Mass airflow sensor and throttle position sensor | Compare these sensors

The mass airflow sensor and throttle position sensor coordinate between each other in conjunction with the fuel system. Their functionality aims to power up the engine from ignition until acceleration.

If these two sensors are not fully operational, the vehicle will experience poor drivability, high amounts of emissions and poor fuel consumption.

Here’s the twist!

Some manufacturers will usually use only one of these sensors. Because air pressure can be regulated by the angle of the air throttle valve. Hence, the manufacturers will only use the TPS. The onboard computer is able to read how open or airtight the valve is.

We all agree that it is really alarming to see the check engine dashboard warning light showing up. But this is what to expect when there is a problem within the throttle body mass airflow [MAF] sensor and the throttle position sensor [TPS].

Don’t be alarmed!

Basically, the Vehicle’s onboard computer is telling you that something is wrong with either of the engine sensors. Not necessarily the MAF or TPS but it could be all the other essential car sensors.

Relax, I’ll explain!

The onboard computer program monitors every operation within the vehicle by relying on data coming from sensors. In today’s case, the computer uses data from these sensors to control the amount of fuel/air mixture.

This is essential during an engine start to ensure there is no engine misfire by balancing the fuel and air mixture. Afterwards, the accelerator pedal is engaged and the vehicle moves towards the desired direction.

MAF and TPS in fuel economy.

If your vehicle happens to incorporate these two sensors, then you’re in for a fuel economy treat.

The throttle position sensor’s location helps to regulate the throttle valve angle for air flow into the engine manifold. This capacity relies on data flowing between the accelerator and the mass airflow sensor.

When you press the accelerator pedal, there is a demand for more air flow into the engine manifold. Air flow whose function is more power production as the vehicle transitions from idling to acceleration.

The MAF senses this increase in air flow and transmits that data to the powertrain control module. Which interprets the data and feeds the same to the TPS for an adjustment of the throttle valve angle.

Load weight vs fuel economy.

Let’s keep going!

Air flows inside through the throttle valve as per the engine’s demands for power. We all know that there is a relationship between vehicle acceleration and its weight.

The relationship between load placed on the engine and it’s accelerating capacity is seen whereby the air/fuel mixture required to power the engine increases.

Now that’s where the MAF and TPS come in. The throttle position sensor [TPS] monitors the air throttle valve angle position to determine if it is closed, partly or wide open. Afterwards this data is relayed to the Powertrain Control Module [PCM].

Throttle position sensor [TPS]

This location of the throttle position sensor is on the butterfly shaft so that it can perform its function of monitoring engine air intake. There are advanced aftermarket versions of the TPS whose installation helps in improving this role. Further contributing towards power production and fuel economy.

Dive in!

The throttle body is meant to coordinate with the accelerator pedal. Data feedback in between these two relies on accelerator pedal sensors and the TPS. Alternatively, in automatic cars, there is the incorporation of a wide open throttle sensor [WOT].

The WOT sensor helps when it comes to the kick down function in automatic transmission. This function is possible because of the electric throttle control function.

Engine control units [ECU] will usually control the throttle valve by the feedback coming from the TPS.

Modern throttle position sensors [TPS].

Welcome to the age of technology!

Throttle position sensors have come a long way since their invention. Because the modern day sensors are non contact type because of the drive by wire system. It is one of the most computerized driving systems.

Modern day sensors include multiple functionality. Meaning that there is an inclusion of multiple sensors that work together to deliver ultimate functionality. For example, hall effect sensors, inductive sensors, magneto-resistive sensors and potentiometric sensors.

This modern technology throttle position sensors [TPS] are referred to as non contact type sensors.

Mass airflow sensors [MAF]

The MAF is an important part of the fuel injection system of the vehicle. In modern “drive by wire“ systems, you will find it’s location between the air filter and the intake manifold of the engine.

Further, its functionality includes the measure of the amount of air that’s flowing into the engine as well as the air flow rate. In other words, the air pressure in the intake manifold.

Modern mass airflow sensors.

These modern MAF sensors usually incorporate an Intake Air Temperature sensor [IAT]. In fact, in some circles, the MAF sensors that incorporate this intake air temperature sensor are called hot wire air flow sensors.

They incorporate a hot wire that heats up electrically after measuring the temperature of the air near the hot wire. The hot wire works using the vehicle’s electric system current.

How so?

Electric current is sent to the wire to keep it hot up to a desirable heat degree in accordance to the air flow into the engine manifold. For example, during idling, small amounts of air go into the engine. Hence the need for little electric current to keep the wire hot.

Alternatively, during intense acceleration, the amount of air going into the engine will increase. Hence, requiring a higher electric current flow towards the hot wire to heat it up.

Afterwards, a collection of the data involving the amount of electric current being sent to the hot wire takes place. An interpretation of the data by the powertrain control module PCM determines the amount of fuel necessary according to the engine’s power requirements.

This process helps to maintain a balance between the amount of fuel and air mixing in the combustion chamber.

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