Signs of a bad mass airflow sensor

If you want your car to function properly, every part of its engine should be in a perfect state. All components from the engine block are equally important, and one of these parts is the mass air flow sensor.

Article summary

The most important bad mass airflow symptoms include a lit-up check engine light and a car that’s jerking and hesitating. However, symptoms also include:

  • Rough running
  • Difficulty starting the car
  • Rough idle


You don’t need to be a skilled mechanic to know what this sensor does, and its purpose is logical and easy to understand. 

mass airflow sensor

The mass air flow sensor is a measurement system that identifies the wind’s flow rate and how much is entering your car’s engine.

With this information, the part sends a signal to the control module to determine the fuel quantity used by fuel injectors. 

This one can get worn out or damaged like any other manufactured part. In this article, we will talk about the signs & symptoms of a bad mass airflow (MAF) sensor.

Table of Contents

Signs of a bad mass air flow sensor

mass air flow sensor

Nothing is permanent. Eventually, your car’s components will wear out over time. Although some are long-lasting, this component will break over time and need replacement.

They are permanently exposed to moving air which can hold dust or debris, damaging the component. It is important to check with your mechanic if you want a detailed report about your sensor. 

They are specialists and will happily be of assistance, and some might even teach you how to manage your car’s components better. But until you reach the car service, pay attention to any of the symptoms below and check if they are present in your car. 

1. Check engine light

It is the first sign that should make you suspicious about the current state of your vehicle’s mass air flow sensor. The check engine light is a common warning system that might not be specific, as it only signals a general problem with your engine. 

The light might be lit up because of another faulty component. While checking the engine, it’s also good to look at the mass air flow sensor. This light might appear on the dashboard for many reasons, and some of them are shown in the table below.

Oxygen SensorFaulty oxygen sensors and damaged wiring or connections
Catalytic ConverterOld age or damage caused by engine misfires
Ignition CoilDamaged spark plug wires or spark plugs that need to be replaced
Transmission IssuesLow transmission fluid levels or a faulty transmission sensor

Whenever your check engine light comes up, it’s recommended to check in with a mechanic and have them diagnose your car’s problems. 

2. Jerking and Hesitation

Your ride should be smooth at high speeds, especially when cruising down the highway. Pay attention to any sudden jolts of power while your vehicle is moving. 

If your engine is struggling when accelerating, that might be a good sign of a faulty part needing replacement. Your safety might be at risk with a damaged mass air flow sensor, so it’s necessary to check in with an expert as soon as possible. 

3. Rough Running

The combustion process will eventually be disturbed if your part is damaged. It happens due to improper fuel flux management because the broken component sends the wrong signals to your vehicle’s control module. 

These inaccurate measurements will allow your engine to run too much or too less fuel, making your journey rough. Your car should offer a smooth and stable ride at cruising speeds, but a damaged component will interfere with that. 

mass air flow cleaner

Cleaning the mass air flow sensor is easy when you get the right product. If you want a quick solution to fix the faulty part, then below you will see the best mass air flow sensor cleaner available on the market.

What is a mass air flow sensor?

air flow sensor in a box

Installed near your car’s air filter, the mass air flow sensor is an essential component of the fuel injection system.

While this component is common, you can find different types of airflow sensors on some cars.

These require different maintenance, and their specific instructions should be followed accordingly. More details about this part are explained in the following table.

FunctionMeasures the amount and density of air entering the engine
LocationTypically located between the air filter and the throttle body
TypeMost of them are hot wire sensors that use a heated wire to measure the airflow
Symptoms of failureCheck engine light turns on and the engine stalls or idles roughly.

In general, these components can be either digital or analog. The difference between them is made by the way these parts produce an output that is later sent to the control module to regulate the fuel flux used by the injectors.  

The main purpose of a mass air flow sensor is to generate the proper air-fuel ratio. It can vary depending on your driving style.

It is done by deciding the amount of fuel necessary based on the measured airflow into the engine intake, all calculated by this part. 

When cruising down the highway, the air-fuel ratio will be much lower than when you are accelerating your car in city traffic.

This component is extremely important since a damaged one will make it challenging to calculate the best possible air-fuel ratio.

That’s why a faulty component should not be ignored. The overall health of your car’s engine depends on this component, and immediate fixing measures and repairs should be taken. 

Maybe you suspect your vehicle’s mass air flow sensor might be faulty. Check the signs and symptoms below and see if you can identify any in your car. 

Best cleaners

In today’s saturated markets, many products are created to fix most of the problems. It can be stressful to browse through all these products with the pressure of picking the best one.

You don’t have to worry about your purchase anymore because we have found the best mass air flow sensor cleaner!

Berryman 2211

Berryman is one of the most famous companies for products intended to fix your car. They developed this cleaner with confidence in their product, knowing they offer a guaranteed way of cleaning any part.

This product will do a great job cleaning your vehicle’s mass air flow sensor, even if debris and dust are present.

As we mentioned earlier, it is important for this sensor to be clean. It leads to better optimization of the air-fuel ratio, which results in a more efficient drive.

High fuel economy and a much smoother acceleration will be the first benefits you’ll notice after using this product.  

One of the key features of this spray is that it dries fast. This company developed a special formula for making their product safe to apply on any surface found in the engine block. You don’t have to worry about absolute precision. 

Before you use this product, be advised that it is extremely flammable. Safety is important, and store it in places away from direct sunlight. Children and pets should not have easy access to this cleaner, which can cause eye and skin irritation. 

Weighing just 12 ounces, the Berryman 2211 cleaner is convenient and easy to use. All you have to do is to apply it by spraying the component and cleaning it. You will notice immediate results with a clean sensor starting with your first drive. 

We ordered this product and tested it ourselves on a 2012 Chevy Cruze. After using it, we saw immediate results as the dirty mass air flow sensor started to clean up. The ride was smooth afterward, and the engine felt linear and constant when delivering power. 

Lots of people are satisfied with how fast this cleaner dries, and we can agree with them since this was also our experience. Although it was warm and sunny outside, this product will dry fast in any weather and climate.

This product is compatible with almost all vehicles available on the road. The mass air flow sensor is an essential component for each car, so this cleaner is designed for most models.

A satisfied customer bought this cleaner for his cars, a Nissan Altima and a Nissan Sentra. Like us, he saw results immediately. His problem was easily fixed. 

Another Mazda 3 owner was happy with the purchase of this cleaner. It seems that Berryman is doing wonders for many mass air flow sensors across the nation.

Cleaning this part is easier than you think, but you got to be prepared before starting the process.

Make sure you got all the necessary tools and equipment first. Read instructions on your car’s owner’s manual and if you are ready, proceed by following the steps below. 

Cleaning this part is not a difficult task, and anyone can do it when they follow the instructions correctly.

Before we start with the cleaning process, make sure to order the Berryman 2211. You will need this solution for the best cleaning results. When you’re ready, proceed with the steps below and take them in order:


  • Cleans debris and dust easily.
  • Dries fast without residue.
  • The package arrived quickly.


  • Although the product is effective, we think it’s overpriced.
Berryman 2211
Best MAF sensor cleaner on the market.
NameBerryman 2211
Item Dimensions LxWxH‎8.13 x 2.69 x 2.69 inches
Item Weight‎0.75 Pounds

How to clean them

Turn off the engine.
Before you clean it, the sensor must be turned off. This is done by turning the engine off and letting it cool for a while. When this is done, open the hood and locate the mass air flow sensor.

Its location might vary depending on the model of your car, but you can check the owner’s manual for help. If you still can’t find it, consult with a mechanic, and he should help you locate it. After you locate it, remove it from the electrical system.

Remove the part.
This component will have frames and brackets holding it together. Remove them to slide the part away from the air intake area and remove it completely from the engine block.

The cleaning process
After removing the part:

  1. Place it on a clean towel.
  2. Apply 15 blasts of the Berryman solution and make sure you cover the entire area.
  3. Proceed by thoroughly cleaning all the parts of this part, covering the sides and its terminals.

Reattach the sensor.
After cleaning it, give it a couple of seconds to dry out. This process is fast because the Berryman cleaner has a special formula that guarantees fast drying. Now that the cleaning and drying processes have been completed, you can reattach the part to its place. Even though the part might seem dry, some chemicals will need more time to evaporate. It’s better to wait a few minutes before starting the car.

The cleaning process of this part is now over, and you can take your car on a drive to see the results. We noticed them instantly, especially since our sensor was very dirty and full of debris. In the future, we recommend you repeat this cleaning process whenever you change the air filter or other components.

Keep an eye out for the check engine light and check this component whenever it appears on your dashboard. The mass air flow sensor is a highly durable part that can last a long time with proper maintenance. You shouldn’t worry too much about the future.

Factors to consider

There is a lot at stake whenever even a minor inconvenience comes up with your vehicle. Here’s what you need to consider before you buy a MAF sensor cleaner:

The composition

You want to look at something that is non-alcoholic and based on hexane. Other cleaners like carburetor cleaners will leave a residue behind and hence must not be used for the MAF sensor.


The brand must be an old and trusted one in the market. Even if it’s a new one, it should at least be seen that it has a 3.5 star or above rating on Amazon.


You’re not going to be cleaning the MAF that often. This is why you can just buy a small spray can and be done with it for a year or two. Make sure the cleaner is in a spray form though, otherwise you’ll have a hard time reaching the tough spots.

Now that your sensor is clean and can operate efficiently, driving performance and gas mileage will significantly improve. If you have any further questions, we will be glad to answer them below. 

mass airflow sensor cleaner

How much do they cost to replace?

Replacing a bad mass airflow (MAF) sensor will cost you around $50-$400. The labor cost will be extra. Although it is not very tough job to perform. One can easily do it if he/she has basic mechanical skills and save up on labor costs.

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