The best way to describe what a mass air flow sensor is and what it does is to compare it to the ticket taker at the race track. Okay, that may be a little bit of stretch, but think about it. He’s the first guy that knows how many people have come to see the race. The mass airflow sensor, or MAF sensor, is the first device that knows how much air your engine is pulling in. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the vehicle manufacturer.
The MAF sensor contains a sensing element that is either a “hot wire” or a “vane meter” to measure the volume of air entering your engine. It then relays that information, in the form of voltage, to your vehicle’s ECU (electronic control unit, or “brain”) and the computer then compares what’s coming in to the engine to what the O2 sensor is telling it is going out the exhaust. The ECU then uses that information, and the information from a few other sensors, to make precise adjustments to the fuel delivery and ignition timing to insure that your engine is running at peak efficiency.
Now, let’s say you want to improve the performance of your vehicle. The first thing you might do is install a cold air intake. Good idea. The problem is that now you’re delivering more air volume to that restrictive factory air flow sensor. Bad idea. It’s not going to hurt anything to install a cold air intake without changing the MAF sensor. However, the stock air sensor is actually a restrictive point in the combustion process. The stock MAF sensor isn’t calibrated for the higher volume of air that a cold air intake can send to the engine. It will limit the full potential of what your cold air intake can do for you. Fortunately the solution is easy; you also need to install an upgraded mass air sensor. These are ideal (but usually overlooked) improvements car and truck enthusiasts can, and should make! They are the perfect addition to computer tuners and upgrades, free flow cat-back exhaust systems, throttle body spacers and other airflow related performance improvements.
Performance MAF sensors are available for just about any fuel injected vehicle on the market and they are easy to install. Even if you don’t know a frammas valve from a muffler link you should be able to change out your MAF sensor in about ten minutes with just a few basic hand tools that you probably already have laying around under all that stuff on your workbench, typically just one screwdriver or socket!
So okay, what will installing this new mass air flow sensor do for you? How about improved performance, more torque, crisper throttle response, and better fuel mileage? The 2010 F-150 with 5.4L V-8 that we have here at Chux Trux showed an increase of 2 mpg overall and a whopping 4 mpg on the highway after installing a performance MAF sensor. (Your mileage may vary, as they say)
The “Power-Flo” mass air sensor made by Jet Performance Products and sold by Chux Trux, for example, has been tested on a specially designed flow bench to deliver up to 45% better air flow than a stock sensor. This increase comes from more accurate readings of intake air flow and a smoother design that minimizes restrictions. A new “Power-Flo” mass air sensor is also compatible with any other modifications you may want to make to your engine. Things such as the cold air intake we talked about already, and also computer upgrades, throttle body spacers, and free flow performance exhaust systems. You will get much better results from any or all of these modifications with the addition of an upgraded MAF sensor.
Now you know what a mass air flow sensor is and what an upgraded one can do for your vehicle’s performance, what’s next? You can call or email Chux Trux anytime to get more information about MAF sensors, including pricing and which one would be the best fit for your vehicle. Or you can stop by any of the three Chux Trux stores in the Kansas City area, talk to one of our experts and see for yourself what a new MAF sensor can do for your car or truck.