A mass air flow sensor is an important part of the engine that contributes to its optimum performance. It helps to measure the amount of air that enters the engine which in turn determines the air-to-fuel ratio needed for combustion in the vehicle.
Since an accurate and normal MAF sensor reading is needed for fuel efficiency and increased performance, what is a normal mass air flow sensor reading?
Depending on the engine size, the normal mass air flow sensor reading is between 2 to 7 grams/second at idle and steadily rises 15 to 25 grams at 2500 rpm when the vehicle is in motion.
The readings will vary from one to the other depending on the size of the engine and also the kind of sensor used.
What is a Normal Mass air Flow Sensor Reading?
In order to determine the normal reading of a mass air flow sensor, we will need to understand what a ‘Mass Air Flow Sensor’ is.
A mass air flow sensor determines the amount of air that enters inside the engine, this information is then in turn communicated to the engine computer. The engine computer uses this information to determine the air-fuel ratio needed for combustion.
The reading considered normal for the mass air flow sensor should be between 2 to 7 grams/sec and 15 to 25 grams at 2500rpm.
However, the reading may vary based on the type of engine and sensor installed. Although these are the readings considered normal, they can vary from time to time for various reasons.
It is worthy of note that if the sensor is faulty, a number of things could happen such as; incorrect reading, the car may run poorly, or not starting at all in some cases.
If you notice that combustion isn’t taking place as it should, you should watch out for some of these signs; stalling, poor acceleration, lack of power, etc.
Some causes of a faulty mass air flow sensor are; vacuum leak, restricted exhaust, clogged engine air filter, etc.
An accurate MAF sensor reading is important because it contributes to improving fuel efficiency and general vehicle performance.
What is a Good MAF Reading at Idle?
The reading of a mass air flow sensor varies when its idling compared to when it is not. The reading of a MAF sensor at idle should be between 2 to 7 grams/sec and should steadily rise to somewhere between 15 to 25 grams/sec at 2500rpm.
This invariably means the reading when idle is considered to be a normal mass air flow reading. It is important to note that this reading will depend on the size of the engine.
An idling engine is expected to put out 2.5 volts steadily, for older AC MAF sensors like a 2.8L V6, the reading should be 30 to 50 Hz while idling and 70 to 75 Hz at 3,500 rpm.
The sensor used could be hot film or hot wire, whichever of the sensor used will give varying readings at different times.
What if the MAF is Reading Otherwise?
We now know what the normal mass air flow reading should be but there may be times when the reading will be incorrect. If the MAF sensor is reading otherwise then it could be a sign of an underlying problem.
The common problem usually attributed to incorrect reading of the sensor is the contamination of the sensor elements, the sensor element could be contaminated with dirt or fuel varnish.
A contaminated sensor element will be unable the measure the amount of air entering the engine correctly thereby causing the engine computer to miscalculate the air-fuel ratio.
With use over the years, the mass airflow sensor gathers dirt, dust, etc., that clogs the element. Depending on the vehicle model, contamination can occur within 18,000 miles.
Small cars have a high tendency of getting contaminated fast because of the small engine bay present in them.
Oftentimes, when the mass air flow sensor is contaminated the only available option, will be to clean or replace it. Replacing the mass air flow sensor is the best thing to do if the damage is obvious.
You will always see signs showing that something is wrong somewhere, in this case, the faulty mass air flow sensor.
Some of these signs could be; vibration more than usual, check engine light is on, the engine does not run well while idling, change in RPMs, etc.
What to Do if MAF is Reading Incorrectly?
If the MAF is reading incorrectly it is usually a sign of a bad mass air flow sensor or one that has been contaminated. In the case of a contaminated MAF, there will be a need to clean it. In cleaning, the following steps should be followed;
The Sensor Should be Removed
The first step to cleaning a MAF is to remove the sensor. To unplug the mass air flow sensor, you will have to open the vehicle’s air box using a flathead screwdriver to pull it out.
Care must be taken so as not to touch the wires in the process, if any of the wires were to be broken, you’ll have to replace them, replacing a MAF wire doesn’t come cheap.
Clean the Sensor
The next thing to do is clean the sensor, going for a cheap option, you should put the mass air flow sensor inside a plastic bag that is filled with rubbing alcohol.
With the mass air flow inside, shake the bag in order to ensure the alcohol touches every part of the MAF and removes the dirt.
The other option which is quite expensive will be to clean the MAF by getting a special mass air flow sensor cleaner from Amazon or from an auto shop. The MAF sensor cleaner will be sprayed on the sensor in order to clean it.
Let the Sensor Dry Before Reinstalling
Once the MAF sensor has been cleaned, allow it to sit for some minutes, preferably at least 20 minutes. There is a need for the sensor to get dry before you reinstall, anything contrary to this may damage the MAF. If it’s dry then you can proceed with reinstalling.
In the case of a faulty sensor, you will need to replace it with a new one. Be sure to have a professional do the replacement to prevent further damage.
A mass air flow sensor should be cleaned at least every 6 months or as often as every other part of the engine is cleaned out. It could also be when you are having the oil changed. Doing this regularly will save you a lot of time and money in the future