Clean a Mass Air Flow Sensor
The car engine needs a proper ratio of air/fuel to run correctly on the road. For this, the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor plays a vital role within the fuel management system to make sure that the air/fuel ratio is correct. This MAF sensor measure both the temperature and quantity of air entering the engine.
Then, the fuel injection and ignition systems of the car are controlled by the computer by utilizing this information. The MAF sensor will become dirty inside or begin to fail if it is dirty and/or fails to function correctly. You may notice issues such as longer cranking times, jerking, or hesitation when you accelerate, rough idling or stalling, and sometimes black soot or smoke coming from the tailpipe. Additionally, you may notice a drop in fuel efficiency.
So, in this situation, cleaning the MAF as a part of routine maintenance helps reduce the high chances of problems. If the MAF sensor is truly at fault, cleaning it would be a big help for you. This cleaning process can be easily done by yourself at home. The only thing you have to do is to remove the component, clean it, and reattach that component to the engine air intake system. To complete the job, you’ll need a few basic supplies which include hand tools and a special cleaner that you can find at any local store.
Check whether your car has installed a Karman-Vortex air flow sensor. Some Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Lexus vehicles have these sensors and they cannot be cleaned using MAF Sensor Cleaner.
You may also like to learn; How to Clean Your Car Interior.
What Does Mass Air Flow (MAF) Do?
Mass Air Flow sensors (MAF) allow the engine control unit to calculate and add the appropriate amount of fuel so that the engine can perform at peak power and efficiency. The sensor can become clogged with debris or even fail at times. This provides inaccurate information to the ECU and leads to an inaccurate air and fuel mixture.
Do not worry if you do not feel confident about cleaning the Mass Air Flow sensor yourself. This blog will help you get to know the signs which show that the MAF needs to be cleaned.
Best Effective Method To Test the Mass Air Flow Sensor
OBD2 allows your ECU to continuously monitor MAF and other sensors in your engine to ensure everything is working properly. In the case of a check engine light that indicates you may need to replace the Mass Air Flow sensor, you can use an OBD2 scan tool like the FIXD scanner and app to test this.
Check the MAF sensor readings by connecting your scan tool to your car’s OBD2 port and selecting View Live Data. In this case, the number represents how much air is entering the engine. If the air conditioner is off and the car is warmed up, this should be a fairly low number. Ideally, it should not fluctuate too much and remain close to its original value.
Turn the engine over with the gas pedal. Since there is so much more air suddenly pouring into the engine, the number should increase significantly. In addition, you can check the MAF sensor value by holding the engine at certain RPMs. A value at 2,000 RPM, for instance, should be higher than at idle, but lower than at 4,000 RPM.
In this scenario, if the live data doesn’t match your observation, it almost certainly means that your Mass Air Flow sensor is dirty or has failed. Although there is no way to reset it, you can attempt to clean it first. If that doesn’t help, you can replace it.
5 Steps to Clean Mass Air Flow Sensor
1. Unplug the MAF Sensor
- Turn off the engine
- Remove the keys that are on the ignition system and wait for some time to let the engine cool.
- Check the location of the MAF sensor by reading your owner’s manual.
- After that, unplug the sensor from the car’s electrical system.
2. Remove The Mass Air Flow Sensor
Once the sensor is unplugged, loosen the clamps and brackets keeping it in place. You will need to carefully pull the sensor assembly away from the tubing and remove the air intake boot(s).
3. Clean The MAF Sensor
- Clean the sensor by placing it on a towel.
- I recommend spraying the cleaner around the inside of the sensor about 10-15 times.
- You should also clean the sides, the housing, the connectors, and the connections.
- You should make sure that the cleaner does not get on the hot wires or plate if you have a hot wire Mass Air Flow sensor.
4. Reattach Sensor
- Firstly, allow the MAF sensor to dry before proceeding towards the next step. It would only take a few seconds to dry.
- Once it’s done, you can reinstall and reattach the sensor back to its place, and tighten the loosened clamps and brackets.
- After you reinstall the sensor, it is important to wait a few minutes before starting the car to ensure the cleaning chemicals are completely evaporated.
5. How Often You Should Clean MAF Sensor?
When you change your air filter, you should clean the sensor. This is an easy task that you can do as part of routine maintenance. When the check engine light on your car comes on and there is a trouble code related to the MAF, that is the time to clean the sensor. When you have a few minutes to spare, you can easily accomplish this simple maintenance task in your garage.
Also, cleaning the Mass Air Flow sensor can not only solve your problems with your engine running or idling roughly, but it can also improve your gas mileage and keep your vehicle on the road.
Is Driving With A Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor Safe?
For the time being, you should be fine. But, if you planned to continue driving when the problem is getting worse, then it could lead your engine to misfire. By ignoring misfires, you can cause ignition failure, catalytic converter damage, and unsafe or dangerous driving conditions. To avoid these potentially more expensive and serious problems, the Mass Air Flow sensor should be cleaned or replaced as soon as possible. If the mechanics clean the sensor and return your intake system to normal, but the problem persists, they have to redo the repair. So, it is cheaper for them to replace the sensor the first time as it roughly costs $317 to $330.
If you have experience disassembling your air intake system yourself, it’s worth considering cleaning the Mass Air Flow sensor before replacing it. All that’s required is some time, a few basic tools, and a $3 can of air intake cleaner.