Does your ute feel “underpowered”? Like when you turn on the highway, and you lack that boost to get going on the asphalt? Or, when you just can’t seem to drive on the beach as smoothly as you want? In today’s article, we’ll dive into a device that all drivers in Australia can appreciate, especially 4WD-ers – the throttle controller.
What is a Throttle Controller?
Before we go into more detail on throttle controllers, let’s get one thing out of the way. Contrary to popular belief, throttle controllers DO NOT add (horse) power to your vehicle. That’s right! This is not its purpose. So, if this is not what this device does, what does it do then?
The short, technical answer is that throttle controllers taps in the electronic connection between your accelerator pedal and your ECM (engine control unit) to better control the throttle valve, thus regulating throttle input. When cars migrated to drive-by-wire (or fly-by-wire) systems starting in the 80s to control vehicle acceleration, it became possible to manipulate voltage input from the pedal to the ECM.
By doing so, the throttle controller makes the throttle system (i.e. pedal, throttle valve, and ECM) more responsive to any stimuli from you, the driver, eventually reducing throttle lag. Think of throttle controllers as an energy drink for your ECM that boosts this “brain’s” response and, in turn, the whole system’s performance!
Still, throttle controllers are smart devices in that they don’t just out-and-out push the vehicle to speed up right away. Rather, this is a regulating device that automatically adjusts the signal input to fit the condition your vehicle is on and the setting you selected. It does not just make everything more efficient, it also makes it safer.
Are Throttle Controllers Worth It?
Throttle controllers make the whole car system more responsive to how you push that pedal, giving you that extra jolt that improves the efficiency of the engine and “drivability” of a vehicle. But are they worth the $200+ investment?
If you own one of those popular utes in Australia, like the Toyota Hilux, or a trailer, caravan, or truck, then you should definitely need to have a throttle controller. And, for any car owner, a better driving experience will always be worth every dollar!
Since we’re on the topic of worthiness, let’s talk about the pros and cons of throttle controllers, shall we?
1. No throttle lag
As we’ve said, throttle controllers make your ECM more responsive to your push on those accelerator pedals. It removes that slow drag before you can get up to speed on the road.
2. More boost for on-road driving
Are you at a standstill or driving really slow? Then the device increases the voltage running through the system to increase throttle boost once you press on that pedal. Yet it does this as gradually as possible to remove the jerks when you suddenly speed up.
Also, can you imagine the struggle turning a trailer onto an inclined road? It will take you a few seconds (and few honks from the vehicles behind you) before you can get going. A throttle controller will fix that problem.
Finally, immediate acceleration response can be quite useful when you’re trying to overtake a slow, hulking truck on the highway safely.
3. More control for off-road driving
Most throttle controllers today have about 10 or so settings, most of them aimed to improve acceleration. However, there are also settings that actually suppress throttle input (most of the time called “Econo” or “Economy”). What is its use?
Well, if you and your buddies own a 4×4, you’ll surely appreciate the better control on your throttle this device gives when moving on those rough, technical roads. It removes the sudden jerks that might have occurred when you misjudge the push on those pedals.
4. Helps you get across the sand
Love driving across the sand? Then, you’ll love a throttle controller, too. No need to put your foot down too hard just to drive over this tricky surface. Less wheel spins and more speed across the sand mean more time to enjoy the trip outdoors.
1. No “pedal to the metal”
Unfortunately, if you love pushing those pedals down to the floor, then this device is not for you. You’re already accelerating at more pace vis-à-vis your pedal input with a throttle controller on. Once you reach the max throttle boost, you might just be pressing those pedals still at less than 100%. It then becomes insignificant if you push the pedal further.
Basically, it will not take too much effort for you to put the speed up your car, which is a good thing in a way.
2. Screen brightness
Some people think that the screen brightness can be bothersome, especially at night. This, though, can be solved by changing where you mount the device or just getting a device that has an auto-brightness adjustment feature.
Another factor that gives throttle controllers some bad reputation is installation. Mounting the monitor on your dash can take some effort. Some use adhesive tapes, while some go as far as drilling holes just to put the device in place. Finding the control cables underneath the accelerator pedals may take a few tries as well.
How to Install Throttle Controllers?
Since we’re on the topic of installation, here is a quick rundown on how to install throttle controllers:
- Mount the display screen on your dash. Place it where it does not interfere with any other dash device, but still within your reach to operate.
- Route the wires from the device around/under the steering wheel to the pedal area.
- Find the throttle cables attached accelerator pedal. Here you will find the drive-by-wire plug. On some vehicles, you need to remove a screw (or two) to access this.
- Attach the connecting wires of the throttle controller to the plug and the car’s wiring loom. You’ll hear a “click” once the locking clips are in place.
- Make sure you properly align the pins and secure the connections.
- Start your engine.
- Turn on the throttle controller screen.
- If the device doesn’t work, turn off the vehicle and revisit the wiring set-up.
Installation is quite easy, really. It’s just a matter of being familiar with where a part fits and where a part should be located. If it takes you more than 5 minutes to do so, we would be very surprised!
Do Throttle Controllers Save Fuel?
Remember how we mentioned earlier that throttle controllers make the engine more responsive to throttle input? Well, this increased efficiency in the engine also has a positive effect on fuel economy.
First, by limiting the force exerted by the whole system to provide the necessary boost to push forward (or backward) the engine, then you also save on the fuel needed to produce such action. This is more evident when you’re hauling or towing a heavy load – wherein, with the device, you need not push hard on the pedal just to push forward.
Second, by controlling acceleration on rough roads or on the sand, you prevent those unnecessary sudden exertions when you get stuck in mud or on the beach. When you get to traverse these roads as easily as possible without pushing the engine a lot, you also get to lessen fuel consumption/
Best Throttle Controller for 2020
We, at OBD2 Australia, offer one of the best throttle controller in Australia for 2020. The Xtros Electronic Smart Throttle Controller provides that coveted improved accelerator response for a wide range of vehicle models from year 2002+:
- Land Rover
This throttle controller also has multiple modes and settings (6 modes and 46 settings) that will fit your performance preference on any given day. Whether you need improved pick-up for towing, faster starts for driving along the sand, or better fuel economy and control, XTROS throttle controller got you covered. And with it made from the latest 64-bit Euro-manufactured CPU, you’ll be sure of its reliability, quality, and performance.
Finally, it’s plug-and-play installation that takes more or less 2 minutes and its auto brightness adjustment feature gives users comfort and convenience and always leaves a smile on their faces!
If you haven’t heard yet, OBD2 Australia is an e-commerce enterprise that prides in providing the latest in accessories and tools that will gain you access to information and functions of your car, van, caravan, 4WD, truck, or trailer. We offer quality products at affordable prices, made with the Aussie whim and the Australian weather in mind.
Our Final Word
The question still remains, “Do throttle controllers work?”. If we haven’t convinced you yet, then, we’ll say it again: They DO work!
And they’re great devices that can fall under the radar of most car owners. But if you care about comfort in driving, a bit more control, and a lot more boost from your car, then you should install one now!