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Limp Mode: What Is It & How Does It Affect Vehicles?

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Limp Mode: What Is It & How Does It Affect Vehicles?

Vehicle Checks · Posted by: Mobile Tyres 2 U · 7th December 2021

If you have ever been in a situation where your car loses power and the warning lights on your dashboard all start firing at once, you may be experiencing your vehicle go into limp mode. If you’ve never heard of limp mode, don’t worry, the team here at Mobile Tyres 2 U are going to break it down for you, so you can get a better idea of what it is, why it happens and what you should do about it.

Limp mode car dashboard


What is limp mode?

Limp mode, which is also commonly known as limp home mode, is a state that your car goes into in order to minimise damage when a problem occurs. The idea is that your vehicle powers down enough so that it can still reach a safe location, but only the bare necessities to continue to run, ensuring that further damage is mitigated.


What are the different causes of limp mode?

Your vehicle’s limp mode is controlled by your vehicle’s ECU (electronic control unit). When something goes wrong with your vehicle, it will be picked up by the ECU which will then trigger the limp mode if necessary to protect your vehicle.

There are a number of different possible causes for your vehicle entering limp mode, these include:

  • Faulty engine sensors and wiring
  • Low levels of engine coolant
  • Low levels of engine oil
  • Brake issues
  • Faulty gearbox
  • Clutch issues

It’s important to remember that your vehicle can go into limp mode for a range of reasons, so it’s best not to panic. Ultimately, your vehicle is shutting down to protect itself preemptively, not because it’s necessarily on the verge of a breakdown.


What happens when your vehicle goes into limp mode?

Once limp mode has activated, all of the auxiliary features of your vehicle, such as the radio and the air conditioning, will power down. You will then see the check engine light appear on your dashboard, as well as other lights. The main thing that you will notice once these things start to happen is a sudden reduction in speed to around 35-45mph, while your revs will be limited to between 2000 and 3000. This should give you enough power to travel home or at least somewhere safe where you can get your vehicle looked at.

When it comes to driving in limp mode, the best thing to do is to listen to your vehicle and judge how far you need to go. It might feel as though your vehicle can chug along nicely, or it might be the case that you need to stop. If you can’t get home or to a garage, don’t worry, just find somewhere safe to stop where you can call breakdown services.


Can I get my vehicle out of limp mode?

In theory, your vehicle will come out of limp mode once the issue that caused it in the first place has been rectified. Occasionally, your vehicle will go into limp mode due to a temporary glitch, so once you find a safe place to stop, it’s worth turning the engine off for ten minutes and then turning it back on again. If your vehicle isn’t in limp mode anymore, then it could be the case that there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with your vehicle to begin with.


Mobile Tyres 2 U are the go-to tyre supplier in High Wycombe, Watford and the surrounding areas. We offer a completely mobile service, meaning that if you’ve got a serious puncture and can’t get to a garage, we can come out to you and fit your tyres, no matter where you are. For more information about our services, all you have to do is get in touch.