Frontier, XTerra MAF Sensor Test P0100: Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit Malfunction

Testing the mass air flow (MAF) sensor on your 98-04 2.4L Nissan Frontier (or 2000-2004 2.4L Nissan Xterra) is not that hard. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to do it with just a multimeter... That's right, no scan tool required

In case this isn't the test tutorial you're looking for... there are 4 other Nissan MAF sensor test articles I've written and you can find them here:

  1. Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor Test 2.4L Nissan D21 Hard Body (1990-1995).
  2. How to Test the Nissan MAF Sensor Frontier, Quest, Pathfinder, and Xterra 3.3L V6 (1999-2004).
  3. How to Test the Nissan MAF Sensor: Maxima 3.0L V6 (1995-1999).
  4. How to Test the Nissan MAF Sensor: Sentra 1.6L 4 cyl. (1995-1999).
  5. How to Test the Nissan MAF Sensor: Sentra 1.8L 4 cyl. (2000-2002).

En Español You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar el Sensor MAF (2.4L Nissan Frontier, Xterra) (at: autotecnico-online.com).

Symptoms of a BAD Nissan MAF Sensor

This list covers the majority of symptoms I've seen with this type of Nissan Mass Air Flow Sensor:

  1. The CHECK ENGINE LIGHT (CEL) is lit on your Nissan instrument cluster.
  2. A P0100: Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor Circuit Malfunction DTC (diagnostic trouble code).
  3. Engine usually idles OK, but when you give it gas... it may stall.
  4. Engine may be hard to start after stalling.
  5. A tremendous lack of power upon acceleration.
  6. Black smoke coming from the tail-pipe.
  7. BAD gas mileage.
  8. Vehicle may idle rough and stall.

What Tools Do I Need?

To troubleshoot/diagnose your MAF Sensor as good or BAD... the most important tool you're gonna' need is a multimeter. Here are a couple more details/suggestions:

  1. Multimeter
    1. A digital or analog multimeter will work.
    2. If you need to buy one or are looking to upgrade, check out my recommendations here: Buying a Digital Multimeter for Automotive Diagnostic Testing.
  2. Wire piercing probe
    1. Although not an absolute must, this tool is a time saver of the first order. To see what this tool looks like, click here: Wire Piercing Probe.
  3. A scan tool
    1. A scan tool is not a must have tool to follow this tutorial... but how else are you gonna' read the trouble codes lighting up the check engine light? If you're looking to buy one, check out my recommendation here: Actron CP9580 Scan Tool Review (at: troubleshootmyvehicle.com).

Circuit Descriptions of the Nissan MAF Sensor Connector

Frontier, XTerra MAF Sensor Test P0100: Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit Malfunction

The mass air flow sensor on your Nissan Frontier Pick Up (or Xterra) has three wires attached to it. You'll notice that the photos (in the image viewer) have the MAF connectors lettered A thru' C. I'll be using these letters for the circuit descriptions. Here's the description of each circuit below:

MAF Sensor Connector Pin outs
Pin Wire Color Description
A Black w/ Pink stripe Power Circuit (10 to 12 Volts)
B Green Ground Circuit (provided internally by the Fuel Injection Computer)
C Red MAF Signal Circuit

  * Your specific VW vehicle may have different colors.

How Does the Nissan Frontier (Xterra) MAF Sensor Work?

The Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor's job is to measure the amount of air that the engine is breathing. And this measurement of the air flow is sent to the Fuel Injection Computer as an Analog DC voltage signal.

To be a little more specific... since your Nissan Frontier's (Xterra's) four cylinder engine will breathe in more air at, let's say, 2,500 RPM's than when it's sitting at an idle of 900 RPM's this will cause the MAF Sensor to send a higher DC voltage signal to the Computer than at idle. It's as simple as that!

When testing this DC voltage MAF signal, the important thing to know is not an actual Volts DC number at a specific RPM, but to look for crazy and extreme fluctuations in the MAF voltage signal that don't correspond to the actual air intake (RPM's) of the engine or NO SIGNAL AT ALL. In the TEST 3 section of this article, I'll show how you just how to test this so that you can confirm that your Nissan Pick Up's MAF Sensor is bad or not.