Chevy Equinox Engine Power Reduced

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You’re driving in your Equinox, and suddenly, a warning light flashes on that says, “Engine Power Reduced.” What does this mean? Is it serious?

The “Engine Power Reduced” warning on a Chevy Equinox means your car is in “limp mode.” While there are various causes, the most common occurrence is a dirty throttle body. The car must be checked at a local service center to resolve the issue by running a diagnostic scan.

Nobody likes getting a warning light on their dashboard, but the Chevy Equinox “engine power reduced” light means trouble. If this happens to you, don’t panic; pay attention to the warning. The trouble code is designed to inform you when your Equinox is running in limp mode (reduced engine power) and needs to be serviced as soon as possible. In limp mode, you cannot drive your car over a certain speed (which can create all kinds of headaches on a busy roadway). This article will examine the role of this warning code on a Chevrolet Equinox so that if it happens, you will know how to get your car back running the way it was designed to perform.

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What Does The “Engine Power Reduced” Warning Mean?

Your Equinox has this kind of warning on the instrument panel that the car’s computer has determined that something isn’t right with your engine. While some cars have engine lights (a warning light in the picture of an engine) to warn owners, this specific warning is specifically designed to inform you that the engine is operating in “limp mode.” (Limp mode is exactly as it sounds, your engine will limp along and not be able to perform at peak efficiency. Power will be significantly reduced, and the car will not accelerate past a certain speed). The car may show other signs of severe engine failure, like a sudden loss of power, knocking, or multiple warning lights, buzzers, and chimes.

What Is The Cause Of “Engine Power Reduced?”

There are multiple reasons for the warning. The primary cause of this trouble code is a dirty throttle body. (The throttle body is the component below the air filter that helps control the right amount of air to mix with the right amount of fuel before sending the mix to each combustion chamber). A dirty throttle body is generally the result of carbon buildup from unspent exhaust gases and fuel that tend to bake in the engine's heat. When the vehicle’s computer detects too much grime, a sensor gets triggered, and the warning light appears.

Are There Any Symptoms To A Dirty Throttle Body?

Occasionally, there are some indications that your throttle body might need servicing before the car’s sensors are triggered.

  • Poor Fuel Economy
  • Rough Idle
  • Engine stalling
  • Check Engine light
  • Poor acceleration

Is It Safe To Drive My Equinox In Limp Mode?

Generally, it is unsafe to drive your car while it is in reduced power mode. While the car may continue to go at a reduced speed, the best remedy for this warning light is to pull off the side of the road (in a safe place). Call a wrecker and have the tow truck take your Equinox to the nearest service center. Since there are multiple causes for this warning light (faulty oxygen sensors, bad turbo, faulty EGR valve, faulty wiring, faulty throttle position sensor) in addition to the dirty throttle body, it is always best not to try and push your car on after it has given you an indication that things are not right. Reduced engine power happens for a reason, and it is always wise to trust what the engine control unit tells you.

What Will My Service Center Do?

Your technician will inspect your car by running a diagnostic scan. The diagnostic tool, called an OBD scanner, plugs into the Diagnostic Link Connector (every car made after 1996 has one). The scanner sends information to the technician’s iPad and communicates with the diagnostic trouble sensors which have been triggered. These DTCs (Diagnostic trouble codes) are vital to helping your mechanic zero in on precisely what the issue is so that the repair can be accomplished as quickly as possible.

Once the scanner tells the service technician precisely what is wrong, the repair can begin with your permission. (The dealership or service center should provide you with a written estimate of the problem and how much they will charge you to fix it. Do not let a mechanic begin a repair on your car without discussing what the issue is and what the repair cost will be).

Once you have permitted the work to proceed, the technician follows the information from the scan and repairs your SUV. If a component needs to be replaced, the tech can order one from the parts department and install it onto your engine. (Most of the time, the throttle body must be thoroughly cleaned, and then all hoses reinstalled).

Once the repair is finished, the technician will start the car, clear the DTC and ensure no other issues. Then, the tech will hand the key and paperwork to the service counter, where someone will review the repair and collect your money for the repair.

How Much Does It Cost For A Throttle Body Cleaning?

According to Repairpal, a typical throttle body cleaning will cost $310 - $350, depending on what area of the country you live in. While the task should take about 45 minutes of labor, you may have to hang around the service center for a few hours.

How Often Does A Throttle Body Need Cleaning?

Usually, every 15k - 20k miles. While many DIYers attempt to clean the throttle body themselves (it is a relatively easy task if you have some familiarity with your engine), it is not a job to try to accomplish if you do not know what you’re doing. Using the incorrect cleaner or failing to clean the throttle body correctly can cause additional issues. Unless you have an OBD scanner, you cannot reset the throttle position sensor that triggered the reduced power code in the first place. For this reason, we recommend that you take the Equinox to a certified repair facility.

Can I Ignore The Reduced Engine Power Warning?

Your Equinox will not allow you to ignore the warning. While some owners have had luck turning their cars off, waiting, and then restarting without the code coming back on, this is the exception. Chances are that the code will eventually snap back on the moment you hit the gas pedal. If the code disappears, head to the service center, and have a certified technician check your car. (Every car records all DTCs that occur, so the tech should be able to tell you what was going on with your car when the error code appeared).