Lightning Bolt message on dash, truck goes into limp mode?

Tiny
BILL DIRIENZO
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 DODGE RAM
  • 5.7L
  • V8
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 110,000 MILES
The "lightning bolts" warning lights come on and my truck goes into limp mode. I was getting ready to do an over 3,000-mile trip in my truck listed above 1500 with 5.7 hemi. My gas mileage had been about 12 MPG, so I changed the spark plugs and cleaned the throttle body. We headed out on our trip and I noticed that I was now getting 18 mpg, which was great! The truck was running fantastically! We had gone about 350 miles on i95 doing about 70 MPH when all of a sudden the engine dropped off into limp mode and the lightning bolt signal came on. I'd never seen that and was kind of freaked out. I worked my way to the shoulder and turned off the truck. I checked the truck manual to find the lightning bolts meant the issue was related to the throttle control sensor. I turned the truck back on to see what would happen. The truck went back to running fine and we managed to drive another 40 miles to our day's destination in Savannah, GA. I did some research online when we got to our hotel room. Everything I read seemed to lead to throttle body sensor issues. I found that on my truck that the sensor was incorporated in the throttle body. I figured that I needed to address this issue by replacing the throttle body. I located a new throttle body and went to the parts store to pick it up. The truck was still running fine. As I headed to the parts store, my check engine light came on. I plugged in my obd2 scanner and the code po441 evaporative emission control system incorrect purge flow came up. I tightened up the fuel cap and erased the code and the check engine stayed off. The parts guy told me to do this, or it might be the purge valve. I went back to the hotel and installed the new throttle body and went through set up procedure. All went well and the truck ran great. We got on the road again and after about 40 miles the lightning bolts came back on, and the truck went into limp mode again. I pulled to the shoulder, turned it off then back on and it ran fine. I got to a rest area and called the parts store and told them the issue. They said it could be a faulty part and I could return it for another. (My gut feeling was that this wasn't a faulty part) so they found one in a parts store along our way in North Carolina, about an 80-mile drive from where we were. I drove to that part store without issue. I installed the second throttle body. We drove about 200 miles without an issue. I figured the problem was solved. We stopped at a rest area and turned the truck off. We got back in the truck and drove, staying in the right lane and after about 80 miles the lightning bolts came back on. Turned it off and on and then made it to our destination in NJ. Long story short, we made it back to Florida and had the lightning bolt issue happen 4 times over the 1,200-mile trip home. One time along the way, the check engine light came on with po441 code and then the lightning bolts came on. When I got home, I replaced the purge valve. I've only been using the truck to drive around town, but the issue happens every once in a while. This has been a great truck, and this is very frustrating. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
thanks for reading this!
Monday, April 8th, 2024 AT 9:53 AM

5 Replies

Tiny
KEN L
  • MASTER CERTIFIED MECHANIC
  • 44,449 POSTS
Yep, this happens when the accelerator pedal sensor goes out, if there is a glitch in this sensor the truck will go into limp mode. This sensor is under the battery tray, here is the location and how to change it out. Check out the images (below). Let us know if you need anything else.
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Monday, April 8th, 2024 AT 11:27 AM
Tiny
BILL DIRIENZO
  • MEMBER
  • 3 POSTS
Thanks for your help! I found that Dodge has discontinued selling the APPS for 2003 and 2004 - 1500 pickups and it's not available at any auto parts stores. Hard to believe. I was able to buy a used one at an Auto Salvage yard. No way of testing it. I installed it and took it for about a 10-mile test drive and everything seemed to work fine. Then yesterday, I drove the truck for about 70 miles, then the lightning bolt popped up and it went into limp mode and the same problem reoccurred. Do you have any other suggestions?
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Monday, April 15th, 2024 AT 10:39 AM
Tiny
KEN L
  • MASTER CERTIFIED MECHANIC
  • 44,449 POSTS
What codes does it have? can we recheck them please.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/checking-a-service-engine-soon-or-check-engine-light-on-or-flashing

Please go over this guide and get back to us.
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Tuesday, April 16th, 2024 AT 9:04 AM
Tiny
BILL DIRIENZO
  • MEMBER
  • 3 POSTS
No codes come up. Just the lightning bolt, then limp mode. One time, after the lightning bolt came up, the check engine light also came on, the code was P0441. I checked and error code P0441 indicates that there's an issue with the purge flow. I replaced the Purge Flow Valve and the Gas cap. That light and same code will occasionally still come on even after I replaced those parts, but it doesn't go into limp mode and the lightning bolt doesn't come up? Thanks again for your help!
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Tuesday, April 16th, 2024 AT 9:21 AM
Tiny
KEN L
  • MASTER CERTIFIED MECHANIC
  • 44,449 POSTS
That is good to hear, I have never seen a EVAP purge cause limp mode, thanks for the heads up, we are here to help, please use 2CarPros anytime.
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Wednesday, April 17th, 2024 AT 9:23 AM

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