What is air flow meter and how it works?

What is air flow meter ?

Air flow meter is a type of sensor that is designed for measuring the air that flows into the air intake of vehicles. The data or readings of this sensor aid the Engine Control Unit (ECU) is delivering the right combination of fuel and air to the engine. A faulty air flow meter can lead to power loss and rough idling problem. A classic instance of this type of meter is the one that is used in vehicles to gauge the amount of air entering its engine at any specific time. It is used for regulating the engine firing and to ensure smooth running of the car.

How Does an Air flow meter Work?

One can find air flow meters in varied settings, and these can include various features – based on the way these are meant to be used. The Hot wire and the Vane meter are two common air flow meter types that are used in automobiles. Find out how these work.

  1. Hot wire meter – These types of sensors function by heating up a thin wire that is directly hung inside an air intake system. The wire is cooled by the air that flows through it. The air also reduces its electrical resistance. The difference in resistance actually corresponds to an alteration in voltage signal that is transmitted back to the Engine Control Unit.
  2. Vane meter – This kind of sensor is mounted by direct projection of a spring-loaded paddle into the air intake of an engine. As compared to a hot wire sensor, the air that moves through the wire proportionally moves the paddle. Such a motion leads to variation in the voltage that is gauged and transmitted back to the Engine Control Unit.

Both kinds of air flow meters are electronic sensors of sensitive types. You have to use an electronic contact cleaner to clean these up once in a while, given that soiled air flow meters can reduce your gas mileage and consequently reduce your engine’s longevity.

How Do these Sensors Work Flawlessly?

Hot wire air flow meters come with an electrical element integrated in them, which can heat up as you kickstart your vehicle. In the course of time, the repeated cooling and heating slowly degrades the element. It may get dirty as well, due to the small dirt particles that stick to the hot element moving past the air filter. The air flow meter ultimately begins to provide the Engine Control Unit with improper readings.

In order to address this issue, most air flow meters today are linked to computer systems. Computers prove to be effectual in calculations and light up the indicator illuminants when needed. Once the flow gets lower or higher than normal, the systems flash the warning lights. The lights also get illuminate when the flow meter gets clogged or starts malfunctioning. In this way, a computer connection ensures smooth and effective functioning of air flow meter. Proper readings are sent to the ECU and operations can run in a smooth way.