How Does the Mass Airflow Sensor Affect the Fuel Mixture?

The mass airflow (MAF) sensor keeps track of the air inflow from the outside. It reports the amount of air flowing into the engine to your vehicle’s main computer chip, the engine control unit (ECU). If the MAF sensor is malfunctioning, it may report incorrect numbers. Consequently, the ECU may make adjustments to the air and fuel in the combustion chamber that will create a lean or rich fuel mixture. Ideal Automotive lists the problems these fuel mixtures cause below.

Acceleration Trouble

A lean fuel mixture will make it difficult to get your car, truck, or C/SUV to accelerate. You may notice that you have problems starting from a stop or trying to pick up speed. Your engine will sputter and struggle to pick up speed. This is an indication that there is too much air in the combustion chamber.

Engine Hesitation/Surging

Too much air in the chamber can also cause your engine to hesitate at higher speeds. It will sputter and struggle to maintain the desired speed. If you have a rich fuel mixture in the chamber, your engine will surge and pick up speed sporadically. You will feel it bucking like a bronco as you drive along.

Black Exhaust Smoke

A rich fuel mixture can also cause black exhaust smoke to flow out of your tailpipe. This is an indication that the engine is burning too much fuel. In extremely severe cases, you may actually have sparks or flames coming out of the tailpipe. This is very dangerous and you shouldn’t drive your automobile.

Poor Fuel Economy

Either fuel mixture will cause your vehicle to lose its fuel economy. You will notice a significant reduction in the gas mileage that will leave you filling up more often. This can get frustrating, especially with gas prices what they are these days. A dirty MAF sensor can indirectly cause this problem.

Rough Engine Idle

Another problem the malfunctioning MAF sensor can cause is a rough engine idle. This will occur when you have a lean fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. In other words, there isn’t enough fuel in the chamber to keep the engine running smoothly. Consequently, your engine will hiccup while it idles.

Check Engine Warning

Finally, whether lean or rich, an imbalanced fuel mixture can cause the check engine light to turn on. This is because system sensors report a problem to the ECU. Because your fuel mixture doesn’t have a dashboard warning light of its own, the ECU will turn on the check engine light.

Ideal Automotive in Blaine, MN, would be happy to help, so call us today if your vehicle is experiencing any of the problems listed above.

Photo by Mariia Demchenko from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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