Engine power reduced Chevy Equinox

Engine Power Reduced on Chevy Malibu [Possible Causes & Fixes]

Key points to highlight:

  • “Engine Power Reduced” warning on a Chevy Malibu indicates a malfunctioning accelerator pedal position sensor.
  • This sensor translates foot pressure on the gas pedal into electronic signals for the engine computer, leading to reduced engine power output.
  • Many causes, such as faulty sensors or electrical issues within the ECM network, can trigger the warning light.
  • To address the issue we recommend to have diagnostic tests and repairs by certified mechanics, with General Motors offering special coverage adjustments for affected vehicles.

What does “Engine Power Reduced” warning mean on the Chevy Malibu? Since many of our readers have been asking us this question, I’ll address it in this post.

The Chevy Malibu has proven to be one of the best mid-size SUVs on the market, despite encountering its fair share of problems.

Boasting great performance, decent-looking exterior, and great for its price point, there is a lot to be desired about the Chevy Malibu. One of the problems that it’s known for though is the Engine Power Reduction issue.

What is it and what causes it?

In short, the “Engine Power Reduced” warning in the Chevy Malibu typically arises from a malfunctioning accelerator pedal position sensor, resulting in reduced engine power output. This warning will display on your dashboard.

Unlike older cars that use a cable accelerator system, newer vehicles use a sensor that translates the pressure you place on the accelerator pedal electronically to the engine. Unfortunately, the sensors sometimes fail and do not send the signal to the engine. This is the case in the Chevy Malibu when this happens.

Car engine

What is the Effect of an Engine Power Reduction?

The accelerator pedal sensors are a part of the vehicle’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) which is responsible for receiving, interpreting, and activating the relevant component based on the input from the sensors.

Though there are several advantages of this advancement in-vehicle technology, there are also drawbacks associated with the ECU. One of these issues is that there are usually some system malfunctions.

The reduced engine power message is actually a protective mechanism designed to protect your engine in situations where there may be significant damage to the engine or any of its components.

What causes Chevy Malibu to Show “Engine Power Reduction”?

2022 chevy malibu

There could be several causes of the “Engine Power Reduction” error message popping up and they are all associated with the ECU.

The Engine Control Module (ECM) works with pedal position sensors and throttle position sensors to establish the position and the force applied to the accelerator to release more air into the engine. Either of these failures could lead to an error message showing. Let’s look at these closer:

  1. Faulty Pedal Position Sensor: One or both the sensors could be faulty leading to inaccurate or no data being communicated to the ECU.
  2. Faulty Throttle Position Sensor: Just like with the pedal position sensors, if one or both of these is faulty, power to the engine will be reduced.
  3. Circuitry Problems: Faulty wires or poor connections can all play a part leading to wrong or inaccurate data reaching the engine.

How do you fix a Chevy Malibu’s Engine Power Reduction issue?

Unless the problem is too complex, if you follow these steps you should be able to fix the problem easily:

  1. Check The Cables
  2. Check Sensors
  3. Check The Throttle
  4. Check the Airflow Sensor
  5. Check the Electric Control Unit
  6. Check on the Catalytic Converter
  7. Check the Battery. 
  8. Check on the Transmission Fluid

Depending on what part of the vehicle has the problem, fixing it could cost anywhere from $100 to $1,500. In some instances, it’s as simple as cleaning the throttle body and getting your vehicle out of Reduced Power Mode.

Fixing such an issue requires more complex and advanced technical equipment; people who prefer performing these fixes tend not to have the requisite tools to do it perfectly.

Instead of wasting time and money trying to fix the issue by yourself, in most cases, it’s more effective to have professionals handle the job for you. A reputable repair shop can get the Reduced Power warning to stay off—and that will get you back on the road.

However if you do want to fix it yourself, then you can check out this video for more insight:

Case Study: Class Action Lawsuit Against General Motors Regarding the Chevy Malibu

Employee handing the car keys to a customer in a professional setting

The Chevy Malibu has encountered a recurring issue in some models, such as a sudden reduction in engine power. This unexpected loss of power while driving can be a significant concern for owners, raising questions about safety and reliability.

The culprit behind this problem often lies within the car’s Electronic Control Module. The ECM and its network of sensors help in regulating engine performance. 

In some 2016-2018 Malibu models, a malfunctioning accelerator pedal position sensor emerged as a key suspect. This sensor translates the driver’s foot pressure on the gas pedal into an electronic signal for the engine computer. 

A faulty sensor can send inaccurate or even no data, leading to the ECM deliberately limiting engine output to protect itself from potential damage. This safety feature, while necessary, can be inconvenient and even dangerous in situations where a sudden loss of power is unexpected.

The “Engine Power Reduced” warning light appearing on the dashboard serves as an alert to the driver. Therefore, diagnosing the root cause requires a more in-depth look. The throttle position sensor, which monitors the throttle valve’s position and influences airflow into the engine, could also be malfunctioning. 

Additionally, electrical issues like faulty wiring or loose connections within the ECM network can disrupt communication and trigger the power reduction mode.

Addressing this problem can involve various approaches. Simple visual checks of cables and connectors for damage or corrosion can be a starting point. However, for a definitive diagnosis, consulting a qualified mechanic is recommended. They can utilize specialized tools to perform a comprehensive diagnostic test, pinpointing the exact cause of the issue.

The repair solutions will depend on the identified problem. In some cases, a simple cleaning of the throttle body might be sufficient. However, more complex issues might necessitate replacing sensors or addressing electrical problems within the ECM network. 

While some may attempt DIY fixes, consulting a certified mechanic is generally advised to ensure an accurate diagnosis and proper repair that restores the car’s performance and safety.

The widespread nature of this engine power reduction issue in the 2016-2018 Chevy Malibu models even led to a class-action lawsuit against General Motors. The lawsuit alleges that a faulty accelerator pedal position sensor caused the problem, leading to a sudden loss of power while driving. This posed a safety hazard for drivers, as documented in the case of Mr. Rothschild. 

In response to the lawsuit and potential safety concerns, GM issued a special coverage adjustment in 2019 to address the engine power reduction issue specifically for the Chevrolet Malibu. 

If your car’s VIN falls within the affected range, it’s crucial to check with a Chevrolet dealership to see if your vehicle qualifies for this adjustment.


In summary, the “Engine Power Reduced” warning in certain Chevy Malibu models, like those from 2016 to 2018, often stems from a faulty accelerator pedal position sensor. This issue, though problematic, can be addressed through professional diagnosis and repair. General Motors has responded to the concern with a special coverage adjustment for affected vehicles. Owners should consult a Chevrolet dealership to determine eligibility for this adjustment and ensure their vehicle’s safety and performance.

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