You can try to restart your truck or try a battery reset to get out of limp mode. If those don’t work you can use the OBD-II code reader to erase codes. If your truck goes to limp mode again, it’s facing some serious issues and you need to solve the underlying cause to get your F150 out of limp mode. Possible causes behind limp mode are transmission failure, low coolant or oil level, weak battery, sensor failure, wiring issues, etc.
In the following sections, we will talk in detail about how to get Ford F150 out of limp mode.
How to Get Ford F-150 Out of Limp Mode?
When your truck is in limp mode, it may or may not indicate a serious problem. So, do not panic and follow the procedures mentioned below-
Step One: Restart Your F150
If your Ford F-150 enters limp mode, the first step you should take is to turn off the engine and wait for about five to ten minutes. This can help reset the vehicle’s computer system, which may have detected a problem that doesn’t actually exist.
After waiting, turn on the engine again and check if the limp mode is still active. If it is, there may be a genuine issue that needs to be addressed.
Step Two: Perform a Battery Reset
Sometimes there may be a glitch in your truck’s software system that can put it in limp mode without the presence of an actual problem. In that case, performing a battery reset may fix the issue.
Disconnect the battery’s negative terminal and keep it that way for at least 15-20 minutes. Doing this will allow the truck’s computer to reset.
Once that is done, attach the negative battery cable to your F150 and turn it on. Keep it idle for a few minutes to allow the computer system to recalibrate. Finally, test drive your F150 to see if the limp mode issue has been resolved.
Step Three: Use an OBD-II Scanner
If the limp mode is still there after the battery reset, you can use the OBD-II scanner to detect and erase codes. Once you have erased the codes, start your truck and drive for 5-10 minutes.
If the codes return after erasing them there may be a more significant issue. In that case, you will need to perform a proper diagnosis.
However, if you do not own a Forscan, you can use any DTC code reader for the job. Now, when you do a complete scan, you can expect to find the following codes-
|What It Says
|Throttle Actuator Control System – Forced Limited Power
|Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Low Input
|Throttle Position Sensor A Circuit Malfunction
|Throttle/Pedal Position Sensor/Switch B Circuit Malfunction
|Throttle Actuator Control System Stuck Open
|Throttle Actuator Control System Stuck Closed
|Throttle/Pedal Position Sensor/Switch A/B Voltage Correlation
|Throttle/Pedal Position Sensor/Switch D/E Voltage Correlation
|Manifold Absolute Pressure/Barometric Pressure Circuit Low Input
|Manifold Absolute Pressure/Barometric Pressure Circuit High Input
|Manifold Absolute Pressure/Barometric Pressure Circuit Intermittent
There could be a lot of other DTCs as well. You need to note down all the fault codes and diagnose those to get your F150 out of limp mode.
Ford F150 Limp Mode Causes and Solutions
Getting your Ford F150 out of limp mode can be straightforward. It depends on what caused your truck to activate limp mode in the first place. We have curated all the possible reasons why your vehicle may go into limp mode and how to solve the issues.
|Low Transmission Fluid
|Transmission-related warning lightsGears slippingTransmission making noiseBurning odor from the transmissionUnusual behavior of gears, such as grinding or shaking
|Refill the transmission fluid, repair in case of a leak
|Low Coolant or Oil Level
|Coolant level/oil level warning light is onEngine overheatingHeater blowing hot air or not workingTemperature gauge turning redPerformance issues
|Refill oil or coolant. Repair in case of a fix.
|Battery light turned onElectrical components malfunctioningSlow crankDimmed lights
|Replace the battery
|Check engine lightLoss of powerReduced top speedLimited gear selection
|Replace the damaged wiring or reconnect the loose connection
|Check Engine Light onIntermittent misfiresUneven engine idle with noticeable vibrationsEngine stalling or shutting down unexpectedlyDecreased power and acceleration performanceDelayed or slow response during accelerationPoor gas mileage or fuel efficiency
|Replace or repair any damaged component
|MAF Sensor Failure
|Check engine light onDecreased fuel efficiencyRough idling or stallingEngine hesitation or stumbling upon accelerationPoor engine performance or power outputIncreased emissionsHard starting or extended cranking time
|Replace the sensor or its connector
|Having trouble steering Engine stallingAcceleration hiccupsSpeed spikesCheck engine light intermittently flashingHaving trouble switching gearsFuel economy plunges
|Replace the sensor or its connector
|Wheel Speed Sensor Malfunction
|ABS warning light illuminatedAnti-lock brakes not functioningBrake pedal pulsatingTraction control and stability control disabledSpeedometer inoperative
|Replace the sensor or its connector
|Throttle Body Malfunction
|Check Engine Light onDecreased accelerationHaving trouble starting Idling rough or stallingPoor fuel economyReduced power outputElectrical issues
|Replace the throttle body and its gasket
Reason One: Low Transmission Fluid
Low transmission fluid level reduces the pressure in the transmission system, causing a transmission failure. When that happens, your truck will go into limp mode to prevent serious damage to the transmission.
Other than limp mode you may also experience the following symptoms-
- Transmission related warning lights
- Gears slipping
- Transmission making noise
- Burning odor from the transmission
- Unusual behavior of gears, such as grinding or shaking.
By following the steps below you can check if your Ford F150 has low transmission fluid.
- Drive the vehicle until the transmission fluid reaches a temperature of between 206 and 215 degrees Fahrenheit. This ensures an accurate reading.
- Park the vehicle on a level surface with the engine running. Be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself from the hot exhaust.
- Locate the transmission dipstick, which is typically located near the back of the engine compartment.
- Use a 19mm socket or wrench to remove the dipstick from the transmission.
- Wipe the dipstick clean with a rag or paper towel and reinsert it into the transmission until it clicks into place.
- Check the fluid level again by removing the dipstick. If the dipstick is marked between “A” and “B,” the level is correct. Some dipsticks have numbers, and in such dipsticks, the correct level is between 5 and 6.
- A leak in the transmission system can also cause low transmission fluid levels. Make sure it is free of leaks and damage.
If the transmission fluid level is low, you need to refill the transmission fluid to the correct level. Here is a video guide if you would like to do it yourself.
Also, make sure you are using the correct transmission fluid. Ford suggests using Motorcraft® MERCON® LV, a high-quality automatic transmission fluid for your F150.
If there is a leak in the transmission system, you will have to fix the leak using a sealant.
Reason Two: Low Coolant or Oil Level
A low radiator coolant level will cause your engine to overheat. Once the engine is too hot it will enter limp mode to prevent further engine damage.
Apart from limp mode, you may see the following symptoms on your Ford F150-
- Coolant level/oil level warning light is on
- Engine overheating
- Heater blowing hot air or not working
- Temperature gauge turning red
- Performance issues
The best time to check your coolant level is after the vehicle has sat for several hours. This will ensure that there is no pressure in the overflow tank.
When your truck is cooled down, pop up the hood to locate the radiator overflow tank. Take the cap off the overflow tank and check the fluid level.
You can also check the coolant level without opening the cover by looking through the transparent black plastic. The level is clearly marked with a “cold fill” range. The fluid should be between the two lines when it’s cold and has been sitting for several hours.
A low fluid level can indicate a leak in the coolant system. Check for loosely connected or damaged hoses and gaskets.
You should also check your engine oil level, while you are at it.
You need to refill the coolant or oil if any of it is low. Simply add more coolant or engine oil to the respective tank.
Leaks in the coolant system should be repaired. Here is a video guide on how to diagnose a coolant leak-
Reason Three: Weak Battery
If your F150’s battery is weak or dying, it can cause limp mode. All the sensors and the ECU in your truck are dependent on the battery voltage. Once the battery voltage is too low, the ECU flags it as a problem and turns on limp mode.
- Battery light turned on
- Electrical components malfunctioning
- Slow crank
- Dimmed lights
To know if your battery has low voltage you will need a multimeter to measure its voltage. Connect the positive and negative probes of the multimeter to the battery’s positive and negative terminal. Set the multimeter to read voltage and the multimeter should give you a reading.
With your truck’s engine turned off, the proper battery voltage should be around 12-12.6v. If it’s less than 12 volts, your battery is weak and needs to be recharged. If it’s less than 10 your battery is dead.
You can also perform a load test to make sure if it’s defective or not.
First, turn off the engine and all electrical components. Next, connect the load tester to the battery terminals and turn it on to apply a load to the battery. Keep the load on for 10-15 seconds and observe if the battery can hold it. If the voltage drops below 9 volts during this time, it confirms that the battery is defective.
If the battery is defective you will need to replace it. Here is a video guide showing you how to replace your Ford F150’s battery-
If the battery is weak, you can recharge it by driving around for 15-20 minutes or using a battery charger.
Reason Four: Short in Sensor Wirings
If you have recently driven in the rain, some water may have reached any of the sensors and shorted it. When that happens, it‘s possible for your truck to go into limp mode.
- Check engine light
- Loss of power
- Reduced top speed
- Limited gear selection
Your F150 has more than 40 different sensors in its system. Any one of the sensors could have a short circuit causing the limp mode. So, to pinpoint which sensors need to be looked at, you need to use a test light. Here is the detailed procedure-
- Turn off all electrical accessories: Before you start, make sure that all electrical accessories in your car are turned off, including the headlights.
- Disconnect the battery: Loosen the negative terminal of the battery and remove it. This will ensure that there is no power running through the system.
- Use a test light: Get a test light, they usually cost around 10-20 dollars. Attach the alligator clip to the negative terminal wire that you just disconnected from the battery. Touch the pointed end of the test light into the negative terminal.
If the light turns on, it means that electricity is flowing and there’s a short somewhere in the system.
- Check the fuses: Under the hood, locate the fuse box and remove the cover. One by one, pull out each fuse and check to see if the light turns off. If the light stays on, reinsert the fuse and move on to the next one.
- Identify the circuit: Once the test light turns off, that means there is a short on the related component’s circuit.
- Inspect the wiring: Check the wiring of that sensor or component for any visible signs of damage or wear. Look for frayed wires, loose connections, or any other issues that could be causing the short.
In case of a loose connection you can simply reconnect to have your problem solved. Clean with corrosion cleaner if there’s corrosion. Or, if any of the wires are damaged, you will need to replace that.
Reason Five: Vacuum Leak
When there is a substantial vacuum or boost leak, a considerable amount of unmetered air can enter the combustion chamber. This can significantly change the expected air-fuel ratio, which can cause a vehicle to enter into limp mode.
- Check Engine Light on
- Intermittent misfires
- Uneven engine idle with noticeable vibrations
- Engine stalling or shutting down unexpectedly
- Decreased power and acceleration performance
- Delayed or slow response during acceleration
- Poor gas mileage or fuel efficiency
For diagnosing a leak, first you must identify all vacuum tubes, vacuum lines, and other components that are part of the air intake system. Ensure that all lines and connections are in good working order. Verify that no lines are disconnected, no connections are broken, or that no other damage has occurred.
Source: family handyman
If the leak is hard to detect, there are three tools that can make your job easier. Apply these methods while the engine is idling.
- Vacuum Testers: Vacuum testers can be useful in detecting vacuum leaks in complex circuits or hard-to-reach systems.
To use this tool, connect it to the vacuum lines and pump it up. Observe the tester’s reading and check if the lines hold a vacuum. If it doesn’t that means there is a leak in the system.
- Water Spray: During idle, spray water over a suspected vacuum leak, and listen for the sound of the water entering the engine. This method is effective and safe for hard-to-see vacuum leaks, such as small cracks in lines.
- Propane Torch: Open the torch’s valve without lighting it, and run the tip along the vacuum and gasket locations, listening to the engine idle as you do this. A leak will cause propane gas to enter the combustion chamber, increasing the engine’s RPMs for a short period of time.
- Carb Cleaner: You can spray some carb cleaners at the suspected leak spot while the engine is idle. The engine idle noise will change if there is a leak. That’s because the cleaner that was sucked in has been added to the fuel.
As the carb cleaner stream and propane are combustible, you should be careful if you perform this test. You run the risk of accidentally igniting the cleaner if you spray it on a hot surface. So, have a fire extinguisher on hand before applying this method.
To prevent further damage to the Ford F150’s vacuum system, any damaged components should be replaced immediately, including hoses, gaskets, and seals. Here’s a video guide for getting the job done.
Use a vacuum hose repair kit if you notice a hole or crack in the hose. These kits contain patches and adhesives to seal the leak.
If the problem is with the intake manifold gasket, it is best to seek professional help. Still, if you insist on doing it yourself, here is a video showing the instruction-
Reason Six: MAF Sensor Failure
If the MAF sensor fails, it can send wrong or no signals to the ECM. Since the MAF sensor works to maintain the air-fuel ratio, the ECM turns the limp mode on to prevent further damage.
- Check engine light on
- Decreased fuel efficiency
- Rough idling or stalling
- Engine hesitation or stumbling upon acceleration
- Poor engine performance or power output
- Increased emissions
- Hard starting or extended cranking time
- First, locate the MAF sensor. It’s usually located on the intake manifold. You should notice the MAF sensor has four wires connected to it.
- After you’ve located the MAF sensor, back probe the middle two wires and connect the multimeter’s positive probe to the sensor’s yellow wire. Also, connect the negative probe to the battery’s ground. Set the multimeter to read voltage and it should give you a reading between 4.8 and 5.2 volts.
- If the voltage is within the specified range it means the sensor has power. Now, back probe the number one and number four pins.
- Connect a vacuum gauge to the end of the MAF sensor’s pipe and a multimeter to the back probes.
- Pump up the vacuum gauge and observe the reading. As the vacuum increases, the voltage on the multimeter should decrease. The reverse should happen when you release the vacuum pressure.
If the voltage is not within the specified range then it has a wiring problem. If the voltage does not drop smoothly as the vacuum increases and returns to around five volts as the vacuum is released, the MAF sensor is not working properly.
A dysfunctional MAF sensor must be replaced. Here is a video guide on how to replace a MAF sensor-
If the MAF sensor doesn’t have power, then it’s a wiring problem. In that case, you need to replace the connector or the wiring harness.
Reason Seven: TPS Failure
The throttle position sensor measures how much air the engine can take in. So when the TPS doesn’t work, the ECU puts the truck in limp mode.
- Engine stalling
- Acceleration hiccups
- Speed spikes
- Check engine light intermittently flashing
- Having trouble switching gears
- Fuel economy plunges
To check the TPS, you will need the following tools: a multimeter, jumper wires, and a straight pin or sewing needle. Then you need to follow the procedure-
- Set the multimeter on a low-range DC voltage setting, higher than 2 volts.
- Connect the black probe of the meter to the battery negative (or engine ground) and connect a jumper cable to the positive probe of the meter.
- Connect the straight pin or sewing needle to one end of a jumper cable. The other end of the jumper cable should be connected to the positive probe.
- Pull the boot down to expose the wires going into the throttle position sensor. In addition to the power and ground wires, there is a signal wire as well.
- Slide the needle into each of the wires entering the connector.
- Then turn the engine on.
- The ground should give out 0 volts, the signal wire should give out around 0.3-0.5 volts and the power wire should display around 5 volts. The power wire should be brown/white, the signal wire should be grey/white, and the ground wire should be grey/red.
A malfunctioning TPS will have to be replaced. Here is a complete replacement guide-
Reason Eight: Wheel Speed Sensor Malfunction
If the ECU can’t get a proper signal from the wheel speed sensor, it will make the truck enter into limp mode.
- ABS warning light illuminated
- Anti-lock brakes not functioning
- Brake pedal pulsating
- Traction control and stability control disabled
- Speedometer inoperative
There is one wheel speed sensor per wheel, and diagnosing all of them can be a struggle. So, you can use a code reader to pinpoint which sensor is malfunctioning-
- C1145 – Right Front Wheel Speed Sensor Input Circuit Failure
- C1155 – Left Front Wheel Speed Sensor Input Circuit Failure
- C1175 – Right Rear Wheel Speed Sensor Input Circuit Failure
- C1185 – Left Rear Wheel Speed Sensor Input Circuit Failure
If you are confused how to use an OBD-II code reader, here is a video guide-
Based on the codes, you can test the suspected wheel speed sensors. The complete process is mentioned below-
- The front wheel sensors can be accessed through the engine bay so you can open the hood and access them. To access the back wheel sensors, you need to take out the wheel. The sensor should be on the wheel bearings.
- Disconnect the wheel speed sensor from the extension cable that routes to the ECU.
- Check for any corrosion on the sensor and its connection.
- Measure the resistance between the two pins in the sensor connection housing using an ohmmeter
- The reading should be between 980 and 2,350 ohms
- If the reading is within the range, connect the sensor to the extension and continue checking the harness
- Remove the sensor extension clip where the sensor cable connects to the extension cable.
- Check for any corrosion on either side of the cables
- Set the multimeter to check AC volts.
- With the probes of the multimeter, check the pins in the wheel speed sensor harness while spinning the wheel that the sensor is connected to at a rate of about one revolution every two seconds
- The multimeter should be reading at least 200 millivolts or 0.2 VA
Depending on the situation, you will have to replace the sensor or its cables. Here are some video guides showing you the process-
Reason Nine: Throttle Body Malfunction
Throttle body controls the amount of air that enters an internal combustion engine. When a throttle body malfunctions, it can cause a reduction in engine power, which can trigger the vehicle’s limp mode.
- Check Engine Light on
- Decreased acceleration
- Difficulty starting the engine
- Rough idling or stalling
- Poor fuel economy
- Reduced power output
- Electrical issues
- Locate the throttle body beside the air filter.
- Start by disconnecting the MAF sensor and removing the intake boot running to the throttle body.
- Disconnect the harness connector running to the throttle body by pressing on the tab and pulling on the body.
- Detach all the coolant hoses connected to the throttle body. Use coolant line removal pliers or a pick-and-spray WD-40 or PB Blaster to remove stubborn hoses.
- Use a fastener to plug the coolant line to avoid spilling coolant when it’s removed.
- Remove the fasteners and the other coolant line on the bottom to detach the throttle body.
- Clean the throttle body and carbon buildup with a throttle body cleaner.
- Get a multimeter and some alligator clips. Connect the multimeter probes to the alligator clips.
- You should already notice that the throttle body has six pins. Set the multimeter to read ohms. Connect the alligator clips to the last two pins. The multimeter should give you a reading.
- Now, move the butterfly inside the throttle body and see if the resistance changes. You may have a problem with your throttle body if this is the case.
A bad throttle body must be replaced. When replacing the throttle body, use a brand-new gasket. Here is the video of the complete process-
Will Driving In Limp Mode Damage Engine?
No, driving in limp mode will not damage your engine. The idea of limp mode is to protect your engine from fatal damage. So, it is totally safe to drive in limp mode.
But limp mode is designed to get you where you need to go, for example, to a mechanic to fix a car. If you ignore the limp mode and continue driving, your transmission will heat up and cause severe engine damage.
Also, if you bypass limp and continue driving without fixing the issue first, your engine will face severe damage.
How Long Can You Drive in Limp Mode?
You can drive in limp mode indefinitely, but that’s not recommended. After you are sure that your F150 is in limp mode, you should diagnose the problem and solve it as soon as possible.
As we have mentioned above, if you do not solve the underlying cause and keep driving in limp mode, your truck will face issues that are beyond repair.
Can limp mode go away by itself?
Yes, the limp mode may go away by itself. In some cases, if the problem that caused the limp mode is temporary, the vehicle can exit limp mode on its own. But usually, the problem needs to be fixed by a mechanic before the vehicle can exit limp mode.
Why is my Ford F-150 not accelerating?
If your Ford F-150 is not accelerating properly, it could be due to several issues. These include a slow electrical throttle response, a faulty transmission (such as bad gear), and the need for a throttle controller upgrade. Other possible causes may include a faulty engine temperature sensor, low engine oil, or a faulty gear ratio in the vehicle.
Limp mode is designed to protect your truck when the ECU detects a problem that can severely damage the engine. So, how to get Ford F150 out of limp mode? You can get your truck out of limp mode by finding and solving the potential issue.
However, if diagnosing the problem is too hard for you, you should contact a mechanic immediately.