How to Reset a Mass Air Flow Sensor: 2 Easy-to-Do Methods

The mass airflow sensor is one of the most important sensors on your car. It tells the engine how much air to use as fuel, and if it isn’t working properly you can experience a number of problems including poor gas mileage, difficulty starting the engine, and noticing that your vehicle seems sluggish.

However, most of the time only by resetting the MAF sensor you can overcome the issues. But the question is – how to reset a mass air flow sensor?

You can reset the mass air flow sensor by Idling the engine. For that, you have to remove the sensor from the wiring harness and idle the car. You can also reset the sensor by disconnecting the negative cable of the batter. In this case, you have to keep the battery disconnected for t least 10 minutes. 

In this guide, we will show you How To Reset Mass Air Flow Sensor. So, keep reading. 

Table of Contents

How to Reset a Mass Air Flow Sensor

When to Reset Mass Air Flow Sensors?

You need to reset the mass air flow sensor in the following situations. 

  1. If you have replaced the MAF sensor recently, sometimes the sensor may not work properly. In this case, resetting the sensor helps. 
  2. If you have removed and cleaned the mass airflow sensor, you should reset it after reinstallation. 
  3. If your MAF sensor shows error codes in the dashboard, resetting the sensor sometimes helps get rid of them. Error codes can also indicate that the MAF sensors are faulty. So if you are getting this arrow code, you should test the MAF sensor first. 

You can test the mass airflow sensor either with a multimeter or without one. 

How To Test Mass Air Flow Sensor With The Multimeter?

To test a Mass Airflow Sensor with a multimeter you need

  • Multimeter (analog or digital)
  • 12V power supply source with clips for the multimeter probes.


To test your car’s Mass Airflow Sensor, follow these steps:

  1. Disconnect the battery’s negative terminal.
  2. Set your multimeter to Volts DC mode (V) and connect one probe to a metal ground point on your car and the other probe to the black wire on the Mass Airflow Sensor.
  3. Turn on the car’s ignition and wait for the engine to start. The multimeter should show a voltage reading.
  4. Disconnect and reconnect the black wire in reverse polarity (+ instead of -). The multimeter should show 0 volts.
  5. If the readings are as expected, the Mass Airflow Sensor is functioning properly. If not, there may be a problem with the electrical circuit or the sensor may need to be replaced.

How to test Mass Air Flow Sensor Without A Multimeter?

Testing the MAF sensor with a multimeter is much more reliable. But if you don’t have a multimeter, you can test the MAF sensor without a multimeter by visibly checking the sensor. 

Check both the sensor and wiring harness for visible damage like wear or tear. You can try slightly wiggling the wire to check if it is properly connected. 

If after testing you can detect the MAF sensor is faulty, you have to replace the whole thing. And if the MAF sensor is in good condition, resetting the sensor will be enough.

How to Reset A Mass Air Flow Sensor?

There are two methods to reset a mass airflow sensor, and the steps you’ll need to take will vary depending on your car. Here’s a general guide on how to do it.

Method 1: Idling The Engine

To reset the MAF sensor, idling the engine method is more recommended as it doesn’t require any complex tool as well as takes less time. Here are the things you are going to need to perform this method. 

Let’s start the process. 

Step 1: Preparing the Car

Turn off the car’s engine and let the engine cool down for at least 10 minutes.

Step 2: Locating the Sensor

First, locate the MAF sensor. It will be near the intake manifold or throttle body, and it will likely have a large electrical connector going to it. Here is the MAF sensor location in some car models. 

Car Model Location 
Ford F150 2004-2008Located on the side of the engine housing
14-19 Chevy SilveradoNear the engine bay
Nissan Sentrabetween the intake manifold and the engine’s air filter
BMW F30 F31 F34On the exit of the air filter box towards the intake hose.

Step 3: Removing the MAF Sensor

Remove the plug and wiring harness from the sensor and take out the sensor. You don’t need any tools for removing the harness. Just pull the connector out with your hand. 

At this step, check the sensor visibly as well. If it looks damaged, you should replace it. Otherwise, jump to the next step. 

Step 4: Cleaning the Connector

Spray a small amount of contact cleaner into the electrical connector. If you don’t have any contact cleaner on hand, using WD-40 or another similar product will work in a pinch. You only need a few sprays – too much and you’ll make things worse!

Step 5: Turning the Car Key “On”

Then turn your car’s key to the “on” position without starting the engine. Do not crank or start your car! Keep the car this way for 5-6 seconds. 

Step 6: Taking Note of the Codes

Look at the readout of your dash. There should be a set of numbers (or, on some cars, letters) next to the word “MAF.” Write these down.

Step 7: Turning the Car Key “Off”

Turn your key off and disconnect the MAF sensor’s electrical connector. Wait a few seconds before reconnecting it – this will give the contact cleaner time to do its job.

Step 8: Reconnecting the Connector

Reconnect the connector and start your car. The warning light should turn on again, but the numbers/letters next to it should be different from when you started! These are now your “reset” readings for that MAF sensor.

Method 2: Disconnecting The Battery

If you’re not feeling comfortable with the previous method, here is another way to reset the MAF Sensor. To perform this process, you will need just one tool. 

  • Adjustable wrench 

Now, let’s jump into the process. 

Step 1: Turn off the engine and let the engine cool down.

Step 2: Locate the MAF sensor and remove the wiring harnesses. 

Step 3: Locate the negative terminal of your car battery with an adjustable wrench, loosen the bolt, and take out the cable. 

Step 4: Leave the car this way for at least 10 minutes. Disconnecting the battery will reset the MAF sensor only when you wait for this time. 

Step 5: the MAF sensor should be reset by now. Reconnect the harness of the sensor and start the car. 

How Long Does It Take To Reset The Mass Air Flow Sensor?

If you are resetting the mass air flow sensor, it can take you around 30 minutes. And if you are resetting the sensor by disconnecting the battery, it will also take you 30-40 minutes. The time really depends on your expertise level and experience with car maintenance. 

Does a Mass Airflow Sensor Need to be Programmed After Replacement?

mass air flow sensor

No, not if the new one came from the manufacturer as an original equipment part. However, many mechanics will recommend that you get any used part replaced with a new one to avoid potential problems. If you have an aftermarket part, there may be programming required. Always consult your mechanic if you’re not sure.

How To Trick A Mass Air Flow Sensor? Perfectly Guide.


How to Test Mass Airflow Sensors with a Multimeter?

How to Reset a Mass Air Flow Sensor

To test a Mass Airflow Sensor, you need:

  • Multimeter (analog or digital)
  • 12V power supply source with clips for the multimeter probes.

The following steps show how to Test Mass Airflow Sensors with a Multimeter: – Disconnect your car’s battery negative terminal and make sure there is no power source connected to the car.

  • Put your multimeter in Volts DC mode (V) and connect one probe of the multimeter to a good ground point on your car like the metal frame or engine block, if you can’t find any suitable metal parts use a plastic cover for instance.
  • Connect the second probe of the multimeter to the black wire of the Mass Airflow Sensor.
  • Turn on your car’s ignition and wait for the engine to start, if you have a digital multimeter you will see a voltage reading on the screen, this is because the car is providing power to the Mass Airflow Sensor, if you have an analog multimeter you will see a needle that moves from 0 volts to a maximum voltage of your meter, this is because the car’s battery will provide power to the Mass Airflow Sensor via 12V.
  • When you see these results disconnect the black wire from the sensor and connect it again but in reverse polarity (+ instead -). If everything was done correctly, when you connect the wire again in reverse polarity you will see that power is no longer provided to the Mass Airflow Sensor.

If your results show a voltage reading when connected normally and 0 volts when connected in reverse, this means that your car’s Mass Airflow Sensor has problems related to its electrical circuit inside it or it needs replacing.

Most Common Cause of a P0101 “Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit/Performance Malfunction”

Can I Drive My Car Without A Maf Sensor?

Yes, you can drive your car without a MAF sensor. A MAF sensor is not required to run the engine, but it helps the engine run more efficiently.

Without a MAF sensor, the car may not run as smoothly and it could cause problems with the emissions system.

Some car owners like to trick the MAF sensor to increase the horsepower of the engine. But, it is not a good practice as it can lower the gas millage and other engine problems including acceleration problems. 

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