Mass Airflow sensor, or MAF sensor, can cause several problems

This week on Orozco’s Auto Blog, we’re gonna go over something which can cause a wide variety of symptoms, from the mildly annoying to the critical.

Your car’s Mass Airflow sensor, or MAF sensor, can cause several problems with how your engine runs, including but not limited to rough idle, mild to severe hesitation, loss of power, poor fuel economy, and even the engine stalling – yes, even in an automatic car. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, these sensors were in an evolutionary phase, and if your car was built during these two decades it is very likely that its MAF sensor is not the most reliable.

A MAF sensor converts the air flowing past it into an electrical signal which goes to the car’s ECU. As the volume and density of air across the sensor changes, the computer is able to make adjustments to the air/fuel mixture and injector timing and optimize your vehicle’s performance, emissions, and economy. If the sensor becomes contaminated or malfunctions, or a wire wears out, then your car will most likely run poorly, waste more gas, and jerk or stall.

The MAF sensor malfunctioning can also cause your car to throw a check engine light (CEL). Furthermore, it can cause different check engine codes such as the O2 sensor, “low air volume”, or something else. Problems with the MAF sensor could be related to wiring, the sensor itself, or actual air flow.

In fact, symptoms or codes associated with a bad MAF sensor may not be related to the sensor itself at all. They could mean that your car has a vacuum leak, blocked intake, torn tubes or hoses in the intake system, or something else entirely. A common condition in higher mileage cars is that the duct running from the air filter to the throttle body is torn, which allows air to enter the engine which the computer has not accounted for, and can cause symptoms and codes indicating sensor failure.

Another possibility is that your MAF sensor is simply dirty. Any vehicle with 20,000 miles or more could very easily have contamination build up on the MAF sensor – the older, the more likely.

Vehicle manufacturers eventually built in a self cleaning mechanism that would superheat the sensor to burn off contamination, but on older vehicles (likely any vehicle built before the late ‘90s), it will be necessary at some point to clean the MAF sensor.

Even if cleaning the sensor does not solve all of the problems it is still beneficial. It is a good idea to clean the sensor every time you get a new air filter as regular preventative maintenance. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a malfunctioning MAF sensor, call Orozco’s Auto Service in Long Beach today at (562)-427-4256 to schedule an appointment. Our mechanics at Orozco’s Auto Service are the most trusted in Long Beach!

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