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How to clean a mass airflow (MAF) sensor 

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When you think of keeping your car clean and healthy to improve its performance, a mere car wash for its exterior won’t suffice. There are things under the hood, along with the engine, that need your attention. MAF sensor is one among those. In this blog, we will walk you through its importance and how to clean a mass airflow (MAF) sensor. 

cleaning a mass air flow sensor (MAF)

Mass airflow (MAF) sensor  

ECU, which controls the engine’s operation functions properly with help of the MAF sensor. It accurately calculates and adds the correct quantity of fuel for the engine to perform at its best. This sensor can get clogged with junk. Consequently, the ECU receives wrong information, resulting in an improper combination of air and fuel. 

The precise placement of a Mass airflow (MAF) sensor is different for each vehicle. But it’s often located between the air filter and the intake manifold in the air intake system of your car. Check the middle of the intake tube for a sensor, which is usually located near the air filter for convenience. 

Why is it important to have a clean mass airflow (MAF) sensor? 

Your engine may misfire if you continue to drive when the mass airflow (MAF) sensor is faulty. Misfires can cause ignition failure, damage to the catalytic converter, and unsafe or dangerous driving conditions if ignored. The sooner the mass airflow sensor is cleaned or replaced, the less likely it is to cause more significant and costly problems. 

How to identify a faulty mass airflow (MAF) sensor? 

To understand the function of the MAF sensor, you should be aware of OBD2 and ECU. 

OBD2 and ECU   

OBD2 (sometimes known as OBD-II) is an abbreviation for On-Board Diagnostics version 2. It is a built-in electrical system that continually checks engine performance and pollutants. This system can identify faults and warn you of them by turning on the check engine light using a number of sensors. You may acquire precise information about your automobile problem from this system by plugging an OBD2 scanner into the OBD2 port, which is normally situated under your dashboard.  

OBD2 allows the ECU to continually monitor data from the MAF sensor and other sensors in your engine to ensure correct operation. You may use an OBD2 scan tool to see whether the mass airflow sensor is the problem if your check engine light is on. 


Using your data from your OBD2 connection, examine the MAF sensor values. You should be able to see how much air is being pumped into the engine by looking at the display. As soon as the vehicle is warmed up and idling, this should be a rather low figure. Although it may fluctuate somewhat, it should essentially maintain its current worth. 

To get the engine revving, press the gas pedal. Since a lot more air is flowing into the engine, the number should rise significantly. You can hold the engine there if you want to examine the MAF sensor value at a specific RPM. For example, the value at 2,000 RPM should be greater than at idle but lower than at 4,000 RPM. 

It’s quite likely that your mass airflow (MAF) sensor is unclean or defective if the behavior you see in the live data doesn’t fit this pattern. Experiences such as power loss, codes P0171, and/or P0174 are other symptoms of having a faulty MAF sensor. However, you may try to clean it, but we would recommend getting a professional’s help. These sensors are sensitive, and mishandling them might cost you its replacement. 

Read: How to clean car battery corrosion the right way

How to clean a mass airflow (MAF) sensor 

Identify the air intake system  

Look online or in your car’s repair manual to determine the air intake system for your vehicle. Know that taking apart your air intake system will allow you to inspect your engine air filter. So, at first, see if it needs to be replaced. You should change the air filter right away if it’s clogged up. Muddy or dusty driving conditions may cause the filter to become clogged sooner than intended. 

Cleaning your throttle body is also a good idea at this time. While you’re already in there, it should just take a few minutes to clean this sensor, which becomes filthy in the same way as the MAF sensor and can be cleaned with the same solvent. 

Locate the MAF sensor by dismantling your air intake system

Plastic or aluminum tubing makes the intake system. Removing and locating the MAF sensor is a simple procedure. Upon removing the air filter, the mass airflow sensor is located exactly next to the air filter. If your air filter is in need of replacement, now is the time to do it.  

Clean the sensor 

After removing the air intake tube, remove the MAF sensor.  

Place the MAF sensor on a towel to collect any water that may spillover. Spray the inside of the chassis with 10-15 bursts of sensor cleaner. It’s important to protect the hot wires and the plate. Be extremely careful not to come into contact with the wires in any way. As you may imagine, they’re extremely fragile. 

Spray the sensor and the connections. Allow a few minutes for the chemicals in the sensor to dissipate before turning on the engine again. 

Reinstall the air intake system 

Your air filter and any other items you have to remove to access the sensor may now be reinstalled. Assemble everything as you found it. 

The MAF sensor should be replaced if any problems recur or persist. It is always advised to seek the help of experts to handle it.  If you find it difficult to identify the best car wash or car care facility for your car. We are here to help.  We recommend you to visit Way.com or download the Way app (available on iOS and Android). You can enjoy a touch-free experience and reliable services from Way.com. 


Read our blogs for information on the best airport parking and hourly parking spots near you and the most affordable insurance for your car.


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