Transmission Limp Mode – Causes and Solutions

Bindu swetha May 17, 2019
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Limp mode is a security mode provided in cars for your engine and transmission. In case the engine or the transmission system has any faults, the sensors won't receive regular signals, indicating a problem. This communication loss will activate the limp mode where the engine power and RPM is lowered, to avoid any further damage to the car parts.

How Does it Work?

Whenever the car's engine or transmission experiences any problem, the car will automatically lose power and lower RPM. The engine malfunction sign will start flashing on the dashboard, alerting the driver of the underlying problem. In some cases, due to some momentary problem, the sign can start flashing, but it will be gone once the car is restarted.
However, in major cases, this sign will stay on, even after the engine restarts. In such cases, the car can be reversed, however, one can only drive the car in the second gear. This is a safety feature of the car which allows the driver to take the car to the nearest service station, without any further delay.

Transmission Limp Mode

During the running time of the car, if the car's system senses any interruption, damage or detachment of the transmission, the transmission limp mode gets activated. There's a possibility that the engine wiring, transmission wiring, or the transmission system has issues.

Causes of Transmission Limp Mode

The vehicle slips into transmission limp mode due to a failed or failing clutch, improperly adjusted linkage, and bad solenoids.

Low transmission fluid can cause low pressure due to which transmission unit cannot operate properly, thus, activating the limp mode.
Damaged wiring due to heat, battery acid leakage or debris hitting the wires, cannot send any electrical signals; thus, triggering the mode.

Sensor malfunction is another major cause of mode activation.

Symptoms of Limp Mode

  • RPM lowered
  • Engine power is reduced
  • Turbo boost is shut off completely
  • Automatic transmission is stuck on a particular gear
  • Check Engine light is flashing
  • For Volkswagen cars, the EPC (Electronic Power Control) sign is flashing

Solution - How to Get Out of Limp Mode?

Once the car slips into limp mode, the first thing is not to panic! You just need to calm down and get the car out of the traffic zone. Once you are in the uncrowded zone, you can switch off the ignition. In the case of automatic cars, the PARK mode should be selected. You need to wait for a few seconds and restart the engine.
Shift the gear and start driving. If the gear shifts, there isn't any problem with the car and you can continue driving. However, if it is stuck in the second or third gear, your car is experiencing transmission problems, you need to drive straight to the service station.
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