Car Doctor Q&A: Throttle Problems in a Ford Explorer

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Poor performance in a Ford Explorer can be mechanical, but it can also be electronic. John Paul provides some answers.

Q. I have a 2004 Ford Explorer and recently the check engine light came on as well as a wrench icon. I did some checking online and the problem has something to do with the gas pedal. I did have the computer checked and there were two codes, which the mechanic cleared. When the light was out it seemed as if the truck shifted smoother. The lights stayed out for about 250 miles and now the problem is back.

Any suggestions, and if you do is it expensive?

A. The problem is a faulty throttle position sensor. The throttle position sensor provides an electronic signal to the vehicle’s computer which among other things can effect shift quality and vehicle emissions. When this part fails it will usually it will set codes P2106 and P2135. Replacing the throttle position sensor (TPS) and resetting and relearning the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) . The throttle position sensor is $85.00 and takes about one half hour to install it.

If you’re planning on replacing it yourself, be careful. There’s Loctite on the torx-head screws that hold it in place, and if you don’t use heat to remove them, the screws can break off in the housing. See the video below, which explains the removal procedure:

In addition to this, you’ll want to visit your Ford dealer to have your PCM (powertrain control module) updated. Dealers can check to see if it needs to be updated, and if it does, it usually costs between $100 and $150.

John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. A certified mechanic, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on AM 950 and 550.