What to do with a sticky gas pedal?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 2001

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a '93 Toyota Camry Wagon. Lately, I have been having trouble with the accelerator pedal. It will stick sometimes and be hard to depress. When a traffic light turns green, I sometimes have to jab at the pedal to get it unstuck. I have tried lubricating around the pedal and lubricating the part of the cable that's exposed under the hood. What gives? -- Wendell

RAY: I think the problem is in the throttle body. Sometimes, carbon builds up on the throttle plate or on the walls around it. And that can make the plate stick in the closed position. In fact, most manufacturers now recommend that you have the throttle plate cleaned on a regular basis. So that would be the first thing to look for.

TOM: The other possibility is that sometimes, on cars with a lot of miles on them, the throttle plate actually wears a groove in its aluminum housing. Then the plate gets stuck in that groove. In that case, you can try adjusting it, but if that doesn't work, you'll need a whole new throttle body, and that's mucho dinero.

RAY: In my vast (or at least half-vast) experience with Toyota Camrys, I'd have to say that it's not likely to be the accelerator cable. We almost never have to replace accelerator cables on Camrys for this problem. And in any case, you're never supposed to lubricate that cable. The grease you apply just ends up attracting MORE dirt and makes the cable MORE likely to stick.

TOM: So take it in to your mechanic, Wendell. Ask him to check the throttle plate to see if it's moving freely. If it's not, hope that it's just built-up carbon, or cash might be moving freely out of your pocket very soon.

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