2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye: Throttle Malfunction
October 8, 2013
It felt like our 2013 Dodge Dart was running out of gas. There was no response to my throttle inputs and the car was losing speed. I was in the middle of a busy Los Angeles freeway and suddenly I was unable to keep up with traffic. I floored it. Nothing.
Traffic was light. I had been cruising in a pack at a steady 65 mph when I realized there was a problem. Now the Dart was down to 50 mph and it continued to slow. I floored it again. Nothing.
I checked the gas gauge. It read three quarters of a tank. All other gauges (there are only two) read normal, but there was a very red warning light lit on the instrument cluster. It looked like two backward parentheses and a lightning bolt. I had no idea what it meant.
I moved the car carefully to the right and onto the shoulder, but I kept it moving. I desperately wanted to make it to the next exit so I wasn't stuck on the freeway, which is very dangerous.
A quarter mile later I was on the off ramp and I could feel some throttle control coming back, like the Dodge's engine was once again getting fuel. Luckily there was no one else exiting at the time. At the end of the ramp I made a quickly right and pulled into the first parking lot.
I stopped. Suddenly the car felt normal again, but the warning light was still on. I opened the owner's manual. The light was telling me that the Dart's electronic throttle was malfunctioning. New cars no longer have a cable that connects the throttle pedal to the engine. It has been replaced by sensors, so there's no longer a mechanical connection between the two. And our sensors had done broke as they say in NASCAR.
So I threw it in Park and turned the car off. I waited a few seconds and fired it back up. No light. Normal throttle response. Reboot successful. And the rest of my drive to work was uneventful.
We'll keep an eye on this and let you know if it happens again.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 14,901 miles