Cleaning a dirty mass air flow (MAF) sensor saves you money. How? Well, savings at the gas pump for one since you'll get better gas mileage.
Savings at the auto repair shop, since most shops prefer to replace it rather than clean it (very few of the repair shops I have worked at wanted to clean them since the profit margin of cleaning was/is less than that of selling you a new one, not to mention that they will NOT tell you it's only dirty).
Your carbon footprint will be less, since you will be polluting less, not to mention that you'll be getting your engine's worth of power. Since a dirty MAF sensor makes the engine pollute more and produce less power.
Alright, enough of the b.s. and let's get started with the actual step by step cleaning of the GM mass air flow (MAF) sensor (Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and GMC models).
Step 1: Remove The MAF Sensor From Vehicle
Remove the mass air flow sensor from the car or truck.
Once off, your MAF sensor should look like the one in the photo.
Now, inca case you're just coming into this page from a search engine (like Google, Bing, etc.), see the list of makes and models this MAF sensor cleaning info applies to on the previous page (part 1 of this article).
Step 2: Disassemble The MAF Sensor To Clean
The MAF sensor is made up of three parts and it can be very easily disassembled. How?
... We need to remove the four torx head type bolts to disassemble it. You'll need a torx-head bit-socket and a ratchet, or a torx-head screw-driver to remove them (the torx size is T27 and you can find this tool in just about any auto parts store).
As you can see in the photo, we need only to remove the part with the metal mesh to expose the front of the hot-wires that are exposed to the incoming air flow. But if all three pieces come apart when you remove the four torx head bolts, well that's OK too.
Don't worry about mixing up the three parts, since each piece fits into the other in a certain specific way. It's impossible to re-assemble MAF sensor wrong. But it may help you to re-assemble it faster if you make some identifying marks on each part of the MAF sensor.
Step 3: Spray Clean The MAF Sensor Hot-Wires
The MAF sensor is made up of 3 Hot-Wires (see photo).
IMPORTANT: It's not necessary to physically clean the hot-wires. Just spraying them with the appropriate cleaning spray is enough to clean them. I can tell you from personal experience that physically touching them to clean them, even with something like a cotton swab, can break them.
You'll know they're dirty because the normally light-grey colored resistors will be covered in a coat of black or dark grey ‘fuzz’.
Once you've sprayed them, and the fuzz has been removed, you're now ready to re-assemble the MAF sensor.
Step 4: Re-Assemble The MAF Sensor
Match up the marks you made on the individual MAF sensor's parts. Install the four torx-head bolts and tighten them to a proper torque.
Re-install the MAF sensor to its location in the engine compartment. Once everything is tightened up, road test the car or truck to verify the MAF cleaning.
Now, if your car or truck's performance did NOT improve after the cleaning, then the contaminated (dirty) MAF sensor you just cleaned was NOT the cause of the issue you're trying to solve. I recommend looking into testing the MAF sensor itself to see if it's bad. The test article is here: How To Test The MAF Sensor.
If you did not have a serious drive-ability issue with your car or truck and you were just cleaning the MAF sensor as a maintenance/preventive measure, you'll notice the benefits in the long term. What specifically? For one, better gas mileage. Two, you'll continue to enjoy the engine's normal power/acceleration.
If this info really saved the day, buy me a beer!