Hilux Throttle Controllers: Must-Have Toyota Accessories for Improved Performance

The Toyota Hilux has been stealing the hearts of Australian buyers for the better part of the last decade. It’s the automotive epitome of versatility, utility and go-anywhere ability, catering to a host of different drivers. Along with the multiple trim levels, engine options and cab designs, the car has garnered all the interest from the aftermarket to make a good car even better. Whether you’re looking for more off-road agility with an improved suspension system or more push from the gutsy diesel and petrol powertrains with performance upgrades like throttle controllers, there’s no shortage of customisation options to get the most out of your Hilux.

Toyota boasts that its ute is “smarter, safer and tougher than ever”. Much of the unbreakable durability and reliability of the car is down to proven diesel engines. The current 2.8-litre 4-cylinder puts out warm hatch power numbers and truckloads of pulling power. The 150kW propels the 2-tonne car to 100km/h in just over 10 seconds. Decent numbers, comparable to other 4-pot oil burners, but you can do better with an efficient Hilux throttle controller. This improves the throttle response from the engine, delivering power quicker when and where you need it.

Basics of Throttle Controllers

Throttle controller in Toyota Hilux
Source: flexxmotorsport.com.au

There’s been much debate about throttle controllers. These are simple but effective electronic devices that manipulate how your car’s ECU reads signals it receives from sensors lining the acceleration pedal and throttle body. In most cars, including the Hilux, there’s an inbuilt delay between pressing the pedal and actual acceleration, and something bordering on weird to outright frustrating. Most car manufacturers state this is to remove possible juddering and jostling, so qualifies as a safety feature.

The disconnect though can prove outright dangerous in many driving scenarios, where you expect the car to get a move on, and the complete opposite happens. Overtaking is where you’ll rely on all the engine’s power coming through the wheels at the same time you press the pedal. And any delays, deliberate or otherwise, can get many drivers in trouble.

Throttle controllers are installed between the pedal and wiring connecting it to the ECU. They send a higher-voltage signal, tricking the ECU that the pedal is depressed further down than it actually is. In real-world use, drivers will see a few tenths shaved off when getting up to speed. This means your Hilux is faster, both from a standstill, and during in-gear acceleration, so it keeps up with utes boasting a few cylinders more.

Why Have One in Your Hilux?

Toyota Hilux driven in a desert
Source: carsales.com.au

The performance you get with a Hilux throttle controller is more than evident. Just compare the car with and without one, and you see why you’ll want one. Throttle controllers don’t add power, but make better use of it. Here’s how this helps:

  • Faster acceleration and higher top speeds – heavy vehicles with little in the way of aero features like utes struggle to keep up with traffic, despite brimming with a lot of horsepower and torque. Controllers reduce throttle lag times, so get the car faster to speed. This helps when leaving the driveway or lights, when merging, and especially when overtaking. The Hilux can reach highway speeds in sub-10-second times, and pass slower vehicles, even when towing trailers or caravan and with the tray or tub fully loaded.
  • Improved throttle response on loose surfaces – While boosting the throttle response is what most drivers appreciate, a throttle controller can also cut the factory output, by reducing the voltage. There’s more steering feel on looser surfaces like gravel or sand. You’ll know exactly what the wheels are up to without risking damage to the ute or getting stuck with excessive wheel spin digging the vehicle in.
  • Adjustable settings – both these features can used with the throttle response adjusted to your liking. Every Toyota Hilux throttle controller has several driving modes. Performance and launch modes, for instance, deliver the fastest throttle times, while anti-slip modes work on wet roads and when off-roading. The latter works with other safety features, like the ESP and ABS, to tailor the power the wheels get without losing traction. All modes can be fine-tuned with incremental steps to get the exact reaction you want when stepping on the pedal.
  • Reduced fuel use – most units have an integrated eco mode, that cuts the throttle in bumper-to-bumper traffic. A similar feature is available when parking your ute. Both save drivers a bit of fuel.
  • Built-in safety features and tech – the car can be put in lock mode, essentially immobilising the engine and preventing theft. All this is possible from the comfort of your phone when downloading the proprietary app.

Are They Legal?

Since the device doesn’t add power, there are no legal limitations why it can’t be used. Throttle controllers won’t void insurance claims, or have you paying more in rego fees. Moreover, they’re simple plug-and-play electronics that all drivers can install on their own within a matter of minutes. Drivers get multiple settings for different driving scenarios, a faster and more capable Hilux, and an easy-to-use app to make changes on the fly. All this in a package that’s undeniably the best-value performance upgrade for any car.