What is Limp Home Mode and how does it work?

When a car or van suffers some kind of malfunction, it can often mean the end of the line for the vehicle in an instant – no warning, no chance to prepare yourself financially or emotionally. It can also leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere and at the mercy of the breakdown recovery gods, praying that they get a tow truck to you some time this side of Christmas. But what if there was another way? A way of getting yourself out of a pickle, albeit very, very slowly? Enter limp mode. This is what it is, and how it works.

If your car has limped right into an early grave, give us a call here at Scrap Car Comparison and we can get you the best deals for it, offered by tried and tested scrap & salvage dealers in your local area. We’ll even arrange for the collection of your vehicle to be completed, totally free of charge, from anywhere on our network across the UK! Give us a call on 03333 44 99 50 or use our scrap value calculator to get a quote now!

A disappointed woman looks disgruntled in her car

What Is Limp Mode For A Car?

Limp most could be called the ‘last resort’ for getting you to your destination without totally breaking down. When your vehicle recognises that there’s a problem which will cause it stop working, rather than using all of its resources and inevitably cutting out a little bit further down the road, it will instead kill your speed (and the power it’s receiving from the engine) along with other non-essential operations, like air-con. This will allow you to make it back home, or to a garage, even if it takes longer than usual.

How Limp Mode Works

There are a lot of sensors inside your vehicle, from front to back, that are constantly relaying data to the car or van’s computer systems. That computer uses the information it receives to keep your vehicle operating as best it can, so when something goes wrong, your car is usually well aware of it – often before you are!

Because your car is so clever, it’s then able to use that info to shut down any additional components – like air con, as we mentioned before – that aren’t essential to the vehicle’s operation. At the end of the day, all your car really needs is the ability to roll, steer, and propel itself… so that’s essentially what limp mode leaves you with!

What Are The Causes Of Limp Mode?

Limp mode is caused by signals being sent to the vehicle’s computer telling it that parts of the car aren’t working properly. These can include problems with your engine, transmission, brakes or clutch – or, it’s worth remembering, the issue could stem from a faulty sensor telling the computer system there’s another malfunction when there isn’t!

What Are The Symptoms Of Limp Mode?

The most clear and obvious symptom of limp mode is a lack of power and speed from your vehicle. If you put your foot down and you still seem to be trundling along, your car may have entered limp mode. This could also be evidenced by the car not allowing you to shift into higher than third gear, or limiting the revs you can get out of it. You might also find that certain warning lights have lit up on your dashboard. In this case it’ll most likely be the dreaded engine light, but it’s worth understanding the meaning behind each of them.

Is A Car Safe To Drive In Limp Mode?

Technically, yes. You can continue to drive in limp mode – after all, that’s kind of the whole point of it. However, no car designed to be used long term in limp mode. Not only will you risk doing further damage to your vehicle by not fixing the glaring problem that’s put it into limp mode in the first place, you’ll also be a hazard on the road, driving dangerously slow.

How Long Can You Drive A Car In Limp Mode?

There’s no answer to this question that can be given as a measurement of time or distance, but the most sensible answer is “however long it takes you to get to the nearest mechanic”. That’s because driving long distances in limp mode is not at all recommended. If you’re still looking at more than a couple of miles of driving before you reach help, it’s probably safer for you to pull over and call breakdown recovery.

How To Bypass Or Reset Limp Mode?

First of all, we wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you’ve confirmed that your vehicle actually isn’t broken and you’ve just got a dodgy sensor playing tricks on you (and even then we’d suggest simply fixing the sensor instead). However, it is possible to reset or bypass the limp mode setting on your vehicle.

The simplest way of attempting to override limp mode is to turn the vehicle off and on again. Yes, The IT Crowd might have been comedic, but it wasn’t wrong.

The same effect can be achieved by removing the battery and reinstalling it, which will force-reset the vehicle’s electronic systems. Alternatively, you can hook up a testing kit to your Onboard Diagnostics (OBD port). This should tell you what’s wrong, while most likely kicking the car out of limp mode too.

What Does It Mean If Your Car Goes Into Limp Mode When Accelerating?

If your vehicle goes into limp mode when you put your foot down, like when you’re merging onto a motorway for example, you might be experiencing an issue with the car’s battery or the related sensors. Once again, utilising your vehicle’s ODM Port can help figure out if this is the case.

How Much Does It Cost To Repair A Car In Limp Mode?

This answer depends almost entirely on what’s caused the vehicle to enter limp mode in the first place. If you’re looking at a big job, like an engine or transmission replacement, then the cost could be high to say the least.

However, if it’s as simple as changing a sensor, the cost won’t set you back too much.

Getting the car out of limp mode, whatever the cause, should also come as standard – it should just happen naturally when the car is fixed.

Got a problem with your car that’s not within your budget to fix? Call Scrap Car Comparison and we can get you the best deals for it, offered by professional scrap & salvage dealers based in your local area. We’ll even arrange for the collection of your vehicle to be completed, totally free of charge, from anywhere on our network across the UK! Give us a call on 03333 44 99 50 or use our scrap value calculator to get a quote now!

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