Fixing Your Reduced Engine Power Is an Intermediate for Most DIYers. Here’s Everything You Need to Know to Fix Your Reduced Engine Power at Home
- DIY Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced, depending on the issue
- Time Required: 1-5 hours, depending on the cause
- Tools & Materials:
What Causes the Reduced Engine Power Light?
It’s never a good time when a new light pops up on your vehicle’s instrument cluster. Many people never get the chance to see the “Reduced Engine Power” light. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones who get to see it, don’t fret — all you need to do is identify and tackle the issue.
Your vehicle will likely be unable to operate at its usual strength while this light is turned on. This is an intentional feature of your vehicle’s computer that’s there to help protect your engine until the issue causing the light to turn on is resolved. Those issues include:
- Throttle actuator control issue caused by electronic fan clutch or fuel system failure
- Transmission problems
- Problems with a connector such as a cable or a clamp
- Oxygen sensor failure
- Mass airflow sensor failure
- Engine misfire
- Low engine oil
This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of the type of problems that can cause your vehicle’s “reduced engine power” warning to engage. This is similar to the “check engine” light — the “reduced engine power” light is an umbrella warning that can be caused by one of a multitude of issues.
Is It Safe to Drive with Reduced Engine Power?
Reduced engine power is part of a car’s “limp mode” that is designed to protect the engine from serious damage. The longer you drive with the reduced engine power warning engaged, the more likely you are that such internal engine damage might occur. The reduced engine power is only a temporary solution meant to get you home, to a repair shop, or a safe place to pull over and call a tow truck.
When to Fix Reduced Engine Power
You should address the issue that is causing your vehicle’s reduced engine power immediately. You should either schedule an appointment with a quality mechanic or get under the hood of your vehicle shortly after the warning comes on or you notice symptoms of reduced engine power.
What Are Common Symptoms Indicating You Need to Fix Reduced Engine Power?
Symptoms of reduced vehicle power that you should be on the lookout for include:
- “Reduced Engine Power” or “Engine Power is Reduced” message on your instrument cluster
- Ability to accelerate quickly has been diminished
- Top speed capping at a lower-than-usual point
- Complete immobility
Keep in Mind
Identifying the cause of your vehicle’s reduced engine power can often be the most difficult aspect of reversing the issue. Misreading the situation can lead you to replace parts that don’t need replacing, taking up valuable time and eating away at your wallet. If you take your vehicle to a mechanic’s shop, they will check your vehicle’s computer to get a better idea of what the issue is. You can do this yourself with an at-home code reader such as the FIXD sensor.
Checking your vehicle’s owner’s manual is the first step you should take when you see this warning on your dashboard and certainly before you start working on your vehicle.
How to Fix Reduced Engine Power
Step 1: Use Your FIXD Sensor and App
A check engine light will almost always accompany any reduce engine power warning lights, so your first step should be to use the FIXD sensor and app to help diagnose what’s going on with your vehicle. Doing this can save you quite a bit of time, and it can help you better decide if this is something you can fix at home or a problem you should have a professional mechanic take on.
Using a DIY code reader, you can also figure out if this is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately or if you can keep driving your vehicle around until you have time to take it into the shop. If you use a code reader, you can read your owner’s manual, vehicle repair guide, or a decent how-to article online to know what you need to do to solve your particular issue. If you don’t use a code reader, continue following these steps for the trial-and-error approach to getting rid of the reduced engine power warning.
Step 2: Check Connections
Start checking connections under your hood. You’re looking at harnesses, engine grounds, connectors, circuits, and so on. Check for loose connections, corrosion, or other damages. You can use a multimeter to test the engine grounds to help you detect which connections may be at fault. Be sure to check that the fuel cap is secure as well.
Step 3: Check Engine Oil
Make sure your engine has enough oil. You can use the dipstick to check your oil level. If you find that it’s low, top it off with some new oil or give your vehicle a full oil change.
Step 4: Check Spark Plugs
Take a look at the tips and electrodes of your spark plugs for damage. You can compare them to a new spark plug for reference. If you find that any are damaged, replace them and see if this solved the issue of your reduced engine power.
Step 4: Replace Faulty Parts
If none of the above fixes work, you may need to replace a faulty part. Identifying which using the code reader from step one can help you avoid replacing parts you don’t need to replace. Faulty parts that may need to be replaced include the oxygen sensors, mass airflow sensor, distributor, throttle actuator control system, and more.
Still Need Help?
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Disclaimer: The guidelines in this story are general and not meant to replace instructions for your specific vehicle. Please consult your owner’s manual or repair guide before attempting repairs.
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