Can You Drive With A Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor?

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Have you ever noticed how many small peripheral devices run your car? Among several hardware components of your car’s engine, there lies a mass airflow sensor.

 A bad MAF sensor causes a very low performance from your engine. Although you can drive with a bad MAF sensor, it is not suggested to do this practice on permanent terms.

Here, through this article, I have tried to bring into light what a mass airflow sensor is. you will also get to know about its performance, maintenance, and replacement.

So without any further delay, let’s get into details:

Mass airflow sensor

 Well, you may get startled to know that it’s Electronic Fuel Injection system consists of an ECU, fuel pump, fuel injectors, and various sensors. Located between the air filter and the intake of the engine, it measures the amount of airflow entering the engine.

How does Mass Airflow Sensor work?

MAF sensor multiplies air volume by the air density to determine the mass of air. This calculated information helps ECU (engine control unit) to deliver a balanced fuel mass to the engine.

To get optimal functionality from your car, it is essential that your airflow sensor should work properly. A balanced amount of airflow helps to incorporate the longevity of your vehicle’s engine.

Now if you have got the meaning and function of MAF sensor, look at several kinds of MAS sensors:

Types of MAF sensor:

  1. Vane Air Flow sensor:

Popularly known as airflow meters, Van airflow sensors are found on engines with airflow EFI systems.

When air enters into the engine through a spring-loaded mechanical tab, its potentiometer instantly monitors the volume of the air.

  • Hot Wire MAF sensor:

Most of the vehicles use this type of MAF sensor. It typically consists of one hot wire and one temperature wire.

This type of mass airflow sensor uses a small electronic chip to translate the electric current into digital. The calculation is then transferred to the engine computer PMC to determine how much fuel is needed to be injected.

The purpose is to maintain a balance between air and fuel ratio.

  • Cold Wire MAF sensor:

This kind of MAF uses a thin metallic strip that vibrates when the air passes through. The frequency of vibration is then sent to ECM to determine the volume of airflow.

  • Karmen Votrex MAF sensor:

The basic function of this kind of MAF sensor remains the same but it uses a mirror and photo coupler that forms a vortex.

Indications of a bad mass airflow sensor:

Even the most expensive cars can have a faulty mass airflow sensor. A bad MAF sensor can harm your vehicle’s engine. Thus it is necessary to ensure that your car’s MAF sensor is working properly.

Following is described some common signs that indicate that your car is having a faulty or bad MAF sensor:

  • Engine stalling while accelerating: A faulty MAF sensor leads you to experience poor driving.  if your car’s engine stalls, jerks, or hesitates while accelerating, it means that you should check for its MAF sensor.
  • Too rich air-fuel ratio: if the tailpipe of your vehicle exhibits black smoke or your fuel efficiency decreases, it implies that you should check your vehicle’s MAF sensor. It usually happens when a MAF sensor gets damaged or dirty.
  • The engine starts taking hiccups: when it becomes hard to switch on the engine, and it faces seizures. it implies that the air-fuel ratio has become too lean, so get your MAF sensor checked from an expert.

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Cleaning a MAF sensor:

If you love your vehicle, you must take good care of it to run it smoothly and efficiently. To increase the longevity of your car’s engine, make sure that you clean your MAF sensor every 5-6 months.

It is highly advisable to clean this unit while oil changing or cleaning the air filter of your car.

In this way, you can save time and money.

Follow these simple steps to clean your car’s MAF sensor:

  • Firstly, open your car’s airbox where it is located. Now use a screwdriver to pluck it out. Make sure to keep wires intact as a bad mass airflow sensor stops electrocuting. Thus to avoid more expenses, deal the unit precisely.
  • Now you can use a MAF sensor cleaner to clean the dirt and grime over it. else on the cheapest option, you can clean it by rubbing alcohol all over it.
  • Once you are done with cleaning it, let it get dry. After it completely dries off, reinstall the unit to let it perform its function.

How to repair a bad or faulty MAF sensor:

usually, just by mere cleaning your MAF sensor starts working and all issues get resolved. But if you are still facing engine stalling and too rich or too low engine idling, you should consult your auto mechanic.

Maybe, your MAF sensor needs repairing or replacement. You can use a code reader to identify the performance rate of your MAF sensor.

Can you drive with a bad MAF sensor?

Yes, you can drive a bad MAF sensor for a while. If you really want to avoid expensive repair bills and do not want to corrupt the performance of your engine, it is highly suggested that get it repaired or replaced according to the needs of your engine.

How does a bad MAF harm your car?

When your car is running on a bad MAF sensor, it provides false information to your car’s engine computer.

This computer then delivers a guess or inaccurate amount of air to be entered into the engine.

Therefore, your car may keep on running but your engine’s performance gets poor in the long run.


I hope that by going through all the details, you have gathered an ample amount of knowledge amount a MAF sensor and its working.

The timely maintenance of this unit will save you both money and time.

After all, Loving your car means taking good care of it.

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