Car Mass Air Flow Sensor
Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor is an important part of your car’s electronic fuel injection system that’s job is to calculate the total amount of air entering the engine. If you have a contaminated or failed Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor, then it won’t measure the amount of airflow correctly. As a result, the engine computer inaccurately calculates the amount of fuel injected, causing additional damage. 4 major signs tell you that it is time for you to examine your MAF sensor.
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What Is Mass Air Flow Sensor?
Mass Air Flow sensors measure the mass of air flowing into the intake system. It is critical to determine the amount of fuel to add to a given amount of air to achieve the correct air-fuel ratio (AFR). As the ideal AFR is 14.7:1 (14.7 pounds of air to 1.0 pounds of gasoline), but in the real world, it varies.
A rich AFR is required for acceleration, reaching 12:1, whereas a leaner AFR is required for a cruise, often as low as 22:1. When your MAF sensor fails, your engine control module (ECM) may not calculate fuel injection accurately, which may lead to larger problems with your vehicle.
How Does Mass Air Flow Work?
The MAF sensor is located between the air filter and throttle body, responsible for calculating the correct amount of air entering the engine.
Almost all vehicles are equipped with a hot wire MAF sensor. This sensor has two wires: one ambient temperature and one heated wire. In the MAF sensor, the microprocessor maintains the hot wire temperature at 200°F above ambient incoming air temperature to determine the amount of air entering the engine.
Moreover, the amount of energy required to maintain the sensor at the same temperature is measured and sent to the powertrain control module (PCM). In the next step, your PCM controls the injectors so that they deliver the exact amount of fuel that is proportional to the airflow, creating the ideal air-fuel mixture for your engine.
Common Problems Of Air Flow Sensor
In most vehicles, Mass Air Flow is a common problem to happen. The cars include; BMW, GM, Mazda, Toyota, and many other brands. This sensor may get damaged or become contaminated.
- Mazda Skyactiv engines, for example, may fail to start if a Mass Air Flow sensor fails.
- Incorrect installation or a collapsed air filter can lead to an early failure of the airflow sensor.
- If you over soak a washable air filter, this can also affect the airflow sensor.
How To Test Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor?
To test the Mass Air Flow sensor of modern cars, the only way is to scan the sensor with a scanning tool. Mechanical engineers measure this Mass Air Flow at various RPMs. Usually, the readings are compared with the specifications or a known-good mass airflow sensor.
Generally, taking Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF) readings for 2.4L 4-cylinder engine at varying RPMs. Typically, Mass Air Flow sensor readings are taken at idle, 1,000 RPM, 2,000 RPM, and 3,000 RPM. In most cases, the contaminated or bad Air Flow Sensor will show the low airflow readings than a known good one.
There are some rare cases that you might experience, your bad sensor show higher readings. No doubt, different engines have different readings. As the engine volume affects the airflow, a V6 or V8 engine will have higher readings.
The lower Air Flow sensor doesn’t mean that the sensor is in bad condition. The airflow sensor reading can also be lower if the air filter is clogged or the catalytic converter is plugged. Additionally, the vacuum leaks also affect the sensor readings. This is the main reason why mechanics use a known good sensor to compare the airflow readings.
4 Symptoms Of Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor
If your engine intake system is good to run properly but you are having some issues, then there are some of the things that you should try:
1. Your Car Suddenly Jerks While Accelerating
Your vehicle may experience bad drivability issues due to a faulty MAF sensor, such as stalling, jerking, or hesitation during acceleration. You might do this while cruising down a city street or speeding up on an on-ramp for the highway. Such problems can create dangerous situations resulting in accidents. In case you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately get your vehicle inspected.
2. Having Air Fuel Ratio Too Rich
For your vehicle to operate properly, it needs the right ratio of fuel to air in each combustion chamber. The meaning of running rich is having too much fuel but not enough air. So, some of the signs that show your vehicle is running rich include:
- Black smoke exiting the tailpipe
- Bad fuel efficiency
- Rough idling
- Check Car Engine Light
If the MAF sensor’s wires are filthy or damaged, then this issue can arise. Since it cannot measure airflow accurately, it sends inaccurate information to the PCM. Whenever it overestimates the airflow, the PCM emits too much fuel. Most of the time, this problem can be fixed by cleaning the MAF sensor’s wires. Also, if you noticed a Check Engine Light. Stop into a nearby car shop to have the code read for free with Fix Finder.
3. Your Air Fuel Ratio Is Too Lean
It is the opposite of running rich, meaning your car has little fuel and too much air. Just like running rich, the MAF sensor sends incorrect information to the PCM. However, this time the amount of airflow is underestimated rather than overestimated.
You will temporarily get more fuel efficiency by running lean, but running lean for too long could seriously damage your vehicle. Your vehicle might experience:
- An engine that jerks or surges
- Hard engine seizures
- Trouble starting
- Check Engine Light
The problem may be fixed by simply cleaning the wires, as it is with other MAF sensor problems. In addition, you should have a mechanic look at your vehicle for damage.
4. Getting Code – P010P From OBD-Scanner
When your check engine light is on, use a code reader to see which diagnostic trouble codes the engine sends. But, If you don’t have a code reader, stop by the car center to use the free Fix
P0101 – Mass Air Flow Sensor Circuit Range/Performance
The MAF sensor signal is used by the engine computer to determine how much fuel is needed to achieve the correct air-fuel ratio. MAF sensor signals are also used to calculate engine load, so they can interfere with traction control systems or alter automatic transmission patterns. The most common cause of this code is a dirty or blocked MAF sensor, however, it can also be caused by the following:
- A damaged intake boot
- Vacuum leaks
- Clogged or improperly installed engine air filter
- Clogged-up catalytic converter
As there are many other potential issues besides the bad MAF sensor, so it is worth checking into those solutions. So, you become positive about this code being caused by the sensor before you start replacing it.
Replacing Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor
If your vehicle’s air flow sensor is bad, then it needs to be replaced first. It’s a quite simple job that costs between $89 to $380.
If the sensor is dirty, then cleaning it is a temporary solution that sometimes helps. But, when the point comes to replacing, make sure the air filter is installed properly.
A malfunctioning MAF sensor could cause your car to jump while accelerating, run too rich, or run too lean. So, make sure to fix the issue urgently so everyone could be saved.
- Avoid costly car repairs.
- Avoid being stranded on the road
- Save money