Bad Throttle Position Sensor on Jeep Cherokee (9 Symptoms)

The throttle position sensor is an integral part of your Jeep Cherokee that you may not even know existed. The tiny module living inside the engine compartment controls the ignition and adjusts the fuel injection timing by sending signals to the electronic engine control. 

And when this tiny thing goes wrong, it will cause your prized vehicle to stall or sputter at idle or bog down when accelerating.

Therefore, it’s essential to recognize the symptoms of a faulty Jeep Cherokee throttle position sensor to handle the issues quickly and prevent further damage.

Here, we will explore nine symptoms to look for. We will also discuss how to replace the part, how much the replacement may cost, and whether it’s worthwhile. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Throttle Position Sensor on Jeep Cherokee?

In most cases, the symptoms don’t indicate just TPS problems but may also signal problems with other components.

That’s why if you notice the check engine light is on, it’s crucial to start from there as it can tell a lot about the problem. 

You might be experiencing one or more of the following symptoms when your Cherokee’s throttle position sensor fails.  

1. Check Light Comes on Soon

Your Jeep Cherokee has a reasonably intelligent computer. It continuously collects data from the vehicle’s various components and sensors.

Whenever it receives any unusual data, it immediately realizes a problem has occurred. And whenever there’s a problem, it signals the check engine light to illuminate.

While an illuminating check engine light could indicate a faulty TPS sensor, it may also indicate other issues.

It’s vital to have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic if this light comes on shortly after you start it. The stored trouble codes can provide clues as to what’s wrong.

Identifying the TPS issue then becomes a relatively simple process.

2. Power Deficiency

When your Cherokee doesn’t get enough fuel, or when it gets too much, you’ll soon discover that it won’t accelerate as it should.

As soon as you push down, the TPS should give the signal to you to add fuel, but if it’s not functioning, it won’t.

When the opposite occurs, your vehicle may speed up without you intending to.

3. Acceleration Troubles

On the same note, you may find that your Jeep accelerates but never gets above a particular speed level.

After the first or second gear, you may feel that your car isn’t going any faster or upshifting. 

It happens because TPS failure confuses the control module in your Jeep greatly, and then it has no clue how much air and fuel it needs. 

Unless the TPS has gone completely bad, this problem may sometimes seem intermittent.

The fuel management system may occasionally display inaccurate readings, causing the fuel to alternate between an appropriate and insufficient amount.

4. Jerking

Incorrect acceleration can also lead to jerking, which is often the result of a bad TPS since your vehicle tries to accelerate itself.

Your sensor barely remains flat, resulting in an erratic, surging sensation.

In response, your car starts to accelerate and decelerate all over the place at the drop of a hat.

Your Cherokee may even stall when this occurs. 

5. Excessive Fuel Consumption or Poor Gas Mileage

This is one of the most common symptoms of an ailing throttle body sensor of any vehicle.

As time goes on, your car may run out of gas more frequently than it did before.

It may be because your car is running a little rich, causing it to use more fuel than it should. 

You pour too much fuel into the cylinders when your position sensor malfunctions, resulting in wasted energy.

A poor fuel economy can also signify other issues, such as clogged fuel injectors or faulty spark plugs.

6. Difficulty in Switching Gears

If your automatic transmission has difficulty shifting, this might be a sign that your TPS is malfunctioning.

The Cherokee’s extremely complicated automatic transmissions need the clutch and engine to work together while shifting gears. 

Shifts can feel clunky if the engine RPMs fluctuate too much.

It might also mean there is a transmission problem, so you need to have it checked immediately.

7. Issues with Wiring

As the throttle body of your Cherokee opens, air enters, and oxygen leaves. 

Essentially, when one of them has wiring issues, it will feel like a broken TPS.

Because of this, checking the error codes is crucial; they can help narrow down the problem.

8. Unstable Engine Idle

Whenever your Cherokee sits still and the engine fails to maintain a constant speed, you might have an issue with your TPS.

The fluctuation in airflow can lead to erratic idle conditions if position sensors are defective.

You might want a professional to look at the sensor if you see your car idling rough, misfiring, or stalling out under usual driving conditions.

9. Limp Mode

In the Jeep Cherokee, when the engine is troubled, it runs in a special limp mode that makes it run at a reduced performance.

Until the problem is addressed, it helps prevent any further damage. 

Often, a faulty throttle position sensor could be the cause of your car going into limp mode.

You should get this symptom checked right away since driving in limp mode for a prolonged period can be dangerous on the road.

Can You Drive Jeep Cherokee with a Bad Throttle Position Sensor?

Driving with a failing TPS is never a good idea. When the engine runs with a bad TPS, it may accelerate inappropriately, or it can accelerate on its own without you even pressing the accelerator. 

When you are driving in traffic, either condition is dangerous.

And since the Jeep Cherokee doesn’t have a safeguarding mechanism to protect you against this issue, you shouldn’t drive your vehicle until it’s repaired.

How to Replace Throttle Position Sensor on Jeep Cherokee?

Replacing the TPS in a Jeep Cherokee is a pretty straightforward process.

However, things can get tricky for a non-professional because of the various components’ complicated ordering under the bonnet. 

Still, you can complete the job in less than 30 minutes if you have intermediate mechanical skills and a decent understanding of the layouts.

All you’ll need is a ratchet with a T20 Torx bit.

Step-1: Remove the Old TPS

First, disconnect your battery’s black (negative) terminal. By doing so, you will clear any TPS error codes.

You will find the small TPS module right next to the throttle body attached to an electrical harness.

You can remove it by unplugging the harness and pushing the clips. Afterward, you will have to unscrew two screws securing it to the throttle body.

A screwdriver is unlikely to fit in there, so you will need to use a ratchet.

Step-2: Install the New TPS

For a new TPS installation, mount it onto the throttle body and secure the two Torx screws firmly into place.

Then reattach the electrical harness snugly into place, and you’re all done. Once you have installed the new TPS properly, your Jeep should perform and throttle much better.

Here’s another thing- if your Cherokee uses the Renix system and has an older 4.0L engine, you will have to adjust it manually.

Adjust the TPS position until the engine idles smoothly after setting it.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Throttle Position Sensor on Jeep Cherokee?

The cost of replacing the throttle position sensor in a Jeep Cherokee can be anything between $200 and $500, consisting of parts price and labor costs.

However, the costs may also differ by region. The table below might give you some idea.

ModelEstimated TPS Replacement Cost
2020 Jeep Cherokee2.0L L4 Turbo Trailhawk 10,000 miles$325-$400
2020 Jeep Cherokee2.4L L4 Latitude 10,000 miles$360-$450
2021 Jeep Cherokee2.0L L4 Turbo NULL 5,000 miles$355-$440
1984 Jeep CherokeeV6-2.8L$515-$630
1992 Jeep CherokeeL6-4.0L$225-$265
2000 Jeep CherokeeL4-2.5L$260-$310
1995 Jeep CherokeeL6-4.0L$225-$265
1990 Jeep CherokeeL6-4.0L$270-$320
1993 Jeep CherokeeL6-4.0L$225-$270
1997 Jeep CherokeeL4-2.5L$265-$315
1986 Jeep CherokeeL4-2.5L$315-$375

Is It Worth Repairing the Throttle Position Sensor on Your Jeep Cherokee?

A well-mixed mixture of fuel and air is crucial to the performance of your automobile. The air intake system controls the air entering the engine.

Since your engine needs more air as it moves faster, the air intake system is always in sync with the gas pedal. 

The throttle position sensor continuously sends gas pedal information to the engine control module.

The computer then decides where to position the throttle plate, one of the parts of the intake system allowing air into the engine.

Now, when you have a malfunctioning throttle position sensor, it’ll prevent the engine control unit from reading information from the gas pedal, which means failure in utilizing the throttle plate. 

Thus, your vehicle’s engine will not receive enough air, which will result in reduced power and poor performance.

Your Jeep may not be able to shift gears as a result. Replacing a bad TPS right away certainly makes sense from this standpoint.

Then again, a few things are always worth fixing while others are not. You must consider replacing the TPS on your car if it is relatively new and has low miles.

In contrast, if your vehicle has damage, has gone many miles, and now has mechanical defects, you should find a buyer for it, so you don’t end up with a money pit on your hands.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of driving conditions, a TPS is crucial to your vehicle’s fuel economy and power.

A defective throttle position sensor can lead to many problems, including making your car unsafe to drive.

By now, the symptoms of a faulty Jeep Cherokee throttle position sensor are readily apparent to you, so are the steps you can take to fix it.

Yet, hiring a professional is always the way to go for a proper diagnosis of the problem, so you won’t have to compromise your car’s performance a bit.

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