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Old 08-19-2015, 10:09 PM   #1
Mashermoto
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Default 2009 Vue Runs in Limp Mode

I have a 2009 Vue Hybrid with 4 cylinder motor and 100,000 miles. The car tends to run in limp mode. By that, I mean it has extremely sluggish acceleration from a dead stop, but will run okay once the rpm gets up to about 2000-2500. It acts as though it starts out in second gear.

The spark plugs have been changed and the motor runs smooth.

A GMC dealership mechanic couldn't find anything wrong, but performed a fuel system and throttle body cleaning. The work did not correct the problem.

A local mechanic found the Mass Air Flow sensor was bad and throwing the car into limp mode. He replaced the MAF and the car ran great for about a week. This car has never produced good fuel mileage since I bought it new, but I reset the the average mileage monitor and it averaged 30.5 mpg by the time a arrived at work about 15 miles later on mostly highway driving. Then after a few days of driving I noticed the car seemed to run in limp mode when first started, but ran fine after a few minutes of driving. The fuel mileage fell to about 25-26 mpg. After about a week or so of driving the car would only run in limp mode again regardless of how long I drove it and fuel mileage fell to 23-24 mpg where it normally performs.

The only other thing I see needing fixed is the 90 degree elbow that attaches the PVC hose to the air cowling is split. That could be affecting the MAF, but I don't believe it is due to the way it runs fine for a few weeks and gradually goes bad. Read on for more information.

Before I had mechanics look into it I noticed the car seemed to run well after I disconnected the 12v battery cable. Both times were when I replaced the 12v battery. Tonight I confirmed that does happen by disconnecting the battery cable for about five minutes and reconnecting the cable. I drove the car for about 10 miles around town and it ran great.

So here is my question. What is it that can cause the car to slowly fall into limp mode, but can be reset by powering off and powering on?

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Old 08-20-2015, 04:34 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2009 Vue Runs in Limp Mode

Does your Vue have either 'Reduced Power' or engine symbol with a down arrow indicator in the instrument panel?

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Old 08-20-2015, 06:20 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2009 Vue Runs in Limp Mode

No engine lights on the dashboard.

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Old 08-20-2015, 05:35 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2009 Vue Runs in Limp Mode

Postive crankcase ventilation usually feeds combustion gases from the engine to the intake air system either behind the the throttle body or right into the intake manifold. The intake air system begins at the throttle plate where engine rotation generates a vacuum. This vacuum is used to power the power brake boost unit, run vacuum controlled diaphragms and draw crankcase gases into the intake manifold for recycling blowby gases getting past each piston's rings. If there's a break in any part of the vacuum line, this provides an air leak bypassing the throttle body and can cause engine issues like leaned out air/fuel mixtures, incorrect engine running, whatever, It would be better to attend to this repair otherwise its guessing when one problem hasn't been repaired.

While using limp home mode seems to fit your situation, unless you see an indication in your instrument panel of reduced power, your engine is not in reduced power mode. Reduced power mode is a fail safe feature for every GM drive by wire system with an electronic pedal and electric servo motor driven throttle with the ecm as the control module. Pedal signals are fed to the ecm with the ecm commanding throttle plate opening in direct proportion to pedal travel without a steel cable between pedal and throttle. Dual sensors in throttle and pedal are used to ensure against a runaway engine. When any one sensor fails the ecm automatically invokes reduced power mode with an indicator to inform the driver approximately 15% engine power is allowed to at least drive off a road to a safe place to make the emergency call instead of an engine dying in the middle of nowhere. The few Vues that did report this specific problem were solved with replacing the throttle actuator assembly. Since you're not describing an actual reduced power mode problem associated with throttle/ecm/pedal, this problem is a head scratcher and is likely something else.

Having the battery reset the engine computer until the problem returns is a clue but still eludes me and I'm not a GM mechanic. Its a mystery why GM can't figure this out too. Since this problem occurs consistently and may appear as an electronic issue, I would start by examining every wire connection carefully, disconnecting and examining each male/female pin before reconnecting. The main connections to examine would be the throttle, pedal and ecm. If disconnecting wiring, disconnect battery negative first as the ecm, bcm and other modules have live memory and should have power disconnected before disconnecting harnesses to these modules.

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Old 08-21-2015, 09:40 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2009 Vue Runs in Limp Mode

Sorry for the late reply, but I had to attend to my day job

Excellent information and I agree with your assessment to fix the PCV hose first. The hose does connect to the manifold on this car.

I fixed the PCV connection tonight by fitting a replacement Honda PCV rubber grommet to the air intake box and replacing the OEM elbow connecting the hose to the air intake with a brass elbow. The connection is now tighter than a fishes butt The OEM elbow was split at the 90 degree bend. I didn't split it up during removal, that's just the condition it was in. The hole on the air intake that the elbow fit in was wallered out, so there was a major outside air leak.

I have some pictures to show you but this site requires me to record 15 posts before I can post pictures...so, too bad. The repair turned out super and might help others out.

I did have to reset the electronics by doing the battery cable disconnect to get the acceleration back. Thanks for telling me about the ground wire disconnect, I wasn't aware of that issue. But it is now a known fact that disconnecting power will reset whatever electronic device that is causing the acceleration problem.

I drove the car four or five miles around town and about 10 miles on the interstate. It drove smooth under all conditions (60-75 mph on highway) and averaged 25-26 mpg for the trip.

I'll see if the air intake repair helps out and report back.

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Old 08-21-2015, 10:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2009 Vue Runs in Limp Mode

There are as many new members successfully posting thumbnails as there are newbies unable to. I believe its the file size that restricts uploading. Thumbnails are limited to 150 kb and I've loaded close to a mb size of jpeg pics without issues. It may be that many cell phones and digital cameras have multi mb file sizes overwhelming Saturnfans maximum thumbnail file size restriction. When I come across large file size pics, I use Paint to resize and convert to jpeg format until it's accepted and viewable for full size screen pics whether from a drawing copied from service manuals or pics to add emphasis to technical explanations.

Hopefully you problem was solved from a simple repair.

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Old 08-22-2015, 07:36 AM   #7
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Default Re: 2009 Vue Runs in Limp Mode

That makes sense. I'll start a test post and experiment with picture posts. Thanks.

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Old 07-07-2016, 11:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2009 Vue Runs in Limp Mode

It's been almost a year since I started this post...wow how time flies.

I'm back to trying to solve this sluggish acceleration problem. I've read a lot of forums and found many people describing my problem, but oddly enough no solutions posted. I also find people reporting the same issue with the Chevy HHR.

In addition to what I posted above, here is what I have done lately. There is no doubt I can get the car to accelerate normally for a very short time by disconnecting the negative battery cable. The car recently began showing a "stabilitrac off" dashboard message and the hybrid system would quit working. Randomly the stabilitrac off message would come on and off while driving. The check hybrid system is due to a know issue I have with the batteries temperature sensors. I also experienced hard up shifts and down shifts, but not consistently...just every now and then. The check engine light was also staying on all the time, which is partly due to the battery temperature. I had a parts store check the engine codes and I got an error reporting a bad cam position solenoid. After doing some research on this forum a member named Whopper discovered the hard shift issue was related to the cam position solenoid, so I replaced both the intake and exhaust. I reset the error codes by disconnecting the negative cable and went for a test drive.

The car never ran so good...at least for that day. The car had exceptional acceleration from a dead stop and shifting under all conditions was like a new car. Unfortunately the next day I took the car out for a test drive and it performed a bad as ever. This car accelerates so badly I have to be careful about pulling out in traffic because it just takes too long to get going. It feels like it is trying to start off in third gear, but I can count four gear shifts.

Thinking it might actually be starting in third gear I did some experiments. From a dead stop I placed the shifter in manual mode. Oddly enough the dashboard showed I was in third gear when stopped. I was expecting it to report first gear. The car did it's usual slow acceleration and I could shift up through all the gears. So it doesn't seem logical the car is starting off in any other gear than first. But I will say while it hasn't had a bad up or down shift since replacing the cam solenoids, it doesn't seem to shift as well as the day I replace them. The day of replacement it seemed to downshift into first gear more noticeably, but now I don't really feel the first gear downshift as much.

Lots of posts talk about the catalytic converter being bad. Maybe, but I don't think pulling the negative battery cable would temporarily make the car perform better. It seems like it has to be a sensor or electronic control module or some such electrical device.

I really don't want to do the death by replacing every part one by one elimination game. And I am done dealing with the stealerships and their BS diagnosis that only cost me money without resolve.

As many people that have complained about this issue there must be a solution. If anybody knows, I'm all ears!

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