How to Trick a Mass Air Flow Sensor?

Learn whether or not it is possible to bypass it, and how this can be done

Written by Camilla Moln. Updated on How to Trick a Mass Air Flow Sensor

A car mass airflow sensor is an important part of your vehicle. In simple words, it is a sensor on the air intake that is called the mass air flow sensor. This sensor is needed for calculating how much air to mix with the fuel.

Sometimes, car owners might want to trick that airflow sensor, but this is exactly where most of them stumble upon the same issue: how is it possible to rick my car’s mass airflow sensor?

In this article, we will try to give you the answer to this question, as well as answer the related questions. You will not only learn whether or not you can trick your mass airflow sensor on a car.

In addition, you will find out what it is and what it is needed for in your vehicle. Moreover, we will explain how you can tell if your car’s mass airflow sensor is not working properly, and what should be done if this is the case.

How to Bypass Mass Air Flow Sensor?

First of all, it is true that you can trick your car’s mass airflow sensor. The only way to safely trick the MAF of your car is to have a true cold air intake that is away from the hot engine.

However, we do not recommend you trick the mass airflow sensor, and here is the reason, why.

See, this sensor is used for detecting the volume of air that is entering your car’s engine as well as the temperature of the air (depending on the manufacturer) so that the PCM can regulate the amount of fuel it requires.

And if this sensor is not functioning correctly for any reason, everything is becoming jumbled.

Mass Air Flow Sensor - Hot Wire - ExplainedMass Air Flow Sensor – Hot Wire – Explained

It is possible to clean the sensor with electrical components cleaner though. Like this, you will be able to remove any dirt or debris from the sensor and allow it to function correctly.

And you have already probably had a scan done and you discovered a P-code for the mass airflow sensor or that someone claimed the sensor was the source of the problem. In case you decide to avoid or delete that sensor, it will only result in further complications.

A Mass Air Sensor For Car. What Is This?

Even if you are a car owner, it does not mean that you know all the insides and the engine structure of your vehicle perfectly. So perhaps, you have wondered about what a mass airflow sensor is. See, the mass air flow sensor in your car is a part of it that measures the air mass that is flowing into the engine intake.

You might not be aware of this, but measuring that air mass is critical in calculating how much fuel to add to achieve the correct air-fuel ratio.

See, the ideal air-fuel ratio for a car is 14.7:1 (where 14.7 pounds of air to 1.0 pounds of gasoline), but the air-fuel ratio in real life often varies.

Acceleration might require a rich air-fuel ratio, sometimes reaching up to 12:1, while cruising requires a leaner rate, sometimes as low as 22:1.

If your car has a bad mass airflow sensor, the engine control module cannot calculate fuel injection correctly. In this case, this issue can lead to larger problems with your vehicle.

A Mass Air Sensor For Car. What Is This
infodramaticphotographerсom via VistaCreate

What Happens If You Have A Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor?

As we have already figured out before, the mass airflow sensor is an essential part of your car’s engine. This sensor measures the amount of air that is coming into the engine. And also, it sends a reading to your car’s computer.

Like this, the car’s computer will then be able to adjust the engine accordingly for optimal performance.

Why is this so important, you may be wondering? Well, simply because you want the engine of your car to perform at its best, just like any car owner would say.

In this case, if the engine operates perfectly well, the car burns the fuel and operates with lower emissions efficiently.

However, a mass airflow sensor is a mechanical thing and of course, it can get damaged or broken, which will result in some sort of malfunctioning. The airflow sensor can fail in several ways.

But one of the most common reasons for the failure of this part of a car is that it becomes contaminated, which causes it to malfunction.

When this happens, your car will display you a code that will be indicating that a mass airflow sensor failure has happened. The car will show a code on the dash and illuminate the check engine light when this happens.

This means that your vehicle needs to be taken to your mechanic for diagnosis and further repair.

Please note that it is essential to replace a malfunctioning mass airflow sensor as soon as possible in this case because this will optimize the performance of your car’s engine!

When you take your car to the automobile service center, your mechanic will test the system and determine how bad the mass airflow sensor failure is. See, many car owners might not notice a decline in their car’s performance, but still, one can detect a decline in fuel economy anyway.

So whether you want it or not, you will not miss the red light from your vehicle!

In the majority of cases, after all the things are considered, it will be much cheaper and also better for your vehicle if you place the broken part.

In addition, you are not likely to run into problems with re-installing or repairing the mass airflow sensor, this is why you can easily leave this step to professionals.

They have all the necessary knowledge and skill, so they will take care of your car exactly the way it should be done!

What Happens If You Have A Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor
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Symptoms Of a Faulty Mass Air Flow Sensor

All right, you may say, now I know that my car’s mass air flow sensor might get broken and fail to function properly. But if I’m not a professional mechanic, how do I know whether or not it is faulty?

Well, there are several symptoms of a bad car’s mass air flow sensor. However, you need to take into consideration that not all of them are immediately obvious:

  • Illuminated Check Engine Light. Performance and circuit diagnostic trouble codes may refer directly to the mass air flow sensor of your car, but fuel trim and misfire codes can also be linked to the MAF sensor.
  • Trouble Accelerating. If you are having problems with accelerating into highway traffic or while passing, the ECM may be limiting injection due to the problems with your car’s mass air flow sensor.
  • Rough Idle. As you probably know, smooth idle is hard to achieve without the proper amount of fuel. If the mass air flow sensor in your car has issues, the engine may not run smoothly, especially while idling.
  • Poor Fuel Economy. The mass air flow sensor does not have to fail completely or stop running to affect fuel economy. If the ECM errs rich, it may add more fuel than necessary, causing poor fuel economy.
  • Black Exhaust Smoke. In some cases, the ECM may err so much that it results in black smoke coming out of the exhaust. This can also overload the catalytic converter.
  • Hesitation or Surging. During acceleration or cruising, you might notice hesitation or sudden abnormal power, which can be unnerving.
  • Hard Starting. You know that engine starting requires more fuel than idling. But the ECM may not command enough fuel injection to start the engine right away if the mass airflow sensor signal is skewed.

Nevertheless, we want to remind you that these issues don’t always mean that your mass airflow sensor is faulty. There are issues that can mimic a bad mass airflow sensor of your car. For example, those could include:

  1. vacuum leak
  2. a clogged air filter
  3. restricted exhaust
  4. a clogged catalytic converter
  5. a broken intake tube

So we suggest you check the intake system to figure out first whether or not the problem is in one of those issues.

Symptoms Of a Faulty Mass Air Flow Sensor
VitalikRadkо via VistaCreate

How Do You Fix Your Faulty Mass Air Flow Sensor?

Let’s say, you notice some problems with your car’s engine and you suspect it could be the faulty mass air flow sensor.

However, after the car is checked, and the sensor appears to be all fine, the issues won’t disappear.

What Does a Mass Air Flow Sensor Do in a Car, Truck, SUV?What Does a Mass Air Flow Sensor Do in a Car, Truck, SUV?

In case your car’s intake system is in a good condition and works well, but you are still having issues, there are several things you can try out to solve the problem:

  • Shake out the dust by blowing out the intake tubing. Then install a new air filter in order to prevent future dust intrusion.
  • Use a cleaner. A specific cleaner designed for a car’s mass airflow sensor may be able to take care of any contamination.
  • Replace it. If none of the steps listed above appears to be effective, you have only one solution left. It is replacing your mass airflow sensor. Luckily, it is usually a simple job!

Anyway, diagnosing any issues is always a good option.

Compare your vehicle’s components with known-good signals for accurate diagnosis and quick repair. And remember to check your car’s engine regularly! Like this, you will be able to spot any failures and malfunctions in advance at the early stages and fix them. It will take less time and less money than if you had to do this when the car is almost not running!

How Do You Fix Your Faulty Mass Air Flow Sensor
VitalikRadko via VistaCreate

How to Reset Mass Air Flow Sensor?

If you undergo the following steps exactly one by one, they will bring you through the process of resetting the mass air flow sensor of your vehicle.

  • Start your car’s engine
  • Allow it to warm up to its normal operating temperature before continuing
  • Turn the ignition switch to the OFF position
  • Disconnect the connection for the mass airflow sensor harness
  • Start the engine of your car
  • Allow it to idle for at least 5 seconds before you move on
  • Stop the engine and reconnect the connector for the mass airflow sensor harness
  • Check to see that DTC P0102 is shown
  • Delete the DTC memory from your computer

However, this sequence of actions may not work for every car model, so if you try it and it does not work, we recommend you ask your mechanic for advice.

So, now you folks know a bit more about such a part of your car’s vehicle as a mass air flow sensor that is also known as MAF.

We told you how this thing could be tricked, and also we explained why you should not do that anyway. Also, you have learned how to reset your car’s mass air flow sensor with our step by step instruction, and how your MAF sensor could be fixed.

Nevertheless, if you notice that the mass air flow sensor of your car is not working properly or it’s not running at all, and if you try all the life hacks we give you in this article, but your MAF is still dead, you’d better take your car to the mechanic to get it checked and the issue fixed.

How to Reset Mass Air Flow Sensor
VitalikRadko via VistaCreate

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Is it wrong to drive a car with the MAF unplugged?

That is safe to drive with the MAF unplugged. Simply said, just don’t do it for several weeks at a time.

⭐Will a bad mass air flow sensor throw a code?

When there’s an issue with the MAF sensor, your car’s primary computer⁠ will turn on the check engine light and store a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) in its memory.

⭐Should I clean or replace MAF sensor?

Both are delicate and may be damaged if you try to clean them. For this reason, it’s better to replace the sensor than to attempt to clean it and continue using it.

Written by
Camilla is an experienced Consultant with more than 20 years of preparing professional articles for numerous online resources. She has done a tremendous job and has learned a lot during her career. Camilla will advise you on the latest trends and give amazing tips on how to decorate a house.
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Check Engine Light? Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF) Circuit: Code P0102Check Engine Light? Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF) Circuit: Code P0102