The fuel injection system of a vehicle depends on the Mass Air Flow or MAF sensor to ensure proper flow. Replacing the sensor becomes a necessity if your engine is not running smoothly, but a lot of people make things worse at this stage.
So you need to stay aware of what to do after replacing MAF sensor? As an immediate step to take after replacing, you’d be advised to let your engine run idle for about half an hour, or you could let the engine system entirely reset by turning off the battery for 10-15 minutes. These steps should be enough, but there’re some conditions.
There have been several cases where people had taken out the sensor only to find out the fault was somewhere else. This airflow sensor is falsely blamed at times, and even if it’s at fault, replacing it doesn’t automatically solve the issues.
So let’s dig more into how exactly the MAF sensor works and affects the system.
The MAF Sensor: How Does It Work?
This wondrous sensor sits between the air filter and the throttle. Its purpose is to detect how much air is flowing through the engine.
Even though it’s called an airflow sensor, it works for the fuel flow too. The sensor collects relevant information to select the proper amount of fuel and then sends it to the Engine Control Unit or ECU.
The ECU then provides the engine with the appropriate amount of fuel.
Now, if this crucial sensor fails to function properly, you can imagine the horror a car owner would have to go through.
Replacing the faulty sensor with a new one is a great solution, but seeing the bigger picture can create even more problems. Read along to make sure you’re a concerned enough car owner.
When Should You Replace The MAF Sensor?
You can extend the life of your MAF sensor by adopting a proper cleaning schedule.
But if you’re noticing that your car is having random hiccups or chugs while starting, you should consider giving the airflow sensor a check and introduce a new one if it seems faulty.
Now, how does one know for sure it’s faulty? Let’s explore the steps you should consider before replacing the sensor.
1. Listening to The Engine
The symptoms of a faulty MAF sensor are mostly connected to how the engine is functioning or, in this case, dysfunctioning.
Facing a lot of difficulties to turn over or start the engine is the most common symptom of a faulty airflow system. Here are some signs you should keep in mind-
- Just after starting, the engine stops running in a short period
- When under load, it keeps dragging or hesitates to start and drag
- While accelerating, it jerks a lot, or your car engine gets hiccups
- Excess lean or rich idling occurs
These signs and symptoms might vary in each case, but the reasons behind them are linked together. Let’s find out what causes a MAF sensor to be faulty.
2. Lack of Proper Maintenance-
There’re several sensors under the hood of our vehicle, and they can get damaged for a lot of reasons or simpler just because of their age. But as a user, you have the power to maintain it well and expand its lifespan.
One of the root causes behind a failed sensor is a dirty filter. Dirt entering into the airflow sensor would accumulate with tungsten wire and the temperature sensor inside.
Fuel leakage and contaminated systems can play a role here as well. And all these make the sensor not work well; that is, it won’t be able to detect the amount of air needed to flow.
This ruins the fuel and air co-dependence system. The ignition chamber, along with other parts of the system, depends on the proper flow and amount of air to work with the right amount of fuel.
That means a ratio between air and fuel flow must be maintained. If there’s too much fuel flowing but too little air or vice versa, your engine is doomed to get damaged.
But before you replace the sensor, beware of false alarms and do a double-check.
4. False Alarm
A faulty hose leak can cause air to get into the engine abruptly, and the ECU might send a faulty MAF code then when it’s not at fault at all.
Such fault codes can also be triggered by contaminated lambda sensors.
Hence, before you take out our sensors to replace them with a new one, you must make sure if it’s a false alarm or not. If not, you’re good to go!
4. Before Installing
You should always check the OE number of the old MAF and compare it to the new one according to the reference numbers from the supplier.
Clean the air hose and filter housing and change the air filter.
You’ve to make sure that the connector that stays on top of the sensor has not corroded or shows any signs of it and is clean.
What To Do After Replacing MAF Sensor?
In general, the new sensor is recognized by the motor well enough. However, some problems still might arise, which can all be avoided if you take some easy but necessary steps.
It’s highly recommended to disconnect the battery for about 10 to 15 minutes so that the engine or the vehicle computer gets enough time to forget the parameters it learned previously and adjust to the new setting.
Later on, when you connect the battery, it’ll start to learn every bit of data regarding the newly introduced MAF sensor. The battery being unhooked would not cause any problem.
Running the engine idle for 20-30 minutes is suggested as well. It’s common for an engine to not run smoothly just after replacement. Hence road tests should be taken for the sensors and actuators to adjust well.
A lot of cars require their ECM or Engine Control Module to be reprogrammed after replacing the MAF sensor. Reprogramming also relies on what car model you own.
If you’re still noticing issues such as hiccups and the engine getting super hot or not running well, then you must make sure if the problem is elsewhere.
What is the OE number?
OE denotes the original equipment number that can be found in the additional body parts of the vehicle.
All MAF sensors are fully tested under the OE conditions.
How frequently should I clean the airflow and filter system?
It’s recommended to clean after every six months. Removing the MAF sensor, cleaning and re-installing can be adopted to ensure it works for a longer period.
What does rich and lean idling mean?
Rich and lean idling refer to the ratio of air and fuel in the ignition chamber and other parts.
If the engine is getting too little air but too much fuel, the condition is known as rich idling.
Whereas, when there is too little fuel but a huge amount of airflow, it’s expressed by lean idling.
Does a MAF sensor control the EGR flow rate?
Yes! EGR or Exhaust Gas Recirculation needs to be monitored properly. MAF sensor takes on the duty to control and monitor its flow rate additionally.
Moreover, if there’s an EGR valve sticking out somewhere, it might trigger a MAF sensor fault code. So you could say it’s all connected.
A full-functioning MAF sensor promises to keep the health of your car in fit shape. Replacing a faulty sensor in good faith can often meet unfortunate events if you’re not aware beforehand of what to do after replacing MAF sensor.
So make sure you stay patient and give your engine the time it needs to self-adapt. Cleaning the parts following a schedule and abiding by the owner manual might seem selementary steps, but they ensure a safe drive for you in the long run, don’t forget!