The MAP sensor is an essential part of the engine’s electronic regulatory system. Its primary function is to enable an optimal combustion cycle. It measures the air pressure inside the intake unit and sends the reading to the powertrain control module (PCM) to regulate the air/fuel mixture ratio.
Since it plays a critical role in the optimal engine operation, it should function correctly. If this sensor fails, it’ll send a false signal to the ECU, mixing an improper air-fuel ratio. This will affect the engine performance.
This article will discuss bad MAP sensors symptoms, common problems, MAP sensor tricks, and how to fix them. Grab a cup of coffee while you have a 5-minute read. Let’s start with how this component works for your better understanding.
How a MAP Sensor Works
A Manifold Absolute Pressure Sensor is an input car sensor that detects engine load and sends a signal proportional to the amount of air pressure inside the intake system. The engine control module receives this signal and uses it to enhance air/fuel mixture and alter explosion timing.
The engine works with a certain air-fuel ratio; if the air or fuel supply is abnormal, the engine will work harder and try to compensate. The engine computer will use more gas or air to meet the predesignated ratio. Whenever the engine computer gets a load signal from the MAP sensor, the engine will use more or less fuel.
In the same manner, the engine computer will delay explosion timing to prevent ignition, that’ll affect the engine performance. If the car computer changes conditions when the engine is running with the below-required load, more power is needed from the engine.
If the MAP detects what’s happening in the intake system, the powertrain control module will act accordingly and either increase or decrease the fuel used to enhance ignition timing.
Bad MAP Sensor Symptoms
MAP sensor problems affect fuel economy, vehicle tailpipe emission, overall gas control, and more. Here are common signs of a bad MAP sensor you should watch out for.
1. Poor Engine Power
A manifold air pressure sensor that reads low pressure on the intake system signals low engine load to the car computer. The computer then tries to compensate by reducing the fuel ratio entering the cylinders.
This will lead to an increase in fuel economy and poor engine power. Limiting the fuel ratio in the engine causes higher temperatures in the combustion chamber. This increases NOx (oxides of nitrogen) production in the engine unit.
2. High fuel consumption
A manifold air pressure sensor that reads high pressure on the intake system signals high engine power. This will cause the powertrain control module to send more fuel into the cylinders. Of course, you know what this means. It’ll cause high fuel consumption.
3. Failed emission inspection
A common MAP sensor symptom of diesel is a failed emission inspection. A lousy MAP will cause gasoline and diesel vehicles to fail emission tests. The tailpipe emission may show high levels of carbon monoxide, low CO2, high NOx production, or high levels of hydrocarbons.
4. Rich Air-fuel mixture
If a greater volume of gas is mixed with air, it is called a rich air-fuel mixture. It will cause fouled spark plugs, carbon deposits on the spark plug tip and thread, bad gas mileage, gasoline smell from the exhaust tailpipe, and it can clog the catalyst converter.
5. Lean Air-fuel mixture
If more air volume is mixed with fuel, it is referred to as a lean mixture. This will cause excess heat in the combustion chamber, which will lead to severe engine damage in no time.
Learner air mixture produces harmful emission effects to the atmosphere. It produces toxic emissions, such as nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO). A lean mixture can cause an engine knock. If this occurs, it can lead to catastrophic engine damage.
6. Engine Misfiring
You may wonder, “Can a bad MAP sensor cause a misfire?” If a vehicle does not meet the required air-fuel mixture ratio, it’ll affect the combustion process. If the combustion cycle is compromised, it may cause the engine to misfire.
7. Rough Idling
Improper air-fuel mixture ratio will starve the cylinders of gas or air. This will cause engine vibration, rough idling, and even random cylinder misfire.
8. Hard Starting
Conversely, an excessively rich or lean fuel mixture will cause a hard engine to start. If your vehicle will only start when you depress the gas pedal, inspect the manifold air pressure sensor. It’s likely the cause.
9. Engine stalling, hesitation, or stumbling
When you depress the accelerator pedal to speed up your baby ride or pull off from traffic, the engine may stall, stumble, hesitate, or bog.
These are MAP sensor symptoms on petrol and diesel engines. All these show an inadequate air/fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. It can also mean a sudden importation of air into the combustion chamber, and the engine finds it challenging to adjust to this sudden change.
10. Check Engine Light
If you have a car manufactured from 1996 upwards, it’ll register an error code once it detects issues with the MAP sensor. Common errors associated with the MAP sensor are that the vehicle may log diagnostic trouble codes P0106, P0107, P0133, or P0299 for cars equipped with a turbocharger/supercharger. Any of these error codes will trigger a check engine light.
Diagnose your vehicle at a repair shop and pull out the codes. You can also do this at home with an OBD11 scan tool. This will help you determine if the error results from a bad MAP sensor or other system malfunctions.
How Do You Test An MAP Sensor?
How to test a MAP sensor is a simple DIY skill every car owner should know. Let’s see how to carry out the test. The MAP sensor usually connects to the air intake.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to test a MAP sensor.
- Depending on your vehicle, disconnect all surrounding components around the MAP sensor to gain full access
- Disconnect the wiring harness on the MAP sensor
- Check if there’s any corroded connector pin
- Test the connectors with a multimeter or voltmeter
- Connect a lead to the ground and probe the external connector. It should give 5 volts.
- Test the outside terminal for 5 volts and confirm if the car computer is grounding correctly.
How To Fix MAP Sensor
Once you have confirmed that the MAP sensor is bad, fix it right away and enjoy optimum engine power output. When wondering how to fix a MAP sensor, the only option I’d recommend is to replace it.
MAP sensor replacement is a simple task anyone can do. It is as simple as replacing a car battery. Here are the steps to follow;
- Disconnect the negative battery terminal
- Locate the MAP sensor. It is on the intake manifold, either close or on the throttle body.
- Disconnect any component blocking access to the MAP sensor.
- Unplug the electrical wiring
- Unbolt the screws holding the sensor
- Install the new sensor via the reverse process.
Q: Can a bad MAP sensor cause limp mode?
The limp mode will limit your vehicle’s functionality. Assistive and frills functions will stop working, and your transmission will not shift to higher gears.
Q: Will a bad MAP sensor throw a code?
A failing MAP sensor will trigger an engine warning light and may throw a diagnostics trouble code. Note that a failing MAP sensor may not throw an error code until it’s completely damaged. A MAP can also fail by being contaminated, damaged, or clogged.
Q: Will a MAP sensor cause stalling?
A defective MAP sensor will send false information to the car computer to change the air-fuel mixture ratio. This will cause rough idling or a lack of engine power.
If the powertrain control module (PCM) permits an inadequate amount of fuel to enter the combustion chamber, there will be a lack of performance. This can also cause engine stalling and hesitation.
Q: Can you drive a car with a bad MAP sensor?
A bad MAP sensor will not only cause a lack of engine performance but its catalytic converter and engine components will wear out. If you want to enjoy a seamless driving experience, do not run with a bad MAP sensor. Avoid driving with a malfunctioning MAP sensor unless you have emergencies.
Q: Can a MAP sensor cause a no-start?
The vehicle engine control module gauges the atmospheric pressure before starting the engine. The car computer does this with the help of the MAP sensor.
A false reading from the MAP sensor can cause too low or too high fuel to enter the combustion chamber. Both conditions can cause hard starting. In rare cases, it can prevent the vehicle from starting.
Q: Do you have to disconnect the battery to change the MAP sensor?
You can change the MAP sensor without removing the battery terminal. However, it’s recommended to disconnect the battery before replacing the MAP sensor.
This will ensure the car and electrical components are not damaged when you remove the sensor. It will also prevent the car computer from resetting and logging fault codes.
Q: How much does a MAP sensor cost?
The average cost of a MAP sensor is between $90 to $120. This excludes the shipping fees and taxes. If you need your mechanic to replace it, budget around $20 to $50, making $110 to $170 for parts and labor charges.
Several bad MAP sensor symptoms show an engine malfunction. While some symptoms above are likened to your engine components malfunctions, if you detect two or more, inspect your MAP sensor.
Always watch out for these signs early enough to detect and fix the culprit to avoid dropping expensive repair bills on the table. If you suspect a lousy MAP sensor, inspect the sensor or contact an expert mechanic for professional inspection and fixes.