What Does A MAF Sensor Do? (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 3.4L V6 Buick Rendezvous, Oldsmobile Alero, Silhouette)

The mass airflow (MAF) sensor is an important component of the engine management system on your 3.4L V6 Buick (Oldsmobile).

In this article I'll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the MAF sensor.

I've also included the link to the tutorial that will explain how to test it using a multimeter.

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  1. 3.4L V6 Buick Rendezvous: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.
  2. 3.4L V6 Oldsmobile Alero: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.
  3. 3.4L V6 Oldsmobile Silhouette: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.

What Does A MAF Sensor Do?

In a nutshell, the mass airflow sensor is the sensor that the fuel injection computer uses to find out how much air the engine is breathing as it runs.

With the information that the mass airflow sensor provides, the fuel injection computer can now calculate the correct amount of fuel to inject into the cylinders.

What Happens When A MAF Sensor Goes Bad?

When a mass air flow sensor fails, it simply stops measuring the amount of air that the engine is breathing.

Without the information that the mass airflow sensor provides, the fuel injection computer has no way of calculating the amount of air entering the engine, as a result engine performance will suffer.

In the next section, I'll go into some of the specific symptoms you'll see when the MAF sensor fails.

What Problems Can A MAF Sensor Cause?

Since the mass airflow sensor is a critical component of the engine management system, when it fails you're going to notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Bad gas mileage.
  • Lack of power.
  • Black smoke coming out of a tailpipe.
  • Check engine light is illuminated by one or more MAF sensor trouble codes.
  • Rough idle.
  • The engine may start and immediately stall.
  • Extended engine cranking (the engine has to be cranked a long time for it to start).
  • The engine may not start.
  • One of the following MAF diagnostic trouble codes illuminating the check engine light:
    • P0101: MAF Sensor Performance Problem.
    • P0102: MAF Sensor Circuit Low Frequency Signal.
    • P0103: MAF Sensor Circuit High Frequency Signal.

How Can You Tell If A MAF Sensor Is Bad?

The best way to find out if the mass airflow sensor is bad or not, is to test it.

See the next section to find out more.

How Can I Find Out If The MAF Sensor Is Bad?

The MAF sensor is a very simple component, and testing it with a multimeter is one the easiest ways to find out if it's bad or not.

The MAF sensor diagnostic test involves the following:

  • Checking for MAF sensor trouble codes with a code reader or scan tool.
  • Making sure that the MAF sensor is receiving 12 Volts.
  • Making sure that the MAF sensor is receiving Ground.
  • Making sure that the sensor's MAF Hertz frequency signal increases/decreases as the engine is accelerated/decelerated.
    • To test the MAF sensor's Hertz frequency signal, you'll need to use a multimeter with Hertz frequency measurement capability.

If the MAF Hertz frequency signal does not increase/decrease as you accelerate/decelerate the engine, then you can conclude that your 3.4L Buick or Oldsmobile's MAF sensor is bad and needs to be replaced.

Testing the mass airflow sensor is something that you can do without having to take it to an automotive repair shop.

I've written a tutorial on how to test it with a multimeter, you can find that tutorial here: How To Test The MAF Sensor (3.4L V6 Buick, Oldsmobile).

Can I Drive My Car With A Bad MAF Sensor?

For the most part, a bad mass air flow sensor will make it impossible to drive the vehicle.

Even if it's possible to drive your car (with a bad mass air flow sensor), you should avoid doing so.

Where Can I Buy The MAF Sensor?

The following links will help you to comparison shop for a known automotive name-brand MAF sensor (no knock-offs) for your 3.4L V6 Buick or Oldsmobile vehicle:

More 3.4L V6 Buick, Oldsmobile Tutorials

You can find a complete list of 3.4L V6 Buick (Oldsmobile) tutorials in this index:

  1. GM 3.4L Index Of Articles.

Here's a small sample of the tutorials you'll find in the index:

  1. How To Test Engine Compression Test (3.4L V6 Buick, Oldsmobile).
  2. How To Test A Blown Head Gasket (3.4L V6 Buick, Oldsmobile).
  3. What Does The CKP Sensor Do? (3.4L V6 Buick, Oldsmobile).
  4. How To Test The Throttle Position Sensor (3.4L V6 Buick, Oldsmobile).
Thank You For Your Donation

If this info saved the day, buy me a beer!

If This Info Saved the Day, Buy Me a Beer!


Buick Vehicles:

  • Rendezvous 3.4L
    • 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

Oldsmobile Vehicles:

  • Alero 3.4L
    • 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Silhouette 3.4L
    • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004