Best Throttle Body Cleaners: Purify the Engine’s Air Inflow System
Break up and wash away dirt and carbon deposits with these throttle body cleaners
TheDrive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
The throttle body is responsible for supplying air into the engine to give your vehicle a sufficient acceleration boost. However, the throttle clogs up with debris and carbon deposits that may reduce your engine’s performance. If that happens, you can use some of the best throttle body cleaners in our buying guide below to restore normal throttle body function.
- Best OverallCRC Throttle Body and Air-Intake CleanerSummarySummaryA professional cleaner that restores lost performance and helps improve your gas mileage.ProsProsPromotes smoother engine starts. Cleans gum and varnish. Effectively cleans throttle valves, throttle bodies, and air intakes. It doesn’t remove the coating on throttle bodies.ConsConsIt has a strong smell. May not clear up heavy carbon build-up. You may have to buy more for a deep clean.
- Best ValueWD-40 Throttle Body and Parts CleanerSummarySummaryA high-quality cleaner spray that can clean the carburetor, throttle body, and unpainted metal parts.ProsProsBreaks up and sprays away tough carbon deposits. It helps reduce stalling in engines. Results in fast engine startups. It will not affect other metal parts in the engine system.ConsConsNot a great lubricant. It may take a long time to work. May perform poorly on older engines.
- Honorable MentionBerryman Products ChemtoolSummarySummaryA 16-ounce carburetor, choke and throttle body aerosol cleaner with fast-drying action.ProsProsEliminates any carbon deposits, gum, varnish, and fuel residue. Doesn’t leave a residue. Improves fuel economy. Promotes a better driving experience. Features moisture dispersing technology.ConsConsMay dissolve rubber and remove paint. Complicated user instructions.
- Wear skin and eye protection to guard against the corrosive damage of the throttle body cleaner.
- Remember to disconnect the ground or negative terminal of your vehicle’s battery before you start cleaning the engine.
- Do not smoke when working or cleaning your engine. Most of the spray cleaners are flammable.
- Label the small hoses that connect the throttle body to the air ducts for an easier time when reinstalling the throttle.
- Use the recommended amount of cleaner and try not to exceed it. You may end up dissolving the throttle valves and other rubber parts.
- Use cotton swabs and a soft cleaning brush to remove hard dirt deposits. Also, consider using a mechanic flashlight to get a better view of the engine parts.
Q: When should I clean the throttle body?
A: Ideally, you should perform routine fuel-injection system maintenance and throttle body cleaning every 75,000 miles. This also involves checking the oxygen sensor and catalytic converter for any signs of damage.
Q: What are the signs of a clogged throttle body?
A: When the engine is warmed up, you may notice a rough idle, reduced acceleration performance, or experience stalling. You can also physically inspect the throttle body, which is the aluminum structure with a valve positioned between the air cleaner and the engine’s intake manifold. It may be covered with gum, varnish, and dark carbon deposits.
Q: Do I have to remove the throttle body to clean it?
A: It depends on how the throttle body is attached to the air intake tubes. If it’s fastened with a Torx head screw, you can use a Torx screwdriver or a flat blade to remove the screws and give the throttle a good cleaning. However, you shouldn’t remove the throttle body if it’s attached with electrical wires, since you may damage the system.
Our top pick is the CRC Throttle Body and Air-Intake Cleaner. It does a good job of breaking down residue build up, and it’s safe for coated components.
Alternatively, the WD-40 Throttle Body and Parts Cleaner is one of the cheapest throttle body cleaners on the market.