A mass airflow sensor or MAF sensor is a critical component of your car’s electronic injection system. As the name suggests, it senses or measures the flow of air entering the engine for fuel combustion by the air-to-fuel ratio.
If this ratio is too rich, it means that there is more fuel and less air in the combustion cylinder, and if the sensor shows “running lean,” it shows that there is less fuel and more air in the engine. Either of these situations isn’t good from your car’s perspective.
Hence, it’s vital to ensure a balanced air-to-fuel ratio in your combustion cylinder. However, do you know that a car seems to run smoothly after unplugging its MAF sensor? Yes, it’s a fascinating fact; however, there is more to know in this regard for which this article will help you a lot. So, let’s continue.
Why would a car run better with the mass airflow sensor unplugged?
By now, you must have understood why a MAF sensor is just like any other crucial sensor in your car and its role.
Still, you might have heard of unplugging it once to let the car run smoothly. So, let’s first know why to unplug the MAF sensor. There are three common reasons behind this.
- To check whether the sensor is working alright,
- To check whether the computer is working fine, and
- To check whether other sensors are working fine in your car.
After unplugging the mass airflow sensor, if your car is running more smoothly, the computer is working fine, and so do the other sensors, you can assume an issue with your MAF sensor. In another scenario, if the car dies soon after removing the MAF sensor, there’s an issue with either the computer or other sensors.
Now, if the MAF sensor is out of shape with the other components working fine, your car will continue to run smoothly even without the MAF sensor. A faulty sensor will give inaccurate readings to the computer, affecting the air-to-fuel ratio and, consequently, the car’s performance.
However, if the MAF sensor is good and there is a fault with any other component, removing the former will again cause the car to die. Since this indicates, the car was too dependent on the MAF sensor.
In a nutshell, merely your MAF sensor isn’t responsible for your car’s smooth drive. Besides the MAF sensor, other components of the car are equally responsible.
What happens if you unplug the mass airflow sensor?
If the other components of your car continue to function fine and you’ve unplugged the MAF sensor, your car will continue to run smoothly. It is because upon doing so, your car’s ECU, i.e., electronic control unit, will shift to the limp mode.
Each car has tables programmed in its ECU to determine how much air is suitable for the subtle combustion of the fuel.
When there is no MAF sensor to regulate the airflow, your car’s computer will use these tables to know how much air to accept.
Thus, depending upon these tables, a certain amount of air will enter the combustion cylinder to facilitate the smooth driving of your car.
However, these tables are good for just the checking purpose and mustn’t be resorted to long. Read below to know why.
Is it OK to plug the MAF sensor?
As said above, a MAF sensor is a vital component of your car and is present to serve a useful purpose.
Unplugging it is merely a way to understand any issue with your car’s other components and sensors, as mentioned above. Thus, removing the sensor for a long time isn’t a wise thought.
You might think that if there are tables programmed in the computer to check the air-to-fuel ratio, what’s the need for a separate sensor for the same purpose? However, it’s not so.
The tables programmed in the computer are for the new engine.
As the engine will undergo wear and tear in the long run, its air requirements will vary and may not suffice against what’s recommended by the tables. It is where a functional MAF sensor comes into play.
The sensor will keep a check on the air requirements of the fuel depending upon its capacity.
It will likewise instruct the computer to allow a calculated amount of air into the combustion cylinder for better car performance and fuel economy.
Hence, if your car’s MAF sensor isn’t working fine and you’ve just unplugged it, get it cleaned, fixed, or replaced immediately instead of driving without for longer. Not doing so can even harm the engine as too much air is undesirable for an engine.
Out of all the sensors your car possesses, a MAF sensor is the most vital one.
It not only not takes care of the amount of air entering your electronic injection system but also helps you identify issues with the other components of your car.
However, there is a myth that unplugging it can make the car run more smoothly than before. But as it is said, this is just a myth and only feasible in the short run!
That is, if you’re experiencing any issue like your car running rough, backfiring, or improper fuel mixture, you can unplug the MAF sensor to identify the underlying problem.
During that time, the computer will shift to the tables programmed in the ECU for the airflow readings, and the car will continue to run finely. You can also do the same if your car is giving erratic or poor mileage, possibly if the fuel is burning abnormally.