How To Reset MAF Sensor: The Ultimate guide

by Author
How To Reset MAF Sensor

Mass airflow sensors ensure that our car engines operate with optimum fuel efficiency. Having a faulty MAF sensor can lead to high fuel costs. Defective MAFs can also cause accidents from irresponsive engines.

Mass airflow sensors are inexpensive and easy to maintain. With the help of this article, anyone can correctly reset them.

How To Reset MAF Sensors

There are two common ways of resetting a Mass Airflow Sensor. You can either achieve this by idling the engine or disconnecting the car power supply.

Resetting by idling the engine


Step 1  

Warm up the engine to its operating temperature and then switch it off. If you have been driving, you should switch the engine off and allow it to cool down.

Step 2

Unplug the sensor harness connector and remove the sensor. Thoroughly clean it using alcohol-based products to eliminate any dirt and oil.

Step 3

Turn on the ignition and let it run idle for 6 seconds before switching it off again.

Step 4 

Plug back the MAF sensor using the harness connector. Replace any defective or broken sensors with an original spare. 

Step 5

Start the engine and watch out for the DTC P0102 popup on the dashboard. Erase the DTC on the menu, then start the engine to reset Your MAF sensor. 

Resetting by cutting off the power supply

Alternatively, you can reset your car’s MAF sensor by disconnecting its power supply.


Step 1

Warm up the engine to its operating temperature and then switch it off. If you have been driving, you should switch the engine off and allow it to cool down.

Step 2

Unplug the sensor harness connector and remove the sensor. Thoroughly clean it using alcohol-based products to eliminate any dirt and oil. If the sensor is faulty, replace it with an original.

Step 3

Unplug the car battery from the ground cable and leave it that way for about 10 minutes. Cutting the car power supply will discharge any static charge built up.

Step 4

Plug back the power supply, connect the MAF sensor harness connector, and start the engine. This procedure will work well to reset MAF sensors for most car models. 

How Mass Airflow Sensors Work

The Mass Airflow sensor helps a car engine determine the fuel available for combustion.

It determines the mass of air flowing into an engine. The air flowing into the engine passes over a heated wire within the censor. Cold air cools the wire to a temperature below the set limit. 

More voltage is then channeled through the engine to restore the set temperature. The computer system then establishes a correlation between the amount of air flowing in the engine and the voltage required to maintain the temperature of the wire.

It then uses this relationship to determine the optimum fuel to spray to the mixture. This technology guarantees a perfect air-to-fuel mixture. The accuracy of this process enables engines to operate with high fuel efficiency.

When Should You Reset A MAF Sensor?

MAF sensors usually need to be replaced when they are faulty. Electrical problems with dependent components might cause defects. Poorly fitted air duct or circuit-related issues can also cause mass airflow sensors.

Dirt is the most common source of MAF-related problems. It causes the mass airflow sensors to malfunction by reducing the sensitivity of the wires in the sensor. 

The good news is that it’s also the most straightforward problem to address. Cleaning the sensor should solve the problem.

Determining whether the cause of your MAF sensor malfunction is dirt or a faulty sensor can be difficult. 

However, since cleaning is inexpensive, you should always use it as the first option. If cleaning doesn’t help, consider reaching out to a technician for diagnostics. 

 Replace any faulty sensors. Look out for broken sensor wires as these are the most common defects. 

However, you ought to buy your replacement from an original supplier. Acquiring a substandard product might end up causing additional problems.

Detecting A Faulty MAF

So how do you tell that your MAFs are not working correctly? Mass Airflow sensors don’t always show any diagnostics codes whenever they malfunction. 

And when they do, it’s not uncommon for them to show ambiguous codes that might lead to wrong diagnostics.

There is more than one indication of a malfunctioning MAF sensor. Some of these signs are circumstantial and might indicate other engine problems.

Check your engine lights

A malfunctioning MAF will always trigger the ‘check engine light like most engine problems. In most cases, the red light switches on and off after a while. 

Red engine light is not a clear-cut indication of a faulty MAF. If you, however, have reason to believe your sensor is the problem, you should consider cleaning it.

Hard start and engine stalling

Difficulties in starting the engine can also be a symptom of a faulty MAF. The computer system cannot accurately determine the fuel to inject without airflow details. When the injector sprays too little fuel, your engine will have a hard start.

Engine stalling can also be a sign of a defective MAF. Stalling usually happens right after the engine starts; it stalls for a while before functioning. Though not common, spark plug issues can cause engine stalling.

Rough idling and Jerking

A malfunctioning MAF sensor might fail to send airflow information or send inaccurate data to the car’s computer. 

This misinformation limits the computer from accurately controlling fuel. The result of this might be either none or rough engine idling.

Engine jerking is also another tell-tale sign of a faulty MAF. It commonly occurs when igniting the engine or during acceleration. 

The injector brings about jerking an inconsistent supply of fuel as the computer cannot accurately estimate the required spray.

Jerking and hiccups are some of the most distinct signs of faulty MAFs. If not addressed, they can cause accidents when the engine becomes irresponsive. 

Reduced fuel efficiency

Mass Airflow sensors help regulate the amount of fuel injected into the engine. Accurate air flow reading helps the computer system determine the optimum amount of fuel to be used.

When a MAF sensor malfunctions, the computer fails to estimate accurately how much fuel to spray, leading to wastage. 

The reduction in fuel efficiency depends on the severity of the issue. In some cases, your fueling costs might even double!

Can A Car Function Without A MAF Sensor?

A car can run without a Mass Airflow Sensor. However, the engine performance will not be desirable. Bypassing these sensors or using them while defective is strongly discouraged.

If the sensor is bypassed or fails, the computer system loses the ability to estimate the amount of fuel to be injected accurately. 

The computer then triggers a trouble code that will turn on the “Check engine light’ on the dashboard.

The ECM will then revert to a generic fuel map by relying on other sensors to estimate fuel requirements. 

However, the fuel sprayed by the ECM will be just a guess. This inaccurate estimate will most likely end up limiting the engine’s performance.

The generic fuel map wastes a lot of fuel and is terrible for the fuel economy. The ability of the ECM to compromise and work without the MAF was put in place to handle emergency breakdowns. It allows you to move your car back home or to the nearest repair shop.

Failed MAF sensors can also lead to other problems. The partially combusted fuel that makes it out of the engine might end up destroying the oxygen sensor in the exhaust. With continued use, soot and fuel might also clog the catalytic converter. 

Driving a car that doesn’t have a Mass Airflow Sensor is a bad idea.

How To Protect Your Mass Airflow Sensors

You can extend the life of your MAF sensor by regularly cleaning the sensing wires and replacing your air filter. 

If dirt gets heated on the sensing wires, it tends to get backed on them, significantly reducing the sensitivity of the wires. Use alcohol to clean the wires as it also removes oil.

Regularly cleaning your air filter will also increase the lifespan of your MAF sensor. It’s also good to replace the filters immediately after they become defective. 

However, you should never install K&N filters on a car with MAF sensors, as oil from the filter will coat the wires.


Even though a car might run with a defective mass airflow sensor, it may end up causing more problems as a result of operating in a lean condition.

Reduced fuel efficiency and increased risk of accidents are also issues associated with broken MAF sensors. Therefore, it is invaluable for you to know when to reset the sensor and how to do it. 

The upside of dealing with MAF sensors is that they don’t require expert knowledge to reset. We hope that this article helps your reset your first MAF sensor.

You may also like

Leave a Comment