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How to Clean a MAF With Alcohol

by Sarah Freeman

A vehicle's mass air flow (MAF) sensor is designed to measure the amount of air flowing into the engine's intake manifold. This information is then sent to the vehicle's engine management computer, which injects the proper amount of gasoline into the cylinders. Through daily driving, these sensitive MAF sensors get layered with dirt and oil. It's important to keep your MAF sensor clean so it operates properly. While there are alcohol-based cleaners available, you can save some money by cleaning the MAF sensor with isopropyl alcohol at home.

Locate the mass air flow sensor on your vehicle, which will be under the hood. Most cars' MAFs can be found behind the air filter on the air intake.

Remove the MAF sensor from the vehicle. Check the car's service manual for directions on how to remove the piece. Removing the MAF sensor will make it easier to work with and clean.

Pour isopropyl alcohol in a clean spray bottle.

Spray the alcohol liberally over the MAF sensor. Be sure to cover the MAF sensor's wires, intake and all its crevasses to thoroughly clean the part. Do not touch or scrub the MAF sensor's wires because they are very delicate and could break. The alcohol will remove all the impurities on its own.

Place the wet MAF sensor on a clean shop rag or paper towel. Put it in a location where it won't get damaged or knocked over. Let the MAF sensor dry for at least an hour, until the part is completely dry. Putting it back before it's completely dry could give false readings and damage your engine.

Place the MAF sensor back in the vehicle.

Tip

  • Clean the MAF sensor every six months, when you change your air filter.

Warnings

  • Only spray the alcohol on the MAF sensor in an open space that's well ventilated.
  • Keep the alcohol and spray away from open flames.

Items you will need

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

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