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Engine Electrical and Electronics Mass Air Flow Sensor

Need a MAF Sensor Replacement?

The cost of a mass air flow sensor replacement will vary greatly depending on the year, make, and model of your car.

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What is an MAF Sensor?

Okay, let’s start with the basics: Yes, “MAF” sounds super badass. So, you can keep calling it that if it makes you feel better.

MAF stands for mass air flow. MAF sensors monitor how much air is making its way to the engine. Yes, the mass air flow sensor literally is a sensor for the air flow. It’s that simple. In theory, at least.

Your car’s engine relies on a proper ratio of air to fuel. With the right ratio, the car runs beautifully. With the wrong ratio, your car runs like you do that time you tried to run five miles after pounding a meatball sub and not hydrating. The energy we put in impacts the power we get out. That’s as true for your car as it is for your body.

Based on the readings from the MAF sensor, the engine makes appropriate changes to its parts to make the drive as efficient and productive as possible. There are a lot of different car components that factor into the engine, and many of them rely on accurate data from the MAF sensor. Which makes it kind of important.

Here, let’s put this another way to make it practical. When’s the last time you thought about breathing? Are you consciously controlling your breath right now? Whoops. Sorry. That thinking part is what the MAF sensor does for your car.

MAF sensors are always going to be located in line with the intake system, and there’s good news: Despite being in use every time you drive, MAF sensors are pretty durable, and don’t die often. But, like all things in your car, they’re not indestructible. They’re also not fixable, so a broken MAF sensor will need to be removed and replaced.

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Symptoms of a failing MAF Sensor

Poor engine performance

Let’s see how much attention you’ve been paying. So, the MAF sensor detects how much air is making its way to the engine, so that the car can make adjustments to get the most out of its engine production. So, what exactly do you think happens when the MAF sensor kicks the bucket, and the car can’t make those adjustments? If you guessed that it’s no longer going to get the most out of its engine production, then congratulations, you’re totally right. When you want to giddy up, but notice a lack of oomph, that could be a result of the MAF sensor failing. If the sensor is struggling, the readings may be off, and it won’t contribute to the mechanical symphony as it’s supposed to. It will also negatively impact your fuel efficiency.

Check Engine Light

Now I know you tend not to pay attention to the lights in your dashboard, but it’s never too late to start. The warning lights are there for a reason and they’re positioned right in front of your line of sight, so you notice them. If you have a failing MAF sensor, your check engine light, which is kind of like a catch-all like, may illuminate.

Rough idle or stalling

Here’s the deal with your MAF sensor. If it’s struggling, your car will have some performance issues. But if the MAF sensor fully kicks the bucket? Well, the car might idle rough and eventually stall. You might first notice this because your car will stall repeatedly, like when you tried to learn how to drive a stick shift. It’s weird. And slightly embarrassing.

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How urgent is an MAF Sensor replacement?

Much of the time it’s possible to keep on chugging along with a bad MAF sensor. You won’t really be unsafe doing so. But you’ll notice that you won’t be able to get the same performance out of your car that you used to, and that should bother you. You’ll also notice changes in your fuel economy.

And look, as much as you might take the ignorance is bliss route with these things, these issues don’t magically go away. Instead, they get worse, and as they get worse, they burn a bigger hole in your pocket.

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