What Causes a Gas Pedal to Be Hard to Push: How to Fix

If you find yourself struggling with a gas pedal that is hard to push, don’t worry; you’re not alone. This issue can be frustrating and even dangerous while driving. Thankfully, there are various potential causes for this problem, and in this article, we’ll explore them and provide you with some solutions to get your gas pedal working smoothly again.

What Causes a Gas Pedal to Be Hard to Push

Common Causes of a Stiff Gas Pedal

Before diving into the solutions, let’s explore the potential reasons why your gas pedal may be hard to push:

Faulty Throttle Cables

The most common cause of a stiff gas pedal is faulty throttle cables. These cables may be kinked, rusted, or improperly adjusted. Inspect the cable for visible damage and attempt to straighten it if possible. If the issue persists, consider replacing the cable or adjusting the pressure¹⁴.

Dirty Throttle Body

The throttle body is a critical component of the air intake system that regulates the airflow into the engine. When it becomes dirty or clogged with carbon deposits, it can lead to a stiff gas pedal. To address this, try cleaning the throttle body with a spray cleaner and a rag²³.

Faulty or Dirty Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)

The mass airflow sensor (MAF) measures the amount of air entering the engine and sends data to the computer to adjust the fuel mixture. If the MAF is faulty or dirty, it can provide inaccurate data, affecting engine performance. Clean the sensor with a specialized cleaner or replace it if necessary².

Other Possible Causes

Several other components can contribute to a stiff gas pedal, including a malfunctioning oxygen sensor, throttle position sensor (TPS), fuel filter, air filter, fuel pump, or timing belt¹².

How to Fix a Stiff Gas Pedal

Now that we’ve identified the potential causes, let’s explore the steps you can take to resolve the issue:

Lubricate the Throttle Cable and Linkage

Lubricating the throttle cable and linkage is often the simplest and most effective solution for a stiff gas pedal. The throttle cable connects the gas pedal to the throttle body, which controls the air entering the engine. Over time, these parts can accumulate dirt, rust, or corrosion, making them harder to move. Locate these components under the hood of your car and apply WD-40 or another appropriate lubricant. Use a cloth to wipe off any dirt or grime, making the gas pedal smoother and easier to push¹⁴.

Clean the Throttle Body

Carbon deposits can accumulate on the throttle body, especially around the edges of the plate, causing it to stick or jam. To clean the throttle body, remove the air duct connecting the air filter and the throttle body. Use a throttle body cleaner spray and a rag to remove any dirt or carbon buildup. Take care not to damage any attached electrical wires or sensors¹³.

Adjust or Replace the Pedal Lever

The pedal lever is a metal bar that connects the gas pedal to the throttle cable. It has a knob on one end that can be adjusted to change the gas pedal’s stiffness by compressing or extending the spring inside it. Adjust the knob by pushing down to extend the spring or pulling up to compress it. Alternatively, use a screwdriver to loosen or tighten the screw holding the knob in place. If adjustment doesn’t work, consider replacing the pedal lever entirely².

Tighten or Replace the Bolts

Loose bolts connecting the gas pedal to the car’s floor can cause wobbling or uneven movement of the pedal. Remove the cover over the gas pedal and reattach it to the floor, ensuring the bolts are tight and secure².


A gas pedal that is hard to push can be a worrisome problem, but fortunately, it’s usually fixable. By identifying the potential causes and following the appropriate steps, you can get your gas pedal back in smooth working condition. If you’re unsure about the solutions or need assistance, it’s best to consult a professional mechanic to ensure a proper and safe fix.


Can I fix a stiff gas pedal myself?

Yes, you can attempt to fix a stiff gas pedal yourself by following the outlined solutions. However, if you’re not confident or experienced in car repairs, it’s best to seek help from a qualified mechanic.

What should I do if the gas pedal remains stiff after trying the solutions?

If the gas pedal remains stiff despite attempting the solutions mentioned, you should have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic to identify any other underlying issues.

Are there any preventive measures to avoid a stiff gas pedal in the future?

Regular maintenance of your vehicle, including cleaning and inspecting throttle components, can help prevent a stiff gas pedal. Additionally, avoiding harsh driving habits can reduce wear on these components.

Is a stiff gas pedal dangerous?

A stiff gas pedal can be dangerous as it may affect your ability to control the vehicle smoothly. It’s essential to address the issue promptly to ensure safe driving conditions.

Can a faulty throttle cable be repaired, or does it need replacement?

In some cases, a faulty throttle cable may be repairable if the damage is minimal. However, if the cable is severely damaged or corroded, it’s advisable to replace it for optimal performance.

Sharing Is Caring:

The Howtowise team has helped thousands of homemakers fix their household problems with step-by-step tutorials. Howtowise has been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, Good Housekeeping, Vox, Apartment Therapy, Lifehacker, and more.