Hard Gas Pedal
Page Revised: 10 May 2019
If your car seems to have an exceptionally hard gas pedal, you probably aren't getting the required amount of air to the intake, and that leads to sluggish performance. You can probably spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out why. Well, here's why. Seems that over time, with usage and heat from the motor, your throttle cable (from the pedal to the throttle body) can stretch. If you've ever seen one it's frightfully thin anyway, so it makes sense.
To confirm that your throttle cable is stretched, make sure the car is in Park and that it's off. Next, remove the insulation panel above the gas pedal. Then, get yourself a flashlight; you'll need it to see the pedal up high under the dash. Unfortunately, you have to squeeze in under the dash just like you're changing a fuse. Shine the light up on the accelerator pedal shaft. There is a black grommet on the top of the shaft, with the throttle cable inside that grommet. At rest, the metal cable end should be pulled tight against the grommet. If you see any additional cable sticking out from the grommet, or if there's a lot of play if you wiggle the gas pedal, there's your problem (see arrow in photo).
To thoroughly solve the issue you should strong consider buying new throttle cable. However, we've received a few tips about putting spacers or Zip-ties on the cable (either at the throttle body or at the gas pedal) to make up the slack. While that can work (and to be honest, we've done that before too) it is pretty much a bandage to do so. You're still going to stretch the cable further, and that can lead to it breaking. Replacement is the safest long-term solution.
A new throttle cable is usually around US $40-60 if you can find one. As these cars age, some things are getting more difficult to find and this cable tends to be one of them. Now if you own a 1986-88 5.0L V8 car, you can use a Mustang throttle cable which is available on many Fox Mustang parts sites, or even eBay. For other engines and model years, you will have to search pretty hard. We are unsure if they are available via the Ford dealer or local parts stores but you can try.
Kickdown Cable Inspection
If your throttle valve (TV)/kickdown cable is stretched, that also means your transmission linkage may be stretched too. Be sure that this is also inspected at the same time—there should be no slack in this system either. Just FYI, a stretched TV cable will cause long term damage to your transmission, requiring the dreaded rebuild. If your car has linkage instead, you might need to either adjust it, get new bushings for it, or replace it altogether. The linkage is more money because there are more parts involved in the system. You will need to check your local parts store for your particular transmission and model year, as linkage differs greatly.
If you cannot find the cable(s) or linkage at your parts store, then you may have to dig deep at the dealership or on eBay (be aware that many other Ford models used the same cables). And if THEY don't have one, your only choice will be to fabricate your own using a universal kit. Lokar makes universal and some transmission-specific kits that may be useful.