Cleaning your mass air flow (MAF) sensor is an essential part of your car maintenance. It can help you recover some horsepower which is never a bad thing to have. Now, if you have access to a mass air flow sensor cleaner, then that’s the best bet for you to use.
But what to do when you don’t have access to it? Is there any mass air flow sensor cleaner alternative? The answer is yes. You can use the following items to clean your mass air flow sensor cleaner-
- Rubbing alcohol or Isopropyl alcohol
- Non-residue electronic cleaners
Want to find out the best ways to clean your mass air flow sensor? Then let’s get going with the alternatives.
Table of Contents
- 1 Can you use rubbing alcohol to clean a mass air flow sensor?
- 2 How to clean mass air flow sensor with alcohol
- 3 Steps of cleaning the mass air flow sensor using rubbing alcohol
- 4 Other mass air flow sensor cleaner alternatives
- 5 Wrap up
Can you use rubbing alcohol to clean a mass air flow sensor?
It’s common to ask if you can use rubbing alcohol to clean the mass air flow sensor. The answer is yes. Rubbing alcohol is a popular and very effective alternative to mass air flow sensor cleaners. The reason is that it can break down any stuff clogging the sensor.
It’s a better option than many other cleaners due to the non-harming aspect of it. It doesn’t negatively impact the sensor, which is a great advantage of using rubbing alcohol. At the same time, many other cleaners can somehow damage the mass air flow sensor.
In short, using rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol is the best alternative to using a legit mass air flow sensor cleaner.
Related: Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor Symptoms
How to clean mass air flow sensor with alcohol
When you want to use alcohol to clean your mass air flow sensor, not every alcohol is suitable. You have to make sure you are using isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol. Along with rubbing alcohol, you will need the following things to clean the sensor.
- Latex gloves
- Clean towels
- Spray bottle
Once you have got everything lined up, let’s get going with the process step by step. It’s pretty easy to follow along.
Steps of cleaning the mass air flow sensor using rubbing alcohol
- The first thing to remember is that you have to keep your engine turned off to do this. Never try to clean the MAF sensor while keeping the engine on. So, park your car and disconnect the negative part of the battery so you can avoid any shock.
- The next thing you have to do is find the MAF sensor of your car. Most of the time, it is placed under the hood behind your air filter. But if you can’t find it, you should refer back to your car manual to see where the mass air flow sensor is placed.
- Now, what you have to do is remove your mass air flow sensor from your car. To do that, you have to disconnect all the connections, including the air intake tubing, electric connections, and clamps. Then you can remove the sensor from the intake duct of your car.
- After removing your sensor, you will need to get to the cleaning part of it. First of all, get a plastic bag and pour some rubbing alcohol into it. Then, put the sensor inside the plastic bag and shake it properly to clean the sensor thoroughly with less effort.
While you do all that, make sure you are wearing the gloves. Otherwise, the alcohol may affect your hands.
You can also try using a spray bottle if you don’t want to do the plastic bag method. To use a spray bottle, you put the alcohol inside the spray bottle. Then you can spray the alcohol gently on the sensor to clean it.
When you opt for this method, you have to cover all the hot wires and plates not to damage them. Also, you have to make sure you’re not touching the wires because they can be very fragile to rough touch.
- All there is left to do is to dry the sensor. You have to give it an hour to dry or, if possible, give it a little more time. If you have used the plastic bag method, make sure to use a clean towel to dry up the excess alcohol on the sensor and leave it on the towel.
- When the sensor has completely dried, you can reinstall it in your car. Recheck if there is any wet part on the sensor because you don’t want it to be wet even a little. Otherwise, it may damage the engine somehow.
And there you go, it’s that easy to clean the MAF sensor using rubbing alcohol. It doesn’t need too much effort or product. You can do it using these steps.
Now, the question is, does it work like or better than a MAF sensor cleaner? The answer is no. even though you can use it to clean; you shouldn’t make this your primary cleaner. You can use rubbing alcohol if you don’t have access to a legit MAF cleaner.
Other mass air flow sensor cleaner alternatives
What do you do when you don’t have access to rubbing alcohol, either? What can you use? Well, some things can work out for you, but they aren’t your best bet.
The following cleaning items should be your last resort for cleaning the MAF sensor of your car-
Non-residue electronic cleaners
Electronic cleaners can also be a good option to go for cleaning your MAF sensors. But you have to make sure you are using a non-residue electronic cleaner. Because of that way, it has almost the same functionality and application as a MAF sensor cleaner.
The using method of electronic cleaners is pretty much the same as using the rubbing alcohol method. You do the similar things you learned above, but you are using electronic cleaners instead of alcohol.
Even though they are great for cleaning the sensors, you should still use MAF sensor cleaner if you have access. And go for these only when you can’t find any MAF sensor cleaner. One of the best options for you would be the CRC QD cleaner that dries up very quickly.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend doing this, but if you are out of all the options, you can try this out. And if you do, so you have to be very careful of some things.
While the WD-40 is capable of cleaning your MAF sensor, it tends to leave some deposits. The deposits usually have the solvents you find in a WD-40 so that they can leave a coating on the hot wires. Later on, this coating completely messes up the air flow of the sensor that will lead to misinformation.
So, it’s best not to use WD-40 but even if you do so, make sure to get rid of any deposit possible. Having even the slightest deposits can cause major issues for you.
Aside from these two cleaners, you can try different MAF cleaners rather than CRC ones. Here are some top MAF cleaner alternatives you can try out-
Gunk MAS6 MAF cleaner
Using this MAF cleaner can help you make your MAF sensor much better in performance. You can see an improvement in the fuel economy of your car. It has the active effect that can get rid of most dirt, flux, and grease from the sensors.
Johnsen’s MAF sensor cleaner
If you are concerned about the safety of using a MAF sensor cleaner, then you should go for this. It’s very safe to use and has an effective impact on the sensor after cleaning as well. You can see a significant change in the performance of your engine once you use this cleaner.
Archoil MAF sensor cleaner
The best part about this sensor cleaner is its rapid working power. You don’t need to wait for too long to see the effects of this cleaner. It gets the job done within moments and has a great effect. However, it’s a bit pricey for all these reasons.
These are some alternatives to the traditional CRC MAF cleaners, which are the most popular ones. So, if you don’t have access to that, you can try these out as they are still a good option to go for.
All in all, mass air flow sensor cleaner alternatives are there for you, but they aren’t the best choice. The first thing to do is, look for a MAF sensor around you. If you can’t find it anywhere, you should opt for the alternatives.
Now, when you go for the alternatives, make sure to go through them by sequence. As an alternative, isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol works the best in most scenarios. And they are pretty easily available as well.
If you can’t seem to find any, then you should opt for non-residue quick-drying electronic cleaners. They can also seal the deal for you. But I highly recommend not using anything other than these two, especially not a brake or a carb cleaner.
James is a certified auto technician specializing in commercial vehicles. With 30 years of experience under his belt, James has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is! Besides his day job at the repair shop, he is also an amateur race car driver.