How To Test a Ford Explorer TPS Sensor

How To Test a Ford Explorer TPS Sensor


Mounted to your throttle body the Ford Explorer TPS Sensor reads the amount your throttle blade is open. It transmits this information to your Ford PCM so that the computer knows just how much throttle you are applying. The TPS stands for Throttle Position Sensor, and it’s a simple three pin sensor that can go bad over time.

When your Ford Explorer TPS Sensor begins to go bad there’s several symptoms that can alert you to the fact. Some are annoying problems, while others can be downright dangerous in the wrong conditions. Let’s take a look at a few.

Symptoms of a Bad Ford Explorer TPS Sensor

Some of the symptoms around a failed TPS sensor can be dangerous, especially if your Explorer is equipped with an automatic transmission. Because your throttle sensor is not reading the voltage right or maybe even broken, your Ford ECU may read or recognize the throttle opening incorrectly.

  • Non responsive throttle position sensor
  • bucking or lurching engine
  • delayed throttle response
  • engine speed increasing on its own

If you are experiencing any of these issues, you can use this handy How To guide to troubleshoot your Explorer TPS Sensor. Today I’ll be showing you how to test your Ford Explorer TPS sensor using a multimeter to read the voltage values at each of the three pins. Our test vehicle today is a 2001 Ford Explorer 2WD with the 4.0 liter 6 cylinder engine in it.

how to test a ford explorer tps

How to test your Explorer TPS Sensor for Power

To begin our how to, you will need an automotive multimeter set to read DC voltage. If you aren’t sure how to use a multimeter, or don’t even know what one is check out our guide here.

how to test a ford explorer tps 5

Once you’ve got a good grasp on what you are doing with a multimeter, the next order of business is to find your TPS sensor. This sensor is mounted opposite of your throttle blade, and it’s connected by way of a three pin weatherproof connector.

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The intake tract leads into your 4.0 liter Ford engine and is covered by this plastic intake shield. You will need to remove the two bolts to access the Explorer TPS sensor. The first wire you will be checking for is power. To do this unplug your TPS sensor and you will be checking for power by putting the black lead of your multimeter to the negative battery terminal and gently probing the front of the connector.

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Before doing this, you will need to insert your Explorer ignition key and turn to the “ON” position. PIN C is the BROWN wire with a RED stripe, and this wire should read 5 volts of power when you put the red probe to the front of the wiring harness side of the Explorer TPS.

The next wire you will be checking is the ground or low reference signal wire. This is PIN A and remember not to force or push your multimeter probe into the harness. The colors for this TPS is a GRAY wire with a RED stripe. If you see a low reference ground signal here, your Explorer TPS Sensor has power and ground and should be working.

The final step of this How To guide on testing your Explorer TPS Sensor is to check for signal. This is PIN B or the GRAY wire with a WHITE stripe, and this can only be read if you have your Explorer TPS Sensor connected.

You will be using a paper clip that’s unbent to backpin or insert into the back of the wiring harness. This allows you to read the signal while your TPS has power and ground, and gives you a good idea on what your ECU is seeing.

Testing your Explorer TPS Sensor Signal

The signal wire is PIN B and you must have a backpin inserted into the TPS harness. Keep your key turned to the “ON” position but do not start your engine. From here you can measure the DC voltage that’s coming out of that sensor.

With the throttle plate closed, you should see between .9 and 1.0 volts of power at this signal wire. Now have a friend get into the car and depress the accelerator all the way down, or manually deflect your throttle blade fully open with your other hand.

Now the TPS should be reading around 4.9 to 5 volts of signal power at this middle pin. If your test results fall outside of this range, it’s time to replace your Ford Explorer TPS Sensor.

Congratulations you now know how to test your Explorer TPS Sensor with our How To guide. If you have any questions or comments please leave them for us below!