2002 Saturn Vue REDUCED POWER

My partner and I purchased a 2002 Saturn VUE from a trusted friend and mechanic who specialized in Saturns. He previously had specialized in the staple models; the small sedans, and the early 2-door cars. Thsi VUE was his first foray into the Saturn SUV line.

Since we started driving it regularly, it has an intermittent issue of going into “REDUCED POWER” mode which results in the car slowing to about 5 miles per hour, the acceleration pedal becoming unresponsive, and requiring the car to be pulled over. After researching this issue on the internet, the consensus has it that there is an issue with the throttle body sensor telling the car’s computer to go into this mode (it even has its own indicator light). However, I have not found a viable solution in the research I have done and dealerships seem also to be less than knowledgeable on solutions as well.

Because the occurrence of this is intermittent, it is almost impossible to reproduce on demand for our friend, the mechanic, or a dealership. In addition, the horror stories shared on the internet with dealers charging to repair this and then having it happen again are legion. Has anyone anywhere found a viable solution to this problem?

Are you not getting a CEL? No codes to read?

Sometimes codes are set without the CEL coming on.

I’m not certain but that ‘reduced power’ warning sounds a lot like the ‘limp mode’ in most vehicles when something goes wrong in the tranny.

The “Check Engine” light does NOT come on when this occurs. There is a separate warning light that DOES come on: “REDUCED POWER”. It could indeed be described as a “limp mode” (LOL) since the car will decelerate to about 5mph max until the car is turned off.

In addition, SOMEthing is going on with the engine right before the “REDUCED POWER” gets triggered; it is hard to describe, but it does feel/sound like the engine is choking or sputtering before it happens. Turning the car off and restarting alleviates the problem, but it recurring intermittently. I thought it was the way my GF was driving the car, but now it has happened to me half a dozen times in the last two days.

Another interesting thing that has happened twice in the last two days (but not every time) is that when I pulled the car into a parking spot and shifted to “Park”, the engine revved up to 4k RPMs and became unresponsive to the accelerator. After turning the car off, it starts again with the appropriate RPMs at idle.