Mass Air Flow Sensor: Everything You Need to Know

The mass air flow sensor is one of the most important components of engine control. It measures the mass of air supplied to the engine with high precision to determine the optimal ratio of fuel to air in the combustible mixture. This helps to reduce both fuel consumption and reduce emissions. In addition, the air flow sensor is important for safety. For instance, it guarantees maximum fuel supply when necessary (when accelerating, overtaking, or when driving on a winding road), while eliminating potentially dangerous false alarms that can lead to a loss of power.

Mass Air Flow Sensor

Is it Worth Cleaning the MAF Sensor?

Cleaning it is rarely a good idea, as it can immobilize the car altogether, incapacitating the MAF. As a result, you might just break down your car. However, sometimes it is necessary. Follow these steps to clean it:

  • Switch off ignition.
  • Disconnect the connector.
  • Remove the sensor itself(you’ll need to unscrew the bolts that attach it to the air filter). Depending on the car model, the process may slightly differ.
  • The sensor needs to be removed from its place, otherwise, its cleaning will not be effective.
  • Remove the two bolts located on the devices.
  • Place liquid in a syringe and spray onto the device. At the same time, if necessary, you can rinse the block with contacts.
  • Wait for it to dry.
  • Assemble the sensor and install it in its place.

If you want to speed up the drying, you can use the compressor. Moreover, if the sensing element is heavily soiled, the procedure should be repeated several times.

Will my Car Run if I Unplug the MAF Sensor?

If the DMRV sensor is faulty, then the ECU will always work in emergency mode, setting the motor to a pre-programmed operating mode. Regardless of your driving style, the motor will always run the same. Depending on the car model and, accordingly, the firmware, this can lead to engine shut off(which is often the case with Toyota), increased fuel consumption, and so on. Thus, you won’t be able to get the maximum efficiency out of the car.

If you’re driving a vehicle with a faulty MAF sensor, you may not even notice the malfunction at first, especially if this is your first time driving the vehicle. However, you can always take a look at the engine speed and the “Check” icon to see if everything is fine. At the same time, there will be hidden consequences, such as increased fuel consumption, due to the car operating in the wrong mode. It’s very easy to explain the increased consumption. 

Should I Clean or Replace the MAF Sensor?

The only reason to clean it is if it is dirty. This is especially true for platinum coils, which are exposed to dirt from the air filter. Make sure to not touch these spirals with your hands, as well as with other rough objects (for example, a toothbrush) since they are very delicate.

Flushing or cleaning should only be done in a non-contact way. To do this, you need to take a special tool (you can use liquid for carburetors) and sprinkle it on the threads before they become clean by themselves. And once it is dry, put it back.

If you feel like there is no other option but to replace the MAF sensor, you need to think twice before starting the procedure yourself. But if you do decide to do it, then you must first remove the MAF sensor by slightly loosening the screw. Then you need to disconnect the special corrugated hose and unscrew the two. If nothing else is in the way, just remove the sensor and install a new one, following the steps in reverse order.