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How Does the Mass Airflow Sensor Turn On the Check Engine Light?

The mass airflow (MAF) sensor doesn’t turn on the check engine light actually, but you may end up with a check engine warning if the MAF sensor is malfunctioning. This is because the faulty sensor indirectly creates problems in your vehicle’s combustion chamber and sensors will send error codes to the main computer chip. Primary Care Auto Repair advises that these error codes will trigger the computer chip to turn on the check engine light. Aside from a dashboard warning, let’s talk below about additional symptoms of a malfunctioning MAF sensor.

Acceleration Lag

The mass airflow sensor keeps track of the outside air that flows into the engine. The engine needs some of this air to help generate engine combustion. If the MAF sensor is bad, it might fail to report the incoming airflow to the main computer chip. Consequently, the chip may put too much air in the combustion to overcorrect a perceived problem. This excess air will cause your acceleration to lag.

Rough Engine Idle

The excess air will also cause the engine to idle roughly because it is being fuel-starved. If the combustion chamber is stuffed with air, there may not be enough fuel to sustain smooth engine performance. Consequently, you will feel your engine sputter when you are sitting at an idle. In severe cases, the engine may actually stall when you are sitting and idling.

Performance Issues

You might also notice engine performance issues indirectly caused by the faulty MAF sensor. The engine may sputter and struggle to maintain speeds if the combustion chamber is filled with air. In some cases, the main computer chip may overcorrect a perceived problem by adding too much fuel into the chamber. This will cause your engine to pick up speed in unexpected spurts.

Black Exhaust Smoke

Too much fuel can also cause black exhaust to flow out of your tailpipe. The engine cannot remove the excess fuel from the combustion chamber and send it back to the tank. Rather, it just burns away the excess fuel. This can cause the engine surges discussed above and black exhaust smoke.

Reduced Fuel Economy

Unfortunately, all of these things will affect your vehicle’s fuel economy. You will not get the gas mileage you normally get when the engine is struggling to perform or burning away excess fuel.

Primary Care Auto Repair is the best auto service shop in Warwick, RI, and you can call us today to schedule a service appointment for your vehicle if the MAF sensor is malfunctioning.

Photo by Mariia Demchenko from Getty Images via Canva Pro