Engine Power Reduced Chevy Malibu: Meaning, Causes & Fixes

Don't know what to do if your Chevy Malibu has a engine power reduced message on the dashboard? This article explains the causes and how to fix it.

Engine Power Reduced Chevy Malibu

If you drive a Chevy Malibu, you expect all of the systems to operate as intended. It comes as a shock to you when the Engine Power Reduced message comes on the dashboard, so what does this mean?

It’s important to note that many people are dealing with the Engine Power Reduced Chevy Malibu issue, so you aren’t alone. 

In this guide, we discuss what this warning message means and discuss some of the most popular causes. We also tell you how to fix the problem, so you can get back to enjoying your Chevy car once again. In the end, you’ll find some answers to the top questions currently being asked. 

What Does Engine Power Reduced Mean on a Chevy Malibu?

On the message screen, a warning saying “Engine Power Reduced” means that the power flow has been scaled back to the Chevy Malibu. According to proposed class action lawsuits, this reduced power problem has been a common defect among Malibu models.

When the power is reduced and the warning message appears, the Check Engine Light may also come on. This further reveals that there’s a mechanical problem that requires attention. As with most warning lights, it’s best to have it looked at right away. You don’t want to continue driving with minimal power and it’s important to prevent further damage from occurring.

Causes Of Engine Power Reduced Chevy Malibu

According to recent reports, the Engine Power Reduced problem seems to mainly affect the 2018 through 2022 Chevy Malibu models. Along with the reduced engine power, there is often one or more trouble codes present in the computer. Most of the Malibu cars affected have a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is rated for 160 horsepower. 

Here are a few of the most common problems.

1. Bad Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor (Most Common)

Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor Location

There’s a sensor located on the accelerator pedal that monitors its position. It’s a tiny sensor, but it can cause a lot of trouble when it malfunctions. If the sensor isn’t working correctly, engine power may be reduced.

With older Malibu models, the accelerator pedal was attached with a cable. Now, the sensor is put in its place to create a lack of mechanical connection. The electrical setup is all monitored by a sensor and the information gets sent to the computer. The computer dictates how much power the throttle body needs to supply.

However, if the sensor isn’t working, the computer won’t have the right information. Therefore, the wrong amount of power is sent, creating a long list of issues, including this warning message. 

READ MORE: 6 Symptoms Of A Bad Accelerator Pedal Sensor (& Replacement Cost)

2. Defective Electronic Throttle Control System

There could also be other defects in the electronic throttle control system. While we’ve already discussed the problem with the accelerator position sensor, it could be another sensor on the throttle body itself. 

Without information being able to pass freely between the sensors, the computer doesn’t know what to do. Therefore, power is reduced until the issue can be resolved. 

3. Faulty Engine Sensor

All of the sensors in the electronic throttle control system must communicate for the system to work as designed. The pedal sensor sends information to the throttle body sensor, all of which need to be read by the engine.

If this main sensor fails, the system won’t know how to respond. Again, the Engine Power Reduced message is going to illuminate, along with possibly the Check Engine Light.

4. Bad Wirings

Because the modern throttle control system is electronic, there are plenty of wires and connectors in between the sensors. If any one of these connections fails, the message could also appear.

While this problem isn’t as prevalent, it’s still possible. Considering how many wires and connectors there are to investigate, this can also be a lengthy problem to resolve. 

How To Fix The Engine Power Reduced Message On A Chevy Malibu

Once the message appears on the dashboard, you want to take immediate action to prevent any further damage. Because this is a known issue with the newer Malibu models, the steps outlined below are recommended by Chevy technicians.

1. Check The Warranty

Chevrolet Malibu

Before you do anything else, see if your factory warranty is still valid. Most newer Chevys are covered by a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

If your vehicle is still covered, it’s best to take your Malibu directly to the dealership. The problem can be resolved by the technicians without spending a dime. The downside to this solution is that you may wait a little longer to get your car looked at under warranty. However, if you choose to have it fixed on your own, you might be liable for future issues. 

Some people also choose to buy extended warranty coverage on the vehicle. Depending on what company you use, this problem may or may not be covered. It’s best to reach out directly to the provider to figure out how to proceed. 

2. Read Trouble Codes

Obd Scanner

If the Malibu is no longer under warranty, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. With a compatible code scanner, you can find out what’s causing the lights to come on. Plug the scanner into the OBD-II port, located underneath the steering wheel, near the driver’s side door.

Reference the information with our online trouble code library to determine the culprit. If there are multiple codes showing, it might be best to reset them. Once the computer is reset, you can drive a little until the light comes back on. The only codes present at this time should be the most relative to the problem. 

3. Clean Throttle Body

The throttle body could be causing the issues if there’s dirt or contamination. Inspect the throttle body to see if it needs to be cleaned. When the throttle body is working and unobstructed, it opens and closes without a lot of effort. It should also close automatically when released.

To clean the throttle body, follow these steps.

  1. Disconnect the throttle body from the air duct. As you take off the vacuum lines and electrical connectors, mark them, so they are easier to reconnect. 
  2. Rotate the throttle plate. Spray throttle body cleaner inside.
  3. Dry it by using compressed air on the throttle body. Do not put the throttle body back until it’s dry.
  4. Reinstall all of the connectors and vacuum lines in the opposite order.

If this doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to continue with the diagnostic steps.

RELATED: How to Clean a Throttle Body (10 Steps DIY)

3. Check Fluids

While it’s unlikely that low fluids are causing your problem, this step is usually recommended by technicians just in case. Check the oil level to ensure the engine has the lubrication it requires. 

If more fluid is needed, go ahead and add it now. Additionally, if the fluids look contaminated or dirty, you want to perform a change at this time. The dirty fluid doesn’t provide the lubrication that the vehicle needs. 

4. Contact A Professional

There are multiple reasons why it might be best to visit an auto repair shop. For starters, if you can’t figure out the problem or you don’t have the tools to diagnose it, a mechanic is your best bet. In just an hour, most problems can be identified. Plus, they will provide you with a detailed estimate to fix the fault.

If you have been able to diagnose it but don’t feel equipped to fix the problem, you should also visit a local mechanic. Just be careful where you go because not all repair shops are reputable. Do your research first to determine who can be trusted. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drive with the engine power reduced warning?

No, you should stop driving as soon as possible. The Engine Power Reduced is a critical message that should never be ignored. Not only can the reduction of power lead to an accident, but it can also create more damage if left unrepaired. 

How much does it cost to fix the engine power reduced warning?

The Chevy Malibu repair cost depends on what’s causing the Engine Power Reduced warning. If a throttle body cleaning resolves the problem, you only have to pay for the cleaner. Otherwise, to replace a sensor, you could spend $50 to $750 for the parts and labor. 

Can low oil cause a reduced engine power message?

Yes, the engine needs oil to run efficiently. If there’s not enough oil circulating through the engine, power can be reduced and wear could begin. If you don’t add oil to the recommended specifications, permanent engine damage could occur, which is costly to fix since a rebuild or replacement would be necessary. 

How do you clear the engine power reduced warning?

The only way to clear the warning message permanently is to resolve the problem. You must run through the diagnostic steps to figure out what’s wrong and repair it. Once that’s done, you can clear the codes and they shouldn’t return. If they do, there’s something else wrong. 

Conclusion: Engine Power Reduced Chevy Malibu

When the Engine Power Reduced message appears on your Chevy Malibu, you want to take swift action. While it’s imperative to act fast and reduce any further wear, you don’t need to panic. This is a common issue with Malibu models and seems to be a defect from the manufacturer. 

With the help of our guide, you should have been able to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it. Get your Malibu back in good running condition and you can enjoy the road once again. 

Sources: TopClassActions – GM Engine Defect

Find more information in our list of all car dashboard symbols.

Brian Jones
Written by:

Brian Jones is a writer and owner of a used car dealership in the Dallas, Texas area. While he loves just about everything automotive, he has a special place in his heart for trucks, the bigger the better. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his family and hiking new trails. ASE Certified Master Technician.

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