P0103 - OBD-II Trouble Code

Auto Systems and Repair

Mass or Volume Air Flow Circuit High Input

Our emissions expert has put together the following information about the P0103 fault code. We have also included diagnostic procedures you can take to your repair shop if the mechanic is having difficulty analyzing the code.

OBD II Fault Code

  • OBD II P0103

Fault Code Definition

  • Mass or Volume Air Flow Circuit High Input

What does this mean?

The Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF) measures the amount of air entering the engine and the Engine Control Module (ECM) uses the information to determine the proper amount of fuel quantity and ignition timing.

Code P0103 is set when the Powertrain Control Module detects a high voltage output from the MAF Sensor.

Symptoms

  • Check Engine Light will illuminate
  • In many cases, no abnormal symptoms may be noticed
  • In some cases, the vehicle may get poor fuel mileage

Common Problems That Trigger the P0103 Code

  • The MAF Sensor is unplugged or the wiring is damaged
  • Loose or corroded electrical terminals in the MAF Sensor circuit
  • Faulty MAF Sensor

Common Misdiagnoses

  • MAF Sensor Replaced when the wiring is bad
  • Connector for the Mass Air Meter is defective

Polluting Gases Expelled

  • HCs (Hydrocarbons): Unburned droplets of raw fuel that smell, affect breathing, and contribute to smog
  • CO (Carbon Monoxide): Partially burned fuel that is an odorless and deadly poisonous gas
  • NOX (Oxides of Nitrogen): One of the two ingredients that, when exposed to sunlight, cause smog

P0103 Diagnostic Theory for Shops and Technicians
When diagnosing a P0103 code, it is important to record the freeze frame information and then to duplicate the code setting conditions with a test drive. Pay close attention to the engine load, throttle position, RPM, and road speed. Compare these values to the Mass Air Flow grams per second PID. If the grams per second varies a lot or moves in opposite directions to RPM and throttle position, then you may have verified the P0103 code setting condition.

There is a very effective "truth test" for any Mass Air Flow Sensor. Start the engine, let it idle, and then check the Barometric Pressure reading on the scan tool data. Say the reading is 26.5 Hg and you are close to sea level, you know that you have a defective Air Flow Meter because it is telling you that you are at about 4500 feet above sea level. (These conversion tables will help.) When the Mass Air Flow Sensor sees this Barometric reading, it adjusts its Air Density table and then "under reports" the actual amount of air entering the engine. It does this because the Barometric Pressure Sensor is actually part of the Mass Air Flow Sensor.

Sometimes the Air Flow Sensor and the sensing wire get covered with dirt, dust, or oil residue, which can set a P0171 in addition to the P0103 code.  Cleaning the sensor might hold off problems for a while, but the MAF sensor should be replaced. This is due to the fact that cleaning the wire isn't a thorough enough solution. A microscopic view of the wire will show that that 50% or more of the contamination is embedded into the sensing wire's grooves and crevices. Always make sure the Air Filter and its enclosure are dirt-, dust-, and oil-free. If you clean and replace the filter and its enclosure as needed, you will prevent the new MAF from failing.

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