Why Would a Car Run Better with the Mass Air Flow Sensor Unplugged

The mass air flow sensor helps to measure the air going in through the air filter. Without the airflow sensor, there will be a problem in the air-fuel ratio, resulting in low fuel economy and other problems with the engine.

The mass airflow sensor can be unplugged for various reasons, it is mostly done when you want to know the cause of a problem or for maintenance purposes. So, why would a car run better with the mass air flow sensor unplugged?

A car can run better with the mass airflow sensor unplugged if the sensor has been giving inaccurate readings, the car is able to run better because it now uses the computer table programmed. The sensor needs to be cleaned or replaced to give an accurate reading that will enable the car to run better.

Why Would a Car Run Better with the Mass Air Flow Sensor Unplugged?

On some occasions, you may have noticed that your car runs better after unplugging the mass airflow sensor. This is quite common and nothing to worry about.

A car may run better after unplugging the mass airflow sensor if it is faulty. A faulty mass air flow sensor will give incorrect readings to the computer.

Incorrect readings by the mass airflow sensor mean the ratio of air-fuel will be affected, which in turn affects the engine’s performance. So, the best thing to do is to either clean or replace the mass airflow sensor.

The computer has a backup plan in case something goes wrong with the sensor, this is in the form of a table programmed in it.

When the faulty sensor is unplugged the computer relies on the table programmed in it for readings but this is provided the problem is not from the computer.

What are the Functions of the Mass Air Flow Sensor?

As part of the key components of an engine, the mass airflow sensor is responsible for some activities in the engine that ensures its optimal performance.

  • It controls combustion efficiency. It helps to determine the level of cooling required at a particular time depending on the vehicle’s location and the oxygen available there.
  • If the vehicle is at a location where there is less oxygen, the sensor detects and passes this information to the engine’s computer. This helps to determine the air-fuel ratio required under various circumstances.
  • It also measures and calculates the amount of air that enters the engine. The sensor measures the air that will be injected into the engine at the time.

Can you Drive a Car with the Mass Air Flow Sensor Unplugged?

Yes, you can drive a car with the mass air flow sensor unplugged. Though this is possible, it is totally unsafe to do so. A car isn’t designed to run without an airflow sensor, therefore doing so may put you at some disadvantage.

  • Driving a car without the mass airflow sensor will lead to low fuel economy, the car consumes more fuel for shorter distances than usual. This is because the engine is exacting itself without accurate information.
  • On rare occasions, driving while the sensor is unplugged will result in the engine jerking. This is a result of the ECU not knowing when the car needs to slow down or increase speed.
  • The engine becomes less powerful because there is no accurate information about the air entering it.
  • Driving around with an unplugged sensor for a long period could cause permanent damage to the engine. Therefore, you may want to reconsider driving a car with an airflow sensor unplugged.

Why Would You Unplug the Mass Air Flow Sensor?

There are many reasons why the mass airflow of a car will be removed, whether for a short or long period.

One of the many reasons to remove an airflow sensor is to check its working condition. As part of a car maintenance process, the airflow sensor can be unplugged in order to know if it is still in good working condition.

Checking the sensor may be a normal procedure for some people while for others it is because some signs have been noticed in the car.

Secondly, it could be to make sure the engine computer is working very well. The mass airflow sensor works in connection with the car engine’s computer, if the computer works fine after removing the sensor that’s a pointer to a problem with the sensor, but if it dies, the problem is with the computer.

It can also be removed in order to check if the other sensors in the engine are working perfectly. If after unplugging the airflow sensor the car dies, then there’s probably a problem with one of the other sensors.

With all the aforementioned, you can see that unplugging the airflow sensor is important when troubleshooting.

Is there any Danger in Unplugging the Mass Air Flow Sensor?

Unplugging a mass airflow sensor isn’t without its own danger. The dangers depend on whether you are driving a car with no airflow sensor or not. Below are some of the likely dangers:

The Car may Stop Running

If you decide to unplug the airflow sensor while in transit, you may have to deal with your car not starting up afterward. For some cars, if the sensor is not working, managing ignition timing may be hard, therefore it would rather not run.

The Possibility of Misfiring

If the engine is working based on the computer’s table programming, there’s a possibility of misfiring. Misfiring occurs when one of the cylinders does not produce power.

A wrong reading from the computer will affect the fuel-to-air ratio, this incorrect reading may cause one or more cylinders not to produce power.


It is important to note that the mass airflow sensor measures the true mass of air entering the engine and not the volume. It is usually unplugged while troubleshooting the cause of a problem in the car, if the problem is related to the sensor, it should be fixed in time. The car shouldn’t be driven around for long without the sensor.