How To Test a Chevy Cavalier TPS Sensor

How To Test a Chevy Cavalier TPS Sensor


When your throttle position sensor starts going bad in your Chevy Cavalier, it can create drive-ability issues. Your Cavalier TPS Sensor is a device that is reads how far your throttle body is open. The sensor sends this reading to your Chevy Powertrain Control Module (PCM) or engine computer.

The engine computer uses this information to deliver the right amount of fuel and spark to your 2.2 liter engine. Today I’ll be showing you how to test a Chevy Cavalier TPS Sensor. To complete this How To DIY tutorial, you will need a digital multimeter.

How To Test a Chevy Cavalier Throttle Position Sensor 12

When this throttle sensor starts to fail, you will see several problems with your throttle or engine. These issues can range from your transmission shifting harshly to a lack of throttle response.

Symptoms of a failed Cavalier TPS Sensor

Your throttle sensor is mounted opposite of the throttle switch or blade. When you push down on your Cavalier accelerator, the throttle will open accordingly. This Cavalier TPS Sensor is a three pin unit, and when it fails you will see a few symptoms.

  • Non responsive throttle
  • Sluggish engine response
  • Engine revs uncontrollably
  • Harsh shifting transmission

In order to test your Cavalier TPS Sensor, we’ll begin with checking for power at the sensor harness itself.

How To Check your Cavalier TPS Sensor for Power

Open your hood and locate the throttle position sensor. This sensor is mounted to the throttle body, and is connected by way of a circular three pin harness. To access the Cavalier TPS Sensor you will need to remove the plastic cover over the intake manifold.

How To Test a Chevy Cavalier Throttle Position Sensor 11

Once you have the throttle position sensor harness disconnected, you can use the multimeter to check for power. Now insert the ignition key and turn to the “ON” position. Then you can use your digital multimeter to check for a 5 volt signal at PIN 1. Unplug your throttle position sensor and probe the GRAY wire or PIN 1.

If there is no power signal, check to make sure your ignition key is turned to the “ON” position. The next part of our How To DIY Cavalier TPS Sensor test is to check PIN 2 or the BLACK wire for a ground signal.

How To Test a Chevy Cavalier Throttle Position Sensor

If you have power and ground at your Cavalier TPS Sensor, the next step is to test the signal wire. This is PIN 3 which is a BLUE wire on your three pin TPS wiring connector.

How To Check your Cavalier TPS Sensor Signal Wire

This part of our tutorial will need you to plug the wiring harness back into your throttle sensor. With the TPS reconnected, you will be testing the BLUE wire for a signal. You can do this by inserting a metal paper clip into the BACK of PIN 3, or piercing the wire with your multimeter.

Keep the key turned to the “ON” position and take your first measurement of this wire. With the throttle body closed the sensor wire should be transmitting between .6 – .8 volts of DC signal. Now manually turn the throttle body open fully, or have a friend hop into your Cavalier and push down on the throttle fully.

With your Cavalier throttle opened fully, the signal should read between 4.5 to 4.9 Volts DC. If your Chevy Cavalier TPS Sensor doesn’t read between these values, it’s time to install a replacement. You can bolt on a new throttle position sensor, but may need to calibrate it for proper function. Use the values for the Cavalier TPS Sensor signal shown above to complete your install.

Have any questions about our Cavalier TPS Sensor tutorial? Leave us a message below and let us know!