Cleaning the throttle body should not cost you $110.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 2002

Dear Tom and Ray:

Our 1999 Cadillac DeVille is subject to the accelerator sticking in the "up" position. The service technician tells me it happens because of carbon buildup in the throttle body. Supposedly, cleaning of the throttle body is a maintenance item (at $110 per). I had the 15,000-mile maintenance performed at 12,800 miles, and the accelerator began to stick again at 20,000. Am I faced with a $110 bill for cleanup every 8,000 miles? -- Jacque

TOM: Well, one possibility is that if the dealer says it's a $110 maintenance item every 8,000 miles, then that's what it is. And I'm sure everyone considering buying a Cadillac would be interested to know that this is a scheduled maintenance item that was accidentally left out of the owner's manual.

RAY: On the other hand, there might just be something wrong with your particular car, Jacque. It's possible that your throttle plate is particularly tight, and that when even a small amount of carbon builds up (which it does on all cars), the plate starts to stick. So one solution would be for the dealer to replace the throttle body -- under warranty. He'll be reluctant to do that, I'm sure.

TOM: The other solution would be to take the dealer's advice and have the throttle body cleaned every time you change your oil. But I wouldn't pay the dealer $110 to do it. Cleaning the throttle body involves removing the air cleaner and spraying the inside of the throttle body with a life-threatening solvent. We charge $20 for that.

RAY: So if your dealer can't provide a more permanent -- or at least longer-term -- solution, I'd take it to an independent shop that won't overcharge you.

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