What is Mass Air Flow Sensor?

The Mass Air Flow sensor, also referred to as an air meter, plays a crucial role in the engine’s operation by measuring the amount of air passing through the throttle body. This sensor detects the airflow and sends a corresponding signal to the vehicle’s computer system. [1]

The signal generated by the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor is utilized by the car’s computer, along with inputs from the Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor and the Throttle Position sensor (TPS). Together, these sensors assist in determining the optimal timing for injector opening and the required spark advance to maintain a fuel ratio of 14.5:1.

Where Is the Mass Air Flow Sensor Located?

The Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor is typically situated between the air cleaner (air filter housing) and the throttle body in the engine compartment. Its location may vary slightly depending on the specific make and model of the vehicle, but it is commonly found along the intake duct or tubing leading to the engine.

Is it Safe to Continue Driving with the Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor?

It’s generally not safe to continue driving with a faulty Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor. A malfunctioning MAF sensor can cause various issues with engine performance, fuel efficiency, and emissions. These problems may lead to potentially unsafe driving conditions, such as reduced power, rough idling, hesitation, and poor fuel economy. Additionally, ignoring a faulty MAF sensor could result in further damage to other engine components over time. Therefore, it’s advisable to address any issues with the MAF sensor promptly to ensure safe and reliable operation of the vehicle.

Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor Symptoms

A malfunctioning Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor can manifest in various symptoms, indicating potential issues with the vehicle’s performance:

  1. Check engine light illuminated: A malfunctioning MAF sensor can trigger the check engine light to illuminate on the dashboard.
  2. Engine performance may be affected, leading to rough running or hesitation: With a faulty MAF sensor, the Engine Control Module (ECM) may not receive necessary sensor data related to the air flow control circuit to maintain the air/fuel ratio at 14.7:1. This can result in rough running or hesitation, impacting the overall performance of the engine.
  3. Visible exhaust emissions: Visible exhaust emissions may be observed while driving due to a lean or rich air-fuel mixture resulting from the faulty MAF sensor.
  4. Engine stalling: Intermittent engine stalling may occur due to a faulty MAF.
  5. Lack of power: Lack of power during acceleration may occur due to the faulty MAF, which affects the engine air intake system, leading to inadequate or excessive air supply to the engine.
  6. Poor Fuel Efficiency: Inefficient fuel consumption may be observed as a symptom of the faulty MAF, as it affects the proper regulation of the air/fuel ratio due to either the absence of sensor data or a mechanical problem with the throttle valve. This can result in the wastage or improper utilization of fuel.

Common MAF sensor fault codes

Here is a list of codes that are associated with the bad MAF sensor to look for if your check engine light has turned on

  • P0068 : MAP/MAF – Throttle Position Correlation
  • P0100 : Mass or Volume Air Flow “A” Circuit Malfunction
  • P0101 : Mass or Volume Air Flow “A” Circuit Range/Performance Problem
  • P0102 : Mass or Volume Air Flow “A” Circuit Low Input
  • P0103 : Mass or Volume Air Flow “A” Circuit High Input
  • P0104 : Mass or Volume Air Flow “A” Circuit Intermittent

What Causes the Malfunction of Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor?

Causes of a Faulty Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor

  1. Electrical Wire Issues: Poor connections across electrical connectors, broken wiring, blown fuses, loss of ground, or issues with previously repaired wires can disrupt the connection with the MAF.
  2. Clogged Sensor: Accumulation of dirt, debris, or oil residue on the MAF sensor can obstruct airflow readings, leading to sensor malfunction.
  3. Excessive Oil Mist: If excessive oil mist from the crankcase ventilation system contaminates the MAF sensor, it can interfere with its functionality.
  4. Water Ingress: Exposure to water, particularly from driving through deep puddles or heavy rain, can cause water to enter the MAF sensor housing, leading to malfunction.
  5. Exposure to Road Salt: Vehicles driven in areas where road salt is used for de-icing purposes are prone to corrosion, which can affect the MAF sensor’s performance over time.

How To Test Mass Air Flow Sensor?

Testing the Mass Air Flow Sensor can be done using following method:

  1. Check Voltage using multimeter:
    • Set the multimeter to voltage mode.
    • Connect the red probe of the multimeter to the signal wire of the MAF sensor connector. The signal wire is typically the middle wire, but refer to your vehicle’s wiring diagram to confirm.
    • Connect the black probe of the multimeter to a good ground point, such as the battery negative terminal or the engine block.
    • Turn on the ignition key without starting the engine.
    • Check the voltage reading on the multimeter. The voltage should typically read between 0.5 and 1.5 volts. If the voltage is outside of this range, it indicates a faulty MAF sensor that needs replacement.
  2. Check Resistance using multimeter
    • Switch the multimeter to the ohm mode.
    • Connect the probes of the multimeter to the power and ground wires of the MAF sensor connector. Typically, the power wire is red and the ground wire is black, but refer to the wiring diagram to confirm.
    • Ensure that the ignition key is turned off to prevent any electrical interference.
    • Measure the resistance between the power and ground wires. The multimeter should typically read between 200 and 600 ohms.
    • If the resistance falls outside of this range, it indicates a faulty MAF sensor that requires replacement.

Other Issues That Exhibit Similar Symptoms as a Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor

When a car exhibits the symptoms mentioned above, and the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor has been checked and found to be in working order but the issue persists, it’s essential to inspect the other components of the air intake system.

  1. Faulty Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) Sensor: A defective MAP sensor can produce similar symptoms to those of a bad MAF sensor. The MAP sensor measures the pressure within the intake manifold and assists in determining the air/fuel mixture ratio. If it malfunctions, it can disrupt the engine’s fuel delivery and cause issues such as rough idling, poor acceleration, and decreased fuel efficiency.
  2. Faulty Throttle Position Sensor (TPS): A malfunctioning TPS sensor can also present symptoms resembling those of a faulty MAF sensor. The TPS sensor monitors the position of the throttle plate and sends signals to the engine control unit (ECU) to regulate fuel delivery and ignition timing. If the TPS sensor fails, it may cause irregular engine idling, hesitation during acceleration, and poor fuel economy.

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