Reduced power is something primarily seen on GM vehicles. The reduced power light is usually red and indicates that something has gone wrong, that the vehicle has gone into “limp mode”—as in “we are limping” or “we only have one leg and cannot run.” Such a fault in this system could be problematic. Many times, this fault pertains to either transmission functions or accelerating functions. If this light comes on, you must get it in for service.
Some limp modes limit your speed to no more than 25 miles an hour, which will allow you to drive to a safe place. You’ll likely need to have it towed from that point, especially if you have a long way to go. Other limp modes allow you to go 40 miles per hour, usually enough that you can get to a repair facility on your own.
The reduced power light will almost always be red. It indicates a problem that needs to receive immediate attention.
A question that is often asked is “How do you know if the car is safe to drive when a warning light comes on?” The general rule of thumb is determined by the color of the warning light. Yellow warning lights in general meant that it is okay to continue driving as long as there are no noticeable vehicle performance issues such as poor acceleration, unusual sounds, odd smells, etc. Red warning lights in general mean you must stop driving immediately, or at the very least, as soon as you safely can. For instance, you should not stop for a warning light if you are on a two lane bridge with no shoulder or on a freeway where there is no safe place to pull over to the right side of the road. You do need to take advantage of the very first opportunity to safely pull over though. We have seen many instances where someone drove “just a couple of miles” to get to home or an exit and turned a $400 repair into a $2000 repair needlessly.
In the case of the reduced power warning light, it is generally red but you can continue to operate the vehicle long enough to get to a repair facility providing it has not limited you to an unsafe speed on a highway. In that case it is best (safest) to pull over as soon as practical and call for a tow.
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