control adds complications, it also adds a number of benefits. The first is decreased maintenance. Mechanical throttle systems, because they are made up of a lot of moving parts, are subject to a lot of wear. Over the life of the car, the various components can wear out. By comparison, an electronic throttle control system has comparatively few moving parts -- it sends its signals by electric impulse, not moving parts. That reduces wear and the amount of maintenance needed on the system.

Beginning in 2009, electronic throttle control systems made headlines as a result of a large-scale recall of Toyota vehicles due to acceleration control problems. Given the negative press electronic throttle control systems received, you may be surprised to know that electronic throttle controls add a number of safety benefits over mechanical systems. In a mechanical system, the throttle relies only on driver input to decide how far to open or close. With an electronic throttle control system, the main control unit not only reads input from the driver's foot on the accelerator, but it also examines input from wheels that are slipping, wheels that have grip, the steering system and the brakes, helping correct driver error and keep the car under control. In other words, a throttle control system can balance several factors that affect a car's speed and direction -- not just a foot on the pedal. Plus, electronic throttle control is a key component in most cruise control systems.

Electronic throttle control may be a complex system, but it makes driving a car easier and safer, and it can reduce maintenance. However, one of the concerns raised during the 2009-2010 Toyota recall was whether outside signals can interfere with electronic throttle control. Keep reading to learn whether this is true.