I recognize firsthand what that feels prefer if the engine (or the vehicle in general) is in fail-safe.

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It’s not fun, but it’s no too bad either. You should be thankful for the failsafe setting or ‘limp mode’ function in her car. Without glossing over the technical details, the failsafe setting is designed come prevent additional engine and/or transmission damage.

In this article, I’ll talk about the basics of etc Engine Failsafe Mode and how this affect the power or drive-ability of your vehicle.


What is the engine failsafe mode?

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What reasons limp or etc failsafe mode?Fail-Safe mode isn’t always bad (my story)How to reset engine failsafe mode?
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Engine failsafe mode or “limp mode” method your ECM/ECU detects a trouble through Fuel, Ignition, Emissions, or more, and tunes down the motor to avoid catastrophic damage

Modern vehicles are governed by quick computers. New cars are equipped through multiple computers to analyze all car systems. However, all the data room transferred and also interpreted through the main ECM (engine manage module).

Engine Safe-mode is like crutches… for your car!

What this means is the OBD2 diagnostic mechanism in your vehicle is continuous on the prowl while that monitors ALL vehicle systems. This has the fuel system, ignition, emissions, drivetrain, braking system, stability and traction control, accelerator body, automobile accessories, progressed safety systems, and also much more.

Anything that has something to do with the above-mentioned solution will create the engine failsafe mode. The symptoms and causes will certainly vary relying on the make and also model of your vehicle. However, the meaning stays the same. If anything walk wrong v the miscellaneous systems in the engine and/or transmission, limp mode will activate to protect the engine/tranny from more damage. It’s really that simple.

But what’s not straightforward is what triggers the engine failsafe mode. That’s a various matter altogether.

What reasons limp or and so on failsafe mode?

In many cases, the check engine irradiate will rotate ON together the engine switches to failsafe mode. Yet having a inspect engine irradiate does no necessarily median the engine is in failsafe mode, and also you have to remember this as soon as making a diagnosis. Although the symptom of failsafe setting are tough to miss (and we’ll obtain to the symptoms in a bit), there are times the engine will go into limp mode even if the trouble is not electric or sensor-related by nature.

But to answer the question of what reasons limp mode, that all relies on the type of vehicle, make and also model, and also the degree of the problem. Not all vehicles room alike.

When the examine light illuminates, this could either mean a soft or hard trouble code. Grab her On-Board Diagnostics (OBD2) tool and plug it in come the 16-pin socket under your dash.

Soft Code

A soft OBD2 password is considered to be much less harmful and also less invasive 보다 a tough code. Triggering a soft OBD2 code means the signal value of the faulty sensor is still within the preferred ‘outside variety of the CPU.’ many of the time, soft password are resulted in by short priority sensors, which will additionally depend top top the type of vehicle.

Hard Code

On the various other hand, a hard code is triggered if the signal value from a high priority sensor is getting too much out the the acceptable outside variety mentioned above. 

This have the right to mean that your infection is going out or you have fuel injector failure.

When this happens, the ECU will certainly revert come danger setting or an additional mode. For example, transmission difficulties with a tough code will certainly disable the transmission from shifting gears. That may additionally default come a solitary usable equipment to safeguard the failing component and the whole transmission in general. The very same holds true if the engine is in secondary/survival mode. The engine rate will be governed so friend don’t rev the engine too high to cause expensive damage.

And yes, difficult codes room responsible because that failsafe an ext or limp mode. So if you’re sure your automobile is in limp mode, the is best to drive slowly and also take it come a mechanic or company center immediately.

Limp setting has countless symptoms. Exhilaration from her engine bay may be one! especially if her water pump failed.

What space the symptoms of limp mode?

The symptoms will certainly vary. Again, this has actually something to do with the make and model of her vehicle. But the general symptoms are difficult to ignore.

The CEL (check engine light) is ONThe engine revs lazily and the infection refuses to shiftThe accelerator pedal will certainly be stiffer 보다 usualOther warning lights will additionally turn ~ above (oil, battery, temperature, etc.)The auto refuses to start

Regarding the no-start condition, some human being consider this a curse, and I totally understand. Yet what castle don’t recognize is a no-start problem in failsafe setting is in reality a huge blessing. For every you know, the computer system was just doing its task in protecting the engine or transmission from additional damage. And also in many cases, vehicles the refuse to begin in failsafe mode may be dealing with a significant mechanical-related issue.

Fail-Safe mode isn’t constantly bad (my story)

But that not constantly bad news!

My suffer with the engine fail-safe setting is hilarious (looking back now).

It to be a hot and humid day. The wife and I to be conversing together the automobile idles lazily in traffic. From out of nowhere, ns felt a slight hiccup native the engine. It no violent or anything, but I did dropped it. I also noticed a higher-than-usual idling speed and a inspect engine irradiate in the console.

What came following is the temperature warning indicator. My wife’s automobile is not equipped v a manual temperature gauge, no one did that came through a digital temperature indicator. If the engine is overheating, you have actually a small red irradiate to repeat you.

The cars in former were moving ahead. By this time, the HVAC started blowing warm air inside the cabin. Ns shifted come D(rive) and also pressed the gas pedal. The engine and also the transmission felt miserly. The automobile felt lazy. I drove gradually to the nearest pump station, obtained out that the car, and also raised the hood to release the enormous heat. It was there as soon as I witnessed the coolant reservoir cap was open. The radiator is basically dehydrated together the water/coolant mixture basically drained away.

How I resolved it

Long story short, I acquired some clean distilled water (and I had actually a LOT) and replenished the reservoir. Together the radiator siphoned the water from the reservoir, I added more. I did this until the temperature irradiate turned OFF. I never ever opened the radiator cap, and also neither need to you if the engine is overheating.

Remember the component when the automobile was acting lazily? it is what failsafe setting feels like. Then infection refuses to transition gears and the engine i will not ~ rev together high as it provided to be. In my case, the overheating engine was enough to cause failsafe mode, and it saved my wife’s automobile from additional damage.

Can ns still drive a auto in failsafe mode?


The primary reason of failsafe mode is to permit you and the car to accurate limp your way home or in the direction of a mechanic. But then again, the symptoms and also behavior the a particular vehicle in limp mode will rely on the make and also model of your vehicle. It likewise depends top top the form of problem. However as a basic rule, if the symptoms room obvious, climate it usually needs instant attention.

But you i will not ~ be driving normally if the vehicle is in limp mode. In some vehicles, the rate limiter switches to 40 mph and won’t enable you to move much faster than that. In my experience, the was greatly the transmission that acted weirdly. For this reason why walk a simple overheat cause the transmission to act like this? The transmission fluid is routed come a different row behind the radiator. Together the radiator dried up, that didn’t have the capability to cool the infection oil. This is the factor why the infection (which wake up to it is in a CVT) felt favor it was starting from second or third gear. It short the ‘bite’ and the ‘grip’ that you feel as soon as pulling from first gear.

But i was tho able to journey the vehicle, although an extremely slowly. I’m only glad that fail-safe mode did its job quite well. Kudos to contemporary technology!

How to reset engine failsafe mode?

This is wherein it gets complicated.

As we already discussed you have actually Soft Codes and also Hard Codes. Soft Codes have the right to be fixed by replacing the failing sensor and are generally not harmful. Hard Codes are indicative that a big problem and also resetting them means replacing a transmission or engine.

An OBD2 device with help you diagnose why your engine got in limp-mode.

Based on my story above, I to be able to deal with the difficulty by simply including water come the reservoir.

As the engine cooled down, the temperature warning light turned OFF, yet the examine engine irradiate is still ON. I waited for 10 minutes before turning the engine OFF. I pulled and also reinserted the key and rotate the engine back ON. The inspect engine light cleared. Again, breathed a hefty sigh that relief.

What ns did was to find for the resource of the difficulty using the clues presented to me. I wish cars would just say “Hey I require water!” or “My O2 sensor is failing, require help!” but it doesn’t job-related that way.

The primary ideas were the engine hiccup, check engine light, and greater idling speed. Next came the temperature warning light. Together I drove the car, the pedal feel stiff and the infection felt lazy.

It all relies on the resource of the problem!

Going through suitable troubleshooting actions is your best bet to solving limp mode. Friend can’t just clear the OBD2 code v your Bluedriver and move on! Robinsonsauto did a an excellent video working on Limp mode in a Ford 5.4 liter engine. Offer it a clock below.

I have actually a friend that forgot to reinstall the engine breather tube. After beginning the car and also driving for a while, the examine engine light come ON, followed by a lazy emotion in the engine. The drove ago home and also gave me a ring together the car idled in his driveway. After I gained there through my OBD2 scan device we popped the hood and I noticed a water tap missing. Us reinserted the hose and also the examine engine irradiate turned OFF.

Your best recourse may be to consult a mechanic.

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even if you have an OBD2 scan tool, girlfriend may lack the expertise to analyze the problem codes to make a ideal diagnosis. Yet if you’re lucky, the problem can only be resulted in by overlook or oversight.

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