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All internal combustion engines need a precise combination of air and fuel to generate mechanical energy. The Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor controls the amount of air going into the diesel engine, so the injectors can deliver the right amount of fuel into the combustion chamber. It is positioned between the air filter and the engine’s intake manifold.
Air enters the engine through the mass air flow where it passes over the sensor, which monitors the temperature and volume of the oxygen. This information is sent to the engine control module, which then adjusts the amount of fuel being injected into the combustion chamber based on the signals it receives from the MAF sensor.
But the air entering your engine may not be clean, especially if your air filter isn’t doing its job. This can lead to the buildup of dirt and grime, which can disrupt the sensor’s ability to communicate with the engine control module. This can lead to a range of problems, including stalling, engine failure, poor fuel efficiency, and rough idling. The sensor tends to be especially problematic on the Ford Powerstroke 6.0 diesel engine. Learn about common 6.0 Powerstroke mass air flow sensor symptoms to fix the issue as soon as it appears. Driving with a faulty mass air flow sensor can be dangerous due to performance issues and frequent stalling. Use these tips to clean your MAF sensor to stay safe on the road.
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Take Out the Sensor
You can’t clean the mass air flow sensor without first removing it from the vehicle. Check your owner’s manual to locate the sensor in the air intake valve. Make sure your engine is off and cool before attempting to remove the part. Unplug it from the electrical input and loosen the clamps holding it in place. Slide it to the side until it comes loose without disrupting the intake channel.
Inspect It for Damage
Once the part is free, inspect it for wear and tear. You should be able to get rid of superficial stains on your own without calling a mechanic, but there’s nothing you can do to fix a broken sensor. If the part is damaged beyond repair, find the correct replacement based on your specific make and model. Shop for a new GM mass air flow sensor online to save money on repairs. There is no recommended maintenance interval for replacing the mass air flow sensor. Most are designed to last the entire lifespan of the vehicle, but excess heavy towing, lots of short trips and not cleaning your air filter can render your sensor unusable.
Clean the Sensor by Hand
If you decide the sensor is worth saving, you’ll need to use a special MAF cleaning solution to remove the dirt and grime. Wrap it in a clean microfiber towel and spray it with the cleaner. Let the solution stand for 15 minutes before you start scrubbing. Be sure to clean every part of the sensor, including the housing, terminals, and connectors.
If the live circuit is exposed, avoid getting the cleaner into the electrical housing. Don’t soak the part in the fluid to avoid damaging the wires. Once the sensor is clean and dry, put it back into place by reattaching the electrical inputs and resecuring the bolts holding it in place. Get in the habit of cleaning your sensor every few hundred miles and replace your air filter as needed to keep the sensor clean. Test the sensor to make sure it is working properly.
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If cleaning the sensor fails to resolve the issue, there may be trouble with your glow plugs, which heat the incoming air and fuel during the combustion process. Keep an eye on the temperature of your exhaust to see if the air is reaching the proper temperature using the exhaust system sensors, which monitor the amount of NOx in the exhaust gas. Make sure the sensors are accurate by testing them often and replace your exhaust system sensors as needed.
Your diesel engine needs a steady stream of clean oxygen to generate power. Use these MAF sensor cleaning tips to protect your vehicle from additional wear and tear. If the air going into the engine is dirty or fails to reach the proper temperature, the problem will only get worse.