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Malibu Power Reduction – Quick Diagnosis & Fix

Owners of the Chevy Malibu from 2018 through 2022 have encountered an alarming issue where their vehicle displays a reduced engine power warning, often accompanied by a series of diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). These codes, such as P0101 (Mass Air Flow Sensor Performance) and P0299 (Engine Underboost), point towards problems with the Charge Air Cooler (CAC) outlet tube disconnecting from the throttle body. This defect, primarily affecting models equipped with the turbocharged 1.5L I4 LFV gasoline engine, can significantly reduce the car’s horsepower and torque, necessitating an inspection and potentially the replacement of damaged parts by a GM technician. Despite the car’s reputation for being smooth, quiet, and efficient in terms of MPG, this engine issue has raised concerns over safety and reliability, leading some owners to share their frustrations over noise levels compared to other brands like Subaru Forrester and Toyota hybrids.

The severity of the problem has prompted various responses from owners, ranging from minor inconveniences to major safety hazards, with some reporting that the “engine power reduced” warning has led their vehicles to suddenly decelerate to unsafe speeds. Instances of malfunctions related to the valve gas sensor and the car unexpectedly shifting into park have exacerbated the issue, highlighting a lack of warranty coverage and satisfactory diagnoses from certified shops. The collective frustration has culminated in legal action against General Motors (GM), as affected owners seek accountability for a problem that compromises the ability to accelerate to a safe speed. This situation not only reflects on the credibility of GM’s diagnostics and repairs but also raises questions about the effectiveness of recalls and the company’s commitment to vehicle safety and customer satisfaction.

What Does “Engine Power Reduced” Mean?

When the reduced engine power warning illuminates on your dashboard or instrument panel, it signifies that your car’s performance has been intentionally limited. This precaution, managed by the powertrain control module (PCM), activates Reduced Power Mode as a safeguard against system failure. Essentially, it’s the vehicle’s method of communicating that it has detected a significant underlying concern affecting the vehicle’s performance. Particularly in Chevy Malibu models embroiled in the class-action lawsuit, this warning often traces back to a defective accelerator pedal position sensor within the electronic throttle actuator control (TAC) system.

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Entering Engine Power Reduced Mode can drastically limit performance and the ability to accelerate, sometimes rendering the vehicle undrivable by cutting off fuel delivery to the engine. This mode is not just a trivial inconvenience; it’s a critical reaction to various possible causes, including but not confined to, issues like the aforementioned defective sensor. Understanding what triggers this warning is crucial for drivers to maintain safety and prevent potential hazards on the road.

What Is The Most Common Reason For Reduced Engine Power?

In Chevy Malibu vehicles, the “Reduced Engine Power” light often illuminates due to issues within the fuel system, with common culprits being a clogged fuel filter, a malfunctioning fuel pump, or a faulty fuel pressure regulator. However, for models like the Chevy Equinox SUVs, a dirty throttle body is the most prevalent cause of the “engine power reduced” message. Signs of a dirty throttle body include noticeable reduced fuel economy among others, indicating it’s time for maintenance to prevent this disruptive alert.

How Do You Fix Engine Power Is Reduced?

When experiencing reduced engine power in a Chevy Malibu, there are a few steps you can take to identify and resolve the issue:

  • Replacing a clogged fuel filter can significantly improve fuel flow and engine performance, as it prevents contaminants from reaching the engine.
  • Cleaning a dirty throttle body can enhance air intake, improving the engine’s efficiency and power output.
  • Replacing a dirty air filter ensures that your engine receives clean air, which is vital for the combustion process and overall vehicle performance.
  • Addressing brand-specific issues is also crucial. For Chevrolet Malibu, this might mean looking into the accelerator pedal position sensor or following any technical service bulletins (TSBs) that may apply to your vehicle model.

Promptly addressing these issues is essential to prevent further damage to your vehicle and maintain its performance and safety.

Can I Drive With Reduced Engine Power?

Driving with reduced engine power in a Chevy Malibu can lead to further complications and is not advisable. If you encounter this issue, it’s crucial to avoid continued driving as it may worsen the problem and result in more damage to your vehicle. To ensure your safety and the longevity of your car, it is highly recommended to take your vehicle to a service center for diagnostics as soon as you can.

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Engine Power Reduced on Chevrolet Malibu Vehicles Reported

Federal regulators, specifically the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), have logged numerous complaints about a potentially dangerous engine flaw in 2016-2018 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles. Owners report a defect in the accelerator pedal position sensor leading to an unexpected loss of engine power, especially alarming when driving at highway speeds. This issue forces vehicles to slow down to 20 to 40 miles per hour, creating dangerously slow speeds on fast-moving roads. The engine power reduced warning typically appears on the instrument panel or dashboard, and while restarting the engine might temporarily restore normal speeds, some drivers found that the accelerator pedal position sensor failed completely and would not function even after restarting the vehicle.

Attempts by affected owners to address this issue have often been met with frustration. Dealerships have reported that an improved sensor to rectify this specific problem does not exist, and those seeking a replacement sensor have been told that parts are on backorder. For those who managed to obtain replacements, the fix was sometimes ineffective, leading to continued experiences of the same problem. This has raised concerns that GM may be either removing faulty sensors and replacing them with an unimproved version or incorrectly diagnosing the problem, essentially applying a band-aid solution to a more significant issue. Despite these ongoing reports, the NHTSA has not yet launched an investigation into the affected models, and GM has not announced any plans to recall Chevy Malibu units affected by the Engine Power Reduced issue.

Chevy Malibu Class Action Lawsuit: Rothschild v. General Motors LLC

The alleged defect in the pedal position sensor of Chevy Malibus, leading to Engine Power Reduced mode, has propelled a class action lawsuit against General Motors. Mr. Mark Rothschild, the plaintiff, experienced this issue firsthand. In March 2018, while driving his 2017 Chevy Malibu on the highway, he encountered an engine power reduced warning, which restricted his speed to 20 mph. Although Rothschild managed to navigate away from traffic and emerge unscathed, the incident led him to a GM dealership where the accelerator pedal and integrated sensor were replaced under warranty. However, when the defect recurred, he was denied coverage for repairs and received no assistance from GM corporate, forcing him to pay over $200 in repairs at a mechanic shop.

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Rothschild’s case highlights a broader issue that many 2016-2018 Chevy Malibu owners have experienced, prompting him to represent a class of consumers who purchased or leased these vehicles. The GM engine defect class action lawsuit seeks actual damages, punitive damages, statutory damages, disgorgement, interest, restitution, court costs, and attorney’s fees, asserting that GM failed to inform consumers and recall the defective parts. Represented by Nicholas A. Migliaccio, Jason S. Rathod, Esfand Y. Nafisi, and Daniel Levin and Nicholas Elia of Migliaccio & Rathod LLP and Levin Sedran and Berman, the lawsuit is filed under case number 1:19-CV-05240 in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, marking a significant legal battle over the Chevy Malibu Class Action Lawsuit against General Motors LLC.

Are There Any Recalls or Technical Service Bulletins for Affected Chevy Malibu Vehicles?

On August 28, 2019, GM took a step to address the Engine Power Reduced mode issue in Chevy Malibu vehicles through a Special Coverage Adjustment (#N182188250-01), extending the warranty on the accelerator pedal position sensor to 10 years or 150,000 miles from the date the vehicle was first placed in service. This adjustment specifically targets 2016-2018 Chevrolet Malibu units, as well as 2017-2018 Buick LaCross and 2018 Buick Regal units, acknowledging the critical concerns surrounding this issue. In addition to the coverage adjustment, a technical service bulletin (TSB 19-NA-032) was issued, proposing solutions like reprogramming the engine control module (ECM) or swapping electrical connectors between the knock sensors to address a software anomaly rather than the faulty sensor identified in the lawsuit against GM.

For those concerned about whether their vehicle might be affected by this or other issues, checking the NHTSA website with your 17-digit identification number (VIN) is recommended. This proactive step can help owners discover if their make and model have any open recall. It underscores the importance of regular vehicle maintenance and inspection to identify and address problems early. Following the recommended service intervals, maintenance, and care as outlined in your owner’s manual can ensure your vehicle remains in optimal condition, potentially averting issues like the Engine Power Reduced mode that have plagued some Chevy Malibu vehicles.

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