Electronic Throttle Control Light On? This is what it means

Back in the day, your vehicle’s throttle body had a wire that connected to the pedal. Pushing the pedal opened the throttle body. This increased air flow to your engine. As technology advanced, the physical links were replaced by sensors and actuators.

This system can provide better air-to-fuel ratios, which will result in better engine performance and fuel economy. However, if an actuator or sensor fails, your throttle control is lost. That’s why vehicle manufacturers packed their vehicles full of sensors and an entire system to monitor your electronic throttle control.

So what do you do if your throttle control lights come on? What should you do if your throttle control light comes on? We’ll answer all those questions and more here.

Índice de Contenido
  1. Meaning of the Electronic Throttle Controller Light
  2. The Electronic Throttle Control light function
  3. The Electronic Throttle Control Lamp Causes
    1. 1. Faulty Throttle Sensor
    2. 2. Sensor for Accelerator Position Sensor Faulty
    3. 3. Tight Throttle Body
  4. Can an electronic throttle control light be used to make it safe for you to drive?
  5. FAQ
    1. Is it worth fixing the ETC lights?
    2. Do you have a fuse to control the electronic throttle?
    3. How can I reset my ETC lights?
    4. My ETC light is blinking.
  6. Summary

Meaning of the Electronic Throttle Controller Light

When there are problems with the throttle system, an electronic light will illuminate. The throttle system includes throttle body, accelerator pedal and wiring between them.

Electronic throttle control systems control the position and control of the throttle. While older vehicles use a cable that’s linked directly to the throttle body, most modern cars accomplish this feat through sensors and your vehicle’s ECM.

While there are plenty of advantages to this, if everything isn’t working the way it should, then you’re not going to accelerate the way you should.

The Electronic Throttle Control light function

Etc Warning Light

To ensure everything works as it should, your electronic throttle control lamp monitors the throttle controller system. When it’s not, the light turns on to let you know that there is a problem.

Only when your vehicle is turned on should you see the electronic throttle control lights. The light will turn on when your vehicle has completed a system inspection. But if it stays on you may have an issue that needs to be addressed.

An OBD-II scanner is the best way to pinpoint exactly what you are looking for. While these tools can’t tell you with 100 percent certainty what the problem is, they can give you a good place to start your search.

The Electronic Throttle Control Lamp Causes

A faulty throttle sensor position sensor, or an inoperable throttle throttle pedal position sensor are the most frequent causes of electronic throttle control lights. But while those are the most common causes of an electronic throttle light, they aren’t the only things that could be going on.

We’ve taken a deep dive into the three most common problems below.

1. Faulty Throttle Sensor

Throttle Body Location

Just because your vehicle’s ECM tells the throttle to open a specific amount doesn’t mean that the ECM trusts that it will. The throttle control sensor tells it the distance the throttle is actually open and adjusts the fuel-to-air ratio based on this.

Every mechanic will tell you to not only trust, but also verify. The throttle control sensor is the ECM's way of telling you exactly what is going on. So, when everything doesn’t come back the way it expects, it throws an electronic throttle control light so you can check out what’s going on.

The sensor may not be replaceable in some throttle bodies. You might need to replace the entire throttle body which could prove costly.

2. Sensor for Accelerator Position Sensor Faulty

Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor Location

The electronic throttle control unit has several parts. One of them is the position sensor for the accelerator pedal. This sensor communicates with your vehicle’s ECM to let it know how fast you want to go.

The ECM then tells you how to open and close the throttle. But if the ECM can’t get an accurate reading from the pedal due to a faulty sensor, you’ll never get the acceleration you want. If the computer recognizes that something is wrong with the sensor, you’ll get an electronic throttle control light.

3. Tight Throttle Body

Dirty Throttle Body

It doesn’t matter if everything on the electric side of the house is working correctly if the physical throttle body is stuck. Carbon buildup is one of the most common reasons for the throttle body to become stuck.

You should inspect your throttle body. Make sure that the valves open and close smoothly. If it can’t, see if you can’t remove any obstructions and try cleaning it with a high-quality carb cleaner. If that still doesn’t work, you might need to replace the throttle body.

Can an electronic throttle control light be used to make it safe for you to drive?

An electronic throttle control light is dangerous to use. You might experience an improvement in fuel efficiency and acceleration, but it is possible to get more serious problems if the sensors readings keep going wrong.

The throttle body controls how much air enters the engine, and if your vehicle’s ECM can’t keep accurate tabs on this, then it can quickly lead to an out-of-control engine. If you have an electronic throttle light that’s on, you can quickly damage your engine, which can lead to even more expensive repairs when you get it to a repair shop.

This is true even if you don’t notice significant drops in your throttle response or vehicle performance. That’s because the air to fuel ratio isn’t what it should be, which can lead to premature engine wear over time.


Is it worth fixing the ETC lights?

Cost to replace an ETC lamp will vary depending on its underlying cause. The cost to fix an ETC light may not be too expensive if it's a small problem, such as a dirty throttle, or a simple dirt issue. If the problem is more severe, such as a damaged throttle body, or faulty throttle body sensor it can cost anywhere from $100 to $800.

Do you have a fuse to control the electronic throttle?

There isn’t a fuse specifically for the electronic throttle control in the majority of most modern cars, but there is a fuse for the engine control module. If the fuse for the engine control module blows, the electronic throttle controller will not work.

How can I reset my ETC lights?

You will need an OBD2 scanner to reset your ETC light. You cannot reset the ETC lights by simply clearing the fault code memories in the majority of cases. It is likely that you will need to correct the issue which caused the warning lamp.

My ETC light is blinking.

The blinking of the Electronic throttle control warning lights is a sign that something is wrong and needs to be addressed immediately. You should take your car to the mechanic shop or fix it immediately.


Although you may feel like everything in modern cars is becoming more complicated, the complex features actually have great benefits. This not only gives you better fuel economy but also makes your engine more powerful and responsive.

So, while you might be cursing the electronic throttle control light now when you get everything back to working as it should, you’ll be glad you have it. The old linkage system used to have problems from time-to-time, despite the advice of the mechanic.

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