A divide exists whether a throttle controller is relevant, or just another nonsense item hyped by good marketing. Well, it certainly looks like that to me from watching YouTube and researching throttle controllers online. So I purchased the Hike-IT XS.
What Is A Throttle Controller?
A throttle controller manipulates the acceleration curve of an electronic accelerator. Modern vehicles use electronic accelerators, no cables pulling carburettors open or closed. Electronic signals are sent based on how far the accelerator is pressed, telling the vehicle how much to accelerate / decelerate.
What A Throttle Controller Is Not
A throttle controller does not increase a vehicles power or torque output.
Manufacturers Use Throttle Control
Think of how a vehicle with an Eco, Comfort and Power mode operate. Whilst vehicles with these settings often change other factors, such as suspension stiffness and comfort features, they change how much of the available power is accessible within a shorter or delayed range of the accelerator pedal.
Economy is achieved by dampening the throttle response so less fuel is used on acceleration. As power mode brings forward the throttle response to more available acceleration, making the vehicle take off quicker without slamming your foot against the floor.
Throttle Control vs Power Upgrades
If you need more power or torque, you need improvements to provide that. Whether it be dyno or chip and tune. The benefit of using a throttle controller, is that they don’t void new car warranties, as you are not increasing the vehicles power or torque, nor making parts modifications. Warranty in tact.
Throttle Controller Relevance In Todays Market
Contrary to some reports on YouTube and websites saying that throttle controllers are a waste of money, all you need do is push your foot harder to the floor – this is not exactly accurate. As above, new car warranty is a big one. Blow an engine or gearbox with remapped ECU or chip attached, a manufacturer will deny your claim because you void complying with the terms of warranty.
When you learn to drive, you form a habit. A behaviour occurs which instinctively becomes your normal when driving. When you want to go fast, you push hard on the accelerator. When you want to go slow you try and minimise pressing the accelerator.
Yes, you can try and change your driving behaviour and push harder against the accelerator to access more of the vehicles power, however, it still is not the same as what you can do manipulating the acceleration curve. Throttle controllers do not bring forward great amounts of acceleration, they simply bring a little more forward to help getting off the line from a standing start.
The best use of performance modes in throttle controllers is when towing. When you connect tonnes of weight to your vehicle, this mode helps you get off the standing start with that weight, without jerking the vehicle around by pushing your foot hard to the floor to try and guess more acceleration. Basically, you aren’t changing your driving behaviour to access a little more of the engines power to help you when needed.
The other important mode is for those four wheel driving. Eco modes. No matter how much you try, without a throttle controller, off-road, your foot will jerk on the accelerator when thrown around on rough tracks. Eco modes place a lag into initial acceleration, dampening the computers response to add power. The dampening allows for mistakes when being jerked around, so you don’t make the situation worse.
Using the Hike-IT XS as my example, being the product I have fitted to my vehicle, you can see maximum response in Eco modes. You can dampen throttle significantly for off-road use. The power modes do not drastically change the acceleration curve, but slightly increase it to improve acceleration from standing start.
I’ve used the Ultimate9 throttle controller too, and they do the same thing. I went with the Hike-IT XS because it has an OFF mode. Ultimate9 is auto, eco or power, which I don’t personally like. I want OFF and to let the vehicle do its thing.
Throttle controllers have relevance in my opinion, especially off-road and towing.