2004 Lexus ES330 Accelerator Pedal Replacement

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 17 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we’re talking about a 2004 Lexus, what was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop with a check engine light on and the vehicle going into a limp mode, so it had very little power from time to time.

Mark: Is that a typical thing? What did you find?

Bernie: Well obviously it’s not something that you want to happen because when you accelerate, you want to accelerate but anyways, yes what we found, we plugged in our scan tool, did a diagnostic and found a trouble code stored for an accelerator pedal sensor.

Mark: Ok that sounds kind of rare, what did you find? What was involved with that kind of a repair?

Bernie: So the diagnosis wasn’t too complex for this kind of issue. Usually these codes, when they occur, are usually caused by the sensor themselves. It can a wiring issue but there’s usually nothing, the wiring is all under the dash and very protected. It’s also a fairly common failure part. So what we found was the actual accelerator pedal sensor itself was bad and needed to be replaced.

Mark: So what was involved with actually doing that?

Bernie: Well that was a pretty complex repair. The actual complete pedal assembly which includes the accelerator pedal, the brake pedal, all the mechanism, all needed to be replaced all at the same time. That’s the only way they sold the part which is kind of strange. I’ll just share a photo here, it’s interesting looking at this pedal assembly. So this is the pedal assembly. This is the accelerator pedal right here which you can probably recognize if you look at it and this is the rest of the assembly, this bolts up to the firewall of the vehicle. You cans see the brake pedal here, the return spring, this is a wiring connector for the accelerator pedal sensor, so this is the actual sensor right in this area here and so this, so essentially this part actually unbolts from the rest of the pedal assembly but for some reason on this particular car, you have to buy this whole thing which is kind of crazy, surprisingly though the part is not that expensive. Now I’ll just share another couple photos while we’re looking here, we can see some of the complexity, you can see this electric motor here, there’s a cable here, you might wonder what the heck’s that doing there. Well that actually, this vehicle has an adjustable pedal height so you can adjust he height of the pedals, you know if you, which is a great feature because a lot of people have short legs but without adjustable pedals you have to push your seat forward which puts you right into the steering wheel and I always cringe when I see people who are short, who have their car seat set like that because I think what if you got into an accident, I mean you’re sitting right in front of the steering wheel especially if the airbag goes off, which it would, you’re right in the firing line, a lot more risk. So with adjustable pedals you can have your steering wheel further away and you can pull the pedals forward so it’s a neat feature but again it adds complexity all included with this part which is kind of surprising. Here’s just a close up view, this is the accelerator pedal sensor itself and the kind of mechanism you can see it’s a big spring here and it’s a little more complicated than just a sensor, there’s a lot more to this, we’ll talk that in a minute.

Mark: Ok that looks like it was a pretty expensive part even though you said it wasn’t that expensive.

Bernie: You know surprisingly the whole assembly was under five hundred dollars which really shocked me because you know considering Lexus parts are not cheap, they’re up there, they usually cost quite a lot of money. When we ordered the part initially, we gave the VIN number to the dealer, it’s a dealer only part, they sent over just the accelerator pedal piece and for some reason it was wrong which is strange when you give them the VIN number, the actual accelerator pedal, the wrong one was $900 just for the accelerator pedal but the whole assembly was under five hundred dollars which is a real surprise. Now it’s a lot of labour to put this thing in, you can see, the part is, it’s under the dash, the steering column has to come out, brake booster needs to be, there’s a lot of work involved in changing.

Mark: So with that electric motor is it still, is that what’s actuating the brakes in the hydraulic system or is that or do you have to lead the brakes and do all that stuff too?

Bernie: No actually that motor actually only adjusts the pedal travel so when you push a button on the dash it’ll pull your pedals closer or farther away from the dash. So if you have say, if you have shorter legs, to do that. That’s the only function with that. The brakes are pretty straight forward, they just clip up to that brake pedal, there’s nothing much to do with the brakes on that vehicle. It’s basically kind of plug and play once you get it all in there.

Mark: Right and so how often do accelerator pedal sensors fail?

Bernie: Well they do from time to time and they will on any car but they’re for the most part, pretty reliable. I mean this car is an 04 so it makes it what 13 years old. Just why you have a sensor, just a little bit of background, it used to be that cars would have a cable that attached from the accelerator pedal to the throttle and when you pushed the, it was a mechanical connection. Well for quite a few years since the early 2000’s, and sometimes a little earlier, cars have gone to an electronic throttle. So there’s a sensor and the actual pedal kind of feels like you’re pushing on a cable but it doesn’t, so thats why if you looked at those pictures you can see a couple of double springs and it’s a, there’s a lot of engineering that goes into just having the pedal feel right when you’re pushing it. But the, what happens as you push the pedal, a sensor picks up your foot movement that sends a signal to the engine computer and that then the computer can open the throttle or close the throttle when it chooses to or it can make other adjustments to the transmission or the engine to accelerate the vehicle, it doesn’t just have to be the throttle. So there’s a huge advantage in terms of performance, exhaust emissions, fuel economy that can be done by doing things this way. Now of course, when it’s electronic and it’s disconnected there’s going to be a lot of safety features built in, so that actual sensor has two or three swipers inside so they verify with each other that everything’s moving in the right direction. So if it picks up a glitch of any sort, it will put the vehicle into limp mode, you know the last thing you want is a car that’s going to take off on it’s own or not take off when it’s supposed to. so if there’s a problem, goes into limp mode you’ve got to fix it.

Mark: So there you go if you have a Lexus in Vancouver that you’re needing service for, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book ahead, they’re busy, you’ve got to book ahead or else check out their website pawlikautomotive.com, we’ve got almost six years of videos on there. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

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