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Intake Air Temperature (IAT) Sensor Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

The average cost for an intake air temperature (IAT) sensor replacement is between $90 and $103. Labor costs are estimated between $39 and $50 while parts are priced between $51 and $53. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
Note about price: The cost of this service or repair can vary by location, your vehicle's make and model, and even your engine type. Related repairs may also be needed. Talk with a RepairPal Certified shop to learn which repairs might be right for you.

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What is an Intake Air Temperature Sensor?

Modern vehicles use computers to manage air and fuel intake. This optimizes fuel economy, reduces pollution, and provides a better running and more reliable engine. At one point, only the amount of air and fuel entering the engine was metered, but that was before the intake air temperature sensor. The intake air temperature sensor monitors the temperature of the air after it passes through the air filter. This allows the engine management software to calculate the exact amount of oxygen it is taking in from every unit of air it uses.

How does an Intake Air Temperature Sensor work?

The intake air temperature sensor and mass airflow sensor work hand in hand with the oxygen sensor to help the engine management software in the powertrain control module (PCM) decide how much fuel the engine needs to run in stoichiometric balance. The PCM uses the mass airflow sensor to monitor the amount of air that flows into the engine, but that is not enough. It also needs to know the temperature of that air so it can calculate the percentage of oxygen available for combustion in that air. Furthermore, after the air and fuel is burned, the PCM will get feedback from the oxygen sensor which will advise the PCM on whether or not the PCM sent the right amount, too little, or too much fuel, based on the exhaust gas.

What are the symptoms of a bad Intake Air Temperature Sensor?

The check engine light will illuminate any time there is an inconsistency between the readings of these three sensors, and some others we have not discussed. The engine may slightly lack in performance, the fuel mileage may decrease, but in general, the check engine light may be the only symptom. When the intake air temperature sensor fails, the PCM no longer knows exactly how much fuel to send, so it may default to a closed loop cycle using only the oxygen sensors to determine the amount of fuel to use. Since this becomes a reactive feedback loop, the engine will not run to its full potential, and will be a little less responsive than usual in many instances.

Can I drive with a bad Intake Air Temperature Sensor?

This sensor should be replaced right away, and any time the check engine light illuminates, the vehicle should see a professional as soon as possible. Though the vehicle may feel fine, and the slightly altered feel of the engine is not alarming, the fuel milage and risk to the catalytic converter could be much more costly than the intake air temperature sensor. The catalytic converter is placed at risk because the engine will default to run slightly rich instead of slightly lean, so the catalyst has much more raw fuel to contend with.

How often do Intake Air Temperature Sensors need replacement?

Though not extremely common, failure does occur enough to discuss. Repair results of several makes and models show the average lifespan of an intake temperature sensor is around 125,000 - 150,000 miles. This is not to say they will all failed, in fact, this sample data is only from vehicles that experienced the failure. Most vehicles will not have an issue, but if they do, this is a good range for it to occur.

How are Intake Air Temperature Sensor issues diagnosed?

Diagnosing the intake air temperature sensor is as easy as taking a temperature. A professional grade scan tool will be connected to the vehicle, and the real time information from the intake air temperature sensor will be read. Simultaneously, the temperature of the intake air tube will be measured directly adjacent to the intake air temperature sensor. This will provide an accurate comparison of actual to measured temperature. Once that comparison is made, the intake air temperature sensor will be shown working or not. If the sensor is working properly, the diagnostic flow will move to other components pertaining to air and fuel induction.

How are Intake Air Temperature Sensors replaced?

Extracting the intake air temperature sensor normally requires removing the electrical connector before pulling a clip, or removing a fastener. In some vehicles, this sensor will pull out or the intake air tube without the need to remove fasteners or mounting hardware. The replacement will go back into the intake air temperature sensor port, and the electrical connection plugged in. Some vehicle have this sensor on the intake manifold, and these will likely unscrew like a bolt, and replacement only requires sealing the threads and screwing the new sensor into the port. Intake manifold mounted IAT sensors are fairly uncommon.

RepairPal Recommendations for Intake Air Temperature Sensor issues

As always, we recommend thorough testing, even for small and easy to replace items like the intake air temperature (IAT) sensor. Once the circuit is understood, and the part is understood, diagnostic testing can be completed quickly without additional costs.

What to look out for when dealing with Intake Air Temperature Sensor issues

The diagnostic approach described assumes the circuit is in perfect working order, but remember that short to ground or an open wire for the intake air temperature sensor, and this would show the temperature to be incorrect even with a good IAT sensor. If testing the resistance across the thermistor (IAT sensor), a source of hot air is only necessary when the temperature is considerably higher than body temperature. Holding the sensor tightly will increase the temperature enough to watch for changes in resistance, yet prevent melting the exterior of the sensor.

Can I replace the Intake Air Temperature Sensor myself?

This repair and diagnostic process is very easy. Even when done with a multimeter instead of computerized scanning equipment, there are typically only two wires to test to analyze the circuit, and testing the sensor by resistance with heat will take moments. However, if the PCM has stored trouble codes such as P0111 or P0113 with a good IAT sensor and circuit, the job should be passed to a professional technician with diagnostic scanning equipment.

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