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Using an OBD2 Scanner to Diagnose a Faulty MAP Sensor

By Joe Ballard
Published on February 16th, 2024

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It is universally understood that the complexity of automotive technology has increased over the last decade to an extreme level. It used to be that you could take your vehicle to a local backyard mechanic for repair and feel very confident that they could resolve the issue.

faulty map sensor diagnosis

That is not the case today because sophisticated tools are required to identify and fix an issue.

To properly diagnose an issue, the tools rely on the vehicle's engine management system to gather information from various sensors and deliver that information to the engine control unit (ECU).

One of the most important components in a vehicle's engine management system is the Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor. This sensor measures an engine's intake manifold pressure and feeds that information back to the ECU.

Why is the MAP Sensor Important?

The MAP Sensor is a component that is critical to the vehicle electronics and engine management system. The importance of the sensor may be better understood by reviewing the various functions that it performs, such as:

  • Optimization of engine performance – by monitoring the manifold pressure, the MAP sensor continuously provides real-time data to the ECU. This data is used to adjust the air/fuel ratio, the ignition timing, and other parameters for optimal power output and fuel efficiency.
  • Control Turbo/Supercharger Boost - in a forced induction engine, the MAP sensor is critical in controlling the boost pressure by providing real-time data to the ECU. The sensor enables the ECU to control the turbo/supercharger's operation and maintain the necessary boost level.
  • On-board Vehicle Diagnostics – the MAP sensor voltage is continuously monitored and compared to predefined values, which helps to detect engine faults. Any deviation from the predefined voltage range may indicate an issue with the sensor or other engine management system components. The information gathered by the sensor is delivered to the ECU, which will generate specific fault codes that an OBD2 diagnostic scanner can read to troubleshoot the issue further.
replacing a map sensor in a vehicle

What Are The Typical Symptoms of a Faulty MAP Sensor?

Usually, the first sign that your vehicle has some problem is when the check engine light (CEL) is visible on your dashboard. Typically, this indication can pop up for many reasons, but if you have noticed some performance issues, you may not be surprised that the CEL came on.

Initially, you may not know if the CEL is an indication of a faulty MAP sensor, however the following performance issues may provide some clues:

  • Engine Performance - a faulty MAP sensor can cause several engine performance problems, such as rough idling, stalling, hesitation, or a noticeable decrease in power and acceleration. These issues are usually due to incorrect readings from the sensor that impact fuel injection and combustion efficiency.
  • Poor Fuel Economy - a faulty MAP sensor can impact the air-fuel ratio and lead to inefficient combustion. This will result in decreased fuel economy, which will cause you to spend more at the pump. It may be worth checking the MAP sensor if you notice a reduction in your vehicle's mileage.

Can You Use an OBD2 Scanner to Diagnose a Malfunctioning MAP Sensor?

Accurately diagnosing whether the MAP sensor is the culprit will require a diagnostic tool. This tool will provide more detailed information about the sensor's status and identify a specific issue.

using an OBD2 scanner to diagnose faulty map sensor

Automotive diagnostic scanners such as the Innova 5210 and 5610 are ideally suited to read and interpret engine fault codes, sensor voltage, and other relevant data. By simply connecting the scanner to the vehicle's OBD2 port, you or a technician will access real-time sensor readings and perform tests that will pinpoint the problem accurately.

When a MAP sensor fails, it will trigger a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) in the ECU. This code is usually associated with the sensor circuit, voltage, or performance. Based on the DTC, you or the technician can identify the issue with the sensor.

Some of the codes that may be displayed are as follows:

DTC CodeDescription
P0105MAP sensor circuit issue
P0106MAP sensor performance issue
P0107MAP sensor circuit low input voltage issue
P0108MAP sensor circuit high input voltage issue
P0109MAP sensor circuit intermittent issue

Note: these are just a few examples of the DTC codes related to a faulty MAP sensor. The actual codes may differ based on the vehicle's make and model.

What Causes a MAP Sensor Failure?

  • Contamination: these include contamination from oil or debris.
  • Electrical Issues: a faulty wiring connection or a blown fuse.
  • Physical Damage: excessive heat or vibration.

You Have a Diagnostic Code. Now What?

Now that you have identified a specific DTC provided by the diagnostic scanner tool, you must check a few things to rule out other possible causes before attempting to replace the MAP sensor. This is important because the problem may be something other than the sensor itself.

Here is a step-by-step checklist you can use to determine if the sensor is the culprit:

  • Use a Scan Tool to check the MAP value at several conditions, such as Key ON Engine OFF (KOEO), idling, or Wide-Open Throttle (WOT). The MAP value must be accurate with the Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) or vehicle's service manual.
  • Use a Digital Multimeter (DMM) to check the voltage from the MAP sensor connector (between power wiring and ground wiring). The voltage should be around 5V.
  • Check the electrical power wiring connections to the sensor to ensure they are secure and not damaged. If you repair the wiring, rescan the vehicle to see if this fixed the issue.
  • Clean the sensor wire connectors by using an electronic cleaner. Reconnect all wiring connections and rescan the vehicle to determine if this fixed the issue.
  • Additionally, wiggle the MAP sensor wiring harness while applying vacuum to ensure it isn't contributing to the issue. Always inspect the MAP Sensor vacuum hose, and if the MAP sensor directly plugs into the intake manifold, check its seal for potential splits that could lead to erratic readings.
common symptoms of the faulty map sensor

How Do You Successfully Replace a MAP Sensor?

Follow these steps to replace the MAP sensor:

  • Always use a high-quality OEM or aftermarket sensor to ensure compatibility and reliability.
  • Thoroughly clean the intake manifold before installation and check the intake manifold for any carbon buildup or other debris. A thorough cleaning will prevent contamination of the new sensor.
  • Rescan the vehicle with your OBD2 scanner after you have replaced the sensor to clear any stored fault codes.
  • Recheck all hose and electrical connections before you start the engine. If all connections are secure, start the engine and rerun the diagnostic scan to see if the issue has been fixed.
  • Recalibrating the engine management system to accommodate the new sensor may be required.

Conclusion

Diagnosing a faulty MAP sensor requires more than just identifying a code generated by a diagnostic scanner. It involves visual inspection and ruling out other possible causes before you reach the point of replacing the sensor.

It is a critical component in a vehicle's engine management system, and it is vital for providing intake manifold pressure to the ECU and ensuring optimal engine performance and fuel efficiency.

Innova's mission is to make diagnostics easier for DIYers and mechanics alike. If you have questions, we encourage you to visit our community page or contact us! We are always looking for ways to improve your experience.

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