What Does Engine Power Reduced on My Chevy Malibu Mean?

Chevy Malibu, one of the American darlings known for its exceptional handling, comfort, and impressive gas mileage, also has its pitfalls. Chevy Malibu has been beset with many problems, one of which is abrupt engine power reduction. The engine produces all the power needed to handle all the powertrain and drivetrain components.

However, many Chevy Malibu owners have been experiencing abrupt power reduction and a warning message that reads “engine power reduced.” It would come as a shock when you see an engine power-reduced warning message on your Chevy dashboard. Don’t panic if you are dealing with this issue. You are not alone. Many people are also dealing with engine power reduced on Chevy Malibu.

how to fix engine power reduced chevy malibu

Why does my Chevy say engine power reduced?

When the “engine power reduced” warning comes on, it means the accelerator pedal position sensor is malfunctioning. The malfunction will reduce the power output from the Chevy Malibu engine. When that happens, the car computer will display the warning on the dashboard.

The engine power reduction issue on the Chevy Malibu is one of General Motors’ biggest vehicle problems. According to several Malibu owners, the engine power reduction issues cause loss of power while driving. Some owners argued that once the warning pops up, their car won’t run fine until they turn off the engine and on it back, while others argued that they had to replace the accelerator position sensor.

This issue is so serious that it affected several Malibu owners, which caused them to file a class action lawsuit. The issue is more on the 2016 to 2018 Chevy Malibus. If you noticed the engine power reduced on Chevy Malibu 2016, contact your dealership and see if you are eligible for the 2016 Chevy Malibu engine recall.

Some owners also complained that check engine light accompanies the engine power reduced message in some cases. If you see a check engine light along with the engine power reduced message on the dashboard, it means you have a mechanical problem that needs urgent attention.

Along with the check engine lights, engine power reduced on Chevy Malibu 2014, and other years will log one or two error codes like the P0299, P0236, and P0121.

What Causes Engine power reduced in my Chevy Malibu?

Whenever the “engine power reduced” message pops up on a Chevy Malibu, it means the onboard computer has detected an abrupt reduction of engine power, mostly caused by a faulty gas pedal sensor. It would be a good idea to contact your mechanic as soon as possible to diagnose and address the issue.

Defective gas pedal position sensor

The gas pedal position sensor tells the ECU the gas pedal position at all times. If the sensor fails, it will send the wrong signal to the car computer. In the case of a Chevy Malibu, a malfunctioning gas pedal position sensor causes an abrupt reduction of engine power.

During the class action lawsuit against General Motors, most Chevy Malibu owners claimed that General Motors installed defective gas pedal position sensors on their Malibu cars.

Bad engine sensors

All the car sensors in your electronic throttle control system must work accordingly for the engine to operate as it should. The gas pedal position sensor reads the position of the gas pedal. On the other hand, the throttle body position sensor reads the position of the throttle valve and controls the amount of air that enters the engine.

If any of these sensors fail, it may affect the engine operation. As a result, the onboard computer will display an engine power reduction message on the dashboard along with a check engine warning light. Aside from a defective accelerator pedal position sensor, a bad throttle position sensor on Chevy Malibu is the most common cause of reduced engine power.

Wiring issues

Since many throttle control systems on Chevy Malibu, especially the recent models, are electronics, they have many wires between the sensors and connectors. If any of these wires cut or the connector pins break, it’ll prevent the sensors from functioning and trigger the engine power reduced warning message on the dashboard.

The thing is, wiring issues will hardly cause the engine power reduced message on a Chevy Malibu, but it is still possible. Considering the number of sensors, wires, and connectors in the electronic throttle system, diagnosing wiring issues will take a long time.

Faulty electronic throttle control system

While a bad gas pedal position sensor is the most common reason, other electronic throttle control system issues could be the culprit. It could be you have a faulty sensor in the electronic control system aside from the gas pedal and throttle body position sensors.

As I explained earlier, the electronic throttle control system sensors communicate with each other to forward accurate readings to the ECU. If these sensors are not communicating freely, engine power may be reduced until you diagnose and rectify the problem.

how to turn off engine power reduced chevy malibu

Can I Drive with Engine Power Reduced?

While engine power reduced warning will not prevent you from driving your car, do not ignore it for an extended period. It is a serious issue that you should never ignore. The problem will cause hard gear shifting and unresponsive throttle, which could lead to an accident. Hence, do not drive too often or too far with the warning message on the dashboard.

How do you fix reduced engine power?

The engine power reduced warning message on a Chevy Malibu needs urgent attention to prevent the problem from escalating to a bigger issue. If you are looking for the best approach and excellent results on how to fix engine power reduced on Chevy Malibu, you must follow the below steps, as they are recommended by certified Chevy technicians.

Check the warranty coverage.

First, you should check the vehicle warranty and see if the car is still under warranty coverage. Newer model Chevy cars have a bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage of 36,000 miles or three years and a powertrain warranty of 60,000 miles or five years.

If your car is still under warranty coverage, drive straight to your dealership and have them diagnose and rectify the problem. They will fix the problem without asking for any fee. However, you may have to spend more time at the dealership before getting your vehicle fixed.

If you don’t have time to wait at the dealership, you can fix the problem at any nearby local mechanic. But keep in mind, the dealership will not be liable for any issue that may happen in the future as a result of fixing the car at a local mechanic shop.

Pull out the trouble codes.

If your baby ride is no longer under warranty, then it’s time to roll your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Get a scan tool and locate the vehicle’s OBD II port underneath the steering wheel. Plug in the scan tool and diagnose the vehicle to find out what’s causing the warning light to appear on the dashboard.

Premium scan tools will display the error codes and tell you what each code means and what could be the actual cause. But if you are using any of these cheap scan tools, it’ll only display the error code. You will have to cross-reference the error code on any online trouble code library to determine the root cause of the problem.

If the onboard computer is showing multiple error codes, clear them and run the vehicle for 20 to 30 minutes while maintaining normal driving speed. After that, rescan the vehicle. Only the codes relevant to the actual problem should appear this time.

Replace the accelerator pedal position sensor

9 out of 10 times, a defective accelerator pedal position sensor is the cause of engine power reduction in Chevy Malibu. If your vehicle experiences sudden power reduction whenever the warning light appears, locate a safe spot and park. Unplug the accelerator pedal position sensor before shutting off the vehicle. Reconnect the sensor while the vehicle is off and start the engine. The engine should run smoothly until it happens again.

If you have the above experience, test the sensor or swap it with another one and see if that will fix the problem. If it does, replace the sensor before hitting the road. In most cases, this is all you need to rectify the problem.

Inspect the throttle body.

A dirty throttle body could be the reason for a sudden power loss on your Chevy Malibu. While this is not common, do not rule it out.

If the throttle body is dirty, it’ll open and close with struggle, which could lead to a loss of engine power. Check the throttle body and see if it needs cleaning. If the throttle body is dirty, clean it by:

  • Disconnect the air ducts connected to it. Remove the electrical connection and every other thing that could block you.
  • Open the butterfly plate and spray the throttle body cleaner into the throttle. Clean the throttle body.
  • Allow the solvent to dry
  • Reconnect everything you removed earlier.

If you have tried all this and are unable to fix the problem, contact your car mechanic. Your mechanic is more experienced and has all the tools to diagnose and fix the underlying problem.

How much does it cost to fix a reduced engine power?

The cost of fixing an engine power-reduced issue on a Chevy Malibu depends on the exact cost of the problem. According to Getjerry, if the problem is caused due to carbon-fouled spark plugs, you only need to clean the plugs. If it is a result of a dirty throttle body, you only need to pay for the cleaner.

However, 9 out of 10 times, the engine power reduced issues on Chevy Malibus are typically caused by a defective accelerator pedal position sensor, which costs around $100 to $500, including the faulty sensors and labor fee.


How do I get my Chevy out of reduced power mode?

If the Chevy Malibu engine power is reduced while driving, locate a safe spot and park your car. Disconnect the gas pedal position sensor attached to the pedal and shut off the engine. Reconnect the sensor while the engine is still off and start the engine. This should remove the engine from reduced power mode.

However, Much like the check engine warning light, the only permanent way you can get your car out of reduced engine power mode is to track and fix the cause of the problem. 

Is reduced engine power serious?

Technically, reduced engine power means the engine is not running at the optimum level. Most likely, the vehicle has entered fail-safe mode, and driving with it is safe, but only for a short distance. In most cases, this means reduced control over your car, which can cause unpredictable situations on the road.

Can an oil change fix reduced engine power?

The simple answer is yes. Needing an engine oil change can cause reduced engine power. Engine oil is important for cooling and lubricating internal engine moving parts, and neglecting the oil change will cause increased friction, wear and tear, and reduced engine power. If the reduced engine power mode happens because the engine needs an oil change, then changing the oil will fix the underlying problem.

Can a dirty air filter cause reduced engine power?

As the air filter becomes clogged with dirt, debris, and dust over time, it restricts the amount of air that enters the engine. The restriction of air affects the air-fuel mixture ratio that goes into the engine. Invariably leading to sluggish throttle response, reduced power, and decreased overall performance.

Can low oil life cause reduced engine power?

One of the major effects of driving with low engine oil is increased friction between moving parts, as there is insufficient lubrication between them. This will invariably lead to reduced engine power, shorter engine parts lifespan, and will drop expensive repair bills on the table.

“Can an O2 sensor cause reduced engine power?”

Yes, a bad O2 sensor will cause reduced engine power. A bad O2 sensor will send incorrect or no information to the engine control module. If it sends incorrect information, saying there’s too much oxygen in the exhaust, the car computer will work with this assumption. You will notice a loss of engine power as you drive.

“Can spark plugs cause reduced engine power?”

Carbon-fouled, oil-fouled, or bad spark plugs will cause several problems, like bad gas mileage, hard starting, engine misfire, increased exhaust emission, rough idling, and reduced engine power.

Final Words

9 out of 10 times, the engine power reduced on Chevy Malibu is usually caused by a malfunctioning accelerator pedal position sensor. Wiring issues, bad spark plugs, dirty throttle bodies, and faulty electronic control systems are other possible causes.

If your engine is losing power, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. Do not ignore the underlying problem for an extended period, as it could lead to unpredictable driving situations. However, do not panic if you experience a 2017 Malibu power loss or on any Malibu model because this is a manufacturing defect from General Motors.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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