Thursday, June 23, 2016

WHAT IS A VW EPC WARNING LIGHT

What Is a VW EPC Warning Light

The EPC warning light is an instrument cluster based LED found on all Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda vehicles fitted with a drive-by-wire system and it stands for Electronic Power Control. However the EPC warning light is not exclusive to VAG, most other motor manufacturers also have them.  This EPC light when lit primarily warns the driver that there is problems in the engine's torque system - (acceleration sytem). The problem could be with the vehicle's knock sensors, throttle system, cruise control, mass air flow system, engine speed verification system or any of the other associated systems that cooperate in the drive-by-wire schema. 

When this EPC light comes on, the vehicle’s throttle valve (butterfly) may be limited in order to protect the engine from damage. This is known as limp mode and the ECU permits just sufficient power to get the vehicle to a service center for repairs. To remedy the problem, the vehicle’s ECU should be scanned to extract the DTC's related to the torque problem.  Cars with an accelerator cable are also fitted with an EPC light but the ECU software is quite different, but the overall principal remains the same.

All Volkswagen (VAG) vehicles have a whole array of dashboard warning lights in their instrument panels, specifically designed to alert the driver to any vehicle malfunctions or problems. In fact so does most modern day automobiles. Having said that, it is only a matter of time before these lights start lighting up. Invariably and inevitably all cars will breakdown sometime or the other but its nice to be warned about a mechanical problem before it actually occurs. For example, having a low coolant level light or an low engine oil-level light flash at you, accompanied by an audio alert is a blessing because complete loss of either coolant or engine oil could result in a very expensive repair. 

However there is one warning light that puzzles most drivers and it is the VW EPC warning light. So, what is the VW EPC warning light, you may ask? Like I've already mentioned above, it is a bright yellow dashboard light with the letters EPC inscribed in bold, which stands for Electronic Power Control, and it lights-up to indicate a potential malfunction in the EPC system. When it lights up whilst driving and the trouble is related to a safety issue, the car will more than likely go into limp mode. This may sound quite serious but in most cases it's not. There are several reasons why EPC Dashboard Warning Light turns on, but by a process of elimination the cause can be tracked down fairly easily. 

The Engine Speed Sensor is  known to cause the EPC light to turn on. The engine speed sensor is proximity magnetic transducer counting the revolutions of the flywheel / crankshaft and sends a steady stream of pulses to the ECU. So when this stream of data is interrupted for whatsoever reason for only a fraction of a second, the ECU  detects this and turns on the EPC light and cuts power to the engine. It does this to protect the engine from damage. 

If you don't have a scan tool to check for these DTC 17745 /P1337, 17746 / P1338, 17747 / P1339 and 17748 / P1340 are the troubles codes that provides a  tell tail sign that the engine speed sensor is either loose or faulty, hence the car's engine cuts-out whilst driving and the speedometer is inoperative.  But in some cases the engine will start again. When this symptoms repeats itself often, you should know it is time to replace that pesky engine speed sensor.

The Accelerator Pedal itself is often the main culprit that causes EPC problems. A telltale sign is that the engine idles a lot faster than it aught to. If by pulling the accelerator pedal away from the floor board while the car is idling, and it brings the engine's revs back to normal, then it is time to replace it because the potentiometers which is part of the the accelerator pedal, have gone faulty. Accelerator pedal problems are numerous and the following DTC, 16504 / P0120, 16505 / P0121, 16506 / P0122, 16507 / P0123, 18038 / P1630, 18039 / P1631, 18040 / P1632, 18041 / P1633, 18042 / P1634, are linked to accelerator pedal errors. 

Mass air flow sensor is another engine component that can cause the EPC light to turn on. Cleaning the  mass air flow sensor with compressed air does often solve the problem but if the issue persists, its time to replace mass air flow sensor. But before changing it, check to see if any of the rubber hoses in its vicinity isn't perished. An leak in Air Intake System wil allowing air unmonitored to enter the intake which will throw a P2279 / 15093 error or a P0068 / 15101 error.


The Throttle body is by far the most common cause of an EPC problem though in many cases it is not the throttle body that's at fault but rather that it the needs to be recalibrated (adaptation). The scan codes like P2135 / P2136 / P2137 / P2138 / P2139  and P2140, will give a  good idea as to whether or not the throttle body require replacement.  But in many cases it turns out to be  wiring harness issue. The plugs that connects the throttle drive motor and the throttle position sensors is fairly troublesome ad should be checked before throttle is replace.

The Brake light switch can also cause the EPC light to come on because the torque control circuit uses the brake light signal as a ECU input signal when the car decelerates.  

The Injectors and the Ignition Coils can also cause the EPC light to turn on. I've heard that an incorrect spark gap on the plugs can also cause an EPC problem but haven't experienced it yet.  Driving with very little gasoline in the tank can also cause the EPC light to turn on because the high pressure fuel pump may lose pressure which then notifies the ECU to inhibit the torque circuit and switch on the EPC light and make the car go into limp mode.

I've experienced the Knock Sensor turn on the EPC light. Spirited driving also turns on the EPC light.

So as you can see there are several things that can cause an EPC fault.  This is not a complete list of EPC problems but as new ones are identified, I will post them.  The following questions prompted me to write a synopsis of what an EPC light is!

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