Guide to the best mass airflow sensor cleaners

In the world of car maintenance, the biggest mechanical failures are caused by small and silly issues such as the accumulation of dirt on sensitive electrical components.

One such issue is the common problem of dirty MAF sensors. This tiny electrical part located on your intake is responsible for measuring the volume and density of air entering the engine.

Your ECU uses the information collected from the MAF sensor and O2 sensor to determine how much fuel to inject into the engine cylinder.

When the MAF sensor gets dirty, it reports incorrect readings to the ECU which messes up the air-fuel mixture and ignition time.

This problem can be easily avoided and solved by using mass air flow sensor cleaners.

In this article, we’ll explore the symptoms of a dirty MAF sensor, the importance of keeping it clean, and we’ll conclude with a list of the best MAF cleaners on the market.

Symptoms of a Dirty MAF Sensor

No amount of preventative maintenance can keep your MAF sensor from getting dirty because it’s located early on in the air flow path. The only thing you can do is clean it periodically to ensure that it functions properly at all times.

Mass air flow sensor housing

MAF sensors are of two types — vane meter and hot wire. Both these involve the use of extremely delicate sensors called “hot wires” which measure the conductivity of air entering the engine.

Hot wires are notorious for accumulating debris, air filter fibers, dust, oil, and pollen. When they get dirty, they provide inaccurate readings to the ECU.

This confuses the ECU and negatively affects the air-fuel ratio — something very important for the proper functioning of your engine.

Symptoms of a dirty MAF sensor include:

  • Hesitation
  • Erratic idle
  • Stalling
  • Loss of power
  • Bad fuel economy
  • Bad start
  • CEL (P0100-P0105)

Why Use MAF Sensor Cleaners (and Nothing Else)

Using throttle body cleaner, carburetor cleaner, engine degreaser, or brake cleaner to clean mass air flow sensors is not recommended.

These cleaning sprays are designed for heavy-duty applications and can easily damage delicate plastic components.

Mass air flow sensor hot wires

Considering how MAF sensors are typically housed in a plastic shell, this can be problematic. If the plastic degrades or warps, the hot wire can malfunction.

Mass air flow sensors dry really quickly and leave no residue at all. These qualities are needed when cleaning ultra-sensitive electrical components.

How to Use Mass Air Flow Sensor Spray

You don’t need any tools or technical skills to clean your MAF sensor. All you need is the right cleaner.

Spray-cleaning an MAF sensor

Here are the steps involved:

  • Ensure the engine is not running.
  • Wear eye and hand protection.
  • Locate and expose the MAF sensor.
  • Remove the sensor for proper cleaning (optional).
  • Insert the straw into the bottle nozzle before use.
  • Place a towel under the sensor to catch the run-off.
  • Spray 10 to 15 short bursts directly onto the hot wires.
  • Don’t let the straw or anything else come in contact with the hot wires.
  • Keep the end of the straw 5 inches away from the sensor.
  • Spray all sides and clean all wires and connectors.
  • Reassemble the MAF sensor and allow it to dry before turning the car on.

Best Mass Air flow Sensor Cleaners

Now that you know when and how to use mass air flow sensor cleaners, let’s get into the list you’re here for.

Below we’ve listed some of the best MAF sensor cleaners on the market. We’ll conclude with our top 2 recommendations.

Gunk

Manufacturer: Gunk
Part Number: MAS6-12PK
Quantity: 6 oz
Buy On: Amazon

Gunk has been a household name in the automotive cleaning products business for 75 years. People trust the brand for a reason — they really know what your car needs.

Their MAF sensor cleaners contain quality ingredients that will clean the hot wires effectively, without causing any damage to the plastic housing. It dries out almost instantly after spraying.

If you want a trusted and affordable cleaner that does the job perfectly, this is the best option for you.

WD-40 Specialist Contact Cleaner

Manufacturer: WD-40
Part Number: 300554
Quantity: 11 oz
Buy On: Amazon

Though not explicitly advertised as a MAF sensor cleaner spray, the Specialist Contact Cleaner by WD-40 is a great choice for cleaning your MAF sensor.

The Specialist Contact cleaner is specially designed for cleaning delicate electrical components. It’s also safe for plastics as it leaves no residue.

It’s cheaper in comparison with other MAF sensor cleaners on this list and right up there in terms of quality.

Johnsen’s 4721

Manufacture: Johnsen’s
Part Number: 4721
Quantity: 10 oz
Buy On: Amazon

Johnsen’s is one of the promising options. It’s cheap, it’s water-based, dries quickly, and works wonders when it comes to efficiently removing dirt and debris.

Ensure that you use gloves, a mask, and eye protection when using this cleaner though, owing to its toxic chemicals

CRC 05110

Manufacturer: CRC
Part Number: 05110
Quantity: 11 oz
Buy On: Amazon

CRC makes some of the highest-selling automotive cleaning products on the market. There’s a reason why they’re almost always sold out.

Their MAF sensor cleaner is advertised to evaporate in seconds and it does exactly that. If you want a tried and tested product that simply works, this is the one to get.

CRC 05610

Manufacturer: CRC
Part Number: 05610
Quantity: 4.5 oz
Buy On: Amazon

Just like the CRC cleaner listed above, this one performs equally well, if not better. Interestingly, this is the first-ever MAF cleaner manufactured by CRC.

CRC 05610 efficiently clears the dust and debris off your MAF sensor to ensure smooth acceleration, no stalling, and consistent idle.

The cleaning ingredients of this product are safe for electronic and plastic parts. So there’s no need to worry about damaging any components.

Penray 2520

Penray MAF sensor cleaner

Manufacturer: Penray
Part Number: 2520
Quantity: 12.5 oz
Buy On: Amazon

The Penray 2520 MAF cleaner spray has a USP — its small size makes it super-easy to use especially if your MAF sensor is hard to reach.

However, the only problem with this spray is that it doesn’t dry out quickly as we would have liked. Take utmost care and ensure that none of the liquid comes in contact with your hands, eyes, or face.

Berryman 2211

Manufacturer: Berryman Products
Part Number: 2211
Quantity: 11 oz
Buy on: Amazon

Berryman 2211 is a fast-drying MAF sensor cleaner designed to protect sensitive plastic housings and platinum sensors. It is developed exclusively for electrical components so it can double up as a contact cleaner.

Now optimize your fuel-air ratio with great ease and ensure quick throttle response, along with reduced sluggishness.

The MAF sensor cleaners we have listed here are carefully chosen and undeniably the best on the market. When combined with a quality turbo cleaner on forced induction cars, they’ll have your car putting out more power while using less fuel before you know it.

Although, if your car is equipped with a Karman Vortex air flow sensor, it is recommended that you avoid using a mass air flow sensor cleaner entirely. Many Lexus, Mitsubishi, and Toyota cars are equipped with these.

Karman Vortex mass air flow sensor
The variable resistor-equipped Karman Vortex MAF sensors are not designed to be cleaned.

Best Overall: CRC 05110

Being sold out most of the time only shows the CRC MAF cleaner’s good reputation among car owners.

It’s competitively priced compared to other high-end brands of the same quality — something to consider if you’re buying in bulk.

Cheapest MAF Cleaner Spray: Johnsen’s 4721

You don’t need to spend much to buy a great mass air flow sensor cleaner. Johnsen’s MAF cleaner spray is cheap and reliable.

Have you cleaned your MAF sensor before? Did you notice a difference in drivability? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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