Yes, a mass airflow (MAF) sensor can get dirty. If it does, it will begin to send incorrect readings to your vehicle’s engine control module (ECM). When this happens, Padron Automotive advises that you will experience one or more of the signs listed below that indicate you have a dirty MAF sensor or one that has malfunctioned and needs to be replaced.
Check Engine Light
When the mass airflow sensor sends incorrect air readings to the ECM, the ECM makes incorrect adjustments to the air and fuel that is being mixed in the combustion chamber. This will cause your check engine light to come on.
If there is too much air and not enough fuel in the mixture, your car, truck, utility vehicle, or van will not respond as well as it normally does when you press down on the accelerator. This is because the engine does not have enough fuel.
This lean fuel mixture can also make your engine idle roughly when you are sitting at a red light or stop sign. You may also see that your RPMs are too low on the tachometer. This can be caused by a dirty or failing MAF sensor.
Low Gas Mileage
Another problem with a dirty mass airflow sensor is poor gas mileage. Whether the ECM is sending too much or too little gas into the combustion chamber, your engine will burn through the excess gas or what little gas it has.
If the engine is burning away excess gas, you will see black exhaust coming out of your tailpipe. This can also clog your catalytic converter and, if it does, you may smell rotten eggs coming from the engine or in your vehicle’s exhaust.
As with your vehicle’s acceleration, if the engine has a lean fuel mixture in it, it will hesitate and sputter. It may feel as if the engine is misfiring. If there is too much gas in the engine, it will surge. Your car may feel like a bucking bronco.
Finally, if a dirty MAF is not sending the right information to the engine control module, you may not be able to start your car. This, as with everything else on this list, is due to the fact that there is an incorrect air and fuel mixture in the combustion chamber.
Padron Automotive in Topeka, KS, would be happy to inspect your mass airflow sensor to see if it is dirty. We will also test it to make sure it is operating properly. Call us today to schedule an appointment.