Why Newer Vehicles Have Slow Throttle Response

Many (if not all) older cars have an immediate throttle response. Most modern cars don’t. It’s common to experience slow throttle response while driving a modern car. Slow throttle response is common in modern cars with automatic and manual transmissions. Why is that?

The short answer is modern cars are built differently from older cars. There are many different things in a modern car that affect the throttle response. We’ll go over the most common reasons modern cars have slow throttle response.

First, let’s talk about how throttle response works.

How Throttle Response Works

gas pedal

Throttle response is how fast your engine responds when you press on the accelerator. In an internal combustion engine, the throttle response process goes like this:

  1. You hit the gas pedal.
  2. The pedal prompts the engine to suck more air into the intake manifold. This is done either through a throttle body (for fuel injected vehicle) or a carburetor (in older vehicles).
  3. The air is mixed with fuel.
  4. The spark plugs ignite the air/fuel mixture. This causes combustion.

So when the farther down you press the gas pedal, the more air is sucked into the intake manifold. The process described above is as basic and straightforward as it gets. In older cars, the gas pedal is “directly” connected to the throttle response. In modern cars, it’s not that simple. Modern cars are loaded with computers and electronic devices. Some of these devices can get in the way of the vehicle’s throttle response. Here are some of the most common reasons modern cars have slow throttle response:

1. Traction Control Systems Cause The Vehicle To Accelerate Slower

traction control

The point of a traction control system is to allow the vehicle to maximize the traction on the road. It does this by limiting the power output to the wheels. Doing so prevents the wheels from spinning up and losing traction.

When you press down on the gas pedal, the traction control system is activated. When it senses that one of the wheels is starting to slip or lose grip, it limits the wheel’s power output.

Some car owners turn off the traction control system to boost their vehicle’s throttle response. Yet, the throttle response is still limited.

2. Some Newer Sports Cars Are Turbo Charged

Even though turbo cars are fast, their throttle response isn’t something to write home about. It takes a while for a turbocharger to spin up. Sometimes your vehicle doesn’t get power until between 2K and 4K RPM. The upside of driving a turbo car is that once the turbo kicks in, your engine gets a whole lot more powerful.

3. Continuously Variable Transmissions Can Be Slow To Respond To Acceleration

A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is a modern type of transmission. One of the biggest drawbacks of having a CVT transmission is sluggish acceleration. If you’ve noticed that your CVT transmission revs a lot before it accelerates, you’re not alone. Plenty of car owners with CVT transmissions have that same complaint.

With the way the transmission is designed, it has to adjust its belts to the throttle input. That takes time. It’s a big reason why modern cars with CVT transmissions have such slow throttle response.

Issues With The Vehicle Can Cause Throttle Lag Too

It’s possible that your modern vehicle has even more throttle lag than it’s supposed to. There are some vehicle issues that increase throttle lag, such as:

  • Clogged fuel filter
  • Faulty mass airflow sensor
  • Poorly engineered electronic throttle control system

It may be worth checking to see if your vehicle has any of these issues to improve its throttle response.

Improve Your Vehicle’s Throttle Response With A ShiftPower Throttle Response Controller

The good news is there’s a product that will help improve your vehicle’s throttle response. It's called a ShiftPower Throttle Response Controller. It’s a plug-and-play device that delivers between 15% and 100% quicker throttle response. This post has more information about what a ShiftPower Throttle Response Controller is and how it works. Please contact us if you have any questions about the product.