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How Can a Dirty MAF Sensor Make it Hard to Start My Car?

Rick’s Auto Center explains that a dirty mass airflow sensor can make it difficult to start your automobile because there will be an imbalance of air and fuel in the combustion chamber. The MAF sensor detects the air flowing through the engine and reports it to the main computer chip or ECU. If the MAF sensor gets dirty, it may report incorrect air inflow and, consequently, the ECU may make an adjustment in the chamber that seriously starves your vehicle or floods the engine of fuel.

Acceleration Lag

The ECU may also mess around with the air that is in the combustion chamber. When this happens, it can cause the acceleration to lag because the engine has more air than fuel. This can be frustrating when you’re trying to pick up speed.

Rough Idling

Another thing that might happen is that your idling may become rough. This is also a sign that the ECU has added air to the chamber due to a misreading from the MAF sensor. In other words, the chamber didn’t need the extra air and now the engine is fuel-starved.

Poor Performance

This fuel-starved condition will also affect your engine’s performance. It will hiccup and sputter while you are driving. As we mentioned above, the ECU may also flood the engine. When this happens, your engine will surge unexpectedly as the excess fuel burns in the chamber.

Poor Fuel Economy

Of course, all of these things are going to reduce the gas mileage your vehicle gets. There is no way around this. The engine is running inefficiently so your fuel economy will be inefficient. Cleaning the MAF sensor will help restore the engine performance and gas mileage.

Black Exhaust Smoke

You may also notice that your tailpipe has turned into a smokestack that releases black exhaust. This, too, is a sign that the engine is being flooded with fuel. It cannot send the fuel back to the tank, so it burns the excess fuel away. This can create black exhaust smoke.

Illuminated CEL

Finally, the ECU may opt to turn on the check engine light because the engine is having problems with its performance. Anytime the engine struggles to run, system sensors report error codes. This will cause the ECU to take action and turn on the CEL.

Rick’s Auto Center in Hamden, CT, is here to help, so give us a call today. We can test the MAF sensor and clean it or replace it if necessary.