Car Cleaning And Detailing

How To Clean Mass Air Flow Sensor With Alcohol?

Mike Cross
Updated Jan 25, 2021

Your car has a lot of key sensors, and one of those is the mass airflow sensor. It measures how much air is coming into the engine. This information is used to regulate how much gas is in sent into the engine so you can have the proper air to gas ratio.

Since your mass airflow sensor is located under the hood, it can get dirty over time. If this happens, it will cause your car not to run right. Luckily for you, you can clean your mass airflow sensor a lot of times and not have to replace it.

In this article, we will look at the steps you need to take to clean your mass airflow sensor properly. Once you finish reading this article, you will be able to clean your mass airflow sensor safely, so it will start working properly again.

How To Clean Mass Air Flow Sensor With Alcohol?


The first thing you need to do before cleaning your sensor is to gather your supplies. Luckily for this project, you don’t need a whole lot of things. It is a relatively simple job if you follow all the steps.

The supplies you need are isopropyl alcohol, a clean spray bottle, a shop rag or paper towel, and possibly a tool to remove the sensor. It really is those few things, but it is important to make sure it is isopropyl alcohol you are using and not another type and also a clean squirt bottle.

This is because an old bottle could have impurities in it and you could end up adding dirt to the sensor when cleaning it. Also, you don’t want to use other types of alcohol to clean the sensor because it can damage it or not actually get the sensor clean from the grim, dirt, and build up that you are trying to get off.

isopropyl alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol

1. Finding the Sensor

After you have all the supplies together the next step is to locate the sensor. The sensor will be under the hood of your car, so you will need to pop the hood. You should be able to find the lever under the dash area to do this.

After popping the hood, you want to open it up and then make sure it will stay up with the stick or something else. You don’t want it to fall and smash your fingers.

After you got the hood open, the next thing to do is locate the mass air flow sensor. The sensor is normally located near the air filter. If you can not find the sensor you can look in your cars manual and it will tell you where it is.

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2. Removing the Sensor

Once the sensor is located, the next thing to do is remove it. This is because it will be a lot easier to clean if it is out of the car. The way to remove it is to normally just unplug the cords or connection and pull it out gently.

Some cars though you will need a special tool to remove it. If you can not get yours out with gentle force, then you should check your cars instruction book. It should tell you in there how to remove the sensor and if you need a tool or not.

3. Cleaning the Sensor

Now that you have the sensor out the next thing to do is to clean it. For cleaning it, it is really simple. Before using the alcohol though you need to make sure to cover all the cords or wires coming from the sensor.

This is because you don’t want them to get wet because if they do, it can short them out and damage the sensor. Once you have the wires covered, you can spray the sensor down with the alcohol using the bottle.

The reason you use the bottle is you do not want to touch the sensor with anything. This can also damage it and give it false readings. The alcohol will break down the grim on its own and does not need to be rubbed.

It is key to make sure to spray down all the sensor though and be sure to get the isopropyl alcohol into all the nooks and grannies on the sensor. You don’t want it to end up partially clean.

4. Let it Dry

Once you are sure, you have the sensor all spread down it is time to let it dry. This is where the paper towel or shop rag comes into play. You want just to let it air dry naturally.

Be sure to leave it in a place that it will not get knocked down and also in a place where it won’t have a chance to get a bunch of debris on it. A good tip you can use it to sit a plastic container over it while it drys, so it doesn’t get impurities on it after cleaning it.

You also want to make sure you give it plenty of time to dry. If you reconnect it while it is still wet, it can give false readings and cause harm to your engine. That is why it is a good idea to let it dry for at least an hour, but longer is always better so no harm will happen.

5. Reinstalling it

The last step to do is to reconnect the sensor. Once you have made sure your mass airflow sensor is completely dry, you can reconnect it. This is normally pretty easy because you already know where it goes and you just have to replug the wires.

If you had to use a special tool to disconnect your sensor, then you might have to use that tool to plug it back in. Also, sometimes getting it back in can be hard because you want to make sure you don’t pinch any wires.

Another method

These are the steps required to clean your mass airflow sensor, but there is also another method that I will touch on shortly. All the steps for it are the same, but one and that is the spraying step.

You still disconnect and remove the sensor, but instead of spraying it down you can fill a container with isopropyl alcohol and dip the sensor into that container and hold it there for a few moments.

The advantage to this second method is that you know all the sensor is getting covered with the cleaning supply, but the downside is that you have to be more careful not to get the wires wet.

One way you can do this second method is to hold the sensor by the wires and dip it in, but this can cause a lot of stress and wear on the wires.

That is why we prefer the first method better, but if you don’t have a spray bottle and don’t want to get one, you can use the dip method instead.


Now you know how to clean the mass air flow sensor in your car. You know how to find it and then remove it before cleaning it to make it easier and you know you can dip it in the isopropyl alcohol or spray it down.

Then all you do is let the sensor dry because the alcohol does the work, so you don’t have to scrub. You also know why it is so important to let it dry all the way first before reinstalling it.

Now the next time you are having mass airflow sensor issues you can try cleaning your old one first to get all the grim, dirt, and muck from the road off before spending the money to replace a sensor that wasn’t bad and could just be cleaned.

Cleaning your sensor at home isn’t hard and can save you a lot of money and prevent your engine from getting damaged, so next time your engine is acting up if you think it is the mass airflow sensor clean it as soon as you can.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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