A Check Engine Light Could Mean Problems With the Mass Airflow Sensor

It’s hard to determine why your check engine light turns on. This light acts as a catch-all to report engine problems that don’t have lights or gauges of their own. We advise that one reason why the check engine light turns on is a faulty mass airflow sensor. Also called the MAF sensor, this sensor can malfunction if it gets dirty. Let’s talk more about this below.

Acceleration Lag

The MAF sensor keeps track of the incoming air into the engine. If it is malfunctioning, it might report incorrect air intake to your vehicle’s main computer chip, the engine control module (ECM). If the ECM believes that there is not enough air coming into the engine when there actually is, it will increase the air in the combustion chamber and your vehicle’s acceleration will lag.

Idling That Is Rough

You will also end up with a rough engine idle because the engine is being fuel-starved by the excess air that the ECM directed into the combustion chamber. Unfortunately, this imbalance between the air and fuel cannot be corrected until such time as you have the mass airflow sensor cleaned. If the sensor is malfunctioning because it has gone bad, it will need to be replaced to resolve the problem.

Performance Problems

Aside from acceleration lag and rough idling, you will also suffer from engine performance problems because of the excess air in the combustion chamber. Your engine will sputter and struggle to run at higher speeds. If the ECM mistook the air reading as too much air, it will increase the fuel in the combustion chamber when it doesn’t need it and your engine will surge and pick up speed.

Black Exhaust Smoke

Unfortunately, too much fuel in the combustion chamber can also cause your vehicle to release black exhaust smoke out of the tailpipe. This is because the combustion chamber cannot send the fuel back to the tank. Rather, it burns away the excess fuel. Consequently, you will end up with black exhaust smoke and, again, an engine that picks up speed unexpectedly.

Poor Fuel Economy

The malfunctioning MAF sensor can also affect your vehicle’s fuel economy due to the engine performance problems discussed above. Either the engine will burn away excess fuel and this will reduce your gas mileage, or the engine will run inefficiently because it doesn’t have enough fuel and this will reduce your gas mileage.

We can help, so give us a call today. We can inspect your MAF sensor and clean it or replace it if necessary.


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