Does it feel like your car is burning through a lot more fuel than it should these days? This can be caused by any number of things. From issues with your air intake system to problems with your spark plugs to something as simple as low air pressure in your tires, there are so many factors that can affect your car’s fuel economy. But oftentimes, it’s your car’s MAP sensor that’s to blame for poor fuel economy.
What is a MAP sensor? Well, it’s important for you to learn about what a MAP sensor is, what it does, and how you can tell if it’s gone bad so that you can look out for any signs of trouble with it. If you fail to get a MAP sensor fixed, it could lead to you paying an exorbitant amount of money for fuel in the coming months. It could also lead to further problems with your car down the line. Find out more about MAP sensors below.
What Is a MAP Sensor?
If you’re experiencing issues with your car’s MAP sensor at the moment, you’re going to need to do something about it sooner or later. But before you spring into action, you should make sure you know the answer to the question, “What is a MAP sensor?” It’ll help you get a better understanding of the importance of the MAP sensor when it comes to your car’s overall well-being.
A manifold absolute pressure sensor, better known as the MAP sensor, is found in most cars with fuel-injected engines. Its primary role is to keep your engine running smoothly by monitoring how much air is flowing into your engine at any given moment. Your MAP sensor is connected directly to your car’s engine control module, also known as the ECM, and it helps the ECM calculate how much fuel your engine needs based on the air density registered by the MAP sensor. Without a reliable MAP sensor, your ECM won’t be able to accurately determine how much fuel to send to your engine, which, as you might imagine, can cause all sorts of problems for you and your car.
How Does a MAP Sensor Work?
Now that you have a very general understanding of what a MAP sensor is, let’s spend a little while talking about how it works. This will further cement why you need to ensure your MAP sensor is in good working condition at all times. It’ll also start to help shed some light on what might happen if you drive around with a bad MAP sensor in your car.
When you’re driving your car down the road, there is a steady stream of air that is sent into your car’s engine. Your car needs a combination of air and fuel to power your engine. Your MAP sensor keeps an eye on how much air is making its way to your engine and stays in constant communication with your ECM to let it know how much air your engine is getting. From there, your ECM calculates the air density and adjusts the amount of fuel that your car is spraying into your engine’s combustion chamber.
It’s worth noting that there are some cars out there that have what’s called a mass air flow sensor, better known as an MAF sensor, in them instead of a MAP sensor. These sensors are similar to MAP sensors, but instead of measuring air density, they’re strictly used to measure air flow. You should keep this in mind in case you ever hear your mechanic say that you have a bad MAF sensor. You’ll essentially be dealing with the same problem as those who have a bad MAP sensor.
How Long Does a MAP Sensor Last?
Unlike a lot of the other parts in your car, you’re not going to have to worry about replacing your MAP sensor very often, if ever. Generally speaking, MAP sensors are designed to last for as long as you have your car. Most will eventually start to give out on you if you put more than 150,000 miles on your car. But you shouldn’t have to worry too much about one giving out on you before then.
What Happens When a MAP Sensor Goes Bad?
While MAP sensors do last a whole lot longer than most other car parts, there is going to come a time when they’ll go bad on car owners if they keep their vehicles long enough. And if your MAP sensor ever goes bad, it’s going to result in your engine either getting too much fuel or not enough fuel almost all the time. This can lead to performance problems with your car and force you to pay a small fortune in fuel costs.
When a MAP sensor goes bad, it’ll sometimes tell your ECM that your engine is getting more air than it actually is. This will result in your ECM sending more fuel to your engine than it needs, and it’ll bring down the fuel economy of your car in a major way. Your MAP sensor will also sometimes tell your ECM that your engine isn’t getting as much air as it is, which will result in your ECM holding back on how much fuel is sent in your engine’s direction. This will starve your engine of the fuel it needs and decrease the power that it’s able to produce.
Either way, this is not good. You’ll want to correct the issue immediately to stop it from wreaking havoc on your engine and your car as a whole. Until you fix the problem with your MAP sensor, your car’s fuel efficiency is going to be thrown all out of whack.
Can You Clean a MAP Sensor?
If you suspect that the MAP sensor in your car has gone bad, the first thing you should consider is trying to clean it. While there are many instances in which your MAP sensor will need to be replaced altogether (more on that in a moment!), there are also certain instances in which it’ll simply need to be cleaned. The average engine is filled with everything from dirt and dust to oil and grime, and all of these things can impact your MAP sensor in a negative way.
If you would like to try cleaning your car’s MAP sensor before replacing it, it’s easy enough to try and do it yourself. Here are the steps it will take to clean your MAP sensor:
- Locate your car’s MAP sensor and disconnect it. Make sure you’re wearing both rubber gloves and protective safety goggles when you do this.
- Clean the outside of your MAP sensor with a basic electronic parts cleaner and a rag.
- Spray a small amount of electronic parts cleaner into the sensor port of your MAP sensor, shake it a few times, and then allow it to air dry.
- See if there is any dirt built up in your MAP sensor’s vacuum hose or in the intake manifold port for your sensor. If there is, clean it out with the electronic parts cleaner.
- Reinstall your MAP sensor once everything is completely dry.
Once you’ve done this, start up your car and see whether or not this does the trick. You might be able to get away with not replacing your MAP sensor after giving it a good cleaning.
Signs a MAP Sensor Needs to Be Replaced
If you’re lucky, cleaning your MAP sensor will fix the issues you’ve been having with it and allow you to get back to driving your car without a care in the world. But there are many instances in which simply cleaning a MAP sensor won’t fix the problems you’re having with it. There are times when you’ll need to replace your MAP sensor right away rather than cleaning it.
You should strongly consider having MAP sensor replacement done soon if you spot any of these signs:
- Your car continues to burn through fuel at a rapid rate
- Your engine doesn’t seem to be producing enough power almost all the time
- Your car fails an emissions inspection and it’s not immediately clear why
- Your car experiences rough idling and/or your car’s engine misfires on a regular basis
- Your car only starts up when you push down on the gas pedal
You should also go ahead and have your car’s MAP sensor replaced if your check engine light comes on and it results in one of the following codes: P0068, P0069, P1106, P1107.
How Long Does It Take to Replace a MAP Sensor?
When you consider what an important role the MAP sensor plays in your car, you might be under the impression that replacing it with a new one would be a tall task. But it’s actually a lot simpler than you might think. Most mechanics can replace a bad MAP sensor with a new one in well under an hour, depending on what kind of car you have.
To do it, a mechanic will begin by locating the MAP sensor in your car, which is usually positioned either on the outside of your intake manifold or on your throttle body. They will then unscrew the MAP sensor, unplug it, and plug a new MAP sensor in before screwing the whole thing back in. It’s a relatively easy repair compared to many other auto repairs and shouldn’t take long for a mechanic to do.
How Much Does MAP Sensor Replacement Cost?
If you’re surprised to hear how easy it is to replace a MAP sensor, then you’ll really be surprised by the MAP sensor replacement cost. Based on the importance of the MAP sensor, you might think that it would be a part that would cost at least a few hundred dollars to replace. But this isn’t usually the case.
While the cost to replace a MAP sensor will vary from one auto repair shop to the next, you can have yours replaced for somewhere between $175 and $225 in most cases. A new MAP sensor will only run you about $100 to $125 or so, and the labor associated with replacing a MAP sensor will cost another $100. It could cost a little bit more than that if you have a car with a MAP sensor that’s in a place that’s hard to get to. But you shouldn’t have to pay much more than that to get your MAP sensor replaced.
Can You Drive With a Bad MAP Sensor?
Driving around with a bad MAP sensor in your car for a little while shouldn’t do too much damage to it. In a worst-case scenario, the only thing you’ll have to deal with in the short term is higher fuel costs. But if you continue to put off MAP sensor replacement for weeks or even months on end, you could find yourself with much bigger problems on your hands at some point down the line. In fact, driving around with a bad MAP sensor for an extended period of time could cause engine damage and force you to tackle expensive repairs.
This is why you shouldn’t put off doing MAP sensor replacement for any longer than you absolutely have to. When you consider how affordable it is to replace a MAP sensor, you should really try and get it done the second you notice you have a bad sensor on your hands. It’ll prevent you from having to worry about your bad MAP sensor doing additional damage to your vehicle.
Is It Always Worth Replacing a Bad MAP Sensor?
By now, you should know that it makes all the sense in the world to do MAP sensor replacement the second you see that your sensor has gone bad on you. There is no use in putting your car at risk by putting off MAP sensor replacement. But we should point out that there might be some instances in which you won’t want to pay to have your MAP sensor replaced, despite the low cost associated with doing it.
As we alluded to earlier, most of the people who are forced to replace a bad MAP sensor have a lot of miles on their cars. The MAP sensor in a car will usually stick around for about 150,000 miles before conking out. If your car has that many miles on it, your MAP sensor isn’t going to be the last thing to give out on you. There are likely a lot of other car parts that might be on their last legs. When this is the case, you may want to think about selling your car as is for cash rather than making a repair that might just be the first of many that need to be done.
If you would like to do this, Cash Cars Buyer can make you an offer on your car and give you cash for it, even if you’ve asked yourself, “What is a MAP sensor?”, and determined that you have a bad MAP sensor. We have no problem purchasing cars with bad MAP sensors as well as cars with other minor and major problems. And we’ll pay you top dollar for your car if you would like to part ways with it. Get in contact with us today to get a fair offer for your car and to make your MAP sensor problems a thing of the past.