The Dodge Nitro was a mid-sized crossover family SUV, introduced to the Australian market in early 2007. It appealed to customers with its unique, boxy and muscular styling, essentially an American muscle car in a tailored SUV package. Sharing its chassis, engines and transmission with its more popular off-road-oriented sibling, the Jeep Cherokee, the Nitro was slightly longer, taller and wider, and offered more rear passenger and boot space. Models sold to Aussies included the 3.7-litre petrol with a 4-speed auto and the 2.8-litre diesel with 5-speed automatic transmission. Both were offered as 4WD versions only.
The Nitro didn’t sell in droves, compared to its direct competitors, cars like the Ford Territory and Toyota RAV4. Mediocre sales were due largely to the lacklustre performance of its engines, both in outright acceleration and fuel consumption. If you’re still holding on to your Nitro or looking for a decent second-hand car, read on. Installing an aftermarket electronic throttle control Dodge Nitro model can turn your car into an entirely new beast.
What Is Electronic Throttle Control?
First seen in luxury sports models, selective driving modes have made their way into many cars today. With a quick flick of the wrist, you can turn your quiet family runabout into a racing purebred. More responsive acceleration, stiffened suspension, tighter steering. And if guilt settles in, you can always dial it back in comfort or eco modes, saving you fuel, and giving you better control on long stretches, like highways. All this is possible with integrated modules in the Engine Control Unit (ECU), working hand in hand with other electronic systems, like traction and cruise control.
But what about older vehicles, like our Dodge Nitro? An Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) can provide the same benefits, giving you the choice as to how responsive you want your car to be when you press the acceleration pedal. And according to the driving situation, say when leaving your driveway, the right amount of acceleration, at the right time.
Benefits of Installing an Electronic Throttle Control Dodge Nitro
Like the integrated units in new car models mentioned above, separate electronic throttle controllers pair well with the auto transmission in the Dodge Nitro. To get the most out of the 210 horses on tap in the more sought-out petrol model, manufacturers of electronic throttle controllers offer units with different driving modes.
With the quick flick of a button, the settings of each mode can be individually adjusted. Most throttle controllers have various modes.
Sport/Dynamic or Ultimate Mode
Also called a ‘performance’ mode, the sport mode cuts down on the throttle response time once you press the pedal. There is little or no throttle lag, giving you instant feedback through the steering wheel and better acceleration. Individual settings give you the option of just how responsive you want the throttle to be. This livens up the 3.7L petrol, and reduces the turbo lag of the 2.8L diesel.
Feeling a bit loony? Dial into max to free up all that power of the V6 engine. Need some little oomph when leaving the lights or when overtaking? Want smooth, predictable acceleration? Just dial in your desired performance setting. It’s that easy.
Eco/ Economy or Comfort Mode
This one is basically the opposite of the perfomance mode as it reduces the throttle response already set by the manufacturer. This dampens the throttle, giving you better control in difficult driving situations, like taking on tight corners or when towing boats or caravans. Here, the electronic throttle control is optimised to work with the car’s traction control system. This is especially useful in wet, slippery conditions, or when going off-road. And if you’re eco-conscious, or just want to save some fuel, this is the mode to be in.
Automatic/ Intelligent Mode
With sensors constantly monitoring your throttle input, electronic throttle controllers can automatically adjust throttle response times, according to your driving habits. Choose the Automatic mode when you want optimal throttle response in every possible driving situation, without any additional hassle. Set to auto if you’re in rush-hour traffic, and let the controller do the work for you. Put your foot down, and the controller instantly reduces throttle lag, getting you up and running. Slam on the brakes and you get steady, gradual deceleration. You get optimal throttle response at all times.
Some electronic throttle controllers have a neutral mode, which essentially turns the controller off, and reverts throttle response to default manufacturer settings. Use neutral mode to compare and evaluate ultimate/eco/auto modes, and how they compare to the car’s original settings. In addition, when lending your Nitro to a friend, or teaching your kids to drive, the neutral mode would best suit anyone not familiar with electronic throttle controllers.
To summarize, there are multiple benefits of installing an electronic throttle control on your Dodge Nitro. It can greatly improve real-time acceleration, help in daily and varying driving conditions by adjusting the required throttle response, and can also improve your Nitro’s fuel consumption.
How and Where to Install Electronic Throttle Control for Dodge Nitro
Installing a Dodge electronic throttle control is quick and simple. In just four simple steps, you’re good to go:
Reach out under the dash and unclip the factory clip from the accelerator
Clip in the Electronic Throttle Cntroller to the throttle body
Reconnect the factory pedal plug in the other end of the throttle controller
Run the cable through the dash, and install in a easy-to-reach place.
If you’re having doubts about doing this yourself, you can always reach out to a professional and have them do it for you.
Electronic throttle controllers are perfectly legal, since they don’t shoot up horsepower numbers, but adjust throttle mapping. There is no need for any additional homologation paperwork. If you’re using your Dodge Nitro mainly for towing, or casual off-roading, the added safety benefits of the electronic throttle controller far outweigh its reasonable price.
Factor in the thrill from the instant acceleration in ultimate mode, or the convenience when set to auto, and you’ve got yourself a new Nitro. And best of all, some of the best models are produced right here in Australia.