Car Maintenance And Repairs

4 Common Intake Air Temperature Sensor Symptoms And What To Do?

Mike Cross
Updated Oct 18, 2020
Intake Air Temperature Sensor Symptoms

There you are, driving along without any problems at all. Maybe at a stop sign you notice that your engine seems off. It could be that one morning your car seems slow to start. Or it is having a rough time starting. What is going on?

Nothing scares car owners more than having potential engine troubles. However, it may not always be as dire as you imagine it to be. It is helpful to figure out exactly what the problem is and then you can know the best way to take care of the issue. One problem may be with your car’s intake air temperature sensor.

Let’s take a closer look at what the temperature sensor is and what its function is under the hood of your vehicle.

Intake Air Temperature Sensor Symptoms
Intake Air Temperature Sensor Symptoms

What is the intake air temperature sensor (IAT)?

The Intake Air Temperature sensor, or IAT, is responsible for monitoring the temperature of the air that is entering the car’s engine. The engine’s computer needs this information in order to gauge the air’s density. This information is needed so that it can have the right air/fuel mixture. It is important to remember that colder air is more dense than hot air, so cold air will require requires more fuel in order to be able to maintain the same air/fuel ratio. The computer is able to change the air/fuel ratio by changing the length of time of the injector pulses.

How does this sensor work?

The Intake Air Temperature sensor is usually mounted in the intake manifold. This placement allows the tip to be exposed to the air that is entering the engine. The air temperature sensor is a thermistor, which means its electrical resistance changes in response to changes in temperature.

So, what are some signs of a faulty Intake Air Temperature Sensor?

There can be several signs that your IAT sensor is having problems.

1. Check Engine Light

Anytime you see the check engine light goes on, you should get your car checked. Although there could be many reasons why this light comes on, it is important to figure out exactly why. A faulty intake air sensor could cause the light to go on. The best obd2 scanner will return code P2604, P0111 or P0112 if Intake Air Temperature Sensor is faulty.

2. Rough Idling

Anytime that you notice that the engine is stalling or has a rough idle, it could be a sign of a faulty sensor. In addition, if your car experiences engine stumbling or random power surges, that can also be a sign of sensor failure. It is important to understand that these issues will only get worse over time, so you need to get them checked right away.

3. Trouble starting your car

You should be concerned anytime you have trouble starting your car. There can also be other reasons, such as battery issues, but a poor intake air sensor can also cause you to have trouble starting up.

4. Some other signs of IAT sensor problems

  • Reduced fuel economy- one of the first signs you may notice
  • Black smoke from the engine
  • An overheating engine

How can you determine that the IAT sensor is faulty?

Since the above symptoms can also be signs of other mechanical issues, you need to figure out the exact cause.

If you are having trouble starting your car, you can begin by checking the battery and spark plugs first. It is easy to use a voltmeter to check the juice in your car’s battery. If the levels are fine, make sure that the terminals are clean and the spark plugs are all good, too.

Next, you can use a directional scanner if you have one. This is a handy tool that mechanics use in the shop, but there are smaller handheld ones for use at home. You will need to plug the scanner in, usually under the steering wheel, and download the app if needed. Once you turn the scanner on, it should be able to give you the diagnostic code for where there is a problem.

What is the next step?

Once you have determined that your problem is with a faulty IAT sensor, there a few things you can do.

1.Clean the sensor.

The first thing you can try is to clean the sensor. You can use either brake cleaner or electrical cleaner to very carefully clean the sensor. Make sure that everything is properly connected and there is no damage to the wires or sensor.

2.Install a new IAT sensor.

It is not difficult to install a new sensor if you are handy and have some tools at home.

  • Start by finding the IAT sensor, which can be found in the air intake boot, at the intake manifold or integrated with the MAF sensor
  • Disconnect the negative terminal of the battery
  • Inspect the IAT sensor and remove its electrical connector.
  • Remove the IAT sensor by either pulling it straight out or unscrewing it.
  • Install the new IAT sensor
  • Reconnect the electrical connector and the battery terminal.

You should be able to get the new parts at any auto parts store. If you are not comfortable doing this by yourself, make an appointment with your local mechanic. They will be happy to do this for you.

How much will it cost to be fixed?

It is not terribly expensive to replace the intake air sensor. The part should cost about $50.00 and the labor should cost about $50-$75.00.

Final Thoughts

It is easy to quickly panic and assume the worst when you suspect your car has engine trouble. Not all signs point to the demise of your car. It is crucial, though, that you find out what the issue is if your car is having trouble.

The Intake Air Temperature sensor is an important part of the engine. This little part is responsible for monitoring the air temperature coming into the engine, so that it can provide the engine with the right ratio of air and fuel. It is also a pretty easy problem to fix. If you think this could be the cause of rough idling or stalling, get it repaired right away so you can be back on the road in no time.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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