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While having a vehicle allows you freedom, it also comes with the possibility of mechanical issues. When your vehicle functions abnormally, displaying symptoms like reduced power and a check engine light, it’s likely that your BMW has entered limp mode.

After years of experience working with BMWs, we believe that our expertise can help you feel confident in spotting limp mode and knowing what to do next.

What is Limp Mode?

In short, limp mode is your BMW’s way of protecting your engine and transmission. When the engine or transmission control unit, called an ABS, detects faulty functioning, the malfunction code is stored in the device and is then assessed to determine the severity of the issue. If the device deems the issue within your BMW as dangerous, the vehicle will go into limp mode.

By activating the limp mode function, your BMW is working to ensure that you’re able to safely get your vehicle to a mechanic without damaging the most important part of your vehicle: the engine. Experienced auto mechanics are able to run tests to determine the origin of the limp mode – the trouble code – and determine the best way to get your car functioning like new.

How to Spot Limp Mode

Recognizing limp mode is fairly easy once you’ve learned what to look out for. In an effort to protect your engine, your BMW will enter a reduced mode, where power and RPM limits on your engine are lowered. While most people might think an engine light is enough of a warning, many drivers will procrastinate their repair or completely ignore the vehicle’s obvious signs that a repair is needed.

Other signs that your BMW has entered limp mode and requires service include:

  • Check engine light
  • Your transmission won’t go past third gear
  • Reduced engine power
  • Vehicle RPM limit is lower
  • Turbo boost shut off completely

It’s important to know that limp mode can actually turn on and off, especially when the car is started. This means that it’s quite common your BMW won’t enter this state until you are driving.

Entering limp mode while driving can be alarming. If you notice that your BMW has entered limp mode while you’re on the road, it’s important to act calmly and use your knowledge of this function to your advantage. After noticing signs of limp mode, safely pull over on the side of the road and check your BMW for odd noises, smoke or even leaks, particularly from the transmission and engine. While we always recommend towing your vehicle as the safest solution when your vehicle enters this mode, you can also cautiously make your way to AutoScope’s service center if leaks, smoke or noises are not present.

Causes of Limp Mode

Now for the real questions: how is limp mode caused and how can you avoid it? Many times, we have customers come in for service after their vehicle has experienced limp mode and wonder if it could be avoided in the future. While limp mode could be considered a catch-all symptom that may indicate many different issues, the most common causes of limp mode are:

  • Faulty engine elements, including sensors and wiring
  • Excessive or reduced engine boost control
  • Issues with brake system wiring
  • Faulty transmission, including ineffective wiring

Symptoms within the limp mode can also help you determine what the possible issues are that have caused it to occur in the first place. For example, restricted functions are an indicator that the brake system wiring might not be performing well, whereas low performance and ability to accelerate could be indicative of faulty engine components.

A Helpful But General Function

While limp mode is a great (and very obvious) indicator that your BMW is in trouble, it’s important to realize that this particular function is a very general sign for a wide variety of possible issues with the integrity of your car mechanics. This is why it’s very important that you recognize abnormalities in the functions of your vehicle and, when spotted, seek service from a qualified European auto mechanic as soon as you can.

Keep Your BMW in Top Shape

Don’t risk serious damage to your BMW by letting limp mode go on for too long. With consistent maintenance and expertise from European auto mechanics, you can learn to spot limp mode and even prevent your vehicle from needing to activate this function in the first place. AutoScope offers comprehensive service for European cars including BMW, Audi and Mercedes from experienced mechanics. To book your vehicle for a repair or service, call (214) 462-7863 or contact us online here.