Chevy Cruze Limp Mode (Explained & Solved)

I am back with another response post, and this time we are dealing with something that is itself not a problem but a reaction to a problem that has occurred with some other system within your Chevy Cruze. 

I am talking about the aptly named limp mode or the limp home mode, to give it its other name, because that is what this feature does; it allows you to literally limp at a reduced speed to the nearest auto workshop or the safety of a parking lot.

The limp mode is a security feature available in almost all cars. It comes into play when a fault is detected by the engine or transmission control unit. It then switches off the non-essential systems, such as the air conditioning, infotainment, etc., and reduces the car’s speed. 

Join me as I explain the limp mode in more detail and share with you the faults that might trigger it.

The Limp Look And Feel

The limp mode is characterized by the following discernible changes to how your car drives.

  • Check engine light – The limp mode is visually indicated by a check engine light, which can also light up for issues other than the car entering limp mode.
  • Power cutdown – The most obvious indication for limp mode is that the car will not go beyond a certain speed. For automatic transmission, this means the car gets locked in low gear. For manual transmission, the RPM is capped to cut down on overspeeding. 
  • Turning off non-essential systems – Functions such as heating, air conditioning, stereo, etc.
  • Drivability — There may be a feeling that the car is jerking and the drive is not as smooth as before.

Safety First

A non-trivial fault will not trigger the limp mode, and even when triggered, it does not always mean that your car is doomed if driven any further. 

Some of the possible issues that do result in the activation of the limp mode can cause real damage to your car if driven other than to safety. Hence safety-first approach has to be the order of the day. 

Here is what you should do. 

  • Get your vehicle to the side of the highway or, if possible, into a parking lot. 
  • Turn off the engine and let it rest. 
  • Start the car and drive it. 
  • Sometimes a false sensor reading or some other temporary glitch gets reset, and you are good to go again. 
  • If the limp mode is invoked again, it is best to tow your car to your mechanic.

What Causes Limp Mode on a Chevy Cruze?

Truth be told, as with all faults where the check engine light gets lit, it is not easy to put your finger on why your car got into limp mode.

You might ask if there is something that I, as a driver, can do to solve the issue or at least rule out certain possibilities. 

And the answer is yes, but there is not much you can do — other than having it thoroughly looked at by a qualified technician.

The following are some of the things that can cause most vehicles to go into limp mode.

Low fluid levels

The car’s moving parts, such as gears in the transmission and pistons within the engine, produce a lot of friction. Friction causes metal parts to get very hot.

Failure to maintain proper fluid levels can be a major factor in your car going into limp mode. 

So when hit with the limp mode, let the engine cool down and check for the coolant and engine/transmission/brake oil levels.

Check for any leakage by inspecting the surface where you park your car.

Worn-out seals and hoses are a major cause of oil and coolant leakages.

Faulty brakes

What system can be more critical than the brakes?

Faulty or dysfunctional brakes are a recipe for disaster; hence, any fault detected with brakes, including the sensors, can be a major reason for the limp mode activation.


Sensors are the eyes and ears of all modern cars. Each subsystem, such as emission, transmission, suspension, ignition, fuel, throttle, etc., relies on an array of sensors to perform their functions optimally. 

Even if a subsystem itself does not fail, failure of one of its core sensors is perceived as system failure, leading to limp mode.

Luckily, such failures also generate associated fault codes that can be scanned using a professional-grade scanner to narrow down the issue. 

Transmission Issues

If the transmission is bad, such as the transition between gears is not smooth, in the case of an automatic transmission, if one or more gears are jumped, such a condition will lead to a limp mode.

It is advised not to drive your car any further and have it towed to the nearest workshop for a complete look-in.

Similarly, for manual transmission, a faulty clutch is also flagged as an issue that will trigger the onset of limp mode.

Faulty Wiring

Wires are to the car what the nervous system is to humans. These are the carriers of signals that originate from the wide range of sensors, switches, and control units. 

Just as a faulty or malfunctioning sensor can produce erroneous signals leading to system-level failure, faulty or damaged wires can cause incorrect data transmission —  again leading to system failure indication. 

The ECU will then identify this as an issue and activate the limp mode.

What Could I Have Done Better

As with any problem, the question to ask is, what could I have done better to avoid the limp mode? I have listed a few things you can do to make your life a lot easier and safer.

  • Following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule is the most important thing that will minimize the chances of failure. 
  • Develop a feeling for your car and how it drives. This way, you will be more likely to pick up a problem before it becomes a major headache.
  • Do not let seemingly small faults linger on because they can become a big headache if not treated earlier.
  • Whenever you need to replace a part, make sure not to compromise on quality.


In this post, we have looked at the dreaded security feature called limp mode.

In the Limp Look And Feel section, we looked at what it means to you as a driver when the limp mode is activated.

In essence, in limp mode, the car’s performance is drastically curtailed by the car’s control system.

The motivation is for you — to not drive the car any more than is necessary to take it to a qualified mechanic and have it inspected.

Finally, I shared my experience on how to decrease the frequency and intensity of failures, which is only possible if you take good care of your car and attend to problems as and when they arise.