Informational Guide

What Exactly Is Limp Mode?

We discuss what causes a transmission to go into limp mode and teach you how to bypass limp mode on BMW and other popular car models.

Whenever your car experiences poor engine performance or starts acting funny, it raises concerns. Some of the most common questions we hear are - what is limp mode, and what does limp mode mean?

Limp mode can be scary, but with the proper understanding, you won’t need to be as alarmed.

In this guide, we discuss what causes a transmission to go into limp mode and teach you how to bypass limp mode on BMW and other popular models.

What is limp mode on a car? This function is activated by the vehicle’s computer when a problem is recognized. What can cause a car to go into limp mode? Generally speaking, the vehicle will activate limp mode if there is any problem with the vital components that could lead to further damage.

Limp mode is the vehicle’s way of telling you there is an issue and protecting the car from extended harm. It also allows you to drive the car to your local garage without being broken down.

Most Common Symptoms of Limp Mode

If you notice any of these symptoms, you want to know how to fix a car in limp mode.

Check engine warning light is on

Whenever there is a fault in the advanced systems, your car’s Check Engine Light alerts you to the situation. It might come on and stay on or flash. Either way, it’s time to get your vehicle to the local mechanic for repair.

Limited Speed and RPM

When limp mode is activated, the driving speed might become limited as the system minimizes how much power the transmission and engine can output. You might not be able to get the car above a certain speed.

Shifting Difficulty

Because your speed is being hindered, you will likely only be able to operate the vehicle in one gear. Many times, the car will stick in either first or second gear to prevent further damage. Learn more about clutches here.

Poor Performance

Acceleration is going to be hindered when limp mode is activated. Even if you push your gas pedal to the ground, the car simply isn’t going to respond. For now, your car is only giving you the power you need to drive to the nearest repair shop.

Most Common Symptoms Of Limp Mode

Common Causes of Limp Mode

Transmission issues

The transmission is responsible for converting the power from the engine into the movement of the wheels. There are a lot of parts in the transmission that must be working for it to operate properly. If a solenoid, clutch, or sensor fails, your car might go into limp mode because it can no longer shift correctly.

Low Fluid Level

When your transmission fluid or other lubricant is low, your car might go into limp mode to protect itself. These fluids are necessary for proper lubrication but break down over time. Even if the car is experiencing low oil pressure due to a lack of fluid, the limp mode might be activated.

Faulty Sensor

Your car is made up of many sensors that ensure proper operation. Sensors such as TPS, MAP, and MAF can go bad and lead to performance issues. When this happens, a fault is received by the main computer, which puts the car in limp mode for protection.

Faulty Engine Wiring

The car relies on lots of electrical wiring to run correctly. The sensors are all connected by wires that can become damaged or broken. When this happens, the electrical signals can’t be sent to the computer, which causes limp mode to be activated.  

How To Bypass Limp Mode: Step By Step

If you want to know how to bypass limp mode on Honda and other popular models, we can help. We will show you how to bypass transmission limp mode and how to clear limp mode so you can get back to driving again.

How do you reset limp mode? For starters, check all of the fluids. This is something you can do at home, without much mechanical experience. If one of the fluids is low, it might have activated the limp mode setting.

If the Check Engine Light is on, you can use your OBDII scanner to find out where the fault is. If you don’t have a scanner, most auto parts stores will check the codes for you. Depending on what the problem is, you may be able to fix it yourself. Once the repair has been made, do you know how to get the ECU out of limp mode? You might need to use your scanner to reset the trouble codes.

To buy some time, you may be able to shut off the car and try again. This is helpful if it just overheated and shut down to prevent damage. However, you will still need to have the vehicle looked at to determine what caused the problem in the first place.

What Is Limp Mode

How To Get Your Car Out Of Limp Mode (Most Common Cars)

Nissan Vehicles

To learn how to bypass limp mode for Nissan models, consider restarting the engine or scanning the computer for trouble codes first. If this doesn’t help you figure out the problem, you might need to take it to your mechanic for more diagnostics.

Audi Vehicles

To figure out how to bypass limp mode for Audi vehicles, we suggest pulling over and turning off the engine. Hopefully, this resolves the problem, but you might also need a mechanic to look at the vehicle for diagnostics.

Dodge Vehicles

You can learn how to bypass limp mode for Dodge by shutting off the car engine. If it is still in limp mode when you turn it back on, scan it with your diagnostic tool and fix the problem. The worst-case scenario is that you need to take it to your mechanic.

Jeep Vehicles

Do you know how to get a Jeep out of limp mode? You can try the other steps, such as checking the fluids, turning off the engine, and scanning the computer with your diagnostics tool. However, it's probably due to a defective part that needs to be replaced or repaired.

Mercedes Vehicles

How do I get my Mercedes out of limp mode? Start by turning the engine off and waiting a couple of minutes. If the problem persists, check the fluids and scan the engine with your OBDII tool. Aside from that, you will need a professional to look at it.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How far can I drive in limp mode?

To figure out how to remove limp mode, you might need to visit the mechanic. You don't want to drive your vehicle much further than down to the nearest service center, or more damage might occur.

Can a bad PCM cause limp mode?

Yes. The PCM is a vital component of your vehicle and the car won’t run properly if it is defective. Your OBDII scanner should tell you if limp mode is caused by the PCM.

Can low oil cause limp mode?

Having low fluids puts a lot of stress on the vehicle and causes wear on essential parts. If the fluid level is that low, it could activate limp mode before damage is done. That’s why it is so important to regularly check fluids and perform your scheduled tune-ups.

Can a bad O2 sensor cause limp mode?

Typically, a bad O2 sensor will not activate limp mode, but it can lead to many performance issues. You can tell when an O2 sensor is bad by using your OBDII scanner.

How much does it cost to fix limp mode?

It depends on what the problem is. If you need to fill up fluids, you will only need to pay for the fluid itself. Otherwise, if your transmission has gone bad, it could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars to repair.


Why is my car in limp mode? Hopefully, you understand now what is happening and how to get a car out of limp mode. By paying attention to what your vehicle is trying to tell you, it’s possible to avoid further damage to your car.