How to Clean a MAF Sensor

What You'll Need
Mass air flow
Isopropyl alcohol
30 minutes of your time
Ziplock baggie

The problem that a dirty Mass Air Flow or, MAF sensor can cause is not a major one, but it can be quite an inconvenience and cause you to have to spend more time and money than you planned on simple car maintenance. A dirty maf can cause an error that will in turn probably cause your car to fail state-required smog checks. How to tell if your maf is dirty? If you notice a decrease in power or if your car generally drives much less smoothly and gets less mpg than normal, then you should definitely take a look under the hood where you’ll be able to immediately see the build-up of dirt.

Step 1 - Locate the MAF 

The first thing to do is to open the hood and find the location of your MAF. It is most like in a black plastic box that’s beside the engine. You’ll find it attached to the air intake. The location is the same in most car makes and models.

Step 2 - Remove the MAF

Have a medium-sized plastic baggie handy and fill it with a whole container of Isopropyl alcohol. After you take the MAF out, put it in the baggie, soaking it in the alcohol.

Step 3 - Soak the MAF in Alcohol

Shake the plastic bag vigorously in order to allow the alcohol to get into all the areas of the MAF. After shaking it up for a few minutes, soak the MAF in the alcohol for twenty minutes to ensure that it is getting completely clean in all of the crevices and important parts.

Step 4 - Dry the MAF

After soaking, remove the MAF from the plastic bag and put it on a towel or cloth where it can sit and dry for about an hour. Don’t let it sit for less time than that, as it is extremely important the MAF is totally dry before it goes back into your car. It can potentially cause extreme harm to your engine if any of the alcohol or water were to somehow end up on your engine.

Step 5 - Replace the MAF

Once completely dry, put the MAF back into the car and ensure that everything is attached properly in the right location. You will notice the increased power and mileage improvement right away.

Tips and Precautions

You will save yourself about a hundred dollars by doing the cleaning of your MAF yourself, but there are some things that you should keep in mind to make sure that you do the job safely and in the most effective manner.

  • Be sure to carefully note how to assemble and attach the MAF before you take it apart.
  • Take your time with the project, most importantly allowing enough time for the MAF to dry.
  • Turn the MAF over midway into the drying time to be extra sure that you’re getting the entire component dry.