Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Should you get induction service?

Is induction service a rip off?

Shops recommend induction service for customers, even though it’s not listed in the car maker’s maintenance guide. Induction service can also be called fuel induction cleaning or air induction service, but it all means the same thing. What we’re talking about here is cleaning the air cleaner box, ductwork, and the throttle body. Some shops also spray an upper cylinder cleaner into the intake to clean carbon off the valve stems.

Cleaning the air filter box is supposed to be part of the air filter replacement service. When they change your air filter, they’re supposed to vacuum the crud out of the air filter box. Which leaves us with throttle body cleaning.

Should you buy induction service?

The answer depends on how your car is running. If the engine starts quickly when cold and hot. idles smoothly, exhibits no hesitation when accelerating, don’t get induction service. It would be a complete waste of money. It’s the throttle body cleaning and valve cleaning that can provide the biggest improvement in performance, BUT only if you already have carbon buildup that’s showing up as a problem.

Signs that you might benefit from induction service

• Hard starting when engine is cold

• Hard starting when engine is hot

• Rough idle

• Hesitation on acceleration

• Erratic idle speed (RPMs go up and down at idle)

Should you do an induction service as a preventative measure?

No. Car makers know that throttle bodies build up carbon deposits. On electronic throttle bodies, the throttle plate position feedback mechanism reports back to the computer so it actually learns how much build up is present and adjusts the throttle plate opening to maintain a proper idle.

If your car idles at the right speed and the idle is smooth, you do NOT need a preventative or routine throttle body cleaning. It’s a waste of money. Don’t get talked into it. However, if you have the symptoms listed above, and the shop determines that carbon buildup in the throttle body and valves is the cause, then go ahead and approve the induction service.

How to clean an electronic throttle body

When an electronic throttle body accumulates carbon buildup, it can cause all the symptoms listed above. The computer commands a certain throttle plate opening based on input from the gas pedal, and it expects to see a certain amount of air passing through the throttle body. When carbon builds up in the throttle body, it reduces airflow. The computer tries to compensate and that’s what causes erratic idle speeds and hard starting issues.

On mechanical throttle bodies, cleaning was as simple as spraying throttle body cleaner down the throat and wiping with a shop rag. But most car makers recommend removing the electronic throttle body from the vehicle before cleaning. An electronic throttle body contains electronics, motors, and gears. The car makers don’t want those parts exposed to throttle body cleaners. So you can’t simply shoot solvent into an electronic throttle body. You must remove it and clean it with a solvent soaked rag, and that takes time. Then, after cleaning and reassembly, the tech must put the car through a throttle body relearn procedure like this, this, this, or this

© 2012 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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